Why I Dread Election Years

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

So there’s been a lot of drama in this year’s campaign. I mean, there’s drama in every campaign but none more so than when the incumbent is on the end of their second term so it’s basically Open Season.

It’s open season on the policies of the candidates -that’s fair, they are offering their wares for us to scrutinise and peruse and haggle over.

It’s open season on the personalities of the candidates – they’re public figures, they’re wanting us to know and trust them and that means, yes, probing them. Politely.

It’s NOT open season on the supporters of the candidates, on any side, for any reason.

Period.

But.

I know why you’re doing it, and I forgive you. All of you.

Because not so long ago, I was you.

In 2004, Bush was letting slip the farm animals of war, and I was out there campaigning hard for my Democratic candidate.

I was scared. Terrified. Bush was talking about attacking countries where I had (and still have) family. Any day I was expecting to hear that soldiers and bombs would be heading for my grandparents, my aunts and cousins.

The fear drove me a little crazy. I got angry. I got in a lot of arguments. Loud, nasty ones. I spent way too much time on the internet getting into it with people I didn’t even know, I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without finding insulting graffiti about “Demon cats” (how you get that from “Democrats” I have no idea) and once I was even verbally assaulted by a military wife on the bus. This woman was frothing, absolutely red-faced with rage at my tiny, weak-ass self sitting there with my “No Blood for Oil” lapel pin on. She demanded the driver put me off the bus for “offending her.” He didn’t. As I got off the bus, I told her I hoped her husband came home safe. It was all I could do in the face of such hatred. She hated me, and I refused to hate her back.

I’m going to ask you to try to do the same thing now.

I want you to look at someone who you disagree with politically, and forgive them, and forgive yourself.

Because the way through this horror-show of an election cycle is NOT with nasty internet comments, nor is it with harassing superdelegates*. Nor is it with pr0n-spamming pages you personally disagree with so they can be banned from Facebook, or harassing the other candidate’s supporters as they’re going to a rally.

*(This is different from actually campaigning for their votes at a convention, by the way. Just so you know. There’s protocol there. Doing it outside a convention is iffy as heck.)

At the end of the day, someone will win, someone will lose, and either way, the show goes on, and our part in it as supporters will end.

I get it. You’re scared. We’re ALL scared..

First I’m gonna talk to the Bernie Bros.

I’m calling you out specifically because you have lost your goddamn minds, and I’m here to try to help you get them back before you do something you can’t undo.

Remember at the top of this post, I said I was you once?

You know where being scared, angry, hostile, etc got me?

It got me so depressed I couldn’t move for days on end.

It got me on a downward spiral that didn’t lift till I found something else to focus on, something else to give me hope. That took a long goddamn time, let me tell you. Having hope beaten out of you by life…it makes you really hesitant to hope again.

And that’s the thing. Right now, Bernie’s giving you hope and it’s like a drug. (Lean in, Hillary people – this applies to you too, because we all need a hit of hope now and then.)

I know his heart’s in the right place because it’s been in the same place for decades now. But you have to understand that the world does not live and die on the back of one single candidate, one single election. This country has had great leaders and shitty leaders, and mostly a lot of “meh” leaders, and it has survived. And this country is evolving, and a lot of progress has been made. Politics is not a game you play once and win forever, it’s an endless tug of war with two really excitable puppies who never, ever stop trying to get that rope so you may as well get used to that now.

I’m not saying to give up though. I’m saying…the fate of the world rests on so much more than the shoulders of one politician. If you learned anything from Bernie, it’s that we don’t succeed unless we work together. And that applies to  everything.

I feel that fear too. In the night, I feel it like ice in my veins. I find myself wondering if my relatives will be safe, if my newly-won rights as a gay person will be stripped away again. I worry about my trans friends’ safety, I worry about the Earth being bruised by fracking. I worry, and I get angry, and I find myself pacing and gritting my teeth and making my blood pressure go through the ceiling because god how can they be so stupid they’re going to kill us all-

And then I breathe.

And remember that there things I can do, from my own little corner, that will help. I can read the adventures of my friend who helps homeless people get into safe places, I can find hungry people and feed them, I can help someone.

Like Donna Noble said, “You don’t have to save the whole town…just someone.”

I know Bernie is your hero.

But giving in to your fear and anger is not the answer.

Being your own hero is. Being the kind of person Bernie would admire and respect is.

Because if you let the fear win, then next comes anger, then comes suffering.

I mean c’mon, you all saw Star Wars, we all did.

Now I want to talk to the Hillary supporters.

If you’re a Hillary supporter, you’re probably scared of Trump, and you’re scared that Sanders will somehow spoil things for Hillary.

First  – you’re not Hillary’s strategists. THEY are the ones paid to worry about how she’s polling here vs there, to schedule her rallies and talking points and stain their trousers when they look at her numbers vs Trump’s. Let them do their jobs. (You aren’t getting their paychecks, are you?)

Second – you, and I, and all the other people who lean Democratic, should not give Trump the gift of our fear. He doesn’t deserve it. We survived Reagan, 12 years of Bushes – we can survive this, too! Trump is a fucking clownshoe! He can’t even sell MEAT to omnivores! He couldn’t keep a casino open in Atlantic City, when that’s basically the only reason to GO to Atlantic City! He’s an asshole, but he’s an impotent, useless, incompetent asshole who we can easily hamstring if we get a blue Congress again. So don’t fear him! He isn’t worthy! Besides, even if he did win, he’ll probably quit as soon as he realises they won’t let him paint the White House gold or write TRUMP all over it.

Third  – leave the Bernie supporters alone. I know this is a difficult one, because of the Bernie Bros. But they are not representative of all the supporters, and Bernie has told them to heck off more than once.

The thing is….the Bernie Bros are the most terrified of all, because they’re either very young and emotional and have no idea how to stay sane on a campaign, OR they’re older, angrier and have no fucks to give. Either way, you’re not going to get them to come round by arguing, namecalling, etc. Compassion is the only thing that can get the poison out. Compassion for you, for the Bernie Bros, and absofuckinglutely for…

The Trump Supporters.

Yep. Your turn.

God, I am so sorry. You wanted change, you wanted better for your kids, and you got this guy. This guy who literally is the opposite of what you need.

Your schools are suffering, your kids are struggling, your jobs are disappearing, your taxes aren’t going to public benefits because your politicians are wasting your money on stupid shit. Your land is getting fracked to pieces, your houses are falling into sinkholes, and you’re being told that this guy can make it all better.

He can’t even sell fucking meat. He can’t even. He gets to waste gobs of money and then declare bankruptcy, meanwhile you can’t even get a loan without going to a payday loan shark place that will fuck you over to the tune of 400% interest. You believe so hard in an American dream that all this guy had to do was come in and say “American Dream!” and he had you because you had the least hope of all, but when you get sick you’ll still have to crowdfund your medical bills because he doesn’t believe in healthcare for everyone.

You believe in pulling yourself up by the bootstraps even though you can’t afford boots anymore because they sent the jobs to China so you ended up working minimum wage somewhere and food stamps don’t pay for boots, and you resent having to be on food stamps so you scream at the government to make yourself feel better. They told you it was every man for himself so if the man next door was suffering it must have been his own fault so no help for him. They told you that if That Guy could get to the top then You Can Too, as long as you support him and others like him, eventually it’ll be Your Turn.

It will never be Your Turn because the system isn’t built that way. Ever play Monopoly? Ever notice how the board has an odd number of pieces on each side? That’s deliberate. It makes it so that the moves fall into repeating patterns. Whoever starts winning first will keep winning. Everyone else is completely screwed.

It happens in the real world economy too, which is why no matter what they tell you, it will never be Your Turn.

They depend on you believing the lie.

And all you get for it is busted schools, dirty water, and food stamps that don’t even cover half a month for a family’s needs, not to mention the judging stares from other shoppers when they see you’re paying with that card, and they might even start a fight with you, and they definitely won’t care that you’re working 60 hours a week in a shit job just to make ends almost-meet as long as you don’t get sick because there’s no sick leave at your job. And then they tell you that it’s the immigrant’s fault so you go smack the brown guy around but for all you know he was born here too and is working the same long hours to feed his own family. And if he is an immigrant then he’s an outsider who does not even have the power or inclination to ruin your country because he is keeping his head down and trying to fit in because he doesn’t want to get beat up. The immigrant is a scapegoat to keep you from seeing who’s really screwing you over. You already know who they are.

I’m not sure what to say except that you deserve so much better, so much more, and this orange shitcano isn’t gonna give it to you. Trump is using you and he will turn on you as soon as he gets what he wants, and you deserve better. And I’m sorry.

It’s almost 2 am and I’m running out of words. So…

Be kind to each other. No matter what. No matter who you vote for, no matter who they vote for, just be kind.

Politics isn’t everything. It’s just one very highly ritualised and structured way for human beings to achieve things together, but it isn’t the only way, and our need to work together for greater good doesn’t begin or end with election year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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