I find myself writing this with a much heavier heart than I had thought possible given that it is to be a piece about politics, a topic that very rarely inspires my passions. At least to date, I am not a political beast. I don’t ascribe to party politics and do not have a 100% agreement on policy on either side of the fence. In this aspect, I think I am the average voting American. Until this election, I believed myself to be engaged, but not enthralled. I’ve not missed an election (even mid-terms and local elections) since I became of age, but I don’t enjoy watching the circus that surrounds the election seasons nor do I care for the political slandering and reality distortion that happens incessantly between elections in preparation to be the winner in the next election. I am abundantly aware of the absurd dichotomy that lives within the politician where one should have a calling to work for the greater good while simultaneously having to play the dirty game of politics in order to get to power necessary to affect your changes. I am also painfully aware how HUMAN and IMPERFECT our politicians are. I buy in whole heartedly that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton, 1887). Oddly, it is one of the reasons why I have felt somewhat safe in previous elections. In previous elections, I believed what I had been told by civics classes and constitutional experts. I believed that our system of checks and balances protected WE THE PEOPLE from any situation of absolute power, thus protected us from absolute corruption. I believed that this same system allowed for the voice of the minorities and minority parties to be heard and considered and even on occasion embraced and incorporated (as we have a wide variety of minorities and have very rarely had an overwhelming majority in the popular vote for any candidate, this was a comforting idea). I also believed that WE THE PEOPLE wanted this fundamental cornerstone of our democracy. I believed that we were inherently united, as the stories of WWI and WWII would lead us to believe. I believed that we wanted to find our common ground despite political discrepancies between us.
I was naive.
This election has shattered these beliefs. This election has shown me that WE THE PEOPLE just want to live in a world that changes only to give us exactly what we want exactly when we want it without much effort or sacrifice on our part and without much thought for what will be left for anyone outside of our immediate circles. It has shown me that, although WE THE PEOPLE give lip service to the fundamental principals of our democracy, WE THE PEOPLE have no interest in applying those principals practically if the will of WE THE PEOPLE is generally split and/or is against our own desires. This election has shown me, how much WE, including myself, are all part of WE THE PEOPLE in this magical thinking and apathy towards a democratic process. The only people that are truly engaged in American politics are the people who gain directly from the process (politicians, the rich, corporations, the media, etc.).That is not a democracy.I find myself sitting here today, trying desperately to get back to a place where my naiveté has not been shattered, a place where I can say with certitude that, although we will never be perfect, WE THE PEOPLE are a beacon of good will and democracy for all of our citizens as well as everyone around the world and that, despite our failings, we are trying to improve. It is an exercise in futility. I cannot un-see and un-hear what I’ve seen and heard from my politicians. I cannot un-learn what I have learned about MY FELLOW PEOPLE and MYSELF. I cannot return to innocence. So what do I do from here? Seriously, that is a question that I need answered. What the hell do I do from here?What do I, a CITIZEN ZERO with no political or financial clout, do to repair the BI-PARTISAN damage that is increasingly ignored by my government or worse used to manipulate WE THE PEOPLE? The damage that has caused a massive riff between Americans, even family? Yes I am speaking to Republicans and Democrats alike. Although, because of their current status Republicans deserve a big spot light, there is undeniably Democrat DNA in this murder scene as well. I hold both sides EQUALLY accountable in this mess. So tell me, what do I do about:
- a government that SHAMEFULLY falls short on taking the necessary measure to adequately reduce OUR EXACERBATION of the CLIMATE CRISIS?
- a government that openly tries to deter particular groups of people from voting?
- a government that transforms journalism into an extended arm of their propaganda machines, and a media that laps it up as greedily as any glutton?
- a government that openly profits from and encourages dishonest propaganda techniques to confuse voters simply to maintain or gain power?
- political practices that ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE engagement of the population?
- a government that re-organizes voting districts to favor their own party and not to be a true reflection of the people who live there?
- a government that has, over the course of the last 20+ years, dismantled many of the checks of our checks and balance system to favour their own party without regard to the effects on OUR democratic process?
- a government that confuses an electoral college landslide with an actual landslide?
- a government that tells half of it’s population that their hopes, dreams, concerns and opinions mean nothing to them because the government knows better what is needed outside of Washington?
- a political system that infantilizes the population?
- a political system that allows a complete disregard of scientific fact?
- a population that has so completely lost its objectivity about WORDS that we can no longer agree on the difference between obviously hateful soundbites that are designed, by nature, to inflame the spark of racism, misogyny, misandry, & xenophobia, and a true lessening of “politically correct” rhetoric?
- an enraged population that seems unable and decidedly unwilling to try to see our common ground, nor to work towards LIVABLE COMPROMISES that would allow our country to heal?
- the cold, hard reality that the culmination of this election has left us with nothing more than the skeletal remains of a democracy for WE THE PEOPLE that is very quickly turning into a hearty democracy for YOU THE POLITICIANS AND SUPER-RICH.
In the end, my take away from this whole mess is that, politically speaking, my government is no longer for WE THE PEOPLE. It is a government that is for WE THE DEMOCRATS/WE THE REPUBLICANS. We might as well call you the Hatfields and the McCoys and get the hell out of the line of fire.
Unfortunately, I can’t do it. I can’t walk away from the line of fire. I can’t ignore what I’ve seen and heard. What is left for me is to figure out what this awakening political awareness means in my life and what my options are to effect change in a positive and inclusive way. I’m afraid that the journey will be long and pointless, but as FDR famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. I guess it is time to pull up my big girl pants and open my large southern heart in hopes of finding the light at the end of this nightmarish tunnel.