Out of Control

This rant is my “scream into the void,” I guess.

Cuts to the budget for public land (i.e. OUR land). Taking away health care for millions. Cuts to educational funding for children with disabilities. Drastic, possibly institution-eliminating cuts to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Appointing people violently opposed to science, education, social support for the public, and civil rights. Sycophants who disrespect veterans, the disabled, women, and minorities, who insult our allies and vilify our own government operations, while fawning over a foreign leader who has strenuously worked to deny his own citizens their basic rights.

This is what basing your political choices and actions on panic, fear, and hate has wrought. This is what happens when you trust unsubstantiated rumors and innuendo over facts and evidence, when you value ignorance over knowledge, when you believe click-bait articles on Facebook over documented history and science. This is what happens when you let a single issue define your entire worldview. You don’t want the “deaths of unborn children” on your conscience? How about the pain, suffering, and deaths of thousands, millions of your fellow “here-now-existing-on-earth” citizens? That’s fine, huh?

I cannot believe our country is being led by people who so obviously have no place leading. I cannot understand how nominally intelligent people can look at a bombastic, materialistic, narcissistic, childish, emotionally unstable blowhard and think “Yes. This man is the best choice. This man has my interests at heart.” I cannot believe so many people so enthusiastically voted against their own interests. And I cannot understand how these same people were furious about emails being possibly sent from a secure server, but are fine with the possibility that Russia hacked our electoral system.

There are reports of people who hated “Obamacare,” but loved their insurance obtained via the Affordable Care Act (not realizing they are the same thing). These people voted to get rid of Obamacare, and they will lose their health insurance. People will die, some of whom don’t even realize they voted for their own deaths.

If I sound panicked, I am. This makes me sick. Literally. Migraine, dizziness, nausea. My anxiety is through the roof. The closer this weekend gets, the more frightened I am. My anxiety issues are centered over feeling impotent, weak, unable to control the world around me. This is absolutely my nightmare come to life. I cannot fix this. I cannot change anything. I cannot even really express how I feel about all of this to others in my life. They say “God is in control”, or “we just have to hope things work out for the best,” and they think that settles it.

Everything is out of control. The world is out of control. Some people think it’s the end times. Some people voted for this megalomaniac because they want the end times. Some people are celebrating the ignorance and obliviousness of the population who voted him into office. Some people are smugly thinking of the 3 million votes for Clinton that don’t matter in the face of the electoral college (and possible manipulation of voting results by foreign interests). Some people are laughing in the faces of those of us who are afraid, telling us that “now is the time for unity.” Those people are forgetting–or ignoring–the 8 years of of Congressional obstructionism, of rumors of Presidential illegitimacy, of accusations of treasonous ties, of simply hating having a black man in power.

This is not the world I want to live in. This is a world in which people are suffering and dying because others believe lobbyist-generated propaganda over the truth. This is a world in which those who claim to follow the one who said “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” and “blessed are the poor” have voted for the elimination of health care and other social support for millions. How un-Christian. How cruel. How disgustingly immoral.

This rant is my “scream into the void,” I guess. Those who read it will likely agree with my fear, at least in part. Those who should read it probably won’t, or will dismiss it as the hysterical diatribe of a “hapless old harridan,” a “nasty woman” who should keep her “trap” shut.

We are in the age of the “Ugly American” stereotype, turned up to 11-billion. We are on the precipice of a regression the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Dark Ages. Extremism in politics and religion has taken over, and those of us who live by reason, compassion, and tolerance must fight to keep going.

But it’s a long, dark, road. And I’m scared.

I have to rant, or the rage will eat me alive.

I’m disgusted, enraged, and terrified by the whole thing.

It disgusts me that a small, misinformed portion of the country has decided the future for the rest of us. I understand that anger at the establishment led a lot of voters to choose whom they thought would change things. I agree that many in this country have sunk into the lower middle class (and beyond) because of decisions made by the government. I acknowledge that fear and ignorance can lead to desperate choices.

But, come on.

That government everyone thinks has made those bad decisions? It’s not the President alone. So many people in the country don’t understand how the national government is organized. They don’t get that the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches are separate. They think the President alone is responsible for every good and bad thing that happens. So when the country “goes bad,” blame the President and re-elect all the Senators and Representatives who blocked any opportunity to improve things, even at the expense of their own constituents, just to give the finger to the other side of the aisle?

So many “establishment Republicans” were re-elected to the House and Senate. These are the same Republicans who have railed about how bad the country is and how they want to make it “great” again. They’ve been in charge for years. They’ve been vigorously obstructing any possible positive change that the House and Senate tried to put into place. Even bi-partisan bills co-authored by Democrats and Republicans were blocked by these people because they have demonized the opposition. And these same folks were re-elected to their offices.

Think about it. The same people who ranted about how badly the country was being run are the people who have been running it. And they were re-elected.

So, sure, 25% of the country has decided that an anti-establishment demagogue billionaire will change things up. But they also decided that all the old establishment Republicans that have been running the Legislative branch for years should just keep on blocking any positive changes because Heaven forbid they try to compromise. The establishment is still in charge, folks. And, worse, they’re being joined by actual real-life white supremacists. They aren’t even pretending anymore.

And millions, millions, of votes were discarded because of overly-strict voter ID laws that do nothing to stop voter fraud, because there is hardly any voter fraud to stop — voter fraud is a lie perpetuated by the right-wing establishment to disenfranchise ethnic minorities and those who would vote against them (https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/voter-fraud). North Carolina’s most recent attempt at voter ID laws was struck down for being blatantly and intentionally racist (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/court-north-carolina-voter-id-law-targeted-black-voters/). You want voter fraud? This is voter fraud. This is disenfranchisement. It is unconstitutional, illegal, and immoral. And in no way will any of it make this country “great again.”

This country will only be great when its most vulnerable, least powerful citizen can enjoy his or her basic human rights — life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness — without being denied those rights simply because he or she doesn’t fit what 25% of the country has decided is “American.” This country will only be great when every citizen who is of the legal age to vote can walk into that polling place and cast his or her vote without being stopped because laws have been passed that say he or she isn’t “American” enough to vote.

This country will only be great when Republican voters realize that “Small government” and the current right-wing establishment — an establishment that has put forth laws to prevent people from voting, marrying, or getting birth control; laws to allow billion-dollar corporations to fire whoever they want, for no reason, and to prevent their own employees from standing up for their rights; laws that blatantly mock the separation of church and state by promoting one, narrow, extremist view of Christianity over every other religion and religious sect in this country; laws that allot billions to the military but gut medicare, medicaid, educational funds, and infrastructure; laws that promoted the interests of large corporations over the interests of the people affected by those corporations; laws that allow people to own guns that can kill millions of actual, existing humans in a moment, but ban abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or an unborn child who will not survive outside the womb and whose birth will kill the mother — could not be farther apart.

“Government so small it fits in my uterus,” indeed.

I can’t pretend that none of this matters. My vote was sort of counted. I’m “American” enough, though the White Supremacists would prefer I was barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen while my husband works, bending my will to his and not standing up for myself. But otherwise, I’m “American” enough for my vote to be counted as a legal vote. And yet it wasn’t enough. The electoral college has invalidated my vote and the votes of millions of other people in my state. I used my voice, and it was silenced.

Don’t anyone tell me that this election was the result of “the country” speaking. Only one quarter of the country made this choice. Disenfranchisement prevented millions from being able to choose. Apathy and misinformation kept others from even trying. And now we’re stuck with a self-important billionaire who has been accused (with good evidence) of so many different types of crimes it’s not even funny; who was denounced by all of our living past presidents and was endorsed by the presidents of Russia and North Korea; who is planning to give offices to white supremacists and KKK supporters; who wants to wall us off like East Berlin so that we don’t have to deal with any of those icky foreigners who don’t look like good old fashioned white Americans; who wants to criminalize the act of living for so many people just because they’re different. His associates want to revisit WWII internment camps for Muslims; want to criminalize protesting and journalism that goes against them (goodbye, first amendment); want to force women who have undergone abortions and/or had miscarriages to pay for funerals for the fetuses; want to take away affordable healthcare from those who desperately need it (medicare, medicaid, ACA); and want to flat out make this nation a nation for white people only (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/us/politics/donald-trump-presidency.html?_r=0).

(By the way, here’s the Merriam Webster definition of ‘fascism’: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism.)

I see all of these things, I hear about all of these things, and I think about all of the people I know and respect and care about whose lives will be damaged and even destroyed by these policies. And I think America is far from great, and is only going to sink farther still.

I’m sick about all of this. And I’m far from the only one.

For those who choose to base their entire worldview on a handful of verses in the Bible, here are some suggestions:

On Protecting the Environment

  • Genesis 2:15: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
  • Proverbs 12:10: The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
  • Psalm 24:1: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

On the Importance of Education

  • Proverbs 10:14: The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
  • Proverbs 17:27: The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
  • Proverbs 18:15: The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
  • Hosea 4:6: My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:12: Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.

On Helping Those in Need

  • Matthew 25:40: The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
  • Proverbs 19:17: Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
  • Acts 2:44-45: All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
  • Philippians 2:3: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
  • Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

On Equality and Human Rights

  • Psalm 67:4: May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
  • Leviticus 19:33: When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.
  • Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you.
  • Mark 12:31: The second [greatest commandment] is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
  • James 2:8-9: If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

(translations taken from the New International Version)

I fear not for myself

I fear not for myself:

  • I am straight, white, and cisgender, privileged with a high level of education and a stable job with full healthcare benefits.
  • I can love whom I choose; live my life freely according to my religious views; and walk in public without being targeted as an “Other”.
  • I can afford doctor’s visits, medical tests, surgical procedures, prescription medications, and birth control.
  • I have been fortunate enough to avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted.
  • I have not been demeaned in the workplace or in public because of my gender.
  • I can use a public bathroom without fighting for the right to do so.

I fear for those who are not like me:

  • Those who are condemned for who they love.
  • Those who are viewed as “Other” due to their skin color, religion, language, or gender.
  • Those who are victimized, injured, or killed because they are different.
  • Those who work so hard at low-paying jobs but cannot afford to feed their families or treat their health problems, who need the social safety net to survive and who are labelled as “lazy,” “leeches,” or “Welfare queens” for it.
  • Those who need to see a doctor, have a medical test or surgical procedure, or use a medication and cannot afford any of it
  • Those who are called “sluts” for using birth control.
  • Those who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped, who are not believed and do not seek help out of fear of reprisal.
  • Those whose histories of abuse, job loss, or addiction have driven them to a desperate life on the streets, whose pleas for help are answered with arrests, beatings, or death.

I fear for children:

  • Children who are deprived of food, shelter, or clothing because their parents cannot afford to support them, no matter how many hours they work.
  • Children who are deprived of the love and attention of their parents because those parents have to work two or more jobs just to survive.
  • Children who have been told their parents are bad people because they are not straight, white, or cisgender.
  • Children whose existence is one of abuse and suffering because the same society that fights (often violently) for the rights of the unborn blocks efforts to support them once they are born.
  • Children who will never escape the trap of poverty because funding that could be used to improve their schools is instead used to build weapons for a bloated military or to try to take away rights from others.
  • Children who need medical care or dental care to set them up for a healthy life, but cannot get it because their parents can’t afford it.
  • Children who have been bullied because they are different from their peers.

I fear for our world:

  • A world in which scientific consensus is too frequently ignored in favor of emotionally-charged talking points.
  • A world whose well-being is strongly influenced by the choices our country makes, whose populations may feel threatened by this most recent choice.
  • A world in which our country has to exist alongside everyone else, and yet our future leadership promotes a nationalist, “us versus them” stance.
  • A world with dwindling animal populations, increasing pollution, and worsening climate change that have already impacted the physical and economic wellbeing of people in this country and across the globe, while our future leadership believes that these things either do not exist or do not matter.
  • A world with people who look to us for hope for a better future, inspired by the “American Dream” and the call to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” who have now been told that this dream is only for those who conform to specific racial, religious, economic, and gender statuses, and the tired and poor may never breathe free here.

And I fear for those like me:

  • Those who conform to the “appropriate” race, religion, and gender identity, but want to stand in solidarity with their fellow humans who do not.
  • Those who struggle to stand up for their beliefs within a community in which their beliefs are the minority.
  • Those who want to make the world a better place for every person, not just people who look, worship, and love the same way they do.

A final thought: A society is only as strong as its most vulnerable member. If we do not help those more vulnerable than us, we weaken society for all. Jesus said that “whatever you [do] for one of the least of these, you [do] for me.”

We must continue to fight for the “least” of us:

  • That their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (many of these rights so recently gained) are not lost.
  • That they really have equal opportunity for success and happiness: social support, education, and healthcare.
  • That they are not forced to live in misery due to laws passed by the least vulnerable and most privileged members of society.

I fear. I hope. I fight.