WHAT I’VE DONE SINCE JANUARY 20th, 2017
So yeah, my fellow citizens, since January 20th, I have:
– Come up, again and again, against the painful realization that some people – Americans, fellow citizens – absolutely fucking ache for that boot on their neck. They desire it. They will do all in their power to work towards it. I’ve watched as they deify this President, laud his and his administration’s brazen moves toward authoritarianism, who fetishize his disdain for the rule of law. It’s been really stunning to watch this thirst for a Supreme Leader, a Master, this willingness to literally reject reality if it comes at odds against Greatness Himself. Everyone loves to brutalize The Other, until the finger winds up pointing at them. And that’s the thing with authoritarianism: you always have to have someone to vilify. When will it be your turn?
– Seen a dude on FB write that he doesn’t “follow politics.” I couldn’t believe it – on one hand, I almost admired his chutzpah in saying so. For just putting it out there. On the other hand, I’m a firm believer that he and all of his ilk should go eternally fuck themselves. If you’re not engaged now, what’s it gonna take? Insert Southern drawl: “In America, politics happen to you whether you want it to or not, pardner.”
– Read, painfully, the published weekly list of ways in which we’ve slipped toward that authoritarianism, compiled by activist Amy Siskind. It’s terrifying and exhausting, the daily multitude of little ways in which our democracy is being eroded. (Seriously, follow her on Twitter: @Amy_Siskind. For now, the Library of Congress is archiving them.) Seven months in and we have generations of lasting damage.
– Started drinking more, that’s for sure.
– Watched, again and again, as vital departments are appointed to people so abjectly, fundamentally opposed to that department’s essential mission as to nullify or even ruin it. Like, say, having climate change denier Scott Pruitt head the EPA. Or Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Or Sam Clovis, a right wing talk show host and another climate change denier, as head of the USDA.
– Watched, again and again, as other vital departments are left empty. As of June, only 151 of over 500 critical positions across the executive branch that require Senate confirmation have been announced. Country’s running on a skeleton crew.
– Been reminded once more that people can blatantly espouse hatred, narrow mindedness, and bigotry under the guise of “faith.” And no, I’m not talking about ISIS. (What’s up, Mr. Pence, how’s Jesus?)
– Watched my country rail against intellect, science, literacy – only have those ideas mocked, belittled, dismantled and diminished by our government as well.
– Watched false equivalency and “yeah, but” become the new normal.
– Been riven with anguish as I watch the disadvantaged become the targeted. You could argue that POC, the disabled, LGBTQ folks have always been targeted. And yes, you’d be right. But nowhere near as brazenly as now – this isn’t a silent kowtowing of the status quo by the administration. This is active, focused.
– Realized that Nazis (like real, actual, pro-genocide, pro-“ethnostate” Nazis) have been given a platform, repeatedly, both in and outside the administration. That the mainstream media has given them a voice, over and over again, by interviewing them, publishing hot takes by them, lending them an air of legitimacy. The only time I really need to hear about a certain attention-starved Nazi is when he gets punched all over again.
– Heard the debate about “the left being just as bad” until I could practically mouth the words.
– Considered leaving the country. Asked myself what it would take – what sort of defining moment would act as impetus, and then realized that once such a moment came, it would probably be too late to leave anyway. And then become fiercely angry at myself for even considering it.
– Been witness to what is possibly the most gutless, cowardly GOP Congress since the country’s formation.
– Fought the tide of hopelessness. And it really is like a tide, you know, the way it ebbs and flows and threatens sometimes to pull your ass under.
– Spent way, way too much time on social media.
– Taunted, chastised, ridiculed administration officials via social media, while simultaneously struck with both the wonder and futility of the world we live in.
– Called my Senators to express my outrage.
– Called my Senators to thank them for their votes.
– Donated to two out-of-state Democratic Senate races, both of whom lost.
– Gone to a town hall meeting that was so packed it spilled out of the auditorium, through the halls, and outside onto the pavement.
– Watched as white supremacist cosplayers stormed the streets with helmets, sticks, football pads, shields emblazoned with swastikas and fascist crests, inciting people to violence while flanked by right-wing militias armed with assault rifles and protected by police, all under the supposed guise of free speech.
– Had days where it felt like the bad guys – and never has good and bad been so obvious, really – had won.
– Had days where I accepted that I would fight these fuckwads to my last day.
– Began using my skills and my time to cultivate change, however miniscule. Began donating my art and design chops to organizations that are doing meaningful work. Helped raise money for groups that can stem the tide of this ruination. Offered my services to a variety of groups – arts groups, literacy groups, prison advocacy groups, groups aiming to assist people in leaving the white supremacy movement, groups aimed at helping refugees who have experienced torture and trauma – in order to simply feel like I was doing my part.
– Came, eventually, to understand that the world has irrevocably changed, and will continue to change. It’s up to me, and it’s up to you. Congress will not save us. No one is coming to help us. No one’s going to do this for us. Don’t wait for Mueller. We have to do this ourselves. We have to help each other. I came to understand that there are many avenues of resistance, and they’re all important. If you can’t march, if you can’t be a body – and some of us can’t, it’s true – you can offer your time. If you don’t have time, you can offer your skills. If that’s not an option, you can help fund the groups that are doing the things that you wish you could do. This administration and their adherents – they’re powerful, and multi-faceted. So our resistance has to be as well. We have to do this together, and we have to do it in a myriad of different ways.
Ultimately I’ve come to understand that we have to keep fighting, every day, a little bit at a time, and we have to do it together. There will be no respite or rescue besides what we can offer each other.