A few days ago I let anger get the best of me. It’s not pretty when that happens, especially publicly.
It was on a social media post, something I never encourage and usually try to discourage…but anger got the best of me.
In a season of great frustration: pandemic, politics, the politicization of a pandemic…well, there are tons of reasons. No excuses, mind you. Just plenty of reasons.
It felt bad. In the clear light of the morning, I took down the whole post and exchange. I had to. None of us were at our best in that moment.
Part of what kills me about the current state of politics is the seeming disconnect between what our vote, our support for a candidate, seems to say about us…and it’s something I struggle with.
Because the candidate I will vote for (and Lord, I pray he has a good, solid, exciting running mate) has an accusation of sexual assault against him, which he denies. And he recently made a careless remark about race (which, while not racist, was certainly careless…and for which he apologized for). And, while I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, I mean…c’mon.
The more laughable/sad part of it all is the supposed outrage by the other side that he’d say something like that, but their deafening silence when their candidate has done far worse.
But I don’t like “whataboutisms,” and there’s no excuse for the above.
In a normal voting year, I would not be voting for him. This is frustrating for me.
But I don’t see this as a normal voting year. Because the current occupant of the White House not only has an accusation of sexual misconduct against him, but has 24 such accusations. And this all comes after a weekend where he (once again) re-Tweeted posts calling another politician a “skank,” fat-shaming another female politician, and disparaging mental-illness.
On top of that he has continually made racist or misogynistic remarks, not to mention supporting policies that continue to keep the marginalized on the margins (low unemployment numbers for African Americans are empty when the jobs are not living-wage jobs…that’s all gone now, anyway). Did you forget the “Muslim ban?” Did you forget how he remarked on Hillary Clinton’s backside? Or his disparaging comments about the appearance of Carly Fiorina? Have you forgotten how he made fun of a physically disabled reporter in front of thousands who cheered?
Do you laugh at that kind of thing? If you do, I don’t want to know…
On top of that, we’re nearing 100,000 dead in this pandemic, and will soon surpass our dead from World War I, and the delayed response from this administration still does not have anyone taking any sort of blame.
And on top of that, I see a politician continually manipulating my religion for his benefit…even though he doesn’t even practice my religion, though he claims to.
And on top of that he has cruelly suggested putting alligators in a moat across the Southern border, or “shooting to maim” people who cross the border, or even punishing women who have an abortion somehow…it almost seems like cruelty is the point.
And on top of all of that, he hasn’t even adhered to the fiscal responsibility the party he leads has repeatedly championed, unmasking that responsibility for the clanging gong that it is: a political ploy without conviction.
But what frustrates me the most, and what made me the most angry the other night, is that I’m having a difficult time divorcing a vote for him from the support of his rhetoric, his racism, his fat-shaming, his misogyny, his bald-face lying, his inability to accept responsibility (that “The Buck Stops Here” sign Truman championed found its way to the trash), and his constant politicization of everything (do you even wear a mask?).
For me it’s a spiritual issue. In our spirits, how can we support with our vote, with our rally, a candidate who exemplifies our basest inclinations?
I’m having a hard time not seeing the people who vote for him as racist and misogynistic and absolutely OK with being lied to and manipulated.
It’s just true. And it makes me angry.
It makes me angry that I’m having a hard time divorcing him from those who vote for him. It makes me angry, and makes me afraid: are his supporters like him? Deep down inside, do they think those things?
And, if I’m honest, it makes me angry that now I will cast a vote for someone who has been accused of sexual assault, too, because he is the lesser of two evils (unless he chooses an awesome running mate, which could turn a sad vote into a glad vote).
That anger got the best of me the other night…and I regret that.
I’m sorry for that.
Instead of just letting it hang out there, I thought it might be good to give you a glimpse into what’s going on behind the scenes in my heart and mind. I think it might be important to put out there that I’m not sure how to divorce the candidate’s rhetoric from the voter’s vote, you know?
Like, if my friends and family members who vote for the current President are as racist and misogynistic and willing to laugh at Tweets and comments that tear people down…well, I don’t want to know that about them, you know?
It makes me angry to think that they’re someone who would do that, because frankly, I don’t want my kids around that. Hell, I don’t want to be around that.
That’s not what my family is about.
And maybe you feel stuck, too, right? Maybe you feel like you’re stuck between two bad choices, and Trump is the least-bad of the choices. I can understand that feeling, I have the mirror of it, and would welcome that conversation.
But the gleeful support? The cheering and goading on of the terribleness? The re-posting of the heartlessness?
Some people say that he’s “raw and real.” Mike Rowe feels raw and real to me. Hell, Joe Biden feels raw and real to me.
Our current president feels “rude and manipulative” to me.
Are you rude and manipulative?
Do you laugh at racist jokes?
Do you allow your children to pick on other children? Then why would you allow, with your vote, your president to do that to other people?
This is where I’m coming up short, and it makes me frustrated. It feels like a vote for him is a vote of support for the racism he espouses (would you ever call a White Nationalist a “good person?”), and for the misogyny he exudes, and for the heartless proposals he’s put forward…and I don’t want to think of you as blatantly racist, sexist, and heartless.
I don’t want to…but I’m having a hard time not doing that because, well, we’ve seen four years of it, and you want to sign on for four more?
Maybe the damage is done…
But, I have to say that, I feel like I’m being manipulated in all of this, too. Clear-eyed, I see it now. The mantra “Keep them angry” has been running through my head. It’s a mantra that an operative used to describe the tactics of our day that push out the vote by the Right, but it certainly could be applied to the Left, too.
And anger always gets the best of us.
There’s certainly a ton of reasons to be angry, and good ones, too. But I’m deciding to go in a different direction.
I’m deciding, today, to “Keep it compassionate.” Compassion for the people being demonized, demoralized, and degraded will spur my vote this year.
Compassion even for those folks who might vote for the other side, because I have a desire to break the anger-spell driving the divisive politics of our day.
By the way, I don’t see compassion as weak. In fact, I think it’s about the strongest thing you can be because, well, it’s easier to give into the anger, honestly.
I’m still frustrated that I don’t have a better ticket to vote for (Yet! That running mate could do it!), but I won’t let the anger get the best of me…or, at least I’ll try not to.
But I do want to ask, absolutely without a shred of rhetorical questioning: how do you separate the vote from horribleness? How do you separate the vote from the cruelty? Is a vote for a candidate a vote for their words, beliefs, and ideas, too?
I know it’s not always a vote for their actions…we all make mistakes. But what if there’s not only no remorse, but indeed a doubling-down?
I don’t know what to do with that, because a vote for that feels like rubber stamping, or even agreement with, those ideas.
And we can’t just say “it’s about the policies,” because as I point out above, the policies seem to be laced with that vitriol, too.
But even in this case, then, I’m going to go with compassion. The kind of compassion that says, “God, they know not what they do.”
I’m still angry at the injustice…but that’s on all sides. No one is not guilty of that.
But when I enter the booth this year, I’ll be “Keeping it compassionate.”