By Miles Jaye
Why would I want to be here? Why would I want to live and die here? Why I am so inexplicably, inextricably tethered to this place that I, rightly or wrongly, call home, where I can be treated like an animal or worse on any given day? Why claim as home a place where I’ve been treated like an unwelcome foreigner and told more than once to go back to where I come from? Home, where I’ve been called names, I wouldn’t want my grandsons to hear.
Why would I choose to live in a society governed by what is still referred to as an experiment, when test results are not promising and by all appearances, I’m the lab rat? Perhaps, I’m the lab frog. Remember the parable of the boiling frog? If a frog is dropped into a pot of boiling water, scalded and afraid, it will immediately jump out. But, if a frog is placed into a pot of room temperature water, it will be comfortable and not sense danger. If you then gradually turn up the heat and increase the water temperature, by the time the frog realizes the water is boiling, it will be too late to escape. Is the water in this pot we call America getting hotter?
Now, more than ever before, in this presidential election year, I’ve asked myself these and similar questions. However, the problem with asking such questions is they tend to lead to new questions that have nothing to do with what is wrong with them and everything to do with what is wrong with me. Would I date someone who has clearly expressed disinterest in or disdain for me? Would I go to a party to which I was not invited with people who knowingly dislike me? Would I fight to keep a job where I am paid less than my peers and passed over for every promotion? No, no and no! Of course not!
I voted yesterday and leaving the polling station I asked myself a few more tough questions. Why did I vote? What possible difference will my vote make? What will it actually change? And worst of all, would it even be counted? These may seem like simple questions with simple answers, possibly too simplistic, but having to ask them is even more difficult– it’s hurtful. There’s a feeling that comes with asking them… it’s humiliation. Black Lives Matter may be the answer to the question, but what of such a question as, Do Black lives matter? Telling four members of Congress to go back to where they came from may be the answer, but what should we make of the question, do you even belong here… governing OUR country?
Early in my music career we traveled by tour bus. I can recall the AC running hot in the Summer and the heat not running at all one Winter. I remember an Out of Order sign on the restroom door on one trip. I found myself asking this question: If the bus is broken down on the side of the road, needing a new transmission and a new engine, do we call the bus company and request a new driver, or a new bus?
Our government needs a new transmission and a new engine. If it was in proper working order, Donald Trump would not have completed one year much less one term of presidency. If it was working properly, most of the Senate would have also been impeached for violation of oaths protecting the Constitution from threats both foreign and domestic. Attorney General Bill Barr would have been impeached. If the government was in proper running condition, I, along with millions of other Americans, would not have to wonder if our votes will even be tallied, and why voter suppression is not a thing of a long gone past.
The government is in a state of disrepair. It has broken down, and I’m mad about it! I’m angry with the designated stewards of Democracy, both parties, elected and trusted to maintain government properly! Vote? I want to vote for a new engine and transmission, not a new driver. I want to vote for a new bus! President Obama drove a broken-down bus for eight years, during which time Senator McConnell openly blocked one of his Supreme Court Justice nominees. Trump was impeached by Congress, a DUI which should have disqualified him for re-election, but he was effectively acquitted by the Senate. He is now running for re-election, and simultaneously rushing a new Supreme Court Justice to the bench with Mitch McConnell’s blessing. This is government? This is Democracy?
Donald Trump has spent the past four years turning up the heat– and not so gradually, but at an increasingly rapid rate. It appears however, we’ve grown accustomed to the near boiling water. We’re not nearly as alarmed by the increase in hate speech and racist rhetoric, xenophobia, the rise in poverty and unemployment, police violence, and Domestic Terrorism as we should be. The Pandemic has struck a death blow to an already aging, outdated Education System. Who’s teaching our children?
Rome may not be burning, but the damn bus is on fire, society is in peril, and interestingly, or perhaps tragically, both parties have us bickering among ourselves– journalists, rappers, comedians, preachers, as they would have us focus on one and only one thing, not the bus— the bus DRIVER.
Maybe it’s time to walk! Why would anyone in their right mind want to be HERE? Maybe because it’s HERE that we can vote. I guess, because it’s HERE that I can write this article without fear of retribution. No doubt because it’s HERE that I can write directly to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…
Dear Mr. President:
That’s what’s on my mind!