Tongue-tied. Baffled. Boggled. Definitely not bored.
That’s how I describe my reaction to the primary elections and caucuses happening around our country. I constantly shake my head and ask what’s going on in our fair land. How did we get in this mess?
What concerns me most is that many presidential hopefuls battle against their own people. They’ve forgotten who we are.
We are a nation of over 322 million people, with women making up 50.8 % of the population (all this according to data from 2014-15, sources listed below). The median age is approximately 39 years for both men and women with only 2.9% of us coming from a foreign birth.
We are fertile, averaging close to 4 million births each year since 1950. Consequently, there are almost as many deaths. My life expectancy is 82 years of age, give or take a few months (our aging men three or four less than this, sorry guys).
Ethnically, we mostly identify as white, although this number includes those Hispanics who didn’t check the box for Latino, so we really don’t have a true number for Caucasians, Hispanics, Latinos, and Cubans as far as I can tell. Less than 30% of our population is comprised of African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, including those from Hawaii, Alaska, and/or other native ancestries within the borders of the United States.
We are a nation of immigrants: generations and generations of us. I am the great-granddaughter of a Scot-Irishman, the granddaughter of a German coal miner; I am the daughter of a woman who started work at the Wrangler Jeans factory in Coal County, OK, when I was four years old (that factory closed and the business moved to Mexico about 15-20 years ago). My late father was a rancher who took a day job paving roads in Oklahoma and Texas. I come from hard working, strong people.
According to a few academic models, approximately 80% of Americans fall into one of three categories: the lower-middle class, the working poor, the poor. The other 15-20% are the upper-middle class and the 1% at the top.
Here in America we practice over 20 different religions. Can you name them?
At least 34% of us identify with a religion other than the one we grew up learning about; and 23% of us have no religion at all. Protestants make up 46% of the religious (Evangelicals included), yet their numbers are falling in direct correlation with the rising numbers of those who practice no faith. I was surprised to learn that 42% of our people are fickle enough to change religions on a regular basis (within the Protestant faith or outside the faith).
Over 85% of us graduate from high school, while only 30% receive bachelor’s degrees or higher (this does not take into account trade schools). These numbers seem hopeful, yet in today’s world at least 20.7% of the American population claim English as their second language. (Hmm? I wonder, will we see a decline in graduation numbers or a rise in multi-language learners?)
We are Veterans — 20+ million of us. Wounded, both physically and emotionally. We are families of these veterans struggling to make sense of our lives in the wake of war.
Theoretically, over 70% of us are of voting age, although that excludes those who are incarcerated, suffer mental deficiencies, or experience a lack of interest (or physical ability) to the degree that they fail to vote.
My point? We are many and we are diverse. We are not one homogenous group of people as many of the primary candidates seem to believe we are. We are not of one religion as many would like us to be.
When Senator Ted Cruz speaks about returning us to our Judaeo Christian roots, he misses the target and speaks to fewer than (what did I say?) 46% of the population, many who split their votes between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. Generally speaking, Cruz leaves out the rest of us, 54% of all Americans. I consider that a bad marketing plan.
Is he asking us to vote for him and change our religion? How unconstitutional!
And, Mr. Trump, in his quest to extinguish any behavior that resembles political correctness, fails to realize that back in the 1980’s, 90’s, yes the 2000’s, when political correctness became a mainstream word, we teachers were striving to create fair and equitable treatment of all students in our classrooms. Most of these students are now millennials who were raised to maintain an attitude of political correctness.
As a result, many don’t see race, gender, and socio-economic status as barriers that separate them from each other. They know that bullying violates the code of conduct they were taught in 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade. They care about inclusiveness and authenticity.
Enter their hero — Bernie Sanders. He understands this and they love him! Hillary tries, but she is so far enough removed from their reality they can’t identify with her.
And us women? What is our role in all this?
We’ve been encouraged to rally behind Hillary Clinton because it’s the proper thing to do; but, I don’t recall anyone asking us to vote for Carly Fiorina just because she’s a woman.
We women gave up being told what to do years ago when we burned our bras, didn’t we?
Our young man, Rubio? He tried to combat Trump, but joined the heckling match and ended up with egg on his face. He may bounce back in years to come, but, 2016 won’t be his. I’ll skip Kasich (just like the GOP did, although I think they dismissed their best man). For some odd reason, extremism seems to be the driving force, TV ratings the gauge.
Rest assured, I’m not here to campaign for or against anyone. I’m just trying to make sense of the banter, the bullying, and the newly emerging GOP.
I don’t recognize these people. And they certainly don’t see me.
My sources for these numbers:
Photo by Ryan McGuire – gratisography.com