I had intended to write next about the March on Washington or women’s reproductive rights. But there is something festering inside of me, and I’m afraid that this might be the only way to get it out. I just need to know if I’m the only one who feels like this.
For most of my adult life, I’ve considered myself to be politically aware. Not an activist, by any means, but simply aware. The Presidential Election of 2016…for the lack of a better term…heightened my awareness to an all-time high. Like many of us, I thought Trump’s candidacy was pretty hilarious at first. As weeks turned into months, my mirth turned into dismay. I saw in him everything that has been wrong in our country for decades – the “me first” mentality, the racism, the misogynistic behavior, the man from a wealthy family throwing his money around to get into politics because – oh, who knows-he finally got tired of screwing people over in the private sector and filing for bankruptcy, etc… I simply didn’t “get” how this man was winning anything….anywhere.
What you need to know about me is that I am a very “big picture” person. I tend to generalize. I know people who voted for Donald Trump in the primaries and the general election. These are not bad people. I like these people. Some of them I like and respect rather a lot. But I cannot stand the idea that the County of Niagara or the State of Pennsylvania “voted” for Donald Trump. I don’t see how that many people could be so misguided. In my mind, the entire County or State has a shadow cast over it. And see, I also place a lot of emphasis on things “making sense”. People who know me are familiar with me saying things like “that makes no sense whatsoever”, or “so-and-so has no common sense whatsoever”, and my favorite throw back from my days as an auditor -“that doesn’t pass the smell test”. This is who I am, and the Election of 2016 and the after math have thrown some mighty hurdles at my peace of mind. Things have happened since the election that have left me troubled and confused. So many things that I knew to be true were cast into doubt. Nothing seemed to make sense to me anymore.
I thought that activism would help. You know…channeling my disappointment into action. It did help, for a while. But, it doesn’t help me in responding to daily encounters – be they live or on social media. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Liberal persuasion, there are a lot of people around us who voted for Donald Trump and would still vote for him if the election were held again tomorrow. Furthermore, there is an even larger group of people who didn’t even vote and are just trying to live their lives like they did before the election. They may not like what’s going on in Washington/Trump Tower/Mar-a-Lago, but they don’t spend chunks of time thinking about it. What is the answer to the divide? I am full of questions, and I think that the root of my fear is that there are no answers that we all could agree on.
What’s really happening in Washington? Is any of the news we’re getting real? What is really motivating the news media – truth or profit? If we can’t rely on the news, how can we allow it to upset us, enrage us, fortify us, or – God forbid – inform us?
Trump supporters are not the devil. They view Liberals as excessive, knee-jerk reactors, and self-righteous, politically correct elitists. To a certain extent, they’re right. But we aren’t the devil either. There was a time when the Democrats were the party of the working people. Where did that go? Aren’t we still basically interested in equality for everyone? All of this has made it almost impossible for our nation to have a conversation about all of this “stuff”. Has the divide become too large to gap?
Do I have to remove social media from my daily life in order to maintain my friends and acquaintances of the opposite political persuasion? When I allow myself to get carried away with my Liking, Sharing and Commenting, I know that it’s a turn off. How do I express my support for the opposition to our President without offending people I like and respect? Is it even possible, or are these people just collateral damage in what seems like a war to save our country from disaster?
This is the thing: I don’t want “collateral damage” people in my life. No, I don’t understand their thinking. What’s the chance they’ll ever understand mine?
I’m not sure I’m willing to pay this price, all in the name of “saving our nation”. A week from now, when some new insanity erupts from the White House, how will I respond? The next time a person or people I care about don’t behave in a way that I expect, how will I respond? The truth is, I just don’t know. That scares me more that anything.
More than the flurry of poorly executed Executive Orders, more than the questionable or downright outrageous Cabinet picks and other appointments, more than the press conferences that defy logic and the English language, more than the scorched Earth left from the Presidential campaign… more than any of these things …. I resent this President and his Administration for what they have done to this nation’s people – individually and collectively, small groups, large organizations cities, counties and states. I hate what it’s done to me and my outlook on life and my fellow man. I hate how it’s put the need for filters into conversations whete they previously did not exist. Donald Trump achieved his goal for better or for worse, and as a result, we are ALL collateral damage. God help us.
Perhaps the only answer is that there is no one answer, no magic bullet, no words of wisdom. The answer may be different for each and every one of us. For me, it means concentrating on individuals instead of groups. I might not always be successful. There are times when I will screw up. All I can do is try. What’s your weakness, your trigger, your button? What if you tried harder to control it? We are all flawed human beings. What all of us over zealous, big-mouthed activists on both sides have in common is that we care deeply about the future of our country. Can we keep that in mind? Please?