Monday, January 30, 2017

A Personal Politics Aside

Throughout the day, I keep looking at my phone and scanning the news (NYT, BBC, Le Monde, FB). Unavoidably, I read the same stories in various iterations over and over. I have taken up the habit of triangulating information among different sources--checking them against each other, verifying, and wanting to know just how fat our ass looks from a global perspective.

Pretty damn fat.

But mostly, I keep hoping that it's over, and Trump and Bannon (and Pence too, but I'd settle for Trump and Bannon) have been found guilty, impeached, and disgraced (though I'd settle for just impeached in both houses).

I want this ghastly fun-house ride to end.

I ran into a friend the other day whom I enjoy and like. She told me, in the course of conversation, that she had voted for Trump--which wouldn't be SO bad, (bad, but not SO bad), if she acknowledged that it had been a mistake. But instead, she said that she hoped he would bring about change. And she was hopeful that he would do a good job, all evidence to the contrary not withstanding.

She's not one of the "forgotten" unemployed Americans who lost good manufacturing jobs that went overseas. She has her own business. She has a Masters degree. She's not someone I would ever have pictured at a Trump rally. She's not one of those quirky, intellectually disordered Libertarian types whom I come across now and then out here in the Midwest.

I have another friend who, during the election, expressed (on FB) a shocking amount of vitriol toward Hillary Clinton. She may have voted for Trump, but to me the first appalling thing (not in a judging way, though there is that, but in a deeply disturbing way) was the venom and hate that she directed toward Hillary.

She wasn't the only person I knew who didn't like Hillary (to put it mildly), but I was disappointed that she was on that bandwagon--which, in my opinion, represented (and will always represent) a mysogynistic perspective that I never would have imagined her having.

During the Christmas season, I posted on FB that I felt grateful to those of my friends on FB who hadn't un-friended me despite our political differences, especially because I am tediously explicit about my opinions on FB, generally using FB as a soapbox (unlike my blog!).

But the longer this fun-house ride goes on, the less grateful to those friends I feel.

Sometimes, when I am disgusted and horrified by the racist, sexist, lying, etc., etc. that is our fat, pimply, hairy ass hanging out of the White House for the world to see, I get it in my mind to go on an un-friending rampage.

I mean, when I find myself on the same side of the ethical divide as a Koch brother (who yesterday expressed moral outrage over Trump's executive order concerning the ban on citizens of certain Muslim countries from entering the U.S.), I realize that our country is trespassing against moral values on such a basic level that even the left hand of the devil himself is morally offended.

I know that I would always like these women in any other context. I would be drawn to their laughter and sparkle. I would enjoy talking with them about anything other than politics (which, not surprisingly, I guess we never talked about). I would find them lovable. But now, with both Jane Fonda and a Koch brother standing at my side, and beginning to feel like a hostage in my own country, I don't know if I can or should be friends with people who don't recognize the terrible, horrible bind we're all in and what is at stake.

Of course, it's always tempting to lash out at somebody from a place of well-fed disappointment and rage. But to do it by pressing a button and "unfriending" them does not seem particularly brave or even satisfying, when what I really want to do is "unpresident" someone, along with all his henchmen.

Should I try to understand how my friends and I happen to be standing so far apart from one other as  Rome crumbles?

Could I possibly influence them more by keeping them close, despite abundant evidence of my complete lack of influence over them heretofore?

Do I have the energy to even try to convert them?  Does their conversion even matter anymore?

Or is my personal disavowal (however cryptic and discrete) a necessary gesture--is that the gauntlet that I'm supposed to retrieve?

I don't know. The whole business is heartbreaking from every angle. And though it has only been what, two weeks?, it feels like the start of a long, dark epoch.

I keep hoping it won't go on for much longer. I keep looking at my phone, reading the news, looking for the headline that will tell me it's over.

No comments: