I have to admit that the presidential election results really took the wind out of my sails as far as writing for Discerning Deviant goes. It’s not something I really want to talk about in this space right now, as my blog is young and I don’t think I have to writing chops to effectively communicate my extremely complex feelings about this whole election cycle in the depth I feel the subject warrants. It’s growing increasingly inescapable, however, that I write about it lest I never free my mind to think about any of the infinite number of things I’d rather be writing about.
The entire election cycle itself had been pretty draining on me to begin with. It was the first time in my adult life that I found both major candidates to be repugnant in their own way. If it weren’t for one candidate literally leading the rise of an invigorated White Nationalism movement, I would have wrote in Bernie Sanders just out of spite for a Democratic candidate that ran the worst campaign I can remember. At least Trump’s campaign inspired people that there would be change, as awful as it was. Clinton’s platform was almost entirely based on trying to get people to (rightfully) fear that change without really showing us a strong vision of how she was going to change things for the better. She ran her campaign like a Republican and it backfired spectacularly.
I voted for her, even though I was pretty sure it was going to be futile, as her core supporters did a bang up job of making me hate her. I wasn’t reluctant to vote for her because of any of the right-wing’s nonsense about her emails or Benghazi or any of that crap. II didn’t want to vote for her because her campaign truly embraced something that I feel has been corrupting the soul of Liberalism for years. The tactics of fear and shame that caused me to walk away from Conservatism when I was a young adult. For two decades, I was proud to be a Bleeding Heart Liberal, but the heart of Liberalism has bled out and left a cold, hardened husk. I voted for Hillary, but I also basically tore up my Liberal card after I did.
Whatever happened, I wasn’t going to be happy with the outcome. However, I knew the ultimate ramifications of a Hillary Clinton presidency would be business as usual with the worst part being her being rewarded with the Presidency despite the slimy trail she left to get there. A Trump presidency was promising to do real and direct harm to people as he amped up the Republican fervor for using underprivileged groups as a scapegoat for the problems affecting white people who aren’t rich so that those white people wouldn’t turn on their own oppressors. This is how the wealthy elite turns middle and lower class white Americans into the middle management of oppression. Giving them some privilege, mostly contingent on keeping the people on the lower rungs of society away from the people with real power. Many people voted for Trump because they felt whipped on from both sides and were desperate for a third option even if that third option was akin to setting themselves on fire.
I know a little something about self-harm out of frustration, so people metaphorically tipping a gas can over their heads and lighting a match came as absolutely no surprise to me. I strive to have empathy for and listen to everyone. I try as hard as possible, admittedly not always succeeding, to not let my ego get in the way of understanding. I don’t have to agree with someone to hear them out, and understanding them doesn’t mean I can’t still hold ground on my own beliefs. I’m certainly not saying that the many of the people who voted for Trump don’t believe some patently absurd things, but I am saying that there’s a reason they cling so desperately to those illusions.
It’s times like this that I kind of regret the rise of the social media. Between giving people echo chambers while also making reminders of that there is always evil going on in the world omnipresent, our society is getting sucked deeper and deeper into a feedback loop that’s pushing more and more of the population into extreme factions. It’s so much more fun and satisfying to say nasty things and shut down those who disagree with you than it is to try to understand your opponent’s point of view and use that to work out a way to get your position into their perspective. It’s so much simpler to view everyone not with you as being against you, and that simplicity is a very tempting thing in an overwhelmingly complex world. Social media certainly has great potential for bringing people together and uniting them to make positive change, but I suspect for many people social media is just a place for them to be constantly reminded that the world as a whole does not have a universal sense of right or wrong and to rage at others to fix that natural fact.
Do I have a point with all this? Not really. I’m just venting my frustration about the storm of fanaticism this election has brought to a head (and no, I’m not just talking about the White Nationalist movement that Trump’s victory has stirred into a frenzy, though I’m certainly not excluding them) that is suppressing dialogue, empathy, and cooperation. As long as people are more interested in blame than solutions, revenge than reaching a peaceful accord, and are singularly of the mind that what they want is the only thing that matters then things will only get worse.
That’s why I’ve had trouble writing for Discerning Deviant since the election. How can I sit here trying to talk about embracing the beautiful possibilities that life offers while everyone around me is letting their lives become defined by fear, anger, and hate? I want to write about love and intimacy and community and sexy fun stuff, not become a political blog that everyone hates for being critical of whatever faction they belong to while being too empathetic towards whatever faction they see as their enemy.
Hell, I’m even critical of people I agree with if I don’t agree with how they’re making the case for what we both believe. I don’t make a lot of friends when talking politics, is what I’m saying. Yet, I don’t want to stick my head in the sand just because I don’t like the view. The world doesn’t become a better place by the people who believe in compassion throwing their hands up and saying “Well, this is all fucked! Time to hide in a hole until I die or this blows over.”
So, I’ll keep on doing my thing here trying to show people how great the world can be when you expand your heart and mind and strike an accord between them and the hearts and minds of others. Maybe it will make a difference. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know. What I do know is that the world has been spiralling into chaos and it’s only going to get worse until more people start grounding themselves in something other than the battles they’re fighting. We have to make time enough for love or we’ve already lost what really matters.
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