No, not the capital-P Patriots. They’ve already won. It’s the rest of us who awakened this morning and found that we were still losing in the ever fluctuating cosmos of Donald Trump.
And if you’re like everyone else who watched the game yesterday, you probably noticed that there really are two Americas. In one of them Peter Fonda blocks in a passel of Harleys at a biker bar, two celebrities sit on a sofa and ponder an “antioxidant infusion,” and Super Bowl babies ask us to forget about CTE and other “football family”-related disorders.
In the other America a father ponders whether or not he should tell his daughter that her gender will relegate her to financial inequality forever, two European immigrants face scorn and bigotry in 19th-century America before rising to fame in the brewing industry, and a woman and her young child struggle across what appears to be a Mexican landscape on a quest to reach America. (As most viewers know by now, the quest ends when they encounter a massive wall, then find a door through. The ending was deemed by Fox to be too controversial and was not shown.)
As Americans—and I think this is true of Trump supporters too—somewhere in our collective unconscious lies that second vision of a people who have struggled and overcome. And even beyond that lie the facts of our own heritage: my generation grew up with stories of relatives coming to America—striving to find work, to adapt to customs, to find ways to communicate, often simply to survive. And although our collective unconscious honors women like Margaret Fuller and Sojourner Truth, many in my generation grew up with Betty Friedan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s not as if we’ve suddenly forgotten.
But the new leaders wants us to turn inward, to forget about how we got to be a nation, to believe that we arrived fully formed as Americans without heritage or legacy—as Trump himself did with money from father. They insist we must protect all that we’ve built from women with aspirations, families with dreams, even by Anheuser and Busch, though the truth is we didn’t build it—we arrived to find it.
In “Mending Wall” Robert Frost famously said
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
If nothing else, those three Super Bowl ads yesterday pointed our to whom we were giving offense. Whether it bothers us enough is another issue.