The Politically Disconnected
So many of us feel frustrated with the election outcome. I know I personally feel like my pro-environment, anti-discrimination, pro-labor and worker’s rights politics are pretty much irrelevant now. Enough voters seemed to vote against that kind of representation that I must be out of step with my fellow Americans, right?
I’m unsure. I can’t shake the feeling that a large proportion of voters these days have a disconnect between their own values, concerns and personal beliefs and their choice of political candidates and parties.
I don’t think the folks I know who voted for Donald Trump consider themselves xenophobic, anti environmental bigoted crony-capitalists, despite having voted for a man whose life, words AND actions suggest that he is all of the above. There’s a disconnect involved.
Why would my numerous friends who consider themselves nature lovers consistently vote for candidates who exhibit little concern for the health of the environment, and whose policies promote large scale fossil fuel extraction over investments in clean energy? Why would they support these men who will happily turn our beautiful and wild public lands into mines, oil wells and gas fields, endangering our countries most fragile and unique environments in the process??? Disconnect.
And why would my female friends vote for a xenophobe? They would be disgusted by a xenophobic supervisor at work, yet they went ahead and hired one to run the country??? Disconnect.
Why would my friends who work in union shops, enjoying the benefits of union protections and representation, consistently vote for anti-labor candidates? Are they completely unaware of how much damage their elected officials can do to workers rights in this country??? Disconnect.
Why would anyone who isn’t a racist vote for a candidate who denigrates minorities, women, and even the overweight and physically disabled among us??? Disconnect.
Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the scripture: Out of the heart, the mouth speaketh?
Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the words of Maya Angelou– “When someone tells you who they are, believe them…”?
Or, perhaps they don’t care what a candidate says about “others” as long as he promises to take care of them?
Or maybe they are fearful and fed up, and want to shake things up? Change things. Any change will do. Like the Cubans were in 1959.
Many questions. I don’t have any answers. So I’m going with the disconnect theory.
Trump himself apparently has one great big disconnect between the things he says and the person he thinks he is, (and wants us to think he is). Sitting next to his wife Melania during a post election Sixty Minutes interview, he didn’t bat an eye, (neither did she), when she shared that her chosen cause as first lady would be to battle bullying. Interesting choice, considering her husband is famous for his bully pulpit politics and angry and intimidating tweets. But of course Donald Trump doesn’t consider himself a bully. He just acts like one. Most of the time. He also told Leslie Stahl, all innocent and wide eyed, that he thinks Barak Obama is very smart and the Clintons are good people, as if all the shit slinging and false narratives he’s thrown around about them for the last two years was all political BS. Well, of course it was. But he said it not some body double posing as him. Double Freaking Disconnect. (You can see the interview here. I found it fascinating and frustrating.)
This disconnect on the part of politicians and the voting public bothers me. With one exception, my own attempts to respectfully debate the issues with friends across the aisle are largely met with defensive silences or argumentative responses. I have concluded that it’s pointless to talk about politics. We have become an us and them society within the political arena. We are as separate as we have ever been. I gave up Facebook six weeks ago and I’m not planning a return anytime soon. The proliferation of false news reports so feverishly promoted there in the name of partisan politics sickened me. It was too reminiscent of the propaganda machines run by authoritarian republics during the last century for my taste. And the obvious delight people took in the vile accusations against their chosen one’s opponent, as if there was nothing you couldn’t believe and blindly accept and pass on (except anything positive), did nothing to assist the democratic process. I am interested in truth and committed to fairness. I found little of either. I refuse to be a part of it any longer.
Here’s what I am going to do in response to the political disconnect I perceive:
I am going to vote for candidates who have responsible attitudes towards environmental policy, who are intelligent, caring, hard-working and just human beings, whose policies reflect my values.I will not be a one issue voter, regardless of the import of any single issue. The world is too complex for that. I will not vote for cowboys, misfits or mavericks unless of course they exhibit the qualities I mentioned above.
I am going to keep the heat on the people in Washington, just as I have been doing, to make America a more inclusive/less repressive, more responsible/less destructive, more pro-citizen/less pro-corporate society. I’ll keep signing those petitions, writing those letters and supporting the causes I believe in.
I’m going to continue living my life according to the personal concerns and beliefs that are most important to me. I will recycle. I will shop locally and garden organically. I will maintain my voice and my integrity in my personal life, but I will not cast my pearls before swine in the social media arena.
I am going to stay engaged in the process, despite the frustration I feel with the outcome of this election, by speaking to the people in power regularly. I hope you will too.
I just shared my feelings about clean energy policy with the President elect through a link from a renewable energy activist group I support. Apparently, Team Trump has created a website designed to take comments from folks about how to make America great. Why not let them know how YOU feel, respectfully and truthfully, right HERE. (https://apply.ptt.gov/yourstory/)