I have this image of myself, in reaction to the election of President Donald Trump, as being one of the hapless souls in one of the towers on 9/11.
The flames are all around, the building is felt to be toppling, panic is everywhere. People are running for the stairs, running to the windows to launch themselves out to fall to their deaths. Screaming. Lots of screaming. Absolute chaos and fear.
As I run to a window, I see an abandoned banquet table from breakfast that morning with plates of fruit and bagels and croissants. I immediately stop with a huge smile on my face. "Whoa! Hold on, guys! FREE ROLLS!"
Now, don't misinterpret my recent calls for a better sales pitch of Progressive ideas as my not being filled with rage over this election. Anyone who truly thinks that, has never met me. But Wednesday morning it hit me like a brick bat in the jaw - my rage amounted to exactly fuckall. YOUR rage amounted to zilch. All the folks enraged over systematic institutionalized racism? Nothing. All the people furiously tweeting and Faceborging about rape culture? Didn't matter.
It feels deliciously good to rage on, feel badass, hurl shit at those who voted for the message of hate our new president used to get elected but IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE OUTCOME. Doubling down on a failed strategy is like refusing to acknowledge that Trickle Down Economics is bullshit or the Autism is caused by vaccines - IT'S WHAT THEY DO.
Am I suggesting we be nicer? Are you kidding? I'm suggesting we be SMARTER, more convincing, less strident and more focused on persuading people that our much better ideas are, in fact, much better ideas rather than shaming people into accepting them.
Things to ponder when you pause to grab a roll. Go ahead. They're free, after all.
1. There are not 60 million racists. Or sexists. Or sexist racists. Or Neo-Nazis who just elected Trump. Dial that rhetoric down. It is not helping anyone. Labeling anyone who voted for Trump a racist, sexist xenophobe is, in many ways, why he's our president now. When has anyone ever been persuaded by being insulted, labeled or shamed? I love Obama but that doesn't mean I am openly in favor of deporting 2 million undocumented immigrants or indiscriminately drone-bombing civilians. In the end, about 7 million Trump voters voted for Obama twice. Let's not alienate them further by calling them names - we NEED those fucking votes.
1a. But there ARE bigots and predators out there feeling triumphant. And our new president is appointing a cast of assholes and hate-mongers to his new staff that rival anything Strom Thurmond could've put together for a dinner party. Be aware and wary of the actual overt monsters in our midst. Stand fast and be vigilant.
2. Your disillusionment and confusion and rage does not entitle you to dispute the outcome any more than it would for the Trump supporters if we had pulled it out. Protesting isn't changing the will of roughly 25% of the country* so rethink your strategy.
3. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party. Or their black friends. Or their friends who are undocumented. Or anyone who knows a woman needing reproductive care. As Scottie says in Star Trek: Beyond, "My wee Granny used to say, ye canna' break a stick in a bundle. You're part of something bigger now, lass. Don't you give up on that, because we'll sure as hell never give up on you. That is what being part of a crew is all about." It might feel like there are more of them but there are not.
4. We're supposed to be the side of facts and research and art and creativity. We're supposed to be the smart, funny ones. Instead of rage on like a Trump supporter at a rally, use your subversive, brilliant imagination and find more interesting, more effective ways to practice non-compliance with the GOP Machine running the federal government. We can't win a "fight." Their side really likes guns, we really like libraries. Do the fucking math and play it smarter, please.
5. Get ready. Things are going to get incredibly ugly, incredibly fast. It'll be MUCH worse for black and brown people. It'll be worse for women. It'll be worse for LGTBQ folks. Your country didn't fail you. The media failed you. The DNC failed you. The Left failed you. You failed yourself.
Your country is exactly the same as it was before President Trump. 50/50 with about 10% being fringe radicals populated with overt racists, conspiracy theorists and mimes. The KKK (all 8,000 members which is less than an audience at a Beyonce concert) was there the whole time, you just forgot about them. The sexists and xenophobes were all there, too. Driving them underground didn't change their minds in the slightest but it was easy to believe our insistence that they shut up and hate their hateful bullshit made them disappear. It didn't. Time to start donating to the ACLU and stocking up on bottled water. The rolls we already have.
* 60 million people is less than 25% of the American voting eligible population. Of the number of voting age citizens half DO NOT CARE who the president is nor do they care about the Congress. They DO NOT CARE about your problems, the problems of the Rust Belt, foreign policy, or anything but themselves. How do I know this? They didn't bother to vote.