Hello, ‘Murica, We See You!
One year ago today, I, Rob Bowen (aka the Angry Hippie), published the farewell episode of the podcast. And in that time, a lot has changed. Political divisiveness has ruled the landscape, and the United States’ skeletons have come out of the proverbial closet in spades, as our true nature as a nation came into blistering clarity handed down in the more than the results of the election, but in the entire process that delivered us the campaigns we had. Overall, last night’s election (and again, the election cycle as a whole) did two very potent and powerful things that will hopefully shock the country into the wake-up call it so badly needs.
First, and foremost, it exposed how much work we have yet to do in the vein of social justice and battling inequality. Battles that would have continued to be fruitlessly fought as we apparently did not understand who we were truly fighting against. Too many people in the country fully believed that so many of the overt and ignorantly-rooted issues regarding race and sexism in the United States were solved. So much doubt and derision has followed the movement as it tried to talk of Backstage Racism and problems not having been solved, but instead, having been swept into the darkest corners we tend to ignore. Too many people believed that Feminism was an artifact of the past that had long outlived any usefulness that it had. They dismissed it’s fight with such a cold and disconnected air of apathetic belligerence insisting things like rape culture and consent issues were figments of Feminism’s imagination, bent on blaming it all on those who they saw as willfully “playing the victim”. But no more.
Now we clearly see the truth. None of these problems were ever solved, they were salved. Simply soothed over with an application of faux-concern and a guise of social awareness by a nation whose twin histories of -ism inspired oppression and inequality were still so deeply ingrained that it would forever drive this train without change more meaningful than glad-handing, lip-serviced soundbites that did anything more than offer to gloss over the reality of how much hate we still have in this nation. Because make no mistake about it, ‘Murica, that’s who won last night’s U.S. election. Hate. Hate for progress, dignity, decency, and respect…I’m sorry, I forgot that’s not how we label those things here, and so many may not have any fucking clue what I mean by “progress, dignity, decency, and respect” so let me contextualize it for you in the manner you’ve grown accustomed over the years. Hate for “political correctness”.
The 45th President of the United States of America, who, as was so painfully pointed out online last night in the myriad of posts that were shockingly recounting the horror of the events as they unfolded, is following our nation’s first Black President, is a bigoted colostomy-bag of a human being that is openly supported and propped up by white supremacist organizations and entities in the country. This is why people should really be ashamed if they supported this sort of hate fueled, xenophobic and ethnocentric guided campaign. There were no policies that this man held, which outweighed his racistly shaped and equally toxic, ego-maniacally molded, aggressive “grab ‘em by the pussy” perspective and utter asshattery, but the right has so long played the victim of a culture of political correctness that all of that was overlooked by the simple fact that this assbag was saying things that too many felt they could not. Which is a failure in the short sighted approach we too long have allowed to shape the social justice movements. Approaches that focused on respect rather than on dignity. We pushed for people to respect those they disagreed with, not realizing that respect is never something that can be coerced, whether or not it is right and deserved. It has to be earned. And with such a strong tendency towards white supremacy in the U.S., that respect would never be earned as the right it should be.
Instead, dignity as a focal point for gaining individual rights and respect is much harder to argue that one is undeserving of. This makes the resistance to such an idea as each person deserves dignity of being and in living automatically less than the idea that each person deserves respect. We can’t even respect ourselves enough to fully research and educate ourselves enough to not vote against our own self interests, so how can we expect to get those who do not respect themselves to respect others? It’s a much harder fight than getting people to see the point that we are all beings who deserve the dignity and worth of self esteem, and that no one deserves to be torn down and written off due to their circumstances or differences. Especially not by socially constructed and maintained systems designed to make them question their own value and worth daily due to the systemic nature of its oppressive and privileging ways.
The second thing that the election revealed, goes beyond highlighting how much work we still need done in this nation, it uncovered the sickening truth of how much hate is still being catered to and fostered through fear in this nation all in attempts (and quite successful ones, I have to admit) to keep us divided and fighting each other as opposed to the systems that allow for these exploitations of persons and entities to continue thriving in the U.S. We see, again, with blistering clarity how the threads of difference that should bring us together as strengths to galvanize our public, have been (and are eternally being) used against us as weaknesses and points of contention. These are not identities to be dismissed and torn asunder, so that we can homogenize our social fabric, but that are necessary to be honored and valued so we weave a much stronger social fabric of inclusion. We need these differences.
What we don’t need are these differences to be demeaned and systemically castigated and undermined to the point where they have lasting, damaging impacts on the individual psyche’s of Americans. And we certainly don’t need insecure, frightened politicians and corporate leaders attempting to channel these differences into fears that keep us from being able to accept and care for one another. That limit our empathetic responses to only those who resemble ourselves in color, status, or other means of social stratification. Now we see how even among those commonly portrayed or painted as progressives this tide of turning on each other is happening. Rather than blame those who began the disinformation campaigns that twisted the truths and spun the meaning right out of the election cycle, and those who undermined the will of the people in what was viewed as a revolutionary primary campaign, and who have systemically dismantled the very impact of our individual roles in the governance of the country to the point where millions of citizens have become so disenfranchised with the whole fucking system that they feel no sense of purpose or mission in even voting, we turn on each those who participated and did what they felt was needed to improve their own standings. Because we’ve put such an individualized context on living and succeeding, that it is no longer about how we can all live and succeed together as a whole, and all about getting ourselves ahead and satisfying only our own needs and desires for dignity and quality of life that we ignore the damaging impact we have on those around us as we so wantonly flaunt our focus on self alone.
I find it odd and disturbing that simply one year after the podcast’s farewell episode, I am writing this post today in disbelief that this is where we have gotten to. I leave you alone for one goddamn year, America, and you absolutely shit yourself this brutally? What the fuck? Kidding. Sort of. That’s more highlighting that individual self-importance I was just talking about in tongue-and-cheek fashion, meant totally sarcastically (I realize some might not get that tone if I don’t point it out, because apparently we’re not as perceptive as I once believed on the whole). But seriously, we have work to do, ‘Murica. Much more than we thought we had to do yesterday, but perhaps seeing that now is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s terrifying and unnerving in a million different ways, but its exposed the true nature of the beast we are still fighting against, and the tactics/tools it uses against us. Tools we foolishly (and quite privilegedly) believed we could use to dismantle the master’s house, even though we were advised by women of color and beyond for decades now that we could not.
Today is not the end for the United States. No in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. We now have access to a clarity that people have been trying to get us to see for so long, and we know where it is we want (and need) this clarity to get us. We cannot stop fighting to get there. These types of roadblocks are merely indicative of how far we’ve come and all the gains we have made. This is a resistance to progress, and as some have noted, perhaps if we unite, this will be the white supremacy’s last stand in the United States. American Fascism is not our way forward. We’ve come too far to allow this decline and slouching towards Idiocracy to win the day now. Keep your chins up, and your resolve at the ready. We will be tested. We will be tried. But we will not be undone. We will not regress and not lose sight of the mission. Equitable and true justice for all. Stay strong in the struggle.