Got that one wrong.
Like a lot of white people, I keep wanting to write things like “I did not realize I lived in a country this hateful.” I already Tweeted that my main mistake was underestimating the number of assholes in America. I genuinely didn’t think there were enough white assholes to elect Trump. That right there is a failure of empathy on my part; people of color and LGBTQ people and any number of others who aren’t straight cis white people have been telling us this for years, and while I thought I was listening I clearly wasn’t. America isn’t any different from what it was a few days ago. There’s just a whole lot of white people who can’t deny what America is any longer. The proof just got rubbed in our faces; it’s going to keep getting rubbed in our faces repeatedly for the next several years. I was proud, the other day, to realize that my son was going to be nine before there was even a chance of a white male being President during his lifetime. Now I have to worry about what the next four years are going to do to him, and wonder whether living in the St. Joseph Valley will protect us from fallout from the Cook Nuclear plant the way it occasionally keeps thunderstorms from hitting us.
To be clear: White people. This is your fault. I am keeping my strong slapping hand oiled and in reserve for anyone pointing fingers of blame at any other group than white Americans, and particularly white male Americans, for what just happened. I don’t want to hear shit about Democratic turnout. I don’t want to hear shit about Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders, or Gary Johnson.
This happened because white people wanted it to. Everything that happens in the next four years is the fault of white people. I said this on Twitter, too, and not for the first time: this happened because most white people in America would happily live in a box under a bridge so long as they could see a black family nearby that didn’t have a box or didn’t get to live under a bridge.
And here’s the thing, white folk: I’m talking to myself here, too. We’re in the fucking mess we’re in because we didn’t do enough. Each and every fucking one of us had family members, friends, co-workers who we knew were voting Trump. I know for damn sure I’ve been doing a lot of keeping my mouth clamped shut and walking away at work lately, or letting clearly insane nonsense pass by in the name of a harmonious workplace. I didn’t do a damn thing to move any of these people. And now Mike Pence is going to be Vice-President. A guy who probably wouldn’t even have been re-elected Governor.
I don’t want to hear shit about black turnout, white people. We did this. We own it. And the consequences are on us and the blood– and there has already been blood, and there will be more– is on our hands.
There’s an American flag hanging on the wall to my left right now. I’ve had an American flag hanging on the wall somewhere in my house or apartment for basically as long as I’ve been paying for somewhere to live on my own. I looked at it yesterday and strongly considered taking it down. Frankly, I could use the wall space for other things. The alternative is some sort of (pointless) symbolic gesture. Hang it upside down, something like that. I think I’ve come up with a solution I like, though: I’ve just ordered a new flag, a rainbow flag like the one at the top of this post. I’m hanging it on top of the flag on the wall.
I’ve had that flag on the wall for years because I hate what the right wing has done to the word “patriot.” If you hear someone call themselves a patriot nowadays, chances are real high that that person is some flavor of asshole. I’ve always considered myself one anyway; perhaps I’m just a different flavor of asshole than most. Licorice, maybe. But the thing is that, as I said above, I can’t pretend that there’s some inner core to America that’s worth being proud of any longer. America is a sick, broken place, and we’re about to get a whole lot worse before we get any better. And there are plenty of people out there who are being harmed by that sick society on a daily basis, and those people need me to remember them rather than let some fuzzy-headed, warm version of America take over my thoughts again. The country I allowed myself to think I lived in was never real, and it was never great. And I owe it to a whole lot of people to not forget that again.
Meanwhile, Paul Ryan just announced his intent to “phase out” Medicare and replace it with private insurance. Obamacare’s likely to get repealed within a week or so of the new regime taking over. Who knows what other horrors are ahead of us.
This is going to kill a whole lot of people, and that’s before he starts any new wars.
You voted for this, white America. And I’m not planning on letting you forget it.
On a more personal note: I was a very, very angry person during the Bush administration, and what scares me the most– and I know this is a selfish reaction– about all this is that I cannot go back to who I was during those years. I was angry on the side of righteousness, but I feel like calling it “all-consuming” might understate what was going on.
And this will be worse. There’s been an ironclad rule about the Republican party during my adult life: they only get worse, and they always get worse. I will be nostalgic for George W. Bush soon. And that is terrifying.
I spent a moment Tuesday night considering putting Luther Siler as a thing to bed for good. You all know this is a pen name, if you’ve been reading for a while. I don’t need to be a guy who vomits anger into the internet every day. I haven’t sold a book in two months and the one I’m working on is so stagnant that it may as well be dead. It would be one less thing to worry about in a time where I very much need to consolidate my priorities and figure out what is important and what I need to be focusing on. I think I’ve moved beyond that at this point– that was literally a first-night reaction– but something may need to change. We’ll see.
The new/last A Tribe Called Quest album is wonderful, by the way. I may as well make a half-assed attempt to end on a positive note, here; music will probably get better for a few years. Next to a pile of bodies, that’s not much, but at least it’s something.
Yeah, I know. It’s not.