When I started college, I considered myself politically neutral. I had moved on from just parroting what my parents or teachers said, but whenever I was asked about it, I said I didn’t have time to do in-depth research on the positions and pasts of any and all candidates. It was a nice, idealistic little out; nobody could blame me for wanting to make an informed decision, but damn, I just never had time to do all that digging so, yeah.
I’ve been thinking back on what exactly the turning point was. How did I go from an outwardly-neutral-but-actually-nominally-conservative idealist to a nasty-dirty-liberal pragmatist? Certainly there were a lot of forces, but one I remember with distinction was hearing Zach Wahls speak while I was in college.
Zach shared a story about how one of his moms physically suffered in the hospital because her partner was not allowed the rights of a spouse and thus was unable to speak for her when she couldn’t speak for herself. I’m a tad fuzzy on the details and I don’t want to get it wrong by trying to be more specific, but in telling this story, Zach did two things:
- Despite being straight and cis himself, he created a personal connection with a family that’s part of the LGBTQ community — a connection I, inexplicably, didn’t feel I had even though I literally have LGBTQ people in my extended family.
- He made a very distinct connection between laws/politics and what had happened to his family. His story made me angry. I felt that thing shouldn’t have happened. I was upset that it did. And it happened because of this whole “politics thing” I didn’t want to be involved in.
This tire fire of an election was the first one I participated in. I voted for Bernie in the primary. His urgency on climate change and environmental protection was unmatched by anyone with an actual chance of winning and a basic understanding of how the government works. I appreciated that he seemed to give a crap about my student debt. His support for marriage equality and civil rights seemed the most genuine. However, when he lost the primary, I threw my support behind Hillary no questions asked. I did not have to do extensive research. It was really easy. She was the only candidate left (with a chance of winning) who would protect marriage equality and abortion. She was the only candidate left who didn’t talk about brown and black people like they are sub-human. She was the only candidate left who believed climate change was an actual thing, not to mention willing to do something about it. All of these things affect me or people I know. And those are just the super-obvious topics.
So yeah, it’s pretty weird knowing I have close relatives who voted for Trump when I have a brother with autism. That means they have a nephew or a grandson with autism, and they voted for the guy who mocked a disabled reporter and wants to take away my brother’s services, rather than the woman who would have provided my family with more support and services. It seems quite personal when I put it that way, right? Kind of seems like a thing that’s going to have a big impact on a lot of areas in our lives.
Even weirder, however, are my rescue and animal-loving friends on Facebook who post things like “I hate politics,” or “I hate political crap, but here’s a funny meme about it,” or “Can’t we just move on from this election? God!” If you are an advocate for animal rescue or veganism or wildlife protection, this fucking affects you. It is not a far-off thing. It is not something you can avoid. Your work will be affected. The animals you love will be affected, particularly if you live in the same area I do. If you have good local and state officials, your work might not take the brunt of Trumplestiltskin’s regime, but we have a Trump surrogate beloved by anti-animal rights groups representing our district in Congress and a canned-hunt enthusiast in the state senate. Where do you think anti-tethering laws, humane farming standards, and harsher penalties for animal abusers are going to go with those people in power? And does that bother you or nah?
Similarly, if you think this blog has gotten too political for you, then being alive in America is probably going to be too political for you from now on. The Death of American Democracy Courtesy of White People is going to affect you, whether it’s your insurance or your job or your dog rescue or the air you’re breathing. The only chance we have of minimizing that effect is by getting involved. Vote in your local elections. Call your representatives. Stop pretending you’re too good for politics.