I have so many more 2020 things to talk about but today is November 3. It’s either the day we’ve all been waiting for or the day we’ve all been dreading.
I grew up in a mostly apolitical house where patriotism was celebrated but never really explained. There was also no real consequence to not being. I was, obviously, too young to remember the Reagan years. I knew who George H. W. was but just saw him as the president of the country who talked about things my Nickelodeon-soaked mind didn’t understand. By the time Clinton came into office, I still didn’t know what a democrat or republican was but I took my first interest in politics at this time due to the fact that I was 9-15 years old and was VERY interested in what was happening in the oval office.
High school dropped me into the punk scene really hard and with it came what I thought was a political awakening within my already snotty and angry teenage soul. Add to that the George W. administration creating such a fertile breeding ground for young leftist angst. I didn’t — and still haven’t — identified as a democrat but it was during this time that I realized I aligned with the left and felt passionate about fighting for causes I cared a lot about. In 2003 I turned 18 and in 2004 I voted against him. We lost. And I was even angrier.
When President Obama was elected in 2008, I was filled with pride knowing that as a country, we were being led by someone who was well-educated, a great speaker and for the first time in American history, black. My naive mind thought maybe as a country we had finally made it over a hump of backward morality, despite my forever-backward red state’s defiance.
I was wrong.
Much like I’ve read from the blogs of my friends lately, I was baffled by every aspect of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency. “Who does this idiot think he’s fooling?” I said when he announced his candidacy. I was SO confident that it was merely a publicity stunt for an upcoming season of the Apprentice or something. But then he gained traction. “WHO on earth is supporting this buffoon?” I frequently asked. Has no one listened to anything he’s actually said? There’s no way this was happening.
Then it happened. The majority of Americans voted against him, yet Donald Trump became our president, much to the joy of racist, homophobic and misogynistic white men nationwide. My ex and I spent the next day calling and texting our non-white, non-straight and non-Christian friends to let them know we loved them. We didn’t know what the next four years were going to be like but they were scared and while we couldn’t possibly understand, our hearts hurt for them.
I spent the next few days, weeks, even the next few months hoping that he would announce that it was a horrible misunderstanding, that he never expected to be taken seriously and that he was going to be backing out. That day, unfortunately, never came.
Under President Obama, I saw for the first time how a large group of people could illogically hate a single person for all the wrong reasons. After seeing friends and family post horrible, racist shit all over Facebook to express their disdain for the President, I thought that I was seeing the worst — the ugliest — of America’s lowest low lives.
Again, I was wrong.
Under Trump, it’s done nothing but get worse … and weirder. Every day I drive down the street and see giant trucks proudly waving Trump 2020 flags. I pass a house every day that has a Trump 2020 sign in their yard surrounded by 20 yards of razor-wire (I’m not kidding). Every time I go to the grocery store I see people wearing MAGA hats and shirts with the same proud swagger that I used to have when I wore my Van Halen t-shirts in the 6th grade. This is a president that they will likely never meet, who will likely never actually do anything that directly affects them one way or another, who has clearly said some horrible things they don’t mind agreeing with … yet they wave his banner and sing his praises with a ferocity and fervor equalled only by the cast of Heavy Metal Parking Lot; a pride and an intensity you should really only see in downtown Knoxville on Saturdays in the fall.
But it’s not for a concert. And it’s not for a college football game. It’s for a reality TV personality-turned politician.
Mark Manson recently rephrased Reagan’s saying government is best which governs least as government is best which governs boring and I have to agree with him. Americans are obsessed with 24-hour news. We’re always plugged in via Facebook and Twitter, getting the latest in breaking news, fake and otherwise. Everyone now has a platform for their opinion and you’re celebrated for expressing it regardless of how ill-informed it may be.
Manson goes on to say, “Our politics resemble Wrestlemania more than they do actual governance. Red vs. Blue has become the new political past time — a never-ending resolution-free Super Bowl.”
It’s like we’re all in a car about to crash and instead of worrying about the boring jobs of steering, general car-control and situational awareness, our focus is on texting, plugging in the aux cord and checking out our faces in the mirror.
Our music selection, our beautiful faces and the important information we were texting while driving are all headline-grabbing bits of information, all things that will stir up a strong public reaction … but our potentially deadly demise could’ve been avoided if our focus was on the banal, yet very necessary, governance required to operate a moving vehicle. At this point, I don’t even know if there IS a driver in America’s front seat. And if there is one, are they licensed? And if they are, should they be?
Anyway. I don’t care much for Joe Biden but I voted for him this morning. He’s boring, potentially a creep and does seem rather sleepy at all times … but I trust him to give more of a shit about the maintenance and operation of our vehicle than what song we’re listening to while our flesh burns in a gasoline-fueled inferno.
I hope you voted. Either today or early. I was in and out in less than 20 minutes this morning. Simple and painless*.
*Mostly painless. I squirmed a bit when I was forced to read Kanye West’s name on my ballot.
Ever onward, fellow Americans. I’m excited and hopeful about tomorrow but I’m not assuming anything about an election ever again.
See you tomorrow.