ELECTION DAY, November 6, 2018
A few days ago, I wrote the sentence: I am not political. Here’s the revision and exploration: I am not politically active…
First off, I can accept a few assumptions: All action is political action. Personal choices are affected by political decision-making. The allocation of resources – the spending tax dollars – is real and can affect a person’s very ability to get food on the table and function. If you are a member of the middle class, dare I say the privileged class, then the allocation of these tax dollars don’t truly change your lives. You’re buffered by your own income; you will not be thrust into want… you will not be thrust into crime and punishment, nor will you be thrust into wealth and power.
At one point in my life, I landed on the solid notion that all political positions hinge on how we spend tax dollars, and how many tax dollars will be collected. That’s all. All other rhetoric is simply that – empty words, attempts to create change in character, inner values. But elected officials are too far removed from us to truly change our beliefs, our behaviors. Those come from our inner journeys, our own examinations of the layers…
One can improve one’s lot.
I do believe in this, though I know that I ask for an attack from the liberals when I say things like that. I KNOW it’s not easy…it requires courage, support, and self-determination, self-discipline, the ability to say “no” to some things, so that you can say “yes” to others, which is a kind of sacrifice perhaps? These are more easily spoken about than accomplished. I get that. It’s not a simple equation here: “Pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps, or fall into poverty and despair.”
It’s time to just speak from my own experience here, instead of trying to impose my truth upon any one else. That is the only truth anyway, perhaps…?
Again…another caveat. I am white. I am middle class. Perhaps my perspective is rendered useless these days…perhaps politics is always more dire for marginalized populations, and I accept that too.
So get to it anyway, LePell… my perspective may be “useless,” but I have still have the right to voice it.
I’m searching the annals of my own history and trying to come up with an election result that changed my life. I can’t think of a single one. I do not suffer PTSD of the 2016 election, as so many of my fellows claim.
In fact, I believe that the election of Trump and his cronies has been good for American Life…
Oh no! here come the bombs, reigning down upon my head. Look out, here comes one, duck left, duck right.
Starting in 2015, the whole election circus become more compelling. More and more folks tuned in, if only to be aghast (myself)…good drama, good stuff, good conversation, like a good football game, we were jazzed, worked up, wanted to share our sentiments with the people in the room with us, maybe our whole community? We were enraged…on both sides, as it were… The Divide, the Polarization…it’s all compelling for folks because it helps us define ourselves, the life-long desire to have a more firm identity. It feels so good to say “I am THAT, not THAT.” This very conceit is healthy … we define ourselves in response to OTHERS… it’s how we grow perhaps. Whoops…getting metaphysical here, perhaps philosophical?
Politics works best when more people are engaged…the very act of dialogue engages our civic minds, and thus, we are participants…that’s the goal here people – participation in the world we live in…This may even seep into those of us who are trying to stay INDOORS, away from the want and misery of the outside world?
So the divide is healthy?
We cannot and will not sustain the divide. Its very nature is to shift toward cooperation and collectivity…until it is time, again, to divide and grow. This is the pulse of all life forms, the rhythms of mother nature.
Okay, did I go “out there” or what?
Hmmm, back to my own experience. Did a political election ever affect my daily life? Did a President, a congress person, a mayor or school board member alter my ability to live more truly, more deeply, more productively? Of course, everything affects everything else…duh… and if feeling excited and inspired by a speech, say 2004 Barack Obama, even Hillary or Bill… or Reagan himself (this never happened to me, but I knew a lot of folks who just plain “liked” the guy, though the truth is that we don’t KNOW these people…it’s a game, an illusion), then okay, like a good football game we had a good time…and having a good time is no small potato in life, I get that. Okay, you win…it all matters.
But looking back…did an elected official alter the course my life? Did a person in power help me when I had mental illness? Did one of the policies help me juggle my job and my children? Or give me a healthier marriage? What about my addiction to gambling? Did politics give me a leg up or a leg down in this? What about love? What about my ability and my choice to be a writer, an artist, someone who likes to sing? Did any politics change those paths?
I can’t bear the shallowness of politics, but this shallowness is the very fabric of its existence—you cannot sway voters, you cannot rally the troupes by exclaiming, “well, I can the see the positions of both sides here..” Better yet, how’s this for a piece of agit- prop: “Well, life is just a series of ironies and paradoxes…”
That will not get people to the voting booth. But this: “you could be deprived of your rights, your liberties, you will suffer, you will die, others will die,” may motivate that stroll down to the voting booth.
War is another matter all together.
I pray that Trump and his cronies will not lead us there—with China, Russia, Iran…and the suffering in Yemen and Syria is horrible and if my vote might give someone another breath on god’s planet, then this is an apple not an orange, and vice versa.
Donald Trump is despicable man in many ways. I loathe his values of money and power, I loathe his inability to speak the truth, his blatant ignorance of human dimensions, not to mention his crass statements about women, people of color, etc… But do I know the intricacies of the tax codes and what is more or less fair to folks? ..no… do I know the benefits and detriments of trade policies? No, Do I know the benefits and detriments of complex foreign policy? I have gut feelings—Do I like this guy? Do I admire this guy? That’s enough to sway me to action. I have repeatedly said that I vote according to character, not policy at all. Policy is batted back and forth through our congress, as it should be. But has Donald Trump, or either party affected my daily life? Do they dictate this prose? Do they dictate my courage to write this prose? Certainly, I am always grateful for being able to write these words, send them to print, distribute and speak my truth, shout it from the mountaintop…
Pause. Gratitude moment.
Is this because of political decisions? I suppose, if you want to go back to age before democracy. But that’s not what we’re doing here folks…okay?
Has Paul Ryan affected my life? Nancy Pelosi? What about all those supreme court judges? Even Kavanaugh won’t affect my life… will be affect my children’s lives? Their children’s? will one of my kids be forced into parenthood because of an overturned law? Will Trump being impeached, or NOT impeached affect my ability to visit my children, to visit my mother?
The answer is no…because we are middle class. And money will allow those personal freedoms. This is America .. if you have the means…you will get the spoils.
Politics is really for the poor… what services will be available for those without the funds? Education? Opportunity? Housing? Food stamps? A chance to change your lot?
But I believe we can change our lots…all of us…
Shift and parry, dodge another missile, lean left, lean right…
Just stay on your feet…this is challenge enough, yes?