I never paid much attention to politics. Boring and stressful. No thanks.
I remember the first election I voted in. It was the 2004 George W. Bush vs. John Kerry race. I was in college and would have rather discussed just about anything else, but I knew enough to be disinterested in another 4 years of GWB’s policies. After my first election, I was 0-1. Kerry probably would have made a ‘meh’ president, but I still felt good about my effort to try and rid our country of insane amounts of debt and participation in an unneccessary war. At least Will Ferrell made watching it palatable.
I’ll never forget the way I felt in 2008. I was deeply drawn into the soap opera of the presidential election, and the excitement surrounding Barack Obama. It was off-the-wall hopeful and promising. He was one of the most dynamic speakers I had ever seen, and his message was one of change, inclusion, and progress. All of a sudden, the Republican opposition was not simply a group of old men with ideas I didn’t subscribe to- they became a radical danger to our livelihood. After 8 years of George W. Bush, it seemed that the majority felt the same way I did. The night Obama was elected was magical. Most of the country was high on optimism. I’ll cherish the memory of that night, especially knowing what I know now.
Today, I am conflicted. I’m trying to make sense of the outcome of this election, and how we’re supposed to move forward. Part of me wants to fly under the radar, quietly observing the aftermath for better or worse. I’ll see what’s left when we arrive (if we arrive) in 2020. The other part of me wants to share every poignant article, tweet or interview I see. On social media, I see the outcry as Trump appoints a white nationalist as his White House chief strategist. On TV, I hear pleads not to give up, to “join the resistance,” and reminders that we the people who voted for the other camp are on the right side of history. I see fear in cities big and small, all around the country, from people of all different backgrounds. They’re not just scared for their way of life, they are scared FOR their lives. In my last post, I tried REALLY HARD to find some positivity, mostly so I could pull myself out of the weeping disbelief that started Tuesday evening at 11pm. Now, I read it and think, “WIMP! Do not accept this new standard as American normalcy!” I never wanted to be an activist, but if I accept and get in line, am I an accomplice to whatever is to come?
I don’t want to become some angry doomsday prepper who’s waiting in the wings to tell everyone, “I told ya so.” I can’t shake this confused bewilderment that I have. Is this real life? Are my fellow Americans really that mad? That misinformed? That gullible? Many don’t understand why I can’t just let it go. I can’t let it go because we don’t know what is going to happen. When Trump campaigned, he shared very few actual ideas and policies because I believe he has very few actual ideas and policies. He used anger, fear, racism and misogyny to craft a persona that resonated with the lowest common denominator. I don’t know if Donald Trump is actually a racist, a misogynist (well, I think we know he’s a misogynist,) or an extreme conservative. No one really knows. What I am leaning towards is that he’s an empty vessel that will be molded and filled by whomever is running his administration, whomever has his ear at any given moment, or whomever can serve his personal motives best. He’s certainly a liar who will say whatever fits the conversation of the moment, to get the outcome he desires. It’s the instability of not knowing that is scariest, and the fact that whether you are Democrat or Republican, black or white, rich or poor, this is a man who will lie to your face.
I want to find some kind of peace in a volatile and unpredictable time, but I don’t want to shut up about it. The more I hear, the more I cannot accept. I want people to be safe, have well-paying jobs, be able to live, love, and practice religion in any way they choose. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where she won’t make as much money as the guy down the hall doing the same job, or have to pay off a student loan for the rest of her life. I don’t believe it is right to deport 3 million people peacefully living, working, and raising a family in our country. I don’t believe it’s right for the government to tell a woman what to do with her body (too much government in our lives, I thought???) I don’t believe in building walls, and I don’t believe in returning to a health care system where millions of people can’t access it. I believe there were dinosaurs. I believe in the right to peacefully protest. I believe that the EARTH WILL FRY BECAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IF WE DON’T CHANGE OUR HUMAN WAYS. I believe we are all created equal. I believe a bombastic president-elect who was so quick to harass people on social media and in person when he felt he was being wronged should at least TWEET something to condemn the outbreak of racial harassment. I can’t stop believing, because once we stop believing, it’s all over. Someone recently put on a hat, “We’re still here.” So, I guess I’m still here, too.