Maybe you’re like me.
I don’t mean that you, say, have an unseemly preoccupation with a host of largely insignificant post-punk records from the late 80s, collect ratty rock t-shirts of obscure bands that you’re invariably now too old to wear, or that you wish grave digestive discomfort on people who recline their seats into your laps during flights (don’t get me started). I mean, maybe you do, but that’s not my point.
I mean that maybe you share my predicament — that you have people in your life, or your family or your close circle of confidents who — for whatever reason, fail to see eye-to-eye with you regarding the realities of our collective political present.
It seems like the simple solution to that predicament should be to dust off the old “agree to disagree” proviso. Right? Done and done.
Not so fast.
For some of us, the failure to recognize the gravity of this situation – and by that, of course, I mean the failure to BE FUCKING ANYTHING SHORT OF ENTIRELY OUTRAGED by the antics of that bag of shit currently throwing his corpulence around the Oval Office, to say nothing of his treacherous “cabinet” of ill-equipped and duplicitous appointees – is almost a deal-breaker.
That’s solved easily enough over social media, of course. You can voluntarily unfollow or, more pointedly, unfriend someone on Facebook who you’re clashing with. Nobody wants it to come to that, of course, but sometimes, it’s a necessary step to maintain sanity and decorum.
In “real life,” however, it can be less easily resolved.
To my knowledge, I don’t have too many friends that are Trump supporters – avid or otherwise. Having worked for most of my life in the dreaded “MSM” (mainstream media, for those of you unfamiliar with the derisive truncation), most of my former colleagues and I stand on the same side of the playing field, so to speak. I even know some folks who work for the “other team,” to beat that tired sports analogy into the ground, and they also recognize that Trump’s a joke, a sham, a withering embarrassment and a global liability.
My close friends, meanwhile, are invariably close because we share certain crucial sensibilities, one of them being a pointed zero-tolerance policy for all the abject attributes that Trump embodies (do I have to go through that long list for you again?)
So yeah, I don’t know too many Trumpies or Trumpublicans or Trump apologists, but I do know a couple. And contrary to lazy projection and easy conclusion-jumping, by and large, they are not stupid people … usually.
Moreover, most of these folks aren’t people I can just avoid. So, in most instances, I just don’t bring politics up. I don’t even suggest agreeing to disagree. I just don’t engage in the conversation. Most of the time, that works.
I have a couple of other folks in my circle, however, that insist on discussing it – even knowing FULL WELL that it’s going to result in a fight or, at the very least, an unpleasant exchange of words.
In those instances, I am running out of answers. Despite the best of my intentions, it’s very easy to get me to drop the façade and engage in the fight. But I don’t want that, as rarely are minds effectively changed that way.
Maybe I’m just waiting for events to play themselves out in such a manner that these folks will start to share my perspective. I suppose the egalitarian thing would be to suggest that perhaps it could work the other way, as well, and that maybe I’ll change my tune. But I really wouldn’t suggest holding your breath on that one.
So, where does that leave us?
In my travels across the `net, beyond that amazing open letter on behalf of journalists I highlighted not too long back, one of the best, most succinct pieces I’ve read that sums up how I’m feeling – not just as a big ol’ bleeding heart, lefty liberal, but also as a SENTIENT, COMPASSIONATE AND CULTURALLY COGNIZANT HUMAN BEING -- is this op-ed by Paul Waldman from the Washington Post. It really hits the nail on the head, as far as I’m concerned.
I’ve been very active on Facebook in the venting of my political spleen, but I also fear I’m just adding to the maelstrom of noise. I’m concerned that said maelstrom will just encourage folks to tune out. Now is NOT the time to do that.
I don’t have all the answers here. I’m striving to make sense of it while still retaining hope for solutions ahead. I don’t know where we’re headed, but I don’t like fighting with my friends and my family.
I spotted the sticker below affixed to a very wet mailbox on West Broadway this morning. It’s a message that, overall, I am striving for.
Stay vigilant, but stay human.