Today, we celebrate. The announcement is official. Our long, national nightmare is ending.
Four years ago, right after Trump was elected, I wrote a little blog post called “Liberals need to learn how to fight.”
I wrote it more for myself than anyone else. Never in my life was I more disappointed in what America had devolved into. It pissed me off to my core.
It was brutally honest. I didn’t fuck around, and I didn’t mince words. I likened Republicans to “animals” and called Trump voters “trash,” which almost certainly pissed off some old friends & family. I said they were corrupt, called them a “cancer”, said they would try to rip away your healthcare, drive the country into the ground, and leave you and your kids to pick up the pieces.
I wish I could link to it here, but a few months after Trump took office, I deleted it. Maybe I was being too harsh, I thought. Maybe I should relax and take a broader view of things. I got plenty of “wow”s and nods of agreement from those who read it. But because politics hits so close to home for people, keeping the post up somehow felt wrong.
I’m writing this today to say that I shouldn’t have deleted that post at all. In fact, I should have doubled-down, and kept it up to live on the Internet forever, because it turned out I was right.
The fact is, I feel exactly the same way now as I did back then, only more so. I knew the Republicans would fuck things up, but I had no idea how ugly things would get, how deep the party rot lies, or how damaging they would be to the country. The only difference now is an additional 8 million people in the US agree.
Some folks switched sides along the way. We could have used you guys four years ago! You could have saved your country and the world a whole lot of trouble. But at least you saved some face. So seriously, thank you. Give yourself a nice pat on the back.
Then, there’s the 48% of the country who still stands by him. The hordes of rotting, half-dead zombies, forever brainwashed on a diet of racism, hate, and Fox News. Voting for him the first time is bad enough, but voting for him a second time reveals how rotten your values truly are. God help you all, for now you are truly lost.
For those who did stick with him, the thing I really want to know is, why this guy? Seriously. Of all people, why this guy? Why hitch your horse to the most selfish, disgusting piece of shit human being imaginable? What did you gain from it? You pissed off all your friends and family, you didn’t get your stupid wall, you didn’t stop China, you didn’t get anything, really. Are you better off than you were 4 years ago? Enlighten me. What did you get out of it?
The story of America over the past several decades is of Republicans breaking things, and Democrats putting them back together. Clinton’s years were an economic miracle. Bush failed to prevent 9/11, invaded the wrong fucking country, and tanked the economy. Obama guided us out of a recession, and Trump turned America into The Hunger Games.
And on and on we go. It’s like an endless dance where Republicans are the naughty children that disobey, and democrats are the mean parents that have to punish them, just in time to watch it all happen again. Break, fix. Break, fix. Rinse, repeat. It really is that simple.
This election was still way, way closer than it should have been. I’d say something is fundamentally broken when, after four horrific years, 48% of the country still voted for him.
But it’s not one thing – it’s literally dozens of things that need to be fixed. Racism. Education. Media. The electoral college. Gerrymandering. Voter suppression. Corruption. Health care. Sexism. Gun violence. Opioids. Addiction. Student loans. Skilled immigration. Homelessness. Housing. Coronavirus. Poverty. Retirement savings. Environmental protection. The prison-industrial complex. Loss of the middle class. Inequality. Right-wing domestic terrorism. Distrust in institutions and each other. Bad coffee. And of course, “both-sides-ism.”
Both sides-ism is the most under-spoken of americans flaws — in fact, some people actually believe it to be an American virtue. I am not one of them. We can disagree about issues or debate policy or haggle over the best way to run a country until the cows come home. But when you have a political party that is actively trying to subvert democracy, once your entire M.O. is voter suppression, it’s all over. There’s no “both sides are equal” bullshit anymore.
Let’s recap here: Republicans gutted the Voting Rights Act, fucked with the Postal Service, purposefully slowed down the goddamn mail, intimidated voters, closed countless polling stations in Democratic precincts, intentionally made it tougher for people to vote, and invested billions in disinformation campaigns. It’s the most fundamentally corrupt, undemocratic thing imaginable. There’s no coming back from that. Not really.
This is not the “We should all stand together and unite together as Americans!” feel-good piece you’ll probably read over the coming weeks. I’m sure there will be hundreds of them. I don’t need to try and understand the Trump voter. I’m not saying it because I’m a coastal elite – I say that because it’s true. I am doubling down on this. I will never not feel this way. Donald Trump is trash, people who voted for him are trash, and America needs some serious re-education.
Too scary of a word for you? Fuck off. The Rush Limbaugh/Fox News/Alex Jones/QAnon brainwashing of middle-America is real and soul-crushing. It will persist long after Trump leaves office, long after Murdoch dies, long after we’re all gone.
There’s something Biden said recently: “In order to progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.” I’m not sure I agree with that. I see this as a form of war. “A cold civil war,” as many call it. Why do we have to be the nice guys again? Why can’t we go on the offensive for once and actually move forward?
We will never win these assholes over. But luckily, we don’t need to. They may fight harder than we do, but there are more of us than there are of them. We outnumber them. We know this. All it takes is courage. Treat this moment in time like the political war that it is.
I know, I know. You’re exhausted. Christ, we all are. America has become an exhausting place. So take a deep breath, smoke a bowl of that (probably) legal weed*, relax for a while, and then get back to work. Don’t ever stop fighting. There is so much work to be done. Fixing it all will take decades.
As for those who caused this mess? Well, it’s up to you if you want to forgive them. To me, what they’ve done is unforgivable. And lord knows they’ll want to move on. It’s tempting to want to just celebrate and move on as well. I get it.
So, perhaps forgive, but don’t forget what they’ve done. Don’t ever forget.
I think of the movie School Ties (great film by the way!) There’s a great exchange at the end between Brendan Fraser’s character, and the officials that presided over the school’s culture rot.
“I’d like to forget this whole thing ever happened.”
“No sir. You’re never going to forget this happened, because I’m going to stay here. And every time you see me, you’ll remember that it happened.”
That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say in this moment. There may come a time when I feel the need to delete this essay as well.
But after what we’ve all just been through, I think this one’s staying up for good.
PS – I do feel bad about calling Trump voters animals: It’s an insult to animals. Animals are kind. Animals live in the real world. And live in harmony with their environment. They don’t care what color another animal is. They aren’t intentionally cruel and don’t keep other animals in cages. Animals don’t wage wars over religion. They don’t break your soul and then sell you the antidote as a drug. Animals don’t lie over and over and over again until, for a portion of animals, it becomes the truth.
**Can you believe how widespread legal weed is becoming? Good things are possible if you keep fighting! Talk about progress!