I Can’t Watch

It’s another Presidential election year in America, and judging from what I’ve seen on the internet, this one’s not going to be any easier than the last one.  In some ways, it feels like the last election never ended, and people seem more polarized than ever.  Only instead of there just being the usual single pole of red/Republican and blue/Democrat, there are now many poles, which makes it even harder to find the center, particularly when it gets hard to tell who is what color.

Personally, I can’t watch or participate in what is sure to be a year full of debates, not just on the television, but between friends, family, and coworkers.  My attempt to participate in this process is part of what drove me literally insane in May 2018.  I tried so hard to communicate with people, but even in forums where I shared common interests with the others, I found people attacking others for being different than they were, when they should have been treating each other like allies.

I see the progressive and other forces that are battling Trump and what he represents as a great, colorful army, but one that is in disarray because the troops are picking on each other for what kind of armor and weapons they brought to the battle, instead of assessing each person for their strengths and weaknesses and assigning them duties accordingly.  We’ve all unintentionally and unwittingly internalized the severely judgmental attitude that prevails in Christian thought, and are now turning those judgmental fingers at one another because all we can see is what’s wrong, instead of what’s right.  Trump and the fascists have destroyed our ability to find common ground with one another, and without that, we are doomed.

I try not to think about the future too much, seeing as how it’s not here yet, but I still worry greatly about what’s going to happen over the next year or so as America plods its way through sociopolitical adolescence.  A long time ago, it occurred to me that countries are just like people: they are born, they grow up, they mature and sometimes have babies, and most of the time, they eventually die, or at least are transformed into something different than what they began as.  It then occurred to me that America is one of the younger countries in the world, having only been around for less than 300 years.  As such, collectively we’re not much more mature than adolescents, and that’s apparent in the way we as a citizenry have behaved since Trump announced he was running for President in 2015.  We are hypercritical and picky about everyone’s opinions, and are quick to levy judgment against someone when they make a mistake.

I live with a troubled adolescent, so I know a thing or two about what makes them tick, and about what’s necessary to guide them in a more positive direction.  The best policy is to model the behavior you want them to exhibit.  Unfortunately, despite dozens of examples around the world of how to be better, America isn’t learning.  To be blunt, America will never get its shit together until we collectively abandon the vast majority of the Puritanical values that linger from the founding of our country, and I have no idea how to make that happen.  I am well-versed in psychology, and when you are dealing with a huge segment of the population that isn’t even capable of entertaining another person’s point of view, there’s no longer any point in engaging with them: all you can do is outnumber them.

And that’s one of the parts that scares me the most.  Progressives DO outnumber regressives by a large margin in this country, and we still can’t win an election because a) we can’t stop picking on one another and b) the electoral system has been buttfucked righteously by the Republicans in an effort to capitalize on our picking on one another.  They know that unless we can mobilize in large numbers, which we are not doing, they’ll stay in power, because they’ve rigged the system to make sure that they do.  Combine this with our country’s adolescent sociopolitical attitudes, and you have a recipe for potential disaster.

The worst part is that, psychologically speaking, we are now so polarized that there are large segments of the population that have essentially fallen into the same mind trap that the people they’re fighting live in: they’ve given in to hate.  I know I succumb to hatred on occasion, but I recognize that my hatred really stems from fear: fear of having my transgender children discriminated against, fear of religious discrimination for my beliefs, fear of what old age will be like in a country where I can’t save money, and a whole raft of other fears I’m sure I share with a great many people.  I don’t know what to do with a population of people who are so hung up on “the perfect candidate” that they’re in danger of throwing away more than one good chance at just improving things.  We’re at rock bottom and still digging: anyone thinking we’re getting out of this pit without a lot of hard work and time is fooling themselves.

I don’t even know what to say about Russian meddling in the election.  The fact that our political situation has essentially gone global is mind-boggling to me.

So no, I can’t watch, not if I want to preserve my sanity.  I can’t watch the Warren people bash the Bernie people and vice versa, because they should be allies.  I can’t watch progressives pick on AOC, because they should be allies.  I can’t watch people blindly support neoliberals and DINOs while simultaneously bashing Republicans, not realizing they’re essentially the same.  I can’t watch people reject a candidate or resolution in whole because there’s some tiny part of it they don’t like.  It’s like I’ve spent the last four years watching people all around me “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.  And I can’t watch or participate in any debates, not the kinds that I see occurring, where people’s characters are flayed with cutting words just for holding alternative opinions.  We’re all working towards the same goal, and if we’re already fighting like this, as I said, we’re doomed.

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