As midnight approached on New Years Eve, I made the some-what impulsive decision to leave social media for good. I broadcasted a quick goodbye message, downloaded the official FB log of photos and statuses I had posted over the past decade (yes…decade), and signed off from a mode of seeming connectedness the likes of which we, as humans, have never had access to.
The effects of my removal from Facebook are obvious, and I don’t care much to talk about it. I feel more human, less stressed, and able to focus on things that actually matter. My unconscious need for validation is already starting to exercise itself in a more genuine human-to-human, give-and-take kind of fashion. I think we all know that this is the result of detaching from social media.
I also have to say that everyone I was sad to not “see” or hear from on FB, has reached out to me via text, e-mail, or call. Overall, I’m happier, and I don’t plan on returning.
Since I have left, some people have voiced that they miss my take on what is happening politically and encouraged me to send out a newsletter of some sort, so this is why I’m writing. I personally think there are too many cooks in the kitchen, but I write, personally, to exemplify the perception gap between the right and the left (who are more alike than they care to believe). I do not wish to contribute to any more sound and fury, but hope to be part of a de-escalation conversation.
I am not interested in guilting people who voted for Donald Trump. Nor am I interested in trying to further understand their justifications for doing so. Everything was obvious from the beginning: people didn’t like the Clintons. They said this repeatedly. Obama was Clinton 2.0 to them, and Donald Trump was basically just the wrecking ball they had been waiting for. People with estates to protect also voted for him for obvious self-motivated reasons. There was also the unexamined racist and misogynist backlash, but most of the people that I personally know who voted for Trump don’t identify with that category of people.
Social liberal issues, such as minority safety and equal rights didn’t factor in for these people, because they mostly live in anglo-centric realities, and the lives of people different from them register on an “alternate reality” level. There are exceptions to this rule, as always, but this was the trend I noticed. These people know better but weren’t personally obligated to practice better. Their argument has been, “who is to say it would have been better for minorities under Hillary?” I dead-pan stare back and say, “we did…the minorities were saying that the entire time, and that didn’t matter.”
From friends of color (who, being used to not being considered by the majority, were not so surprised at the results of the election) I’ve heard, “at least the wolf is wearing wolf’s clothing now.”
From the liberal left, I’ve seen a new vigor and anger and have gotten to partake in some peaceful protests. There was the most recent outpour of discontent at the immigration ban Donald Trump proposed. But because liberals weren’t protesting when Obama was drone bombing these exact seven nations (more than 25,000 drone bombs were dropped by his administration in 2016 alone), the left is retro-actively losing their credibility.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t protest. But their unexamined hypocrisy fuels Trump’s constituency.
When Obama was President, I have to admit, I took a lot of things for granted. This is the first chapter of my adult life under an administration I do not care for (hopefully the last one in which our equal rights are being threatened), and there are lessons to be learned here, especially in regards to how much the political spectacle is just that: a spectacle, and how much of it allows our actual reality. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to think about the government abusing its power.
In order for the left to progress, they are going to actually have to claim a moral high ground that includes but goes beyond equal opportunity for women, LGBTQ people and racial minorities. The right is putting their hands up and saying “we don’t care about identity politics…we aren’t here to take away people’s rights.” Trump voters told me not to worry about stuff like that until he actually "does something", telling me I'm worrying about stuff before it's even happened. But he has people like Steven Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and Betsy DeVos on his cabinet, showing that they are perfectly fine overlooking track records of systemic racism in order to further their agenda. It doesn’t seem to bother his supporters that every photo of Trump signing an executive order looks like the good-ol’-gentlemen’s club. He has the whitest cabinet since Ronald Reagan.
And there is a general quiet but seething anger these white Trump voters are feeling at being critiqued so often. "Why am I a bad person just because I am white?" they think. They are not willing to be implicated in systematic realities that affect other people negatively. They live in a culture of “it’s not my fault….it’s not my problem.” They have mostly asserted that they would never do anything to hurt me or any of my friends. The cognitive dissonance isn't dawning on them.
While most of the left is rightfully angered about these obvious backlashes against equal rights, they are overlooking the overturning of consumer protections laws that were meant to prevent another market crash like the one we had at the end of the Bush administration. Predatory Capitalism is something conscientious Trump voters don’t mind perpetuating, and unconscientious Trump voters don’t understand. Predatory Capitalism is something Clinton enthusiasts also don’t understand, or don't think is that pervasively toxic. They are usually people who wouldn’t fall for loopholes/tricks practiced by financial institutions to take advantage of the lower class. Rhetoric surrounding protections against an elite ruling class, and predatory capitalism (which means, instead of being labor slaves, we are turned into self-doubting/loathing, chemically numbed, ego-driven consumption slaves) was best touted during the election by Bernie Sanders; but because Clinton’s more enthusiastic supporters (of all races and creeds) didn’t bear the brunt of predatory capitalism, they were also slow to agree that changes in how we collectively think about class, money, and politics are desperately needed.
The left has not yet faced its own glaring identity crisis: they care about equality in social utopian theory, but not in economic practice.
More so, Trump is firing off so many executive orders, that it just seems overwhelming and there isn’t much the left can do besides voice their outrage.
My fear is that the truly bad stuff will start to happen once we’ve lost all our energy, and have wrongly concluded that our activism doesn’t really change anything.
My deeper fear is that the weapons industry is eager for Trump to stoke flames of anti-American sentiment because they would like to make even more money by escalating us into a form of war beyond the drone program we’ve all been unconsciously enduring under the Obama Administration.
I have yet to dialogue with Trump voters about their thoughts about the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline. As China moves forward into Green Energy policies (thanks to Obama and the Paris agreement), Americans are now being held hostage by the final hurrah of oil/coal moguls. People like Trump's Rex Tillerson. Here, the left also has lost their credibility, in that Clinton wasn’t even a very environmentally friendly candidate. She was pro-fracking and notoriously silent on the Dakota/Keystone pipeline. Her colleagues, John Kerry and Joe Biden also were sending their children/friends to be on the boards of Ukrainian oil companies. That was an implication of globalization Trump voters were rightfully voting against. When Russia invaded Crimea; the American media spun the story to make it seem like Russia was just flexing its imperialist arms, but it was actually threatening/blocking the American oil companies from going near what it saw as potential Russian energy taps. While Russian/Putin villainizing is justified based on his humans rights record; we must be cautious when we are encouraged to do so because the American corporate complex is selling us its own propaganda. We can be smarter than that. The Clintons had their own complicated relationship with Putin that liberals also criticized the progressive left for wanting to investigate.
Binary lesser-of-two-evils politics is used against us in issues such as the energy sources like the Dakota Pipeline; in which the general population doesn’t want to see it happen; but the finance sector/oil companies do.
To me, the pipelines are a non-partisan issue and a clear indicator that the government is in place, not to serve the average population, but the financial elite. Nobody has come out in singular vocal favor of these pipelines, and yet they are still being built. It is this oppressive invisible hand that we must pro-actively work together at dismantling. Police are tear-gassing and beating native water protectors, and we do not know who is telling them to do so. The government is overturning years of laws/regulations to ensure that profits are made by the same few corporations as always. I cannot tell if Trump’s supporters care about this issue or not, as they have remained silent on most issues pertaining to the environment. It would be very helpful if the constituents who elected the Republicans into office would also get vocal about environmental/civil rights issues. Their inclusion in valuable non-partisan social issues would be a benefit for everybody. Silence is literally killing people and poisoning water. White conservatives should stop being sensitive/quiet about these issues and get involved, as they are now in a seat of power, and have the ability to use their seat of power for good.
Moving forward; centrist Republicans should start pressuring their conservative leaders to pull out of more infrastructure strategies that pollute the environment. This entails moving from oil/gas models of energy use to more sustainable, less profit-hungry models.
Moving forward; liberals should decide if they want to be truly progressive or not; and will have to admit the violent wrongdoings of their own elected officials when they decide to critique the right. Critiquing Trump’s ban on the seven countries Obama was drone bombing, without admitting to not caring about that fact before, or even drawing that connection is the exact kind of blind-partisanship that ensures the general population doesn’t unite against the 1%.
Finally, I want to speak about protest and progress. In a recent conversation I had with a friend, they informed me that the only reason the Civil Rights movement was effective was because MLK and Malcolm X existed simultaneously. While many modern well-intentioned civil rights sympathizers often critique the race riots and the Black Panthers, what they don’t realize is that MLK couldn’t have made the progress he did without the serious violent fringes taking action as well. It actually gave his peaceful cause more leverage and legitimacy. I encourage those who engage in forming opinions about the state of social progress in this country to keep this in mind. No transfer of power from an elite few to a more democratic general population has ever come completely peacefully. I’m not, in anyway, looking forward to this impending violence; but I know the way history works, and what happens when people with money don’t let go.
My favorite art piece I’ve seen in the last year was a simple plaque that said, Let them drink Perrier, in not so subtle reference to the Flint/Dakota water crises.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these things as well. The recipients of this message include both Trump and Clinton voters. Feel free to tell me you'd like to not receive these updates, they will probably be written once every few months. Even if you don't agree, I think still think knowing different perspectives can be useful. I've been super inspired by how active and vocal everybody has recently been, and since I'm not on social media anymore, this is my small way of contributing to the conversation.