Iâ€™ve been trying to compose something about the election for the past two weeks, but I havenâ€™t had much to add to whatâ€™s already been said. After weeks of ads, debates, growing nastiness and $6 BILLION spent, the GOP still has the House, Democrats still rule the Senate and Barack Obama is still President of theUnited States. On Nov. 8, I said to my mom, â€œEverything feels so normal again. There’s still post election analysis, but nothing really changed.â€
â€œThings didn’t change, but people will have to change. Or this country will fall apart,â€ my mom replied.
Iâ€™ve been wondering if my region of the country will ever change.
â€œItâ€™s embarrassing how fast Kentucky went to Romney,â€ said a text from a friend on election night. (Heâ€™s from Kentucky but some time late in the night, his state went barely blue.)
I think my state went deep red even before all the polls closed on election night. Some 61 percent of voters here darkened the little circle next to Romneyâ€™s name. Most people in Kentucky, like most others in the south, are poor, un- or under-educated and unhealthy. And although we tend to elect democrats as governors, in federal elections, Kentuckians consistently send to Washington people who are against their best interests. The southeast isnâ€™t 100 percent red, nor is the color limited to the region, but results like that can make it hard to be proud to be a G.R.I.T.S.
I take a little comfort in knowing that living here feels paradoxical. I surround myself with lefties, many of whom say Louisville is the only city in Kentucky they could live in, but here we are in the state of Kentucky. At a dinner with progressive friends and colleagues earlier this month, someone brought up how encouraging Louisvilleis to other small cities. Weâ€™re an oasis in the desert of sorts, proving you donâ€™t have to relocate to New York City,L.A. or Chicago to find friends who are anti-war and pro-equality and to build a coalition. But as the â€œbig cityâ€ within the state, liberal (and conservative) Louisvillians often are as rebuffed as New Yorkers are in the â€œheartland.â€
Itâ€™s embarrassing when the senator whoâ€™s supposed to represent you makes his number one priority to make the first African American president a one-term presidentâ€”as opposed to his first priority being you finding full-time work, something you havenâ€™t had since October 2008. Itâ€™s horrifying when you have to wonder whether his strategy to â€œtie ‘Barack Obama around their neckâ€™,â€ their referring to whicher Democrat wants to challenge him in 2014, is a poor choice of words or a wink and a nod to racist supporters. Itâ€™s saddening to know there was an effigy of President Obama hanging from a local gas station on Halloween in 2012.
But it is heartening to know that mom is usually right.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.Â Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has.”Â –Margaret Mead