It’s been hard to write lately. I’m not alone in this. My creative friends are all clogged up, too. My sketch comedy writing class is full of forlorn people trying hard to make jokes, but subconsciously creating nothing but sketches about newscasters announcing the end of the world. My loves trying to do the National November Writing Month challenge of finishing a 50,000 word manuscript in a single month have all written about 11 words toward their goal.
Last night at a restaurant I overheard a woman telling her companion, “I heard that people who voted for Clinton are calling suicide hotlines at such a rate, the hotlines are having to put people on hold!” (A quick Google search proved that rates were up, at least temporarily, a spike like after September 11, but it sounds like no one asked the callers’ political persuasions. Frequent phrases used in a similar texting help-line were “scared” and “LGBTQ.”). This lady retelling the story and the elderly gentleman she was with (she was about 40, he was about 90, I couldn’t get a read on the relationship but I’m choosing to assume it was not nefarious because I’M TRYING TO BE POSITIVE) both couldn’t believe that Democrats would be so bummed out about their person not winning an election that they were contemplating suicide.
It’s not that. It’s not that “our girl” lost. Seriously. You have to be tone deaf to think this national depression is about Republicans and Democrats. I mean, I’m speaking for myself because mine is the only head that I’m in, but the reason I’m feeling stifled and afraid and so, so ashamed is not because my candidate lost. She was barely my candidate. I really hate politics. I think of it as powerful people enhancing power and playing chess with less powerful people. And it’s really, really not because a Republican won. I don’t care. I normally don’t assume anything of anyone if I know they vote one way or another. I know a lot of people who vote Republican or Democrat for one reason or other and just have to, no matter the candidate du jour. I don’t care how you vote. Usually.
The reason I’m feeling so despondent right now is because this election was different. It felt like we were holding our breath waiting to see if humanity was actually good or bad. We ascribed a lot of moral value to where we placed our votes this time because the Republican nominee, now president-elect, articulated messages of hate and was so clear that he stood AGAINST so many Americans. The general sense was that your vote demonstrated that you were either on Team Everybody Matters (not voting for Trump) or Team Only a Few Matter, We’ll Eliminate the Rest (Team Trump).
I get that that is a gross oversimplification and potential rhetoric, fishing for emotional response. There is much complexity and grayness in choosing a candidate or ‘side.’ I also don’t begin to assume that if another candidate had won from a different team, everything in America would now be groovy for everyone come January…BUT it’s very hard not to see a scary future with the person who won in charge.
Making America great again, in how Team Trump defined it, means going back to only the elite privileged few having voices/votes/lives that count. Regarding his plans to start identifying Muslims in some sort of a registry, it’s hard not to wonder what the average German was thinking in the late 1930’s as the extremists started blaming one group of their population on all their problems. What could they have done (could we do) to stop it? Were they sitting there saying, “it can’t be THAT bad” right up until the camps were built? Members of Team Trump have already favorably recollected when America did that to the Japanese during WWII. So…?
There’s been progress in identifying the systemic racism still faced by African Americans. Lack of representation and support has been called out. We’re woke, right?! There it is! In the job force, police force, justice and educational systems, news and entertainment, housing market, electoral system…the list never stops. So we can fix it right?? Or are we just doubling down now that bigots feel empowered by their government? More empowered. Holy hell.
What about the LGBTQ community? Over the past decade there’s been genuine hope and new freedoms FINALLY available to them that may all be retracted now. They may be in even MORE danger and more omitted from society.
I’ve talked about what it feels like to be a woman right now with the stated views of the new leaders about women and our rights. It’s disheartening and very scary.
So. What next? I’m trying to go back to not caring about politics. Stop being franchised, it’s not good for me, go back to being disfranchised where I belong. I never trusted the people in charge and knew that they did not have mine, the average bear, or certainly the underdogs’ best interests in mind. (The animals are all screwed, too, apparently). I’ve been groomed since a young age with suspicion of the powerful elite, starting with the multitude of anti-establishment novels we read in high school. Be weary of power, be vigilant to protect those cast aside. So that’s what we’ll do, I guess.
Don’t expect the ‘man’ (this orange man, or any man) to take care of us. Expect him to feed his ego and his followers, no matter the consequences to everyone else. Speak up when you see people being harassed, threatened, hurt. Lose all the political labels, if possible, because they’re just making this murky and trying to keep it highbrow instead of the playground dirt ball that it is.
Fight to protect those who need it. Get out from underneath the comforter on your bed where you’ve been hiding the past few weeks. (She says, while writing under her comforter, propped up in bed). Be like a hawk looking for people who need your support. Remember we’re all trying to human together, we’re more alike than different, and even though humanity has proved AGAIN to be kind of a shitty monster, we have to try to protect the good stuff in each other.
I’m for people. I’m going to use whatever voice I have left to speak for them, and if necessary I’ll put my body in the way to protect them, too. Don’t give up. We need each other. I need you. You don’t know what kind of hero you might be for someone, but you have to be here to hero. I get feeling desperate and alone and jaded, but don’t do it alone and don’t do it forever. There’s good work to be done. Out of bed.
That’s all I know so far. Have you come up with anything better?