a political aside

Hello. I rarely comment on politics here, because frankly there is little point. My politics are radical enough that I long ago resigned myself to the fact that I will never see candidates elected to political office in the United States who publicly share my beliefs. Certainly not at a national level, anyway, nor in the state in which I currently live. To say that I am a disenfranchised voter would be a gross understatement.

Nonetheless, I cannot let the election of Donald J. Trump to the office of President of the United States of America pass by without sharing a few words.

First, I believe we owe the rest of the world an apology. So, on behalf of my country, please accept my deepest apologies for what has happened here. American politics are complicated, to say the least. Surely that’s obvious even from the outside. We are a country of 319 million people—well over half that of the entire European Union (currently ~508 million). This was not the choice of the American people. It was the choice of a small disgruntled percentage of us. Literally millions of us did not want it to happen.

In way of explanation for how this colossal travesty has happened, I present these points:

  1. At least 40% of eligible voters did not vote in the general election. And somehow I doubt that if they had, they would all have voted for Mr. Trump.
  2. Even more importantly, over 70% of eligible voters did not vote in the primary election, which is the one that could have prevented a racist, misogynistic, torture-loving megalomaniac from getting on the November ballot in the first place.
  3. Many of the people who voted for Mr. Trump share a narrow homogeneous set of voting priorities that do not extend much beyond their own economic situations.
  4. A certain segment of those who voted for Mr. Trump did so only because late in the election cycle he pandered to their personal stance against abortion, which apparently ‘trumps’ the fact that he routinely objectifies women, thinks waterboarding is ‘great’, and has vowed to hunt down and kill innocent family members of suspected terrorists.
  5. Many of the people who voted for Mr. Trump don’t care about ‘the rest of the world’ and consider it only in the following two respects:
    1. It’s where terrorists come from.
    2. It’s where all the cheap stuff they buy in Wal-Mart comes from.
  6. Trump actually lost the popular vote, making him one of only five presidents to have been elected without winning it. The last time this happened was when George W. Bush was elected in 2000. Notice a trend here? Thank you, Electoral College, for facilitating the election of the two most horrifying candidates in presidential history. Clearly, the elimination of this archaic system is way past due.

Second, I have been awash in a confused mixture of anger, fear, and resignation. My fight-or-flight response is fluctuating wildly. I strive to take things as they come, but every time I see his face or even hear his name, my blood starts to boil and I think of all the hate speech he spewed during his campaign. I hear the chants of ‘Not My President’ on the news and I find myself chanting along with the protesters because NO, HE IS NOT MY PRESIDENT, and he never will be, even if he does end up bowing to the pressures of the office and tempers some or all of the grotesque campaign promises he has made over the last year.

Above all, I want to express my outrage. I want to firmly and categorically deny him as my leader. Why should he be entitled to a peaceful transfer of power, when all he’s done for months is sow the seeds of hate and discontent? I consider taking advantage of my access to Irish citizenship and leaving it all behind, at least until some semblance of sanity is restored (hopefully at the end of the next four years). I wonder about how this country has become so divided. I wonder why it’s so big in the first place. I wonder why we can’t just split it up into autonomous regions along its political sectarian borders so that we all don’t have to go through this painful nightmare every four or eight years. But then I think about how it doesn’t even matter because we’re already on a course toward the end of civilization as we know it due to our pathological disregard for the environment.

And yet—ultimately, I know that all of this thinking is delusion. I can allow myself to feel anger over this election, but when I explore my anger I see its cause is self-centered. Something happened that I did not want to happen. In fact, this is a regular occurrence. I may acknowledge my anger over these occurrences and that’s fine, but what matters is whether I remain attached to it. Whether I apply layers of discursive thinking to it, allowing it to grow gnarled and twisted to the point where all I can perceive is the thick crust I have built on top of it. Or whether I choose to accept what has happened and continue to deal with matters at hand as they arise.

As I work through all of my feelings, I am beginning to see this election as a wake-up call to those of us who do care about the rest of the world, who do care about the people around us who are hurting and need assistance, and who do care about preserving values such as generosity, inclusiveness, and non-violence. So while I will allow myself to feel anger over this election, I refuse to dwell on that anger and I won’t let it cloud my efforts to help others. There is far too much work to be done to give in to despair.

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  1. I stayed up all night watching the results come in and even though in some ways I wasn’t surprised, I still can’t quite believe it. It’s been compared to our Brexit which was also based on fear and intolerance, but if it’s any consolation to you, at least with any luck you can get rid of him in four years time, the U.K. will be stuck with the implications of leaving the EU for much longer.
    And I think you’re completely right in your attitude, there are plenty of folk like you who believe in tolerance and compassion, who want to care rather than hate. We’ve just got to remember that and stick together.

    • Thanks for commiserating. :) Yes, I’ve also been thinking about you all over there and figured there’d be some similar sentiments at play. That such seemingly rash decisions can be made at such a far-reaching macro level is what is so astonishing to me. I can’t help thinking that there is some failure in democracy at work when fear and intolerance win out, but perhaps it is just another section of humanity’s natural trajectory.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I agree completely.

    The only thing that was helping me get through this election season was my certainty that Trump would not be elected, and thus I would no longer have to face his repulsive racism, misogyny, and utter sociopathic vileness every single day of my life. And at this point, there is really very little hope in sight. Except that, maybe, just maybe, now that the “unthinkable” has happened, we all must wake the hell up–and that includes me. I have never felt this outraged in my life. It sickens me to know that President Obama will have to hand power over to a man who perpetuated a racist lie against him for years on end. This is one of many things that pains me. I really don’t know what’s going to happen to our country, or the rest of the world for that matter, but I’ve been running through scenarios in my mind endlessly over the last couple of days. Just this year I went back to school to pursue an education in the environmental sciences, and I’ve been really hopeful about starting a new career in order to help further environmental protection, and I know I have to keep going forward, somehow, but right I feel completely deflated, sickened, ashamed, and lost.

    • Well, first, I’m glad to hear of your future plans. We need lots of good people in the environmental sciences! So please don’t give up now. I know the situation looks grim, but we can’t let the hate mongers and destroyers win.

      I was impressed and humbled by the graciousness with which President Obama welcomed Trump to the White House. That he was able to spend 90 minutes alone in a room with that man and not emerge with a bloody knife in his hand astounds me. So I’ve been thinking of that now when I have bad feelings toward Trump.

      As I’m sure you know, one of the down sides to having a vivid imagination is the degree to which our minds can paint lurid worst case scenarious in extreme detail. I’ve talked to others recently who also have been suffering from this. But I think we need to focus on what we can do now, and try not to think about what might be. Easier said than done, I know, but I think after the initial shock wears off you’ll find renewed vigor. At the very least you can bury yourself in your schoolwork…

  1. belated apology to the world | lost gander


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