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Trump or Treat: Lessons in Anthropology

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 14/10/2015 Janet Mason
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"It could happen. Trump could get elected. Hitler was elected, you know," said an older friend of mine.
My friend and I were sitting in a college classroom where we are taking a class together in anthropology and photography.
It's the first time that I've been back in a college classroom as a student since graduating in 1981.
I have to admit, it's kind of confusing. It's not so much the coursework that's confusing, it's the students -- mostly female and mostly undergraduate -- that I don't understand.
They seem to have bought the myth of consumerism.
We were in the classroom and there were titters all around after my friend spoke. I suspect that the students agreed with her and that deep down they know she's right. She's a retired high school teacher and something interesting is bound to pop out of her mouth at full volume.
The attitudes in the class shouldn't be a complete surprise to me. I have heard that the younger generation tends to be consumer oriented. It is, after all, what they have been taught. Another friend told me about her straight niece, who just had an over the top wedding, with a lesbian friend who is planning her over the top wedding (complete with a photo booth which is in these days).
The only difference between the two is that the young lesbian is marrying her girlfriend and won't be living a life of secrecy and shame. My first impulse was to feel sorry for the parents. With what an over the top wedding costs, there goes retirement. My second thought was a sarcastic: so that's what we fought for all those years.
An extravagant lesbian wedding? Really?
But then I realized that every generation has to define itself. And we had fun in the struggle. My partner is a drummer and we marched with drumming contingents in marches and rallies in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York. The rocks thrown at our bedroom window (more than ten years ago) weren't fun. Neither were the insults hurled at us on the streets in our respective work places over the years.

Nonetheless, we loved being outlaws.
So despite that one of my favorite slogans was "tip over patriarchy," I am forced to acknowledge that the young lesbian planning her over the top wedding is a kind of progress.
But there is something to what my friend said. I went home and did a quick search and found out that she was right. Hitler was elected. The "History" website says, "in 1934, Adolf Hitler, already chancellor, is also elected president of Germany in an unprecedented consolidation of power in the short history of the republic."
I assume my friend's point was not to compare "The Donald" to Hitler, but rather to emphasize that Trump would not be taken seriously as a presidential candidate in a society that didn't bow down to consumerism.
I've never cared for Donald Trump. Perhaps for this reason, I've decided not to pay too much attention to the primary campaigns. So far, I've refrained from saying anything to the (mostly white) idealistic supporters of Bernie Sanders.
Aside from Sanders' age (at eighty four) and his well-documented difficulty with Black voters, there are solid reasons that I am supporting Hillary Clinton.
For one thing, Hillary has a strong background on Civil Rights and racial justice.
And I saw Hillary march in the New York Pride Parade during her years as a NY state senator. (She was the only person wearing high heels -- except the drag queens.)
I also think we are long overdue for a female president.
We have a lot riding on this election -- including the continuation of the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, and marriage equality, just to name a few issues that affect me personally.
Hillary is tough and it is easy to picture her holding her own in a debate with whoever the Republicans put forth, including Trump.
The title of this piece came from a sign outside of a chain drugstore that read "Trunk or Treat."
I am not much of a consumer and had no idea what it meant. I put my own meaning on it.
I commented to my partner that I thought it said "Trump or Treat."
"Trump is the trick," she replied. And then she suggested that I write this piece.
She's right, of course. Trump is the trick.
Let's not get duped.

You can learn more about Tea Leaves: A Memoir of Mothers and Daughters here.

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