Everything I Have to Say About Politics

hillary-clinton

Part of me really would rather not tackle this subject, but I figure anything that somehow manages to consume me the way the results of this election have is probably something I need to get out of my head.

It’s not very often that I react to something in a way that truly surprises me. I know myself pretty fucking well and to find myself profoundly affected by something in a totally unexpected way has been a strange experience indeed.

My keen self-awareness has probably made it all the more surreal. Over the past year or so, I’ve been taking note of my own increasing level of interest and engagement in American politics.

It’s been difficult NOT to notice about myself, as it was never something that I devoted much time, thought or energy to in the past.

At many different points during these last six months especially, I’ve caught myself having thoughts along the lines of:

  • “Since when am I the kind of person who follows election news this closely?!”
  • “Okay so I’m pretty sure I’ve never cared this much or felt this strongly about any Presidential candidate before, but I have to admit…I am rooting for Hillary, dammit!”
  • “UGGGGHH…I swear to God, if I open my big fat mouth one more time and start talking about ANOTHER news story about the election, I’m seriously going to slap myself in the face”
  • “Well at least now I am absolutely certain that I’ve become a boring, old grown-up who cares about drudgery like fucking politics…I wonder if I’d be less preoccupied with it if I were happier with my own life at the moment”
  • “Okay, I don’t even know myself at all anymore…I AM NOT the kind of reject who is moved to tears over the outcome of a fucking election, WTF has happened to me?!”

*sigh*

Okay, so let’s travel back in time nearly seventeen years…shall we?

Presidential Election of 2000

It is fall of the year 2000. The school year began just two months prior to the election, and I was in the 7th grade at Clear Creek Middle School in Gresham, OR.

As November 8th drew near, I remember Mr. Hemstead (who I had a ridiculous crush on all of that year) began to give us a political primer on how Presidential elections work in the United States.

This was as good a time to start the discussion as any, I would imagine.

I’d just turned thirteen a month before, so I was barely mature enough to acknowledge the world beyond my own self, at least momentarily.

In fact, as I sit here reflecting on this period of time in my life, I become more and more convinced that it’s quite possibly the perfect age group to be in.

My brain was pretty much focused on my first “boyfriend” who I had met around this time. In between the flickers of boring crap they were teaching us at school, I mostly sat around thinking about the last time I’d seen him and trying to relive the first time butterflies of someone touching my boobs.

I think my biggest fear and concern back then was dropping a tampon on my way to the restroom from class or something equally as retarded and hilarious.

Life was not so bad, looking back.

This particular year, as many of you already know, George W. Bush was the Republican candidate running against former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat.

I didn’t know much about either of them at that point in time and I had just barely enough sense of who I was and what would end up mattering to me in life to be aware that I tended to side with Democrats and their values.

As we learned more about how the elections ran, everything seemed hunky dory until we suddenly hit a giant hole in the road as we were listening to Mr. Hemstead explaining shit one day.

Waaait just a minute! Back up, please…

What was that last part, again?!

The Electoral College (or why I Never Voted)

Okay, now just hang on a goddamn second please.

I thought I was starting to get a grasp on how all this shit works and then you had to go and utter the two most sterile and condescending words I’ve ever encountered.

Electoral college.

Hmmm.

What about that part about how we live in a free country where WE elect OUR President by VOTING?!

WHAT the FUCK happened to THAT PART?

It seemed awfully important. You sure sounded proud when you said it a moment ago, yeah?

This is going to be JUST like that fucked up lie I was fed back in Kindergarten, ISN’T IT?

Like…what was that all about, anyway?

Thank you for lying about someone as awesome as Santa Claus existing and thank you for trying to lie to me about something as awesome as the concept of fucking voting.

Man, you really had me going there for a moment! Good one, bruh.

And before you go trying to “explain” why the electoral college exists or launch into some fucking psuedo civics lecture I didn’t ask for…yeah, I’ve heard it all before.

Save it.

The reason we have the electoral college is because we DON’T VOTE FOR SHIT.

The reason we have the electoral college is because we DON’T VOTE FOR SHIT.

PERIOD.

Well, I take that back.

Many of us DO in fact vote…it just doesn’t mean fucking shit.

How quaint.

I remember after I learned this in school, I had a conversation with my grandfather about it at the time (who is a Republican and Conservative).

I remember simply asking him why we had a system where the person who gets more votes may not actually end up being elected our President.

He responded by assuring me that such a scenario was so rare that it virtually never happened.

Aaaaaaand then!

George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore and was elected our next fucking President.

Hey Dad, can you tell me again about how rare that whole thing is please?

I seem to have forgotten.

Underestimating Stupidity

At that point, I was wholly disillusioned about our process for electing our most “important leader.”

I called total bullshit on the whole thing and decided right then and there (as a pathetic little teenager) that I wasn’t going to play that fucking insulting game of bullshit.

What for?

My vote would count towards absolutely nothing but a cute little statistic that people would chat about over breakfast as the real decisions were ultimately made by OTHER PEOPLE.

No fucking thanks.

How dumb were these fucking people?

I mean I love my grandfather to death, he raised me as his own daughter and I respect the hell out of him. But I still fail to see the logic behind his argument that you don’t have a right to bitch unless you vote.

…in an election where votes determine nothing whatsoever.

In the year that followed, the terrorist attack took place which took down the World Trade Towers in New York City.

Following that disaster, I watched President George W. Bush declare some bogus and vague “war on terror” and begin to bomb the shit out of Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries.

Keeping in mind that I was still pretty young while this was all going on, I was basically just left with the impression that Bush Jr. was a war mongering, illiterate redneck who probably should have just declared Texas a soverign nation and appointed himself King of that shit hole instead.

Bush Jr. was a war mongering, illiterate redneck who probably should have just declared Texas a soverign nation and appointed himself King of that shit hole instead

By the time his first four years as President were drawing to a close, I was pretty much convinced that he was done for. There was no way people would be dumb enough to re-elect this guy for a second term when the man could barely speak a coherent sentence.

Oh, that’s right. We don’t get to choose after all, fuck I keep forgetting that!

I went as far as making a bet with my grandfather, who was certain he’d serve a second term. I still owe him that $100 to this fucking day.

I was so upset when he won the 2004 election against John Kerry. I was in total awe of how many ass backwards dumbfucks I was apparently surrounded by constantly.

And it was after that when I thought I had learned the frustrating and depressing lesson in underestimating the baseline of stupidity in this country.

Which seems funny to me now, all these years later!

My Failure to Appreciate Obama

The 2008 Presidential Election was the first one in which I was eligible to cast my completely meaningless vote for anyone from Barack Obama or John McCain to Charles fucking Manson, if I so desired.

But I didn’t.

Why the fuck would I? It wouldn’t matter and it wouldn’t count towards anything so I didn’t fucking care.

I was just glad Bush Jr. was finally outta the White House for good and I was certainly pleased to hear that Obama was elected that year because the only damn thing I knew about him at that point was that he was African American and a Democrat.

And back during this time in my life, I was kind of a wild child. I hadn’t settled down into a permanent residence yet and I was pretty wrapped up in my own drama and bullshit, like many people are in their early 20s.

I know some people join the Peace Corps when they turn eighteen or whatever, but I was not one of those people and I don’t claim to have been.

So part of it was just that I didn’t get a ballot in the mail and I certainly wasn’t going to jump through any fucking hoops to cast a meaningless joke of a ballot so I could get some dumbfuck pin that said ‘I voted!’

I was glad that we had elected a Democrat and even more profoundly glad that he was our first African American President. I considered that progress and I was happy that we had finally reached that goal.

But it didn’t mean enough to me then.

It should have, but it didn’t.

It wasn’t because I didn’t care, but rather because

a) I was a young, self-absorbed asshole like most people and

b) his victory did not have enough of a personal meaning for me like I’m sure it did for African Americans who turned up to vote for him in truly inspirational numbers.

Speaking from where I am now in my life, I applaud them for doing so (even if voting is stupid and fucking pointless).

I just didn’t get it back then.

I do now, but back then I didn’t.

And while I didn’t vote in the 2012 election either, I was glad Obama was re-elected for a second term and that he wasn’t replaced by a Republican (Mitt Romney, in that case).

But the biggest mistake I made during the eight years he spent in office was remaining generally apathetic about his Presidency.

I didn’t dislike him by any means. But I didn’t get very excited about him either, and I should have.

Only now, in his final months as our President do I finally understand and appreciate the things he has done and the values which he has stood for the entire time.

Only now, in his final months as our President do I finally understand and appreciate the things he has done and the values which he has stood for the entire time.

I feel ashamed that I took him for granted so long and that it took Donald fucking Trump winning the 2016 election for me to pull my fucking head out of my stupid ass.

It should never require absolute fear and staring evil straight in the face for you to recognize what is truly good when it has been present all along.

And beyond that basic lesson, I have come to also realize just how important it is to join in the celebration of those victories won by other groups of people, even when you are not necessarily part of those groups yourself.

And not just by letting out a sigh of relief because you sympathize with them and have the same core values and believe in equality.

That’s not enough.

You need to do it with all your heart, you have to celebrate it as if the victory was your own. Because it is, and if you fail to see that then the only one who loses out is YOU.

Losing My Voting Virginity

Of all the unexpected things I could possibly find myself saying, I certainly would never have guessed I’d be admitting that I lost my Presidential voting virginity to a woman.

Does that make me gay?

I don’t think so…yeah, it definitely doesn’t.

But it’s the truth.

Starting somewhere in my mid-twenties, I finally had an address for long enough that they started sending me ballots in the mail.

I always chose to vote on local issues because when it comes to those (whaddaya know?!) your vote actually counts.

So when I got a piece of mail asking me to fill one of two circles with black pen to help decide whether or not the city of Portland should continue to grant funding for local libraries…well, what can I say?

It just seemed like an awfully small action to ask of me, so I’d vote in support of fucking libraries or whatever the fuck.

A true Liberal twat. Plus I’m a Millennial, so you are required to HATE me.

And this year when it showed up, it had two names on it.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

I figured ehhhh…why the fuck not?

I’m With Her.

The Mistake of Believing

While I had realized very early on in this election that history was not on Clinton’s side in this race (a third consecutive Democratic term is a rare thing), I made the fatal error of wanting to believe she would win this.

I fell into the trap of starting to believe that if enough people were behind her and supported her, that it would pave the path to her victory.

I apparently started to forget the whole reason I never believed in voting for President in this country.

All because I had hope and because I wanted her to win.

The fact that she was running against a complete and utter fucking moron made it seem all the more possible. I was all set to celebrate making history in more ways than one.

I was so looking forward to seeing her shatter that literal and figurative glass ceiling like no woman before her had.

But it didn’t happen.

I sat up all night on November 8th, watching a real-time map of the United States as the votes came in (the ones that don’t mean anything, that is).

I started out patient, holding out hope for most of the night that the numbers would even out and she would prevail in the end.

But as I started to see her lose states she needed to win, a lump began to form in my stomach and I started to literally feel like I might get sick.

Still, I clung to hope and my own waning sanity until I saw Trump’s electoral count jump up on my screen to the number 264.

It was then that I knew it was over.

It was actually over and we had lost.

Votes are still being counted in some places at this time, but so far it appears that there was an army of Americans who were standing with Her. I was just one of them.

Presently, the numbers seem to indicate that she won the popular vote by upwards of 1.5 million.

And still, we lost.

Moving On

And while I cried throughout her concession speech the following morning, I also admired her strength as she stood there before her supporters and managed to deliver the words she was speaking without so much as a crack in her voice or a tear in her eye.

She is much stronger than I will ever be.

Her words echoed in my soul when she said simply that “This loss hurts…”

Does it ever.

But the real loss is yet to come.

The glass ceiling is now turning into a wall instead.

It has become like a sheet of ice over freezing waters and we are all trapped beneath it.

Now for the hardest lesson of all: learning how to mourn and suffer the losses of others as if they were our own.

Because, again, they are.

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