I generally try to stay quiet about politics in any sort of public format, for no other reason than to avoid the crazies. So many people feel the need to shout about why their candidate of choice is the best, why yours is the worst, and why I’m a horrible person who deserves to have her eyes stabbed out for having a different opinion.
I don’t need that extra noise in my life.
I find the majority of political discussion to be a lot of air-blowing and chest-pounding, so I tend to sit back and chuckle at the memes and let my jaw drop at the genius of John Oliver, then go to bed fully capable of getting my full 8 to 12 hours of sleep having not actively engaged in any of it. I have specifically arranged my life to flow in this manner, because I really, really like to sleep.
However, there are times I am reminded of what scares me the most during uncertain times such as these: My Family.
Let me first say, loud and clear, that I love my family. I’m not just saying that to be nice; I really do. In my way. I am speaking about the biological ones, the ones with whom I grew up. The majority of us have almost nothing in common and there are those among us I could live without (I draw the line at child molesters and spouse abusers), but overall we were thrown into this slice of time and the universe at large with presumably some sort of intention of us all riding this roller coaster together.
So to say the only real thing to affect my own personal soft bubble of liberal optimism is my family, I mean not only them, but who they represent. My family’s love of All Things Fox News, All Things Bible, No Things Progressive or Equal to Women or Minorities, etc etc etc is an infrequent* yet highly unwelcome reminder of how a whole lot of America feels. And what they are thinking. And how they will vote.
I am lucky enough to live in a glorious utopia of beauty and art and music and food. We’ve got the ocean and the redwoods and the wine. We are active, community oriented, involved. We can speak with ease about politics at dinner parties because we all agree with each other. This is a slippery slope because it’s lovely to not argue. It’s inspiring to dream big, high on the encouraging fumes of other people’s smiles and nodding heads. Those fumes just make our bubble bigger, which is great because it’s so comfortable inside our bubble. What we tend to forget, I’m afraid, is that it’s really hard to see outside the bubble. Those rubbery walls are thick and if I have to strain my eyes I tend to just look the other way, back to what I know and feels easier to focus on.
So when a member of my family says something in support of a candidate I have been telling myself is a joke, and I click on that link even though it doesn’t interest me at all, I see the thousands – thousands of comments on one stupid article – in full support of that joke. And I remember. I think about my family. I think about the people I went to school with, the small town in which I grew up and 98% of the people in it. Multiply that by countless thousands just in my home county. Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands just in my home state. You know I’m bad at math so I’m going to stop there but hopefully you get my point: there are a massive amount of people in this fair country we call home, all living and breathing and watching Fox News outside of our cozy balloon of soft afternoons on the deck with friends, gently discussing the best way to care for a pet snail. And those people, the ones out there, outside our line of vision, they are riled up.
I’d like to pretend I’m only worried about Middle America here since that is my personal knowledge base, but have you been to Bakersfield? Now, replace ‘Bakersfield’ with the name of any city, town, truck stop, county seat, village, or four corners in America you’ve ever passed through and ask yourself if you feel comfortable in your belief that the election is going to turn out the way you hope it will. It isn’t enough anymore to clench your fists and say “oh well he’d better not get elected! I just don’t know what I’d do!” and then sit back down on your cushy couch and click your remote for some good old-fashioned distraction via the travel channel.
A classmate of mine told a story the other day: she was getting her hair done and asked her hairstylist who she thought she might vote for. The young woman said she didn’t follow politics much, that when she went online she saw the name ‘Drumpf’** a lot, so she’d probably just vote for him.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘the squeakiest wheel gets the grease’? And this, my friends, is what might just keep me awake tonight.
*Thank you Facebook, for the ability to ‘block’ seeing the majority of my family’s posts
**Thank you, John Oliver, for giving me something other than ‘Trump’ to type here