Sunday, October 2, 2016

This Election is a Shit Show

Gage Skidmore from Flickr -  Some rights reserved
I've been unusually quiet about the election this year. Last election, I had at least a few posts, and I was very active on Facebook among my friends and family arguing that Romney was the wrong choice for our country.

The reason I've been quiet about this is because I am horrified beyond words with what is happening in my country. Beyond the memes, beyond the funny late night talk show skits, beyond all of the jokes and bullshit, we are a hairsbreadth away from electing a tyrant in the White House.

This isn't hyperbole. Donald Trump isn't just a blithering, gibbering idiot fucksponge. Trump has been proven to be a racist, a liar, and a swindler over and over and over and over. I would be genuinely curious to see the results of a psychological evaluation to see if he is a sociopath, or if being so rich and powerful is enough to strip a normal human of every shred of intelligence, common sense, humility, and humanity.

The system being what it is, each party generally gets about 40-ish percent of the vote and they fight for the last 20, with a meager smattering of votes going to any third party candidates. However, I was hoping that in the face of such unprecedented awful, the vote would be a near unanimous rejection of him. But, unfortunately, it's not.

I genuinely did not expect Trump to get the nomination at the start of this election. I know we've had a few cases of celebrities moving into politics with varying degrees of success, but I'm not sure we've ever had someone like Trump. He's so openly hateful, thin-skinned, and conniving that everyone treated it like the joke that it should be. When he got closer, and it looked like he might actually gain the nomination, I believed that if he did get it, it would be the end of the Republican Party as we knew it. After all, there have to be conservatives that aren't weeping, petulant white people mad at the brown folks for taking their jobs, right? Surely there are rational ones that have watched their party stray steadily away from what they know and love and decide to split off and form a third, fiscally conservative, socially liberal-ish group right?

Apparently not--at least, not yet. While there are some, thank goodness, that have at least temporarily defected to the Democrat side to vote Hillary, the polls so far have shown an unsettlingly tight race.

Watching the Republican leadership--not just the Tea Party fringes, but the rest of the party as well--either line up behind Trump or quietly step out of his way to avoid going against the party trend has been horrifying. As much shit as we give Congress for being do nothing, and as racially charged as the Republican Congress has been toward Barack Obama, I didn't think they were so filled with hatred and/or cowardice to allow this to happen.

I'm sure part of my surprise comes from my own sheltered life as a cis-het white dude. Deep down, the I guess the country has always been this ugly. And I guess, as a white person, it's easy to view some of the ugly racism that has bubbled back up as a relic of Back Then. But Trump has proved that Back Then is not as Back as it seemed, and we still have a long way to go.

If I try to be empathetic toward Trumpkins, I do see a group of people that have been told their entire life that their way of life is correct, right, and expected. And to see that steadily upended as they learn that everything they once believed is wrong must be scary. I think it's likely that some of that fear comes from housing segregation--huge swaths of our country are laid out in such a way that it is often exceptionally difficult to meet and regularly interact with people of color. Suburbs were specifically created as a white attempt to "Go Galt" and separate themselves from other races and cultures. It's been showing that regular interaction with those different than you can influence you and make you more empathetic understanding to those that are different to you. The key is exposure, and a lot of white Americans have grown up in a system that keeps that exposure from them by design. However, that's not an excuse for openly supporting hate and burying their heads in the sand about very real issues that  a good many Americans face on a daily basis.

The fact that Trump has made it onto the world's stage as a potential national candidate--one who is accused of rape, of using money donated to his charity for personal enjoyment, of dog-whistling to and refusing to refute the alt-right and extreme racists, one who is so misinformed he argued with the debate moderator Lestor Holt about Stop and Frisk being ruled unconstitutional and praised it for its effectiveness even though it's been demonstrated with study after study that that's not the case--is so embarrassing, disturbing, and sickening, that it's difficult to express the full depth of negative feelings I feel at the situation, and that our nation should feel.

What I hope this means for our nation is that the truly backward thinking folks are on their way out. I hope that year after year, they're watching their numbers, power, and influence dwindle, and we'll see more progressive and tolerant politics come in to take it's place. I hope this is the last gasp of a group that will effectively vanish into the ether.

I hope.


Further reading on various terrible things about Trump is below--from various sources. There are lots more. Just use Google.

Don't forget to register and vote. Vote early if you need to, but it's been shown that while the system is stacked against us, voter turn out really is the best way to enact change--and that means on a local level as well as a national one.