Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stepping Away from the Abyss

I am supposed to write a post about the latest book release for my publishing company. Small and Spooky is a collection of six classic short ghost stories. I was going to talk about why I put this particular collection together, even though I'm not really a ghost story sort of person, and then give you all the purchase links like I usually do.

But my heart isn't into it today, and so I'll just say the book is out and go check out the webpage for it for the purchase links and more info.

I'm finding it hard to write about my usual mix of topics. I knew this election would be ugly, both because having a woman running would bring out a lot of misogyny and because the Republicans nominated a very unpleasant man. But it has gotten so much uglier than I expected, with the racist rhetoric just continuing to ramp up, and vile hate groups moving from the fringes into the spotlight. In today's speech, Trump basically parroted white nationalists and neo-Nazis with a rant that was barely coded anti-Semitism. (Read Josh Marshall's post on it for details.) I find this terrifying.

And then the misogyny. This election is dredging up every bad thing that has ever happened to me because I am a woman and throwing it in my face. Michelle Obama's speech today described how this feels better than I ever could, so just go watch it if you haven't already.

I honestly want to crawl into a hole and ignore the news until this election is over. But that isn't a realistic thing for me to try to do. So instead, I'm trying to focus on the way I see people from all over the country and all across the political spectrum standing up to the way the Trump campaign is a corruption of our ideals. I mean, I never expected to agree with Eric Erickson on anything of substance, and yet here we are.  I see people speaking up and pushing back however they can. I see journalists like David Fahrenthold pursuing information to help show voters who Trump really is. I'm inspired by the people who took that awful "there will be a taco truck on every corner" quote and decided to have taco trucks help register people to vote.

I don't underestimate the threat of this moment in our history. I think Trump has unleashed forces he cannot control even if he wanted to, and I am genuinely worried about what is going to happen when he loses, as he almost certainly will at this point. (But don't get complacent! Vote! We need a landslide, both for our national honor and to refute the inevitable claims that this election was rigged.)

But I am heartened by the way people are fighting back.

I've also been thinking about what comes next. How did we get here, and how do we build up better protections against finding ourselves here again? I keep coming back to something John Scalzi wrote in his comment thread warning at the top of the comments on his scathing denouncement of Trump:

"But remember, lefties, there may come a time when you have the choice of voting for a legitimate shitshow of a candidate — someone who is an active danger to the fabric of the Republic — or missing out on 25 years of controlling the Supreme Court, or the Congress. And then you will be confronted with the gulf between what you should do and what you might end up doing, as many GOP/conservative people are this year.

Don’t pretend that all of you will do the right thing — or won’t rationalize the bad thing you will do as being a good thing, or at least, less of a moral capitulation than it is."

I agree with him. And it has me thinking that maybe part of the problem is the way Supreme Court appointments have become such a high stakes thing. Losing Congress is a short term setback, but losing the Court lasts for a generation. These days, that feels so high stakes to people on both sides of the political spectrum. I'm not enough of a historian to have an opinion on when this started, but it seems like our legislative deadlock is part of the problem. We can't resolve important issues by the normal political processes of compromise, and so they end up in the courts, and eventually in front of the Supreme Court, and since Supreme Court appointments are for life... well, I guess I understand why Republicans—particularly the ones whose main issues are on the sorts of things the Supreme Court ends up deciding, like abortion—are having a hard time accepting the idea that their candidate needs to lose. (And I'm sorry if you're still working on that, but at this point I have to say that he needs to lose. The last time the world heard rhetoric like his, the Holocaust happened.)

And that got me thinking about how unfortunate it is that abortion is such a big issue in our politics. I support abortion rights, but I would shed not a single tear if we got to a place where abortions were legal but extremely rare. That would mean that women had access to good birth control, and we had a society where an unexpected pregnancy was not likely to mean a tumble into poverty. That would be a wonderful thing!

So now I'm thinking that perhaps the thing to do to shore up our democracy is work to make the polarizing issues less high stakes. I don't know how to do that on all the issues, but I would be delighted to work to reduce the number of abortions to such a small number that it would seem silly to risk a President as manifestly unfit as Trump in order to get a chance for a Supreme Court that will outlaw it.

For the other issues, perhaps the thing is to contradict people who are disgusted by political dealing and the like. For most of my adult life, I've heard people blame our problems on "Washington insiders" and "people playing politics." Well, the Tea Party came along and refused to play politics. And then the Congressional Republicans refused to work with President Obama on anything. I don't think this is better, not at all. The way politics works is not pretty, but it is oh so much better than any other method we have of resolving differences in opinions about what our national policies should be.

The divisions aren't in Washington. They are in the entire US. We are a big, diverse country. We will never have consensus on most important issues. Instead, we need to accept compromises in order to continue to live together and benefit from the many strengths that our diversity provides us. So bring on the backroom deals. They are better than legislative deadlock and high stakes court battles. In short, hooray for politics! May we have more of it in the halls of Congress soon.

1 comment:

  1. "I'm inspired by the people who took that awful "there will be a taco truck on every corner" quote and decided to have taco trucks help register people to vote."

    I already told Mr. Sandwich that on Election Day, we're having tacos for dinner. I'll make them, so I'm confident that they won't be authentic. But they will be tacos, damn it!

    "I support abortion rights, but I would shed not a single tear if we got to a place where abortions were legal but extremely rare. That would mean that women had access to good birth control, and we had a society where an unexpected pregnancy was not likely to mean a tumble into poverty. That would be a wonderful thing!"

    I don't know a pro-choice person who thinks otherwise. The goal isn't "more abortions." It's "fewer dead women."

    ReplyDelete

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