For What It’s Worth
I’ve been as guilty this political season of thinking in hyperbole and polarity as anyone else. Conversations trail off into head-shaking and agreeing to disagree and at times, feeling a level of hatred that I know is unhealthy and unwise. What to do?
It’s easy to become addicted to outrage. Social media and commentary sections of news articles make one realize how easy it is to take sides, to devolve into name-calling and to become someone of whom no one should feel proud. Anger is addictive as well. And exhausting.
For months, I’ve read political articles and commentary. I thought at some point, I’d become desensitized. Instead, I became paranoid. I would look at people and think in political terms “what are you?” As soon as someone identified themselves politically, I mentally saddled them with all sorts of baggage.
It’s a problem to think coherently when rabid voices shriek from all sides and newspapers punch up their headlines for click bait. I value critical thinking above partisanship and I’m a cynic. I have never assumed any politician represents me. I have never assumed that they would make my life better.
We have a system that ensures only those with a Teflon coating and a certain willingness to be flexible with integrity will rise to the top. And in the end, we know it’s all about the money and with it, the power it conveys. The two major party candidates are propped up by wealth and/or an illusion of wealth.
Let’s be open here. I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. Not because I have an inkling of who she is as a person. We can’t know any of that about any of these processed, packaged and politicized humans. I’m voting for her because I don’t want to see or listen to Donald Trump for the next four years.
I don’t understand what he is saying half the time and he reminds me of that drunk, creepy guy at the end of the bar who solves the world’s problems or an uncle who slurs about how you should go into business together ’cause he knows what’s what. He uses terms like “the blacks” and throws his arm around you, sliding down your back until he’s fondling your ass and leering into your face. All you notice is how long his nose hair is, as you disentangle yourself from him.
My mind associates Donald Trump with every human being who has ever made me feel uncomfortable. Hillary Clinton reminds me of a boss who I didn’t like very much, but got fondly accustomed to, pantsuits and all. I knew that her actions and words did not always convey her intent. But she was predictable and while I didn’t always believe she did the right thing, I knew what that thing would be.
All that being said, I want to step away from the table that sets people up as enemies. I want to stop seeing us and them. I want to recognize that none of us are less human because of our political choices.
We are formed, prejudices and all, by our environment and our experiences. I learned early not to expect anything from anyone and this extends to people in public office. I assume people are either liars or wrong in their assumptions, so I rely heavily on books and doing my own research. It frustrates my husband to no end. Why can’t you just believe what someone says?
Because every time someone at the Home Depot gives me advice, I have to make four trips back to the store. Because when people say who they are, they do something that completely contradicts it. Because when a politician says he or she is an upstanding citizen, you’ll be hearing about dick pics and secret offshore funds a day later.
Not trusting people has eliminated the element of surprise and/or disappointment. Not trusting politicians means that I’m okay voting for someone who has got a lot of smoke and likely some fire, too. My outrage meter is dampened by lifelong cynicism.
I started writing a political piece as a way to blow out the pipes. I don’t want to discuss politics with you. I just want you to know that I’m trying to understand and not demonize and not condescend to you. If we start talking politics, well, neither you nor I have the skills to maintain a civil discussion. It will likely end up with a lot of spluttering.
Declaring that one of us needs to be logical or smart or just listen, damn it, is pointless. Calling each other racists or libtards or dingleberries will neither advance the argument nor our relationship. And my assumptions that you kill things for fun and your assumptions that I eat sprouted yoga mats might be wrong.
Look here, I like you. I think you are an interesting person. I especially like the way you laugh. You know a good bargain when you see one. And really, that outfit is quite flattering. I’m sure you love your wife and your grandchildren, too. And I’m pretty sure you’re nice to dogs. Your nose hairs could use a trim, but other than that, you seem an alright human.