Late Note: In the post below I used “Republicans” to mean “the Republicans working in government now,” which is wrong; there are many politically conservative Republicans who do not embrace social conservatism and have refused to be part of the Trump mess. I apologize to any Republicans who didn’t vote for Trump.
“I just went through all the comments here, and it didn’t appear there were any conservatives. I could be wrong, but this seems like a homogenous group, politically. I’m generally conservative and small-townish, although I come from a very diverse family politically. So a big part of me feels afraid to speak on this particular thread.”
I think this probably is a mostly-liberal group with a few centrists mixed in, but I think that’s in part because social conservatives (different from political conservatives) probably spit on my books. This group self-selected well before the elections, and I think (not sure) that this is the first time we’ve really addressed politics here in any concrete way because we come here to talk about story in all its shapes and forms, and whatever else comes to mind. So far, I haven’t had to do much moderating in the comments because we’re a relatively small group and we don’t attract much attention. We’re pretty much sitting here with cups of tea and diet Cokes arguing about prologues. And we’re pretty good about agreeing to disagree, but still, I understand your hesitation completely. This is a liberal blog.
Kiernan again: “I think the Left and Right could find lots of common ground, but both sides feel wounded.”
The problem is, I don’t think there is common ground. The people who voted for Trump voted for somebody who actively campaigned as a racist xenophobe. Hate crimes are up all over the country because some of the people who followed him felt they’d been given permission to come out of the dark and do these things. Of course, that’s not all of the people who voted for him. But all of the people who voted for him knew he wanted to build a wall and deport legal Muslim Americans and repeal Obamacare. And because they voted for him and gave majorities to both houses of Congress, Paul Ryan is now going to privatize Medicare, cut taxes on the wealthy, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Those aren’t gee-maybe-he-might, they’re right there on his website and they’ve been there for months and he’s vocal right now about doing all of those things, January 1 if possible. Ayn Rand just took over the government. I’m a white Christian baby boomer who’s already on Medicare, so I’m probably fairly safe. That doesn’t stop me from being appalled that anybody under 65 is screwed. And that’s before we get to the terrifying people Trump is thinking about putting into government posts.
So I don’t think there is common ground. I think the divide in this country is so deep that it’s between people who are all right with voting for somebody who encouraged violence at his rallies and people who think Rudy Giuliani should not be Secretary of State. And at the head of all of this is a guy who never thought he’d win and is now, judging by recent photos, absolutely terrified. Here’s an interesting bit of news: Trump and his team didn’t know they’d have to replace West Wing staffers. He knew he’d get his own Chief of Staff, but he had no idea he’d have to build his own governing staff. He must have missed all seven seasons of The West Wing. In short, he has no idea what he’s doing. His team has no idea how to govern. And the Republicans in government are about to drag us back to the 50s. I don’t see a way I can go halfway to any of that. That doesn’t mean people can’t argue for those things here, it just means I’m not going to be saying, “Why yes, I can see some good in Steve Bannon being chief strategist because Breitbartism is something I can compromise on. And I can certainly meet Mike Pence halfway on LGBT issues, maybe there are positive things about conversion therapy.” No. Hell, no.
Kiernan again: “Is it naive to hope that if we are kinder and less reactive–if we stop dissing each other on Facebook or on other social media–that maybe we could effect change and make this a better country?”
I think it might be naive to hope for that on the internet especially on Facebook. This election did not create trolls on either side, they were always there. But what this election did do is deepen the divide, and now anger and fear are bringing out the worst in us. I want to keep Argh civil, and I think because we’re small and out of the way and already have a strong community that we can do that. I’m fine with people stating their opinions here, conservative or liberal (no personal attacks, of course) and I will continue to let people counter those opinions (no personal attacks, of course), but I’m going to flat out state that I’m a radical, leftist, socialist, gay-and-Muslim-loving, Black-Lives-Matter Democrat, and I’m going to fight like hell to keep the Republicans in government from dismantling the safety net and making racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia the American Way (no personal attacks, of course).
Also to anybody who didn’t vote or cast a protest vote because you thought Clinton and Trump were equally bad: You were wrong.
NOTE: I pulled quotes from Kiernan’s comment, but I think the whole thing should be on here because I don’t want my pull-quotes to cherry-pick her argument:
“Well, I think one way to start this new chapter in American history is to think about social media at the grassroots level. It can be used for good. But it seems to me that it’s often not. It becomes a place for divisions to expand. Facebook is hell on earth.
“I just went through all the comments here, and it didn’t appear there were any conservatives. I could be wrong, but this seems like a homogenous group, politically. I’m generally conservative and small-townish, although I come from a very diverse family politically. So a big part of me feels afraid to speak on this particular thread. The only reason I dare to now is because you’re a kind person, Jenny, and fair, and you won’t flame someone unless he or she is being cruel or counterproductive to a discussion.
“My point is, when you discuss hot-button issues among a homogenous group, how can you ever move toward cooperation with “the other side”? Do you need to? I think so–otherwise, we just spin our wheels, throwing rocks, hurting each other, and our children cry and witness intolerance and grow up fragile and frightened. You can’t make the world a better place when you’re literally shaking and merely trying to survive (Maslow’s Hierarchy is something I often think about).
“If I were a newbie here, I would pass this post and page by. In the old days (pre-election 2016!), I would have said, that’s fine. We build our own tribes, and Jenny’s tribe wouldn’t want me there, and I don’t mesh well politically. But I feel like now–because we all love this country and want our kids to be happy and secure–the tribe answer isn’t good enough because it doesn’t solve the big problems we have, which are very big.
“Jenny, you want to help your causes. Getting grassroots movements going is really the way to go. And you’re right–every time the top makes a decree, it takes so much longer for the country to accept that decision. When we get things going from a state level, the acceptance rate is higher, quicker, and it’s an organic spread.
“But in our efforts to push our causes–which we believe are rights or moral imperatives, depending on your perspective–how can we avoid steamrolling the people who don’t want that cause to move forward and could stymie our efforts? I know it’s tempting to want to steamroll people who are ignorant. But we get more effective returns when we try to win people over instead.
“I think the Left and Right could find lots of common ground, but both sides feel wounded. Is it naive to hope that if we are kinder and less reactive–if we stop dissing each other on Facebook or on other social media–that maybe we could effect change and make this a better country?
“Thanks for making Argh a place where civility is valued and thinking matters.”