“Write hard and clear about what hurts”- Hemingway
Sometimes, when I have a precious fifteen quiet minutes alone, I sit paralyzed at my keyboard. Not because I don’t have anything to write, but because I have too much. I can’t decide which is the first most important thing. I remember feeling that way when I had newborns who were finally asleep- almost a sense of panic at my freedom, knowing it was limited by the ticking baby bomb and that there was so much I needed/wanted, to do.
I should be working on my book, I should be working on my website, building a mailing list, and Tweeting, to gain an audience and establish myself as an author…but I just can’t stop thinking about the dangerous country where I live, dressed as an enlightened democracy. I need to get these hard feels out so they don’t back up and ache my brains.
The election…so, we’re two days into the counting, and still don’t have a final answer. Naturally, the goon in charge has declared himself victor and in the same breath threatened lawsuits and sobbed about not having won. We’re all still holding our breath…will all the totally legit votes be counted, will this decision be locked in the courts and can we trust the courts to uphold the laws and support the citizens? (Could we ever?) If Trump actually wins for realsies, will he ever take care of more than just himself and loyal cronies? Will he give up control in the future, or remain dear leader forever, as threatened? If Biden wins for realsies, will there be armed Trump supporting vigilantes out and about? Will half the country deny the conclusion? And will the branches of governement that are supposed to be checking each other- support them in that? Will Proud Boys be lynching Black Americans in the streets? Will the police do anything about it? Are they one in the same? Can we trust them? (Could we ever?) How terrifying and violent is this shit about to get?
It all feels real, close, and surreal, far.
Truth and lies, real threats and imagined…it’s so hard to discern. This current administration has done such a good job of making us lose our trust in our senses, in making us doubt any actual solid ground of truth. Everything feels slippery, shadowy, impossible to interpret. Also, they’re perpetually acting victimized- somehow the people with absolute power and riches are convincing us that they’re the ones being screwed here and we’re supposed to acquiesce to them and worry that we’re somehow hurting them? Ever been in a relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder? Ever been gaslit? It’s like that. If you feel confused, I think that’s the intent, or at least the natural consequence.
Again, I think of dystopian novels or movies where the reach of the fascist leaders extends through the walls of homes, is implanted in the mind of the freedom fighter.
The most overwhelming notion is that we’re not even to a point where we can see and agree on the problems we face. We’re all still stumbling on our egos and what we’ve been conditioned to believe about ourselves, others, our country, the world…freedom, peace, worth. We’re not really fighting against a person in this election, or for a person. We’re fighting for the right to move forward or stay stagnant forever. I do not know if Biden and Harris will be that path forward, but I know Trump isn’t. He’s proudly clinging to our traditional identity and values, which have always simmered in a stew of whitness, maleness, violence, power, religion and wealth. Homophobia, classism, transphobia, patriarchy, and white supremacy are the air we breathe, the water we’ve always treaded. Electing Trump again would feel like we’ve decided as a people that we’re never planning to crawl out of this stew. Or, swamp, if you prefer. We can keep fighting, unlearning, growing as individuals, yes, and that matters, but damn it would be a relief to have leaders who aren’t actively, slyly working against our growth, and against the empowerment and safety of women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA citizens.
We have work to do as Americans, clearly, and as humans. The election feels like part of that work. One step up the 10,000 step mountain.