In some ways it is Deja Vu all over again…
I’m 37, I arrived in this country during the Clinton administration and not too long after that, I saw Gore win the popular vote and lose the electoral college and I subsequently lived through 8 years of the Bush administration.
It was freaky to see Gore miss the election by losing the electoral college but having won the popular vote. It was devastating to see a conservative judge swing the vote over to Bush. It was devastating to see the recount halted. There were serious feelings back then. It’s hard to remember how angry many were. Jay Lake captured some of that in an essay he wrote in 2000 called Why Are So Many of Us So Mad.
This time it is Russian intervention, the use of racism well above the usual Southern Strategy that Nixon first used, and the FBI’s October email surprise. There is still rage.
And everyone who predicted Bush would be a mess turned out to be right.
Bush gave us trillions in debt for the two wars where there had been a surplus. Invaded Iraq for reasons turned out to be fabricated. And then presided over one of the greatest economic collapses the country has seen.
Now this sort of thing has happened to Democrats twice in the last 16 years.
But seriously, HOLY SHIT, this is nothing like Bush…
That being said, Trump ain’t no Bush. And so help me, that is a fucked up thing to have to write.
Who the fuck knows what comes with the mismanagement of Trump. This tweet just about covers what a freakshow his ‘management’ of the last week has already been:
Everyone is scared. I think they’re right to be. An anti-semite and racist from Breitbart in a high position of power. Peter Thiel, who wrote that capitalism is incompatible with democracy and left South Africa to come here, is an influencer. Seriously sketch people are getting nods for staff. The team not understanding basic things about government. Trump making millions off of charging the government for use of his planes and hotels. His kids getting woven into all this.
One week in and it’s already a new modern low for incompetence and just general sketchy behavior. Then there are the Trump supporters, many of whom are emboldened racists, which is leading to encounters that are just one jump removed from me that I’ve seen reported on Facebook via trustworthy sources that are fucked up.
That’s just one week in.
So they whole ‘trust the system’ thing? When Republicans blocked the Supreme Court nominee and played this dirty. When they got rid of the voting rights act and purged voter rolls. When they gerrymandered their way to this victory that gives them Electoral College dominance but they lost the popular vote by (checks, over a million people now), then you’re left going ‘what system?’
I could write a massive essay on how fucked up Trump is. I don’t have to, Wil Wheaton did a bang up job here.
When McCain ran, I really felt he wasn’t up for running things and I didn’t want Palin one heart attack away from the presidency. Romney, I didn’t want the policies but I got why he was running for the other side (Ryan I didn’t like).
On the other hand, this reveals a segment of America that has always been here
Many of my friends of color were wholly unsurprised by the result (yeah, man, America is racist, this is news) and when liberals have said ‘this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen happen’ have had some very strong reactions to that.
I live in a red state, where I am surrounded by Trumpist opinions, and have been fighting that sort of shit through my fiction since 1999. I don’t feel I got the Obama years off, in fact, it was frustrating that so many white folk would tell me I was being over dramatic for feeling like the US was still a hostile environ. It has never not been hostile for me. I never know who is going to accidentally forget I’m not white and say something racist. And then I know, at least I look white, so I’m relatively *safe* compared to the non-white people who that shit gets aimed at. I just get backsplash.
I feel this election has more revealed what was already there. More so than it was a sudden surge from nowhere. The same pick up trucks with confederate flags are still rolling coal up and down streets in my town. As Vice points out in this article “A Racist White House Doesn’t Surprise Black People.”
I feel that a bunch of people stayed home, proving Martin Luther King’s statement that it isn’t the people who hate you you need to worry about, it’s the quiet folk in the middle.
We’re in a moral recession
Change is slow, and involves setbacks, and what I call ‘moral recessions.’ I think we’re in one now. This isn’t just about politics, but the kind of people being posted in charge right now. I’m happy to say that a president who puts a publicly anti-semitic, alt-right, white nationalist in a position of power has a moral deficit. And the president has a big impact on the country.
I don’t know if Trump is a facist or a Hitler, I am not omniscient. These same comparisons were made to Bush, it’s a natural part of the reaction that comes. I sometimes worry that over ascribing power to the opposition causes self-defeatism. I think 2018’s house is all up for reelection, and that is the tool to blunting the worst of this damage. I take hope from that. But it’s going to be a rough road ahead if this week’s any indication.
But when I say moral recession, it’s because a line is never straight.
I take some hope from the fact that more Americans, despite gerrymandering and voter roll purges, voted for Hillary Clinton than for Trump. I take some hope from the fact that basic modern attitudes in the US are swinging in a progressive direction and this is why many Trump supporters are screaming on twitter and Facebook how happy they are that they think Trump is a white nationalist, or destroy healthcare, or women’s rights.
Things are radically different from the 1980s. In the 1980s, 75% of white respondents to polls thought it was okay to discriminate when selling a house. That’s 25% now. That 25% is where you find a lot of Trump’s core support (due to the US being such a low voter turnout country, 25% of a population can swing an election). When I first arrived in the US, more Americans thought my very existence shouldn’t allowed (mixed race) at 52% of the country than not, that’s now 13% according to Gallup.
That smaller part of the country, mainly rural, has reacted against the majority and done something pretty horrible while another chunk of the country stood by and did nothing. But they’ve been doing horrible shit all along, and now is not the time to buckle against their lashback.
What I plan to do
I’ve always been here making art that’s diverse. I didn’t stop doing that when famous white SF authors told me to die or leave the country after 9/11 in SFWA forums. I didn’t stop doing it when called any number of things along the way. I’ve tried to play the long con. The fight for diversity and inclusion and my values has been something I’ve been at since the beginning. I will be at it forever.
I’ve made up a list of things I can do that are not posting on social media to try and help out politically as I realize I’ll need to do more than continue my mission in art. Places to donate, ways to volunteer, places to lend my creativity to
But I will continue to create exactly the kind of art that quite a few Trump supporters have always despised me for, wish to shut down, and I will continue to help create a future that supports the trend lines of positive things in this country so that in the multi-decade span of time, I can look back on this.
I plan to do my best to make sure vulnerable people are safe near me, reach out to other friends who feel the same. I plan to make sure my family is safe and that I am safe. I plan to avoid getting sucked in too much to news and social media that depresses me or overwhelms me or I will be lulled into inaction, which is how these things work. Expect a flurry of negative news, and a flurry of legislature and plans that try to overwhelm us all with apathy. I remember social security teetering on being canceled by Republicans in 2004, I remember the way people tried to stop the inevitability of the wars and couldn’t. It’ll be tough, but you’ll need to take care of yourself as well.
This is a lifetime’s work. It may not pan out to put hopes on 2018. Or 2020. I think it’s always been a lifetime’s work. I think it’s a lifetime’s work that minorities of all kinds have borne heavily and this will be heaviest on them moving forward. I hope that doesn’t get anyone down, you need to protect yourselves, but it’s the long game I tend to think of. Back when it was Bush in charge, when Obama swept in, and still now. Always the long game. Always about what the point of my art is here for and why I do it. And always about what I’m trying to leave behind in the world.
No, I’m not sure what the hell will happen with my healthcare. A year ago my wife joined me in freelancing and we set up on ACA. I would prefer single payer, but ACA was at least something, and though pricey, it let the family freelance. It’ll be good for 2017, but 2018 is a shrouded mist for me. Like that place the Bene Gesserit can’t see past? I can’t either.
I have, now, a pre-existing condition, my heart defect. That means even if I wanted to pay it might prevent my family from getting health insurance. I’m not sure how we’ll thread that needle, it adds some anxiousness to my ability to forecast and plan. However, since we all freelance in the house now, we do have the ability to move anywhere we need to in order to get health insurance. I’m hoping not to have to move, as I’ve put down roots pretty well in my current community…
This is the calm version of the post. I just wrote ‘fuck’ over and over again originally. I feel I still have yet to wrap my head around many different aspects of this election, but this was a first attempt. I may be posting more.
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