Here we are, yet again, on the verge. I know I’m supposed to wax poetic about how this is a monumental moment for all of us, or perhaps I’m supposed to be railing against the insanity of anyone who could dare vote for Donald Trump, yet for some reason I don’t have it in me to neatly tuck myself into one of those political response camps. Yeah, I voted. Yeah, I care mildly about the outcome. Yeah, I’m aware of the repercussions of this election on my life. Yet for some reason, neither blind patriotism nor rabid divisiveness appeals to me. Because I already know what will happen. Tomorrow will come, good news or not, and I will continue to live my life in pretty much the same way that I have always been living it. Tirading on the Internet about racist Trump supporters isn’t going to change that. Gushing over Kamala Harris even though she’s a cop isn’t going to change that. Fuck, even voting isn’t going to change that. (Because I live in California. My vote doesn’t actually do anything in a presidential election. Local elections, sure.)
I’m getting sick of seeing people on the Internet chastise and berate Trump supporters for how the casted their votes. Mostly because: we’re clearly missing something here, people. True, as a born and bred Californian, and a born and bred Bay Arean at that, I live in a liberal bubble that is unscathed by the political duality that scars most of the rest of the country. The idea of a Trump supporter is unfathomable to me, but in being unfathomable, I realize: maybe I should try to understand what the fuck is going on here. Because there’s clearly something that I don’t understand. Painting every Trump supporter as a zany, racist, misogynistic Q Anon supporter clearly isn’t accurate. These aren’t people on the fringe, even if the Trump political movement has embraced the fringe (in a way which *ahem* I wish the left would do). There’s something very average about Trump supporters. In fact, something so average that Trump still has a fighting chance for a second term as I write this. The fact that we can’t see that is evidence of our inability to really understand America, to understand what it takes to win an election, to understand what it means to hold power in America. \
Of course I think I’m an average American. But maybe I’m not. It’s very American for every American to put themselves at the center of the American narrative. But the fact of the matter is, I am clueless as to who the average American really is and, by extension, what the American dream is anymore. All I know is, it’s not the Bay Area and it’s not the people who live here. Perhaps we are out of touch.
There is something fairly ignorant about claiming that Donald Trump is “not my president” if you still live in this country, obey its laws, and benefit from its policies. Even though we in the Bay Area have railed against Trump this entire time, we have always been citizens of this country, and this country has been ruled by Trump. No amount of protesting, hanging BLM signs in the window, or writing angry liberal screeds on Facebook changes that. If you pay your federal taxes, you are an American and you are financially supporting a government that spends money based on Donald Trump’s decisions.
I didn’t leave. I am embarrassed that I lived in this country while it was being ruled by Donald Trump, but I wasn’t so embarrassed that I left. Or even did anything meaningful or significant to stymie his power or his decisions. I have to deal with that, and I have to deal with the fact that regardless of who is president, I will always be benefiting from policies that oppress and exploit other people. Because this is a capitalist society, and our government is designed to support capitalism and all its inherent evils.
Maybe I’m not so different from a Trump supporter, I’m just in a blue-tinged denial. What do Trump supporters even care so deeply about that they’re willing to overlook the racism, the sexism, and the ignorance? Because that’s all I see when I see Donald Trump: he is a leader who perpetuates division, who condones racism, who is misogynistic, xenophobic, and not good at spelling or grammar, at the very least. But I’m not seeing something. Perhaps I’m not seeing the whole picture, or I’m looking at it from a different angle. All I see is despicableness and bile. But someone out there sees unity, hope, progress in the exact same person. Fucking how!? I’m not implying that anyone who sees light in Donald Trump is ignorant, but rather that I am too ignorant to understand what it is that they see.
What do these people value? Over and over again, I see that the single most important fundamental American value is freedom. And, oh, buddy, let me tell you: yeah, I fucking love my freedom. I am one of the most free people that I have ever known, and I am definitely the most free person in my family’s blood line. I try to utilize as much freedom as possible on a day to day basis. I am not a prisoner to my government, to religion, to my family, to my friends, to my boss, to morality, to etiquette, to insecurities or boyfriends. I practice freedom by being the most me that I can be every day, regardless of how obnoxious or annoying it is. The only things that hold me back are money, my gender, and my race. To me, these are the biggest impediments to freedom. I am caught in the trap of capitalism, and it is preventing me from being free to do whatever the fuck it is I want. And ‘whatever the fuck it is I want’ is usually hanging out at my house watching TV and getting drunk with my friends.
Maybe that’s the language we should be using to talk to Trump supporters. They can surely understand that some people are more free than others in this country. Although, that begs the question: are some people more equal than others in this country? And, if so, how do we measure that?
Calling a Trump supporter ‘racist’ on the Internet isn’t going to change anything, nor is it going to help. We look so dumb when we do that. Blanket statements about condoning homophobia and sexism with a single vote cast aren’t helpful. For the most part, battling people in comment threads doesn’t really produce meaningful dialogue, nor does it inspire change.
There’s really only one way to change: come into power. Not just in politics, but in every aspect of this country. Take charge. Take power. Change this fucking shit, even if it takes years, decades, a lifetime. Do not let them get away with this shit. Let Americans have so much freedom that they choke on it and die. Give them the freedom to be ignorant, to be racist, to be loud mouthed and gun toting and angry. But make sure that they know: freedom is not free. If you want to be like that here, then you must suffer the same way that I have suffered for the past four years: with the humiliation of being an American in an America that is defined by its own hypocrisy. It’s not even real suffering, and it’s not that hard to live with. But I am sick of living with it.