Monday, March 25, 2019

In the Maelstrom

I don't really want to write about the state of politics in my country. Really, to call the events in the news here "politics" feels like I'm trivializing them.

I don't have any special insights or opinions to share. I would rather write a post about our car shopping travails (we want a plug in hybrid to replace our almost 12-year-old Prius and are finding it difficult to find some of our top contenders to even test drive let alone buy right now). But it seems like I should acknowledge the current situation.

Like a lot of people, I'm exhausted by it all. I don't know what to make of what little we've heard of the Mueller report. I don't know whether there is much hope of us ever seeing the full report. I don't if releasing the full report will really matter in any substantive way - is there anyone out there who is still on the fence in their opinions of this President and this presidency? Is there any meaningful chance that the central figures in all of this will actually face any consequences for their actions? I don't know.

I feel like we've spent two and a half years in a maelstrom, and I don't know see how we get out of it. I hate how it is curdling so many aspects of life. We all seem so much more suspicious of each other, and I'm struggling to keep to my personal goal of viewing people's intentions in the best light. The exchange I had with the anonymous commenter on my recent weekend reading post about climate change is a case in point - that commenter was not commenting in bad faith, but I assumed otherwise at first. That is not how I want to be (sorry, anonymous!) and I am going to try to do better. But it is hard, when our entire public discourse seems to be permeated with bad faith.

So what to do? I've started writing postcards again. I need to go buy some more card stock so that I can keep that up. Like before, I find it calming to do something tangible.

I've also been learning about the Democratic candidates for the 2020 Presidential election. I don't have a clue who I'll vote for yet. I can definitively say that I'll vote for any of the Democrats over Trump, but that isn't saying much, really.

I have decided how I will decide, though - I have decided that I will vote for the candidate I think will make the best President, without regard for electability concerns. The reason I've decided that is simple: I don't think I can judge who is most electable. I hear all the Never Trump Republicans arguing that Democrats need to nominate a candidate with X or Y attributes so that moderate Republicans will vote for them... and I don't believe them. I don't believe that who we nominate will make a meaningful difference in what moderate Republicans do. And even if it would, I don't think I can assess which candidate will be the one moderate Republicans would vote for. I just don't believe what any of the people writing these columns say in terms of who they'd vote for, and I certainly don't believe they know who other Republicans would vote for. I think their time and energy would be better spent on a primary challenge of their own and I am suspicious of their reasons for not mobilizing behind one.

That probably comes back to the cynicism created by the feeling that we're swimming in bad faith. I hate that I feel that way, but it is the truth.

Even if I could figure out which candidate moderate Republicans would vote for, I don't think I can assess how that would play out versus higher or lower motivation among the Democratic base.

And that's not even thinking about how various actors will use social media, etc., to influence who votes.

I've just decided that I can't answer the question of which Democratic candidate has the best chance of winning in the general election, and am going to vote for the one I like the best and let the chips fall where they may.

Also, I will keep writing postcards and working to elect Democrats down ticket, because we have to reverse the rot in our democracy from the bottom up, I think. I may find some other ways to be active, and if I do, I may post about them. Mostly, though, I want to post about other things, and I am going to try to get some of those other posts written (for here, Adjusted Latitudes, and my real name blog). I'm going to make sure I spend enough time on the things that make me happy so that I can make it through this period in American life with my sanity intact.

So that's how I'm dealing with life in the maelstrom. How about you?


  1. Socal dendrite7:32 AM

    As a British expat living in California, I just can't handle the news at the moment. I quite literally felt queasy looking at Trump's smug face yesterday, and don't get me started on the Brexit mess. I'm going to go look at some wildflowers. Just not at Lake Elsinore.

    1. Or in a helicopter... Did you see that story?

    2. Socal dendrite10:03 AM

      What??! No, I had not (but I have now and I am furious!). *Sigh*. But this story cheered me up a bit:
      In terms of taking action, I am seriously considering citizenship. I don't really *feel* very American and am not sure I ever will, but I do now feel a strong connection to my local community and would like to be able to vote in local elections (and the other elections too). And I don't want to become completely disenfranchised - I lose my right to vote in British elections in 2022 (15 years as a non-resident).

  2. Thank you for this peptalk. (I have in our drafts an unwritten post called, "I need an activism pep-talk") Two years is a long time and the last election was so draining I'm only now starting to recover.

    Definitely keep tweeting out your activism if you can-- whenever you do that I feel like I'm not alone and it makes me more likely to do something too. I hope this isn't your last post on politics-- I need the reminder that other people are still doing things.

    1. It didn't feel like a pep talk to me! Maybe I should write one and see if it gets me fired up again. But yes, it has been a long slog and there's so much more slogging to do, and sometimes it is hard to keep going.

    2. Just the fact that you're putting pen on post-card is a pep-talk. I don't know that we need to be fired up so much as we need to not just give up.

  3. Anonymous2:59 PM

    You and N&Margie are among those who hold me up in support. Trust you follow AoC aka Jennifer Hofmann's weekend list of actions. I appreciate the good news as well as action items for calling and writing.
    What is clearest to me now is that we need people to vote in favor of change to alter our situation. Who will be still in the running or who will join the running on the Dem side is not clear. There are many ways things could dramatically change between now and primaries much less Nov 2020. So we need to continue to support each other, look at bigger impacts of policy implications and consider carefully how we live our lives. Probably a good idea to write to all the candidates about the ideas you really see as important, push them towards the ideas you favor. Thank you for hanging on, and for kindness ...


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