Almost 9 years ago I got told to sit down and STFU. I didn’t go quietly or complacently. I did what I normally did at that time, which was to continue to participate in the general political conversation. For probably the first time in my life, I got met with outright hostility at just about every turn. I lost A LOT of friends, including my best friend, with whom I’d been close for more than 20 years. It hurt, but I took the hits. And I learned to STFU to preserve certain relationships that were important to me, and my job.
Today I work in a major academic center in a major city. No one at work knows what my political beliefs are, and certainly they don’t know that I voted for Trump. I don’t share much political conversation with people in everyday life, except for my new best friend, who got a free Hillary-Pepe (pictured above) shirt from me for being a solid friend. She wore it to work the day after the election, under a sweater, of course. I have a matching shirt. I wear it to the grocery shirt in hopes of pissing off random strangers. It feels like a subversive act every single time.
How did we get here? I feel like I’m basically a brooding, 45 year old troll. It sucks.
I turn on the news and I just can’t identify. I still listen to NPR on my way to work most days, but unlike before Obama, I just count the times Steve Inskeep lets the mask slip, which is about every 2 minutes these days. When I get home I check in with Memeorandum just to see the shitpile of posts of vile progressive oriented media excoriating Donald Trump for having the unmitigated gall to take another breath. I check in on Facebook, which is intolerable, and Twitter, which is stupid, maybe Gab. Good God, Gab. God Bless ‘Em, they’re trying, but it’s definitely an echo chamber. Then I check in here. I find some modicum of peace. Maybe I make a #DailyFuckYou. Then I fall down a Reddit rabbit hole. Go to sleep, wake up; lather, rinse, repeat.
I think I need a new routine, a new purpose, but I don’t know how to make it work. I fantasize sometimes about getting a shirt that says “I voted for Trump,” like those abortion shirts they used to have that just declared that the wearer had an abortion. I think I might get fired if I did. I constantly have to remind co-workers that I don’t talk about politics at work or on Facebook. The office is the worst place in the world these days. They’re firmly in the angry phase, haughtily sure that the people who disagree with them are completely stupid and reading 100% fake news 100% of the time. As much as I enjoyed watching Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews (and Megan Kelly) eat a shit pie on November 8th, I don’t enjoy working with people who sit around judging the fuck out of everyone around them all day long. It’s patently ridiculous.
And I know how this is going to turn out. I’ve seen plenty of Trump supporters claim that things should settle down after Trump is sworn in and people see what he can do. That’s. Not. Going. To. Happen.
That’s what they said about Reagan, too. Reagan went on to engage the left, appointing more minorities and women in positions of power than any president we’d ever had. He gave amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants. He tried as hard as any president in my lifetime to brook the chasm between the left and the right, and the left just doubled down on their ridiculous, persistent negativity, and we ended up with a digital lynching of the second black man appointed to the SCOTUS, resulting in his silence for the next 30 years.
Now I just want the left to STFU, before they ruin this for all of us. I really don’t know how we got here. If you had told me as I cast my first vote for president for Bill Clinton that we’d be here, that I would not be able to vote for Hillary Clinton, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me as I cast my second vote for Bill Clinton that one day I would be sitting here thinking that the entire left should just take a seat and a pill, I wouldn’t have believed that either. But that’s where I am. Is that where you are?
So we did it. We got Trump elected. Not just us, of course, but us and a loose network of folks who disengaged with the left as they got more and more tyrannical even as they grew more impotent. We teamed up with Republican voters to put the brakes on their shitty plans.
I’ve bought some stocks, because I’m pretty sure Wall Street is about to turn bull. I’m going to grad school starting in January. Majoring in Public Affairs because I can’t stand the thought of an MSW, and because I think it’s important to have intellectual diversity in public institutions. But I haven’t quite found the will to speak up, and until I do, I won’t be able to reasonably claim to be contributing to that intellectual diversity. I’ve got some ideas for more subversive approaches, but quite honestly, I really wish I could just be me without worrying about the loss of my job or my friends or more family members.
Hell, I don’t know why I’m still rambling on about this. I just thought you might understand. *shrug* Maybe Neil Young was right.
I’d rather keep changing and lose a lot of people along the way. If that’s the price, I’ll pay it.