Tuesday, November 08, 2016

In which I return from a LONG hiatus to complain about the election here, so that I don't set my FB feed on fire

Let's talk about the election.  Actually, let's not: I really, really don't want to, but I also literally can't think about anything else for any sustained period of time? I do not know what to do about it, so writing seems like my best bet.  Here's what I wrote to the Fishy today, re: the election.

 Thanks so much; it is ridiculously anxiety-making around here right now, for sure. I'm trying to keep it together, but it is so nice to know that other countries see how completely absurd this whole thing is, and are hoping for the best. I've done my part already, so now I just have to wait and hope that things aren't really as bad as they seem. Deep breaths!  I hope you are doing really well... in all honesty, it's probably my turn for the long email, but since I'm relying on my phone for everything since my computer finally gave up the ghost a few months ago, emails are more difficult than I'd like. (I am not nearly as efficient at thumb typing as I am at regular typing.).  (That is in no way relevant to this post, but I did want you to know why I'm not posting all that much: Phone typing is NOT good for blog production.)

Anyways, huge hugs, and a big thank you for thinking of me. This election is definitely the most anxiety producing one I've ever been through, and that takes into account that most of the time Obama was running the first time I was sure he was going to be assassinated before he could ever be inaugurated, so that tells you how bad it truly is. When a guy who believes in eugenics is one vote away from being the leader of your country- whether or not you are one of the ones whose genes are obviously inferior- I think terrified is the correct response. Now I just have to deep breathe my way through a day that most people agree is going to go the right way, and hope that nobody on our side got complacent and stayed home. Love you! Talk soon!

And I'm having discussions with NephTwo (this is the last presidential election he won't be eligible to vote in, which is blowing my mind) about Bush V Kerry - and how the fact that he got reelected has led me to this point of election anxiety, because I can't trust my fellow citizens to do what's right for the majority of us, the minorities of us, or even individual us-es.  I was 100% certain that Bush would not be reelected, but I had apparently living in some sort of Liberal Utopian Echo-chamber, where I just wasn't hearing the people who thought he was doing a good job? and deserved another term? Because all of the sudden, there we were, in Bush, Term Two.  I still have questions about that, to be honest: I have no idea how that freaking happened.  I went and looked it up, because I could not remember how close it was. 50/48 - that's it... two percentage points (and I don't even think two whole percentage points), and the balance of the world tips. 

Our world has been balanced on chads, on presidential pamphlets, on the media's portrayal of a certain candidates foibles or strengths (who you "want to have a beer with" vs who gets Swiftboated, who can "see Russia from their house" vs who's "never gonna be president now", for example), on demagogues and Supreme Court Justices alike. So, yeah, you'll have to excuse me being a little bit nervous about the fact that a person who does not believe that people like me should exist; who does not believe that - or act like - women are equal to men; who can criticize and castigate an entire race, an entire religion, and entire countries and still think that that has no impact on the greater world around him; who does not believe in equal rights for all people, should be so close to the ultimate position of power in our country. 

Even more bitter is that all the things that I believe should have disqualified him from running, let alone serving, are things that SOMEONE in my country is voting for him because of.  There is someone out there right now who thinks that he's got the right approach to Muslims, and that person isn't going away tomorrow, like Trump hopefully will. There is someone out there voting for him, and they're not bothered by the allegations of rape and sexual assault that Trump is facing. Who doesn't mind the way he's talked to Gold Star families, or the way he disrespects veterans. There is someone out there who thinks "Nuke the shit out of them" is valid foreign policy.  Who thinks "illegals" are group of subhumans, and that they don't deserve to live in the same space as the rest of us.  Who believes that 'Obamacare' is the devil, and doesn't care that it has saved my life - or the lives of hundreds of thousands of others.

And those people are all voting (as they should, although I could wish that they just haven't got the time for it today, right? That's not wishing them ill, so much as wishing them busy, which seems acceptable), and all of those people WILL STILL EXIST come tomorrow morning.  All of those people will still be our country-mates come the day after the election, and that's worrisome to me, because some of those people don't think I should exist, that I do not deserve equal rights, or the support of my government in the form of health care or civil rights.  (For multiple reasons, thank you intersectionality!)

There is some real looking hard at yourselves and your choices that Americans are going to need to do, post-election.

I get that my internet experience is tailored to exist as much in the Social Justice Warrior Bubble as possible, both by choice and by chance, but the facts of this election, and this electorate, are startling to me. (To be fair, I think most of us were actually shocked by Trump's accession, if you can take the fact that both liberal and republican media sources were playing the whole thing off as kind of a joke in the beginning as any kind of clue.) And it's not as if, existing in those spaces online, or as myself in public, I am unaware that all the -isms are alive and well in my country. (The ones I personally experience, and the ones I have witnessed happening to others, which I do understand are not the same thing at all.  I'm just saying, I was also not unaware they existed, just because I did not personally experience them.)
But that someone could rise to power, so quickly and with so little opposition, well, that was a shock to me. That's were my own experiences were definitely not enough, because for however much I've been treated badly by people with ableist attitudes or behaviors, I did not understand the extent to which there were still huge swaths of the country who not only pity people with disabilities, but don't think their lives should be lived. I literally could not believe that a eugenicist was being taken seriously in our election (Granted, he did not come out and SAY he was a Eugenicist, but I think if you look at the definition, and you look at what he believes, you can see how many others and I were able to draw that conclusion.) 

That is an extreme I was not prepared for, in this (or any) election.

I have been listening to other people's lived experiences - the fact that there are violent racists in America is not a surprise to me, for example - but I know that I was not prepared for how ardently and publicly people proclaim things that are overtly racist (or sexist, or homophobic, or Islamophobic, or ableist,), and still don't think that they themselves are racist (et al) .  That they can support a bigot without believing themselves to be bigoted is ... a cognitive dissonance I did not expect, and can not comprehend.  I also have not found more than one or two Trump supporters who can actually give me a reasoned support statement for Trump that do not mention Clinton at all - I get being anti-candidate, because I'm pretty sure I'd vote Garden Hose over Trump, but if you cannot find something in your candidate to support, that's also a problem (Garden Hose: putting out emergency fires since forever. Also, helps your plants grow which is two whole positive things more than I can name about Trump, for example.)

Nor was I prepared for the ways in which this election, and who people support (and how they support them) would impact my personal feelings about people in my life.  It's like Melissa McEwan's Terrible Bargain come to life, this whole thing.

There are people in my life that I depend on, because I have to, whom I no longer can look at as trustworthy, because they didn't see the "big deal" about Trump saying he could sexually assault women and get away with it because he's rich.  There are men that I have befriended and trusted that I now have to seriously reconsider spending time with, because they assured me that it was, in fact, "locker room talk", and not aggressive misogyny.  I know of more than one married couple who are having some really devastatingly difficult conversations now, because they are seeing each other differently in light of their reactions to what has gone on during this cycle.  I've been unfriended myself, because I couldn't refrain from calling out bigotry where I saw it.

 And even though I'm most likely better off, it stung, because I thought I knew that person enough to say "Hey: Not cool. Repeating racist things makes you seem racist, I hope you know." (I am including the word 'seem' here even though I think the correct definition would be to exclude it: repeating racist things makes you racist, if you're supporting them. But I was A LOT more circumspect in my actual FB comment, so know that even this would have been seen as a killer blow to our 'friendship.' )

And I've tried to keep my personal Facebook feed as apolitical as possible (which is not to say apolitical, bc that's impossible for me), and had more than one truly frightening conversation with loved ones about race, class, the economy, misogyny (internalized and externalized), and power than I could ever have imagined having.  Sure, some have been positive, but for the most part, I find relationships are scarred by our interactions over this election - where I am mostly seen as a 'lefty loonie' in our family NORMALLY, now I have been placed in full on 'raving banshee' position, even though I have censored myself  8 times out of 10.

It's not something I'm likely to shrug off either - I will remember every "Oh, aren't you naive" and "that's not why I'm voting for him, but it's also not enough of a reason not to vote for him," I've encountered, you can be sure of that. 

In closing, please sweet baby jesus that I don't actually believe in, could this day end the way it needs to? With hope and community and optimism for our future? With the first woman president of our country, on the cusp of bringing a lot of people together to get shit done? Because I would like that a whole lot. 

On another note, though, my NaNoWriMo writing is going great guys, because I am writing about so many explosions! And history making changes! And life altering political policies! And complete dystopias, because I can't see how else this can end! (I predict M A N Y novels that come out of this NaNoWriMo are going to be Hunger Games-esque, because how could they not be?)


Beatrice Desper said...

I'm new to your blog. American in France, disabled, happy I have solid health insurance, please know that the American community in France is strongly shocked at the results. I hope that neither LePen nor Sarko get elected next spring, because they are frightening, too.

JaneB said...

I'm in the UK. Sharing your horror and fear - been in that space since the Brexit campaign. I thought we were better than that, that the last awful, deadly, noisy, crowded, communicating century had at least taught us something about demagogery and the futility and ugliness of hate. I was grateful for my privilege, that I lived in a country where these things couldn't happen again.

And I feel so effing STUPID that I was wrong. I don't think I'm naive, I listen, I seek out information, I know something about history.

Also, my parents voted for it, refuse to hear anything against it, rail at me - yet they lived through the second world war, my mother still regularly meets up with her Jewish schoolfriend whose family got out of Austria at the last minute with the clothes they stood up in and made it to England by the skin of their teeth, she worked in housing in really poor areas. Maybe its true that as you get older you get more right wing. Maybe I just imagined them to be the loving, generous, politically liberal people I wanted them to be, at least a bit. And that is also world-shaking and terrifying (for parents substitute anyone else in your life who you thought you knew and know you relied on).

So empathy!

Also, my NaNo is going great guns too, but it's totally escapist. Dragons, talking cats, loving and inclusive friend-families in a social setting where gender and sexuality and how much you earn and stuff matter much less than being a decent person. I'm sure there are slums and meanness and cruelty in my imaginary world, if I looked for them, but I'm spending this November going 'lalalala' with my fingers in my ears and concentrating on writing scenes where people are happy and sit around a fireplace with cats sleeping on their feet, talking about books, or go dragon-watching in the beautiful unpolluted mountains, and no-one asks them fifty times a day if they never wanted to have kids/a partner or why they are single or when they are going to get that promotion or why they are sitting around or being fat in public or anything else that makes them feel less than adequate. Fantasy, in many senses of the world!

Hope to read more from you here, as long as it doesn't strain your thumbs too much...