Enough of politics -- we voted, we need to trust the people we elected to do the right thing, and we're grateful for a system of checks and balances. But what we've learned about our society is a whole different ball of wax -- or slice of cake, to create a segue.
I'm a baker, so let's talk cake. In the late 1700s, some strong people with strong opinions about government fought the establishment cake of England and baked their own cake. They didn't have all the fancy mixers and pans and ovens that England did, but they put together a pretty decent cake, all the same.
For a hundred years, people worked on that cake, adding good stuff to it, adding bad stuff to it, messing with it in any number of ways. After the civil war and as we neared the 20th century, they started adding icing. The industrial age came. America became the land of opportunity. Cars! Airplanes! The bold, adventurous American spirit iced that whole cake and made it look beautiful. There were some nasty bits underneath, but it LOOKED good, and we were proud of it.
Another hundred years later, and there are some thin spots where the icing has been licked off, and you can see that the cake underneath isn't just kind of nasty, it's actually quite rotten in some places. But we did a big, bold thing. We elected an African-American president. It was like dumping a whole new batch of icing on the cake. With sprinkles. It looked great! We were quite smug, even though we knew, in that back of our minds, that there was something rotten underneath.
We got a woman candidate. Women all around the world felt proud and empowered. She wasn't just any woman. She was a highly qualified, strong woman with potential to keep that cake looking good. She was the pretty pink icing roses. Not everybody likes pretty pink roses, but many of us thought she looked great on top of that cake.
Then we got a knife. Some people think the knife is shiny and good and it's going to rip open that cake and show it like it is, good or bad. Others think the knife is dangerous. It has no respect for the icing. And if we didn't entirely believe that the icing would make the cake good, at least we knew there was something sweet going on. But he has no appreciation of the icing. He wants to expose the cake and throw away all the icing. Some people even see the knife as a gun, and believe he's going to just shoot the cake into smithereens, and we're all doomed.
The problem, as I see it, is that once exposed, the cake, already in pretty bad shape -- worse shape than we could see because of all that nice icing -- will rot and fall apart a lot faster without the icing. The icing of tolerance. The icing of women's rights. The icing of respect for one another's differences. The icing of a nation that welcomes "your wretched refuse, yearning to breathe free." The cake, without icing, is crumbling. It has nothing to hold it together. It becomes chaos.
Now icing people want to make more icing. But the cake people don't want to be iced. They don't want to be pushed together or hidden or limited. And no matter how much icing the icing people make, they can't get it to stick to the cake again.
Please don't read partisan politics into this analogy. Icing people of both parties and non-parties want to heal the cake, or at least keep it together. The cake was fundamentally good, but there were so many rotten bits hidden in it, that are just now seeing the light of day, that it was dying inside while we were looking at the pretty sprinkles.
We may have to do some serious kitchen cleaning and revamp this whole cake thing. We may have to go all the way back to the original recipe (constitution) and build another cake. Some people are talking about making different sizes and shapes of the layers. We can do that if we have to. We're still America, and America was, and still can be, a really good baker.
Susie Snortum is passionate about improving society's compassion for meeting basic human needs -- food, shelter, clean water, and dignity.