I have always considered myself an apolitical person. (You caught the “a,” right? Just making that clear.) I’ve now seen seven presidents in my lifetime and, thus far, have managed to ride the ebbs and flows of the political climate without much thought or action beyond doing my civic duty and voting. Carter was easy– I was only two when he left office. I get a bit of news by osmosis, as my husband would have it streaming 24/7 if he had his way, but would much rather read books or watch sitcoms in my downtime. About a year or two ago, I did feel that I should be able to converse with him more on current events, so I subscribed to The Skimm, and sometimes take the time to skim it.
Now, however, I can’t ignore the political maelstrom. This is due in part to being bombarded by it: I face the choice of deleting all social media outlets, which I am admittedly addicted to, or taking a hard look at what I’m seeing. Now that I’ve opened Pandora’s box, I can’t stay silent. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” attributed to Edmund Burke. But what should we do? That is the question I am faced with now. I’m starting by writing this post to state my position and publicly avow not to stand by and do nothing.
Why now? Hillary was not my first choice for president, but I voted for her because she was the best chance of stopping Trump. I feel that she would have done what every president, Republican or Democrat, has done in the past; for the most part, maintained the status quo of this nation. I no longer think that. First, here’s a rundown of some of the things I believe:
- I believe that the Statue of Liberty does not have any fine print. While immigration reform should be discussed, suppression of immigration, mass deportation, and rejection of political refugees goes against the very fiber of this country.
- As a healthcare worker, I believe that pro-life agendas do little to protect “the unborn,” and do much to endanger the health of women. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There’s a better way. It’s been shown that when people have access to health care, birth control, and education, abortion rates go down.
- As a decent human being, I believe that you can allow LGBT citizens the same rights and civil liberties as anyone else without embracing the lifestyle for yourself.
- I believe that everyone should have access to healthcare. This is not a radical concept, as seen in every other first world country. During my adult life, I have both experienced receiving food stamps and being on Medicaid, and I am very grateful that those services were available when I needed them. I am neither a deadbeat nor a druggie. I work hard and pay my taxes so that others who need assistance can receive it as well.
- I believe that climate change is a fact, and that our environment must be a priority. In this case especially, we should listen to scientists over politicians.
This is a brief list, but the top things that come to mind in light of the events of the past few weeks. You may hold differing values and disagree with mine. That is fine. I am not bringing these points up to start debates. You won’t change my mind, nor I yours. We must each search our own hearts for what is worth fighting for, and do so while maintaining open minds and dignity for our neighbors. My values are being threatened. But there are even greater issues at stake.
Donald Trump is not a well man. I have heard several of my conservative friends say something along the lines of, “I don’t like him as a person, and I didn’t vote for him, but… I’ll support the Republican agendas and maybe he’ll turn out to be okay.” News flash– he’s not okay. He has a narcissistic personality disorder. This is not an established fact, of course, but an opinion that many experts feel describes his… alternative behavior. See what you think. For brevity’s sake, I’ll just post the link to the DSM-V criteria for the diagnosis. Here, more summarized, is the Mayo Clinic’s definition: “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
It’s that last line that worries me. It means that the narcissist will shape reality any way he can in order to maintain that grandiosity. Stroke his ego, he’ll be your “friend” forever. Call him out on his bluster? Look out, Mexico. Trump may now be saying publicly, “It was a mutual decision,” but you’d better believe that he has lost face, and will never, ever forget that. What I’m saying is that for all of his tough talk and bluster, a narcissist is easily manipulated, so focused is he on being admired. Every world leader is watching this, and Trump is setting himself (and us!) up to be the world’s pawn.
But we have checks and balances, right? Yes, we do, thankfully. But he, himself, alone comprises a full 1/3rd of those seats, and that scares the shit out of me. He is a small-minded, volatile man who is so thin-skinned that he can’t watch a short skit by SNL, who has roasted every politician alive, without angry-tweeting about it afterwards. This is the man who holds the nuclear codes, and does not need anyone’s permission to use them. I need another nurse to verify a dose of insulin before I give it, and I am a sane, educated, life-preserving person. This man could end a game of chicken with another puffed up rooster by unleashing a nuclear attack. Anyone have a bunker for sale? I’m not ready to leave yet, but I am keeping our passports current. I sure as hell don’t plan to watch my husband get drafted into a rich man’s petty war, if it comes to that.
Am I just a doomsdayer? Maybe. I sure hope so. I hope that Trump gets so tied down by Washington’s red tape that his tiny hands can’t reach his Twitter account and he settles into the role, as other presidents before him have. Regardless of whether the above extreme things come to pass, we know for a fact that he is trending in the direction of challenging the above values that I have listed. For that alone, I can’t stay silent. My daily social media feed makes me so angry. I have to find a balance of staying current without losing my sanity. Going off the grid can’t be an option, though. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and let lies prevail. I don’t know what direction my action should take at this point. At the very least, it must begin with knowledge and information. Already, the current administration is trying to limit our knowledge of current events and stifle those who would broadcast it. We should all be like children; ready to proclaim that the Emperor is naked, even when everyone around us is silent. I’m also a working mom. As all parents can attest to, just raising our children to be decent human beings is sometimes all the social action we can handle. And in many cases, it’s enough for the time being. Yes, we need to work towards a world that is good and safe for our children and grandchildren, but we also need to make sure that we are taking the time to teach them how to do the same and be functioning members of society.
Recently, too, I’ve felt a little guilty about my website. When it seems as if 95% of the posts I see concern something political, here I am writing about mundane things like reading and food and a TV show. I’m at peace with that now, too. Even in the worst of times– which is a long way off from where we are now– keeping the creative arts alive is vital to society. Just look at post-apocalyptic novels such as Station Eleven. As much as action and awareness are needed, so are the simple joys of life: our friends, our funny kid videos, a good meal. So, I’ll post politically when I need to, and try to do so with respect to all of my friends, red or blue or in between. I’ll also continue to present you with my fluffy book reviews and Friday Night Dinners. In the words of Jane Austen, I hope you are “excessively diverted.” Thank you for listening to my rant.
Well said, Grace. I find myself thinking in much the same way you are. I, too have been what I call a “political agnostic” for years and have excused myself from involvement, but now is the time for all of us to speak up against a dangerous demagogue who has our fate in his hands.
What joy you bring! We must all speak. My own past silence rides me with guilt. If only I had chosen to speak instead of saying that my words held no power. It doesn’t matter if my words or your words hold power or not (although I believe they do), no one will say, at the end of the day, that they had no knowledge or access to truth. Because we SPOKE. We PROCLAIMED.
Grace, you capture the spirit of what lies in our broken, liberal hearts. I want to believe that humanistic ideals will prevail eventually. I want to believe that eventually will not take as long as it’s starting to look like. I think the last week has been the longest in history. I have not chosen my own course of action in response to this madness. How can we both be heard, and not trample on others? How do we go hgh when others go low? How can I look in the mirror while others step up? I like your rant, don’t stop. Ever.