Friday, November 11, 2016

Three Days After

So, it's almost 3:00 here, and I'm still in my PJs. Yeah, it's been that kind of week, and I know I'm not alone.

I rarely speak directly about politics in this blog, though I'm guessing most people can tell where I stand on things based on my feelings about diversity in fiction. Overall, I'm a pretty conflict-adverse person, and I know many women (and other, even more vulnerable people) who receive harassment and threats for airing their views online.

Nonetheless, I have to say something about this election. Like half (or more than half) of voting America, I spent the first Tuesday evening in November in a state that started with hearty denial (well, Romney got off to an early lead too, and all of these are "red" states) to still clinging to hope (Well, shit about Ohio, but there's no way Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania can all go red) to shock, followed by sick grief.

No election has affected me like this. I grew up during the Reagan years, so I'm used to political disappointment and frustration. Like all Americans, I've had elections not go my way and have walked around feeling blue and anxious about the future of our country because of it. This is different, though. It's more than just politics or fear that the kinds of programs and policies I support will be stalled for another four years, or even just fear of another Scalia type on SCOTUS. I've never felt this mixture of grief and fear. It's as if someone I loved has died.

This is how I feel right now.

Many visible, eloquent and talented people have aired thoughts and feelings similar to mine over the past few days, so I honestly don't think I can say anything newly profound, let alone have any impact, with this blog that has "tens" of regular followers. But there's one thing that's starting to bug me: white, straight, cisgendered people who are telling people that everything will be all right, even sneering at people for being afraid "just because they lost an election."

This isn't about just losing another election. Yes, I'd be frustrated and somewhat angry if we now had another President Bush or Kasich or Rubio (or, shudder, Cruz) etc. to look forward to, especially with congress also being under the control of the GOP and a Supreme court with several liberal and several aging moderate justices. But we don't have a qualified, competent politician, or even a rational, well-meaning human being at our helm. We have Trump (and Pence, who is in many ways, just as chilling, and with the political chops to back it up).

I won't list all the reasons I think he's unqualified to be president, in terms of experience, temperament, character, or goals, or why I think he's going to be a disaster for everything from the economy and national security to human rights. Others have done this very well indeed. Others have also done a good job of expressing the anger and disappointment I share that most of the white people in America, even most white women, voted for a man endorsed by the KKK and who wants to discriminate based on religion. A man who frightens children. A man who disrespects the men and women in uniform who have sacrificed their lives, freedom, or health for this country. A man who wants to overturn the Oberfell decision and feels that discrimination against LGBTQ+ people should be a protected form of free speech.

I'm not at all proud of my race today, and I earnestly hope that we will be just one of many minority groups in the not-too-distant future. No one group should have the ability to deprive others of their basic rights, and sadly, the white majority, as a group, has shown they're not willing to go to bat for others. Instead we think of success and security as a line we're all waiting in for years and years and shake our fists at other groups for, in our perception,"taking cuts." Think what we could do if she stopped acting like a bunch of dogs fighting over the last few scraps of meat and instead questioned why the fucking line is so long to begin with and why we all have to paddle so hard just to keep our chins above water. I get that many Trump voters didn't specifically choose to support him because of the bigotry and racism (though too many did), but they were willing to tolerate it as part of a package deal.

So please, please, please stop telling people who are scared and hurting they shouldn't be heartbroken and afraid. Some of us are more fortunate, more secure, than others and can possibly ride out another major recession, and (because of our race, gender, and orientation) we can hope be emerge personally unscathed from a period of rising intolerance for diversity and human rights. Some of us live in states that are going to at least try to resist the New World Order. Lucky us, but even so, we're not immune from the potential harm. I'm already wondering what will happen to the mental health care coverage in our insurance plan when the ACA (which mandates mental health coverage) is repealed, and I'm wondering how generous my state legislature and senate (and voters) will be with keeping the money flowing to make up for lost federal dollars if we go into another recession that depletes their coffers again. I'm wondering what will happen to the funding for the college where I teach, semester to semester on an as-needed basis, if the economy goes south again.

I'm not just scared for myself, though. You see, I care about people who aren't just like me. I don't assume that everyone who is less fortunate is where they are from being lazy or stupid. Not everyone will be equally insulated from harm when (and with the GOP controlling both houses, and soon, SCOTUS, it seems like a when, not an if) Trump's policies start to take effect. Half of us aren't male and are wondering what kind of behavior and harassment of women we might see more of over the next few years, since we've gotten a man who calls women pigs and dogs and thinks bragging about sexual assault is just generic "male banter" in the white house. Will sexual harassment in the workplace become another protected form of "free speech?"

 I've got friends, family, students and colleagues who aren't white, straight, economically secure, cisgendered, Christian (or likely to be taken as such by casual observation). What are their lives going to be like now? Jim C. Hines did a good job of listing reasons why many of us are afraid in his blog the other day. I don't see any point in duplicating those reasons here.

In light of all this, it's rather insulting to tell us we're being melodramatic when we say we think Trump and his movement remind us more of certain events in1930s-era Germany than it does the ascension of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy (not that the latter would be anything to be complacent about either). If you don't agree or understand, there's not much I can do to sway you. But if you can't lend support to your distraught friends, colleagues, and family members, please don't try to feed us platitudes about how everything will be okay. I'd love for that to be true, for this to be just another election cycle that didn't go the way approximately half of us wanted, but I don't have a lot of optimism right now.

I think we will be seeing more of these kinds of crimes over the next few years, and it makes me feel ill. When will our country finally lay this shit to rest?

The only thing that gives me hope is huge number of people who are drawing together, pledging to support those who need it most. Planning to fight back. If there has ever been a time to get involved, to reach out to those who are most vulnerable, this is it.

One thing I do want to say to the friends (offline and online), neighbors, and family members who are more vulnerable than I am: I won't mock or dismiss your fears, and I'll do whatever I can to support you and have your back. If you need something, please let me know.

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