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Its always been this way

January 5, 2019

Politics in the United States has been like a bad car wreck on the side of a familiar highway. You know that stopping to gawk just slows down the flow of traffic but its hard to look away. I find myself obsessively reading opposing viewpoints and feeling outraged by their lunacy, short-sidedness, bigotry, sexism, and falseness. It feels surreal at times that some people think the way they do.

I recall a coworker in the break room waiting for our shift to start at the hospital and the TV was on. It was the weekend and one of those Saturday morning shows was on. It was early December after the 2016 election and potus had not yet been sworn in and we had President Obama for a few more weeks. There was a “look back” type of segment on and my coworker remarked, after a nice recap of how the Obama’s were a terrific first family, she remarks “I can’t wait for them to be gone. The taxpayer money they wasted, taking their KIDS overseas, all at our expense. Why should we pay for their vacations? Why should their kids get all those perks? Secret service, first-class flights, its so shameful and wasteful. They are an embarrassment and its all just fine because he’s black. You know he’s a muslim not even born in this country? It’s just disgusting. They are disgusting” I think it went on and she had some other specific complaints but that is what I remember mostly.

Fast forward literally just a few weeks and flotus refuses to move to the WH because their son needs to finish his school year at his school and the first family would remain in NYC until the summer. potus plays golf at his own golf course every single weekend. Costing the taxpayers more in the first year than the Obamas spent in 8 years. The vulgar talk, the blatant name calling, incoherent speeches, the seemingly endless parade of WH employees who are either fired in shame, anger or who quit due to shame and anger. The incompetence is staggering.

I remember our daughter telling me during circle time at school (she was in 8th grade) that she was very upset by the election because she expects the potus to have a better vocabulary than she does and speak more intelligently. To her, he seemed poorly qualified because he name called, didn’t make any sense and didn’t seem to understand how things work.

I know, I know, I KNOW the supports like the way he talks. That he sounds familiar. He “tells it like he sees it” and isn’t politically correct (whatever that means in a good way is totally lost on me). What I want to know is why is that appealing? I think being potus must be very complex and is beyond my abilities for sure. The grasp of international, economic and domestic policy seems way too much for a regular person. And truly anyone who wants that shitty job must be a bit crazy and terrible because it’s an insane job.

I felt kind of shocked after the election by the onslaught of freeform racism, uncovered hatred and zeal for xenophobia. I came to realize it was always this way. potus didn’t make people MORE terrible, they were already like that. potus just made it socially cool and okay to be an asshole. And be proud of being an asshole. There is a whole group of them, they call themselves Proud Boys.

I remember the hatred of my coworker at that breakroom table for President Obama. She truly felt disgusted by the excess that was not seen as deserved. I remember well the people who thought Obama was not fit. Was bad for our country and a terrible dangerous leader. I get it. There are sides in politics. I always felt that those people were not operating in reality. I know they think, as a loather of current potus, that I do not accept reality.

I don’t know how we fix that divide. I don’t know how you can make someone see the same reality that you do. I don’t understand how so many things potus says and does just doesn’t bother them or more pointedly, it doesn’t trouble them. I think it is obvious that our country has always been this way. Our country has made virtually no progress in human rights. Our country is horribly racist, sexist and violent. We don’t care about immigrants, women, children or people struggling with medical issues. We care about corporations, the rich, oil and keeping rich countries buying our shit. That seems to be it.

I am heartened by the recent elections that saw more women and more people of color in important positions all over our country. I feel especially hopeful because 19 democratic women were elected as judges in Texas. I feel hopeful because a two native Americans women were elected, Massachusetts has its first black representative and its a woman and by the young women and men who ran for office and won.

I don’t know what turn that will do for us as a nation but it makes me hopeful. Our country is the same as it ever was but with more obvious terrible. So terrible no one should be able to turn away. Pull up to the table, pound your fist and join the conversation. If you are not helping to row the boat, jump off and swim on your own.

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