The last couple weeks have been full of bad happenings, from cancer announcements among my friends and family to multiple cancers striking the same person, to everything under the sun, it seems. It distracted me from my regularly-scheduled postings, and yesterday, Tuesday, November 8, 2016, was set aside as a day for me to try to ignore the world, primarily the election coverage.
Allow me a moment to say something that will surely result in a few people accusing me of being a 9/11-conspiracy-theorist (no, Bush didn’t cause it), and allow me a thousand words to retrace my own political path the last year.
Now it’s no secret that I support neither Trump nor Clinton. I voted for Jill Stein in a state where Hillary had a guaranteed win, after being a Bernie-supporter. Last fall, I was actually in Camp Hillary, and thought we couldn’t lose with either Hillary or Bernie. Yay! Win-win! As long as the republicans gave us a weak candidate, how could someone on the blue side lose?
Slowly information about Hillary was leaked, and I became angry with what came to light. Unlike many, I didn’t blame her for Benghazi, and I still don’t. I started to look at the timeline of events, such as when she finally decided to side with LGBT right, especially in relation to other Democrats, and I noticed that she came on board the equality train only at the very end, when it was no longer prudent to claim liberalism while being openly against equal rights, and since she had further political aspirations, the timing was suspect. It never sat well with me that her husband abused his power to get an intern to have an affair with him, not any of the other claims by victims (yes, I’m not saying convictions, but Bill Cosby has no convictions, yet no one treats him as if he’s innocent). Smaller issues snowballed, and I came to see her as a traitor to my sex, and not truly liberal. I’m still extremely uncomfortable with her promises to Wall Street that she wouldn’t share, and with the pages o her own website calling for more war overseas and to increase volunteering in place of paid jobs, among other issues I have with her that’s neither here nor there at this point.
When Donald Trump entered the scene, he was a joke, the male version of Sarah Palin, worse than Sarah Palin, who was such a joke that she may be the reason John McCain lost against Obama in 2008. Trump should have been a non-entity. He was a joke that people took seriously because America loves reality TV too much and thinks it ends up okay in the end as long as the cameras tell us who Farrah Abraham is having anal sex with that week, or the state of Mama June’s weight.
Surely no one would take Trump seriously. After all, he was acting the part of Hitler’s protégé, and everyone should know that running America as a business is wrong. After all, look at how much WalMart, a big business, benefits the worker. (Answer: It pays poverty wages.) But then other Republican-potentials dropped out. As a surprise to us all, Trump alone was left, becoming the default candidate.
I ended up firmly in Camp Bernie and proudly declared myself a Berner. In light of all that had been revealed, Bernie was a candidate I believed in, independent of my feelings about the other two.
During the primaries, it became clear that Hillary was divisive, and that she would not be able to unite a split political party. Bernie could, but Hillary could not. Bernie ran a squeaky clean campaign, and still information on Hillary came out, and, despite her unclean campaign, her crew turned up pretty much no dirt on Bernie That spoke volumes. There was no reason Hillary’s supporters wouldn’t support Bernie, but many reasons Bernie’s supporters wouldn’t support Hillary. We had a clear path to a Democrat victory in Bernie, but Hillary was going to be an uphill battle that would lose.
Trump was a gift of sorts. To win, all the DNC had to do was to give us the candidate who would unite the Democrats. That’s all. Bernie in that seat would sail us away to a hands-down victory. The Republicans who saw Trump as a joke would flock to Bernie, all the Dems would apply super glue and stick tighter, and we’d all celebrate yesterday as the day we had a president-elect we liked and who would do good and be honorable and diplomatic and let the good times ROLL!
Sure, that’s an ideal version, but that’s the gist. We had an easy path!
But shenanigans happened. Most visibly, in Arizona, polling stations in poorer areas more likely to have Bernie-supporters were closed down, making it more difficult to get to the polling stations still open, mostly in areas with Hillary-supporters. In a surprise to no one, Hillary won, and that was when it became clear that the system was rigged. It was even before that, but the lack of investigation or action into this was stunning and painful. The system was rigged, and it was like the DNC actively wanted us to lose to Trump. Fear thrived, and America’s younger voters were shut out in favor of listening to older people who supposedly knew better what America needs. In fear of Trump, they silenced millions upon millions, and shut out the man who filed stadiums and coliseums on a day’s notice in favor of the candidate who struggled to fill high school gyms.
Issue after issue came up. Pain workers spreading lies about Bernie online. Shills. Plants. More voting issues. Super-delegates that can overrule people. More division happened. And then, finally, Bernie was out after a convention with even more issues, most-mentioned being a roll call in his favor that was tossed in favor of a new one, unannounced, when many of his supporters weren’t present. That convention, by the way, barred its newly-ousted chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, when it became factually known that she was in Camp Hillary, which explained a lot that had happened.
At the end of the day, we had Hillary and Trump, and the DNC believed that fear would push everyone away from Trump.
Now neither of them is great. Hillary’s posted about wanting more wars, and to increase volunteer positions over paid jobs (those are both on her own website), and Trump is a joke who thinks he can build a wall after shaking down Mexico for milk money. Neither has much to recommend them either than “at least this one isn’t that one.” But it was too late. Both candidates struck fear into people, and many voters began to decide their votes out of fear. I nearly did the same. It felt like a nation-wide Punk’d, or like we were all part of a new Truman Show, only with real-world consequences.
The rallying call because “Defeat the other person!” “Danger!” “DEFEAT!” At no point with what’s best for America boil down to anything other than defeating the other person. Even during the primaries, it was all about defeat because you’ll be hurt. Fear the other. The time to have avoided these disastrous choices was during the primary, long before the conventions. We ALL should have ignored our fears for a moment and looked honestly at the merits of the candidates, good as well as bad. I had no doubt the primaries would have given us different candidates if we weren’t in the mindset of war on the other side and how to defeat the other side. We cut off our noses to spite our faces by only looking at it as who could be the bigger bully instead of who could be diplomatic and get things done peacefully.
Then the election happened, and as Berners said would happen, Hillary divided the party so bad that even Republican defectors weren’t enough to keep Trump out of office. And say what you will about how awful it is that Trump won. Just keep in mind that if she had won, we’d be bracing for more wars. We lost in the primaries. We collectively ended in a no-win situation by acting out of fear from the early days, and calling those looking for a spot of brightness in Bernie names ranging from stupid idealists to idiots who don’t know how the world works, even accusing us of not caring if people die. I bet things look pretty different right now.
Before the election was even officially called, voters began slinging mud, blaming third-party voters (almost all who are in states either where Hillary won anyway, or where all the third-party votes could go to her, and it wouldn’t have made a difference), or voters of the other person. Non-voters, at least this time, have been absolved of the usual blame for who lost.
Soon I began to connect the dots on something. Many people who voted for one candidate over the other didn’t do so because they supported the candidate. I know people who voted for Trump, but only a few of them are happy about the result. None of them, that I know of at least, regret their votes, but most aren’t happy. They picked the lesser of two evils instead of looking for a candidate they believed in. It was because they feared Hillary, just as many of her voters voted our of fear of Trump instead of out of support for her. In a typical year, voters go to the polls thinking about who they think will do better for America. But this year, so many people were voting based on who they were more scared of and who they thought could defeat that person, without looking at the long-term ramifications, and it started in the primaries when Hillary’s supporters cried against anything being done about the obvious vote-rigging going on.
You could say the result would be the same whether people looked mostly at their fear instead of who they thought would better serve this country, but it’s not. If people weren’t so scared, they may have been more inclined to give all of the candidates, from Hillary and Trump, on down to Alyson Kennedy, a fair look. They would have been willing to look at the candidates in the primaries based on individual merit, and Bernie probably would have had a runaway victory and we’d probably have Cruz, or at least definitely anyone who isn’t Trump. Since it was too late come the convention, who knows what would have happened if people had stopped voting based on fear. Maybe not a tremendous number of votes would have changed since we did have a couple incredibly unlikable candidates, or maybe they would have changed. Who knows.
I do know that we wouldn’t have the newly-coined “protest vote,” which is supposed to mean a vote cast because you don’t like someone else (“I don’t like Hillary, so will vote for Trump because at least he’s not Hillary”), which applied to enough votes that it was re-applied to all third-party votes instead, regardless of reason for voting third party (I voted for Jill Stein because her views most closely align with mine). I also know we wouldn’t have this conflicting idea of what’s called “voting your conscience” going on while also being told that doing just that is a “protest vote” (“If you want to vote for Jill, and feel it’s right, then ‘vote you conscience’ and do it, but if you do, you’re casting a ‘protest vote’ and are doing it wrong, but make sure you vote even though you’ll be wrong, m’kay?”).
All of is hinged on fear. And when did America become a nation so full of cowards? When did begin to let fear be what rules us more than anything? It hit me when I was doing the dishes at about 1am.
We have been conditioned, since 9/11, to act based on fear. No longer are parents supposed to worry only about hypodermics in Halloween candy and otherwise let kids enjoy childhood. Oh, no. Now we can’t wear shoes through the checkpoint at the airport because what if someone wants to kill us? Our kids are learning that. We can’t expect privacy for our phone calls because what if the brown-skinned person up the road is talking to someone five degrees separated from a potential terrorist? We are expected to pass through various securities on an almost daily basis because what if someone wants to kill us? That seemed to make it okay to teach us to act based on fear because what if someone wants to crash the plane my husband will be on tomorrow? What if he’s somewhere in London that gets bombed Thursday? What if?
You can even see this in school shooting (which I admit is my biggest fear). Columbine happened prior to 9/11, and the reaction was that the survivors were going to rise above the actions and, even though traumatized, strive to live lives not dictated by fear. But since 9/11, the reaction has been to heap fear on top of more fear.
We’ve reached a point where our society has become too militarized, and we’re no safer for it. We’ve been told that any arguing against giving up further freedoms or wanting privacy means we must not care about safety. Almost everything in our lives is supposed to cause fear now. We’re been crippled by fear. We no longer look for the good. We don’t look at how many planes fly safely for every one that goes down. We don’t look at how few people in this world will be killed in terror attacks, or be there when one happens. The mass media and irresponsible reporting makes us feel we are all personal victims of every attack, which keeps us hanging on to the media for more information on what’s going to kill us the next time we look out our front doors.
Fear is the easiest way to control people, and that really got a foothold in 9/11. Remember when the PATRIOT Act was so hotly contested? If you wanted to be safe, then what have you got to hide form the feds? Why not let them spy on you if you have nothing to hide? It’s all for safety, and you don’t want to die, do you? If you want your children to survive, then stop protesting all the checkpoints being set up, stop fighting against the concept of privacy, give the government access to your home, your body, even your mind, because you’re going to get hurt otherwise. FEAR resulted in us allowing it to happen, and it’s snowballed to the point that we’ve hit a critical mass on fear.
And even post-election, it’s still all about fear, and will continue to be about fear for a while because we’ve been conditioned to let fear lead our lives over our brains. It’s okay to consider what scares us. Than can keep us safe. But when we let fear guide our every step, we walk into situations like this. This is how terrorism wins. Using planes as bombs starts it. From there, the terrorists just needed to sit back and watch the country destroy itself.
Can America break free from this habit of letting fear be our god that we collectively do not question? We lost the chance several months ago when so many blindly accepted the DNC’s corruption out of fear for Trump and an unwillingness to see the fear Hillary could cause. The bigger fear-causer was all they saw. Fear, the bigger fear. It’s too late now to change what’s happened this time.
But in the future, can we stop thinking with our fear and start thinking with our heads? Give situations a pragmatic, rational look, and stop insulting those who do just that? Can we stop insulting people like this spring and summer’s Berners who were telling the world what was going to happen (and did come to pass) because fear was prioritized over critical thinking? Can we grow up already? If we expect our kids to push through their fears to see the fun in riding a bike and to at least consider doing something that might be scary, then we adults should do the same. Sometimes the fear is at least partly in our heads, and breaking through that bogart can show us that there’s nothing too bad on the other side.
It’s too late for January 2017. We’ve lost there. But we’ll have four years to practice not being governed by fear, four years to learn to be complete people who also have joy, and anger, and disgust, and sadness in there, and to learn how to think using a broader range of emotions and thoughts, and then we’ll get to try again. Can we do this?