Monday, July 02, 2018

That Sense of Impending Doom

I've been feeling really unsettled lately, like I'm slightly off-balance. At first I thought it was because I'm still figuring out the new job. It involves working with a lot of different people, so each new project I pick up is an adjustment as I learn the work styles of the new team.

But I don't think that's the problem. I realized when Justice Kennedy announced his retirement that what I'm feeling is a sense of impending doom about the state of the country. On the second day after the 2016 election, I wrote a post about what I thought might happen next. I knew then that the Supreme Court would swing more Conservative, and that this swing would mean the loss of some rulings a lot of people rely on. I have not been surprised by the policy coming out of the EPA, even if I have been surprised by the astounding corruption of Scott Pruitt. I knew immigration policy was going to get bad, but I confess I didn't expect we'd get to "ripping young children from their parents' arms and putting them in cages."

The Kennedy retirement jolted me because I realized that one of the worst things I thought would happen is now happening... and yet, it is not the worst thing that is happening now.  I think that perhaps I got an expanded sense of just how bad it is likely to get, and that gave me the perception to recognize what my subconscious has been telling me for quite a while.

So now I can name the feeling in the pit of my stomach: It is a sense of impending doom. It isn't just due to the fact that so many of my fellow Americans are enthusiastically on board with Trump's dehumanizing language about immigrants and cruel immigration policy. I think I'd already accepted that fact. It is also the fact that quite a lot of other Americans are sort of sleepwalking through this, rationalizing away the sort of language and behavior that in the past has taken countries to really terrible places. I know so many people who aren't really doing anything differently. They'll vote, but that is the extent of their involvement. I'm glad they'll vote and I hope that the rest of us can make that be enough to stop our slide.

I am hoping that once I really accept that there are going to be a lot of bystanders in this fight the feeling in the pit of my stomach will go away, or at least lessen. Or maybe I just need to learn some new techniques to let the fear and worry go for short periods of time, so that I can rest and recharge.

There are things giving me hope right now. Perhaps I need to focus more on those. I have been encouraged by all the people showing up to fight for the families separated at the border. I have been encouraged by all the different faith leaders who spoke out against that policy. I am encouraged to see the Indivisible groups mobilizing to fight against another Heritage Foundation endorsed Supreme Court justice. I suspect we'll lose this fight, but I thought we'd lose the ACA fight and we haven't yet, not completely. So maybe in fighting we can get a judge who is more moderate and more representative of what the majority of people in this country actually believe. Anyway, it is worth a try.

I am also encouraged in a weird way to remember that the Court has usually been a small c-conservative institution, and that the period I've grown up in is actually an anomaly. I hope the fact that many of the rights-expanding decisions will be overturned will focus people's attention on spending more effort on state level elections. Here is a good thread about that:

I worry about what the next court will do to voting rights. I think we're going to have to work really, really hard to overcome structural disadvantages, both the ones that are enshrined in our system (e.g., the way the Senate and the Electoral College over-represent the people living in small states) and the ones that we've allowed to accrue because we weren't paying enough attention to the anti-voting moves going on in some states (e.g., voter ID laws, voting roll purges, extreme gerrymandering). I think we're in for a hard fight to win this at the ballot box, but I think we can still win it. I think we can turn the tide.

And so I keep working towards that goal, trying to push myself to do more to achieve it. I doubt that sense of impending doom I have will go away anytime soon, so I just have to learn how to work through it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm right there with you. I was shocked that Kennedy would step down given the state of the country, and now I'm just angry about it. I'm always waiting for yet another shoe to drop.

    All the things we worried about when the election results came in are happening, and possibly more that we don't know about, and the fact that anyone is apathetic makes me a little bit bananas.

    But there are those of us who care, and we're fighting. We have to remember that it matters that we're making the effort. We're here and we're going to keep showing up.


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