Just Post Some Pretty Pictures, Will Ya?
Hi everyone – No pictures today. I know I’ve been neglecting this space for a bit, and am currently working on a more appropriate upgrade/redesign. In the meantime, though, I figured I’d see if I can make something useful of this site.
First off: A few thoughts about the election and the state of the US today. I wrote this a while ago, but am just now deciding to move it to this more public forum rather than mostly like-minded Facebook page because it seems like it would be more useful here. I didn’t write this to attack anyone, but there may be some things in here that are uncomfortable. All I ask is, if it rings true and/or makes you uncomfortable, take a moment to think about why, and consider whether there’s anything you can do to improve things. This is by no means all inclusive or complete, but is just a few things that have been bouncing around my mind this week as I contemplate the election.
1) The prospect of a third party candidate for president is dead. Even if our institutions of government survive these 4 years unscathed, it will never happen. If the other parties couldn’t field a competitive candidate in this year of massively unpopular Rep/Dem candidates, they never will. To vote third party in a presidential election will always be to gamble with your vote: If you win, your vote won’t alter the course of the election and you can feel good about your principles and your silent protest, but if you lose and your vote helps to make the difference in the election, you’ve just helped to move the country farther away from your principles. Liberals love to make fun of rural whites voting against their own self interest, while pretending that they aren’t effectively doing the same with a third party vote. Please, elect alternate party candidates and independents to local and state offices. Try to get some into congress. Try to change the priorities of your closest major party. Don’t just show up every 4 years and vote for some no chance rando for president without doing all of the above.
2) Speaking of voting against one’s self-interest: Our electorate is so polarized and tribal, I don’t know what it would actually take to change the minds of more than a tiny fraction of these voters. Policy had zero impact on this election. Conservative voters this year were faced with a candidate campaigning on unattainable policy goals with no plans of how to implement them. Even if he had detailed plans, half of his stated policies and behaviors directly contradict the supposedly deeply held conservative and religious beliefs of his followers. Rather than fight back against this man who presented himself as a false conservative, the party and its voters simply changed their beliefs to match his, and stayed with the tribe. Fitting in with the party was collectively more important than anything else. We now have a president elect who has vowed to take away the Affordable Care Act, and a congress that wants to kill Medicare. Many people who voted for Trump will lose access to health care, and some not insignificant number will literally die because of their choice. Let me be 100% clear with that: There are people who made a choice that will result in the deaths of themselves or those that they love because that’s what their party wanted. Believe it.
3) Racism and sexism are alive, well, and dominant factors in our politics. It is true; we were faced with two unpopular candidates this year. There were a lot of issues at play, all of which would have been fair game in a normal election. However, this was in no way a normal election. Trump changed the scenario when he openly and directly threatened the health, well-being, and safety of minorities, Muslims, women, and all people of color. If you voted Trump, if you voted third party, if you wrote in a candidate, or if you left your vote for president blank, you cast a ballot for racism and sexism. I know that sounds harsh, and those who fall into this category might want to lash out at this accusation, but that makes it no less true. If, by the time this election rolled around, your vote was decided by anything other than an absolute duty to protect those fellow Americans whom Trump clearly and frequently threatened, then sorry friend, but you declared that those very real human lives were subordinate to your policy concerns. Everyone has a right and freedom to vote any way and for any reason, but that brings with it the responsibility to understand and acknowledge the consequences. Own your racism. Own your sexism. If you helped create our current situation, own it. If that is uncomfortable for you, that’s too bad: Do something to change it.
4) Some people voted for Trump because they were tired of politics as usual in Washington. To anyone who did so, congratulations, you’ve cut out the middle man. Rather than corrupt politicians who are likely to be influenced by donations to do the bidding of corporations, Trump is directly installing the corrupt business leaders into the upper ranks of his government. We may very well end up with an oil man in charge of our environmental policy, investment bankers in charge of financial regulation, and climate deniers in determining our scientific priorities. Do you they’ll be looking out for the people? Fat chance.
5) Largely, even if Trump turns out to be the most benign possible version of himself, I’m scared for what this election means for the future of American democracy. (If he turns out to be the most dangerous version, the future of American democracy probably won’t be a question for very long beyond 2017) We just elected a man who campaigned on a refusal to follow any norms that we thought were required of a presidential candidate. We still to this day don’t know fully where he stands politically or what his policy goals will really turn out to be. There most definitely will be harm coming to America, but even if this is minimized, what possible chance is there of a return to normalcy in the next election? Honesty, policy, temperament are clearly not requisite for the position, only some sort of charisma and willingness to tell the people what they want to hear. Why wouldn’t this spiral continue until every candidate is just a charismatic liar, with a true personality only to be revealed after winning the election? Trump exposed some fundamental flaws in our democracy that I’m not so sure we’re even capable of fixing.
I may not respond right away, but would love to hear anyone else’s ideas about what can be done to help. If you’re offended or disagree with anything I said above, that’s fine, please tell me why. I’m sure I’m wrong on some points, and I’d love to hear your views if they differ, but I probably won’t be engaging in too much back and forth right now if you’re looking for a debate on the details. I’d prefer to step away for a minute and focus on what can be done now.
To that end, I have quite a few prints in stock, which I’ll be posting for sale on this site over the coming days. All proceeds will be donated to worthy causes of your choice benefitting those groups most threatened by our new government (ACLU, SPLC, Planned Parenthood, National Immigration Law Center, Council on American-Islamic relations, NAACP, NOW, ADL, etc). I’ll try to provide a list of causes to direct your funds to, but also will be open to any requests, as long as it’s a cause I can support.
Cheers, and be good to each other.