Election Thoughts

 

So I’ve been sitting on this WordPress for awhile, thinking I might want to start blogging regularly again with a fresh start. I’ve considered writing about many different topics, but none that came to mind felt like the “right” first post for my fresh start. Well, this certainly doesn’t either, but I feel like I must put all my thoughts out there for the world to see somewhere.

This is very much all over the place but so are my thoughts and feelings.

I come from a largely Republican family. Once I moved away from my parents and had some distance from that family bubble, I liberalized pretty quickly, but this was only the second presidential election during which my politics were different from my family’s. That this election has been harder on me than any other I have lived through is therefore a statement I make with a very small sample size, but it can’t really get worse than this, can it? Because if it can, I honestly don’t know if I want to live long enough to witness it.

I have always prided myself on my ability to debate with people with civility, to not let politics cause any sort of divide between myself and my family, but this time it was oh, so difficult. Very quickly I began to recognize one of the Republican candidates. He mocked people, passed judgements on them based on their physical appearance, he was basically a seventy-year-old version of my elementary and middle school bullies. Not only that, he seemed to inspire such vitriolic racism with his rhetoric that I honestly didn’t think could exist in America in the twenty-first century.

As the campaign wore on, it grew harder and harder to juxtapose people who I have loved and admired and looked up to and seen as such bastions of good and generosity with people who could vote for him in my brain. And I was almost certain they would vote for him because I’ve never known of them not to vote along party lines. That mismatch in my brain definitely played a tole on me. There were times when it left me immobilized, unable to find the motivation to leave my flat for days at a time.

Then I did more research, found old interviews of him that reeked of misogyny and even hinted at pedophilia. Then the tapes. Then the assault accusations. At some point in there I also learned of his running mate’s support of conversion therapy. I don’t know if any of that ended up changing the votes of those I love, but I am honestly afraid to know.

Because I am a victim of sexual assault, and a vote for Trump feels like implicit approval of that. The fact that he has been elected feels like half the country has implicitly approved of all sexual assault. Even if he is completely innocent of all accusations brought against him (which I believe is highly unlikely) we know for certain that he very explicitly approves of sexual assault. He has engaged in the very “locker room talk” that normalizes sexual assault in the minds of men who may already be thinking about doing it and makes them think that they will have the approval of their peers. Well now those men will think that they have the approval of their president.

I’ve told very few about my sexual assault, but for some reason I was afraid of telling the people who I always knew loved me most. It would have killed me if they had known and still voted the way I thought they would.

However, although their potential votes for him may feel like a betrayal, I do not blame my family for the election of Donald Trump. I don’t blame most Donald Trump voters for the election of Donald Trump. I feel that many of them were manipulated into believing that immigrants and minorities were the root of all their problems and Trump stoked that resulting hatred and road it all the way to the white house. They are people who probably have more to gain by a Democratic government but have been fooled into believing otherwise. But to those people who think their jobs are being taken by immigrants or by the effort to save the planet from potentially catastrophic climate change, I say this: that is not what is taking your jobs. At least not most of them. Technology is taking your jobs. Technology will continue to take your jobs. We are entering an age where human labor becomes less and less necessary. In order for those not in the 1% to survive that we will eventually have to abandon the outdated economic model of capitalism in favor of one that values people for people and not for the amount of product that they can produce.

I also don’t blame third party voters for the election of Donald Trump. I like to believe that many of Gary Johnson’s voters were Republicans who couldn’t stomach voting for Trump and I honestly think they are the very best sort of Republicans we have. I truly hope that the Libertarian party replaces the Republicans in the near future. They are a party that truly believes in small government and not the hypocrisy of small government only when it suits “Christian” morals. Fiscal conservatism is an economic model I feel is growing obsolete, but I can respect others’ belief in it. I do kind of blame Gary Johnson though. I feel like this was his year to get that magical 5% and he really dropped the ball. If he’d played things better, he could have gotten more of Trump’s vote and then we very well may not be here.

I do blame the media that latched onto Trump from the beginning, who relished in the ratings that a racist, sexist demagogue running for president could bring. They legitimized him. They normalized him. They put him on equal footing with Hillary Clinton. I blame myself for constantly being glued to their coverage. For participating in that.

I also blame the Republican and Democratic political establishments. They really let us down this election. I don’t know how or if the DNC influenced the Republican primary somehow, betting that Trump as an opponent would be a guaranteed win, but if they did, well, I hope they’re happy with that bet. As far as I’m concerned, the Republicans need to be completely replaced by the Libertarians and the Democrats need to be completely reformed from the inside. It’s progressive wing needs to exert itself and take the reigns.

I also blame the first past the post vote system that inevitably always leads to a two-party stranglehold:

I personally think the alternative vote system looks interesting.

I don’t blame Hilary Clinton. Although Bernie aligns more with my own political beliefs, we don’t know for sure if he would have beat Trump, and I truly believe Clinton hoped to do her best for the American people. As for the emails, all that ever looked like to me was her playing the game the way men have always played the game. Though I guess dirty hands always look dirtier on a woman. Not that I don’t think that particular game needs to stop being played anyway, but equating it to Trump’s mountain of scandals is just seems nonsensical to me.

I certainly blame Citizens United and the current obscene amount of money in politics.

I do blame James Comey. Obviously.

But most of all I blame the antiquated electoral college system. HILLARY CLINTON WON THE POPULAR VOTE. Trump and his Republican congress will be governing without the consent of the majority of the governed. There is nothing we can do about it the election, but I definitely think we should work to ensure elections are decided by popular vote in the future. Did you know it’s possible to win the presidency with only 22% of the popular vote?

Oh, and I blame anger germs.

All right now that I’ve gotten everything out and shared all the CPG Gray videos I wanted, I just want to say that I have no less of a desire to return to America after I finish my MFA now than I did before the election was called. I am still proud to be an American. The United States my home and will always be a large part of who I am. I will not let these results shake that. I am still achingly homesick and I am eager to get home and take more of an active role in my country’s political process than I have in the past. I know that this disaster can be commuted somewhat if Democrats can win the Senate in 2018 (I’d say the House too but because of shameless Republican gerrymandering (oops, one more video), that is nearly impossible). I plan to get involved in that effort on a local level as soon as I get home. I encourage others of my generation to do so as well.

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