And We're Back...
Poppets, I've missed you so. Yes I'm here, yes I still have access to the internet, no I haven't gone and moved off into the middle of the woods with only my dogs and a copy of Origins of Totalitarianism to keep me company. And as the lovely emails and phone calls I received asked, I assure you I am here, I am still not funny, but my dogs are still cute. In fact, they have their own instagram account now, if you need anything to distract you from the next four years.
So yea, three weeks ago, we had a wee little event happen in these here United States. To everyone who reached out to see if I was ok, I'm not going to lie to you. I was gutted. Like, punched in the gut, smacked in the face, physically ill. I felt stupid, and scared, and confused - basically turned into the nightmare symptoms of the hot new anti-anxiety medication. I had helped lock up Oakland for Hillary HQ, and once we knew what had gone down, it got mighty funereal mighty quick.
I didn't want to write - anything I put down was pedantic, or shallow, or just too damned pissed off to share with the rest of the world. As hot take after hot take flooded my feeds the day after, I deleted all social media off of my phone, filtered out news via my Go Fucking Work chrome extension, cut myself off from the surprise and shock and instant reactions, because in the past-tense parlance of the kids out there, I just couldn't.
As you know because I told you a million times, this was my first Presidential election. And my friends, I tried. I checked my ingrained political cynicism and put my heart into volunteering in the small way I could. I researched, I could talk policy, I anticipated negative emotional reactions, I cheered when we got ahold of a supporter at phone banks.
To publicly declare that you support a candidate, to put yourself out there and say "I believe in this person. I believe in what this campaign represents for the country" is to check your ego and get excited. Being enthusiastic like that means you're vulnerable, because there's an inherent vulnerability in trying, in giving a shit.
I've never been the one who doesn't give a shit. I give a shit, I give all of the shits.
There's an ache in this loss, and I believe it to be especially acute for women. In the past few weeks, 1v1 calls I've had with colleagues and consultants and clients have eventually stopped for a brief moment, with the inevitable "so, how are you doing?" slipping into a pattern: "Hi, how are you, pleasantry, five minute discussion about that work thing that now feels painfully minuscule, hard to focus on and unimportant, twenty minutes expressing grief and sadness and disbelief that others don't feel the same way, sighs on both ends of the phone, proclamations of disappointments and exhaustion, of feeling like we are the only one reacting like this, of wondering if it's strange to still be so disquieted by this election."
One woman told me about how she explained to her daughter what had happened, and her daughter had asked to stay home from school.
Another related fears of going home for Thanksgiving because she'd already seen folks from her hometown posting on Facebook about how America had finally been grabbed by the pussy.
One friend called me crying, saying she had purchased a bottle of bubbles in celebration and now she felt like a fool crying over that when she saw the videos of a woman calling a BART passenger a “stalker from the Middle East."
A friend related in sadness and anger that when she expressed anxiety about the election results in front of a friend, she had been told to stop worrying, that it would be ok.
And you know what? For us gliberals in our coastal bubbles like the SNL skit, it may approximate normal. Already California Democrats are positioning themselves as the Democratic resistance, and I applaud them for it.
But it's not going to be ok for those living elsewhere if policy matches the personnel Trump is appointing. For women who need reproductive care in southern states. For LGBTQI youth living in fear of coming out to their parents. For Muslim immigrants who are already suffering an increase in hate crimes across the country. For them, and others who everyday are living the "identity politics" some are smugly dismissing, life won't be ok.
But the reality is as follows: voters in strategically critical areas of the country voted to support a man who once picked a fight with The Pope to be President of the United States. A man who "doesn't read much", is surrounded by family and sycophants and yes-men who tell him what he wants to hear and shield him from what he doesn't, allowing him to refuse daily intelligence briefings.
Matthew Yglesias at Vox got up in front of the Vox Conversations conference I was at and said Trump could win. Everyone laughed uncomfortably. And now he's one of the few that called this early on. And he reminds us that we don't get to be shocked, because Trump told us he was going to do this. As many reported, his dog whistles became bullhorn shouts. Nothing that is happening should be a surprise to anyone, ever. We knew what we were getting into, and still nearly half of the country decided to sit this one out. Half the country decided they were cool with letting someone else make this decision.
And that's hard for me. Because this is how systems break - not with a bang but with apathy.
This is on all of us: the national rhetoric went too far, since we now know that Dubya and Romney weren't Hitler, at least not when surrogates to the current president-elect talk about the legal precedent set by the Japanese internment camps. We on the left AND the right vilified good, hard working public servants because it was easier to do that than give something up to compromise.
And no, as many will write back, it wasn't about race and gender and "identity politics" for all. But I can't help but rage at the normalization.
This result is still personal. As a woman who will have to start paying $500 for the most effective and easiest to manage birth control if Obamacare is overturned, it’s personal. As a Jew-by-Choice shocked how swastikas are the new black, this is personal. As an immigrant, albeit a white one with no accent, this is personal - funny how I haven't been told to go back home yet, wonder why that is... And as a student of history, this is personal.
I wanted to have a snappy wrap-up here but it's already 7:13 AM and I promised myself I'd send this out today before I go to work. So if you made it this far, tune in tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after.
If you've haven't already unsubscribed, I look forward to figuring this out together...