Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fear and Loathing in America

Going to take a few minutes to write about something I have seen happening in the good of US of A in the last sixteen years.  That is a marked increase in fear, and loathing.

In the last sixteen years, we have become a fearful lot.  We are afraid of the terrorists.  We are afraid that Obama is coming for our guns.  We are afraid that Trump is going to be allowed to pick SCotUS appointments.  We are afraid that our position in the world is slipping, that we are no longer the great nation we once were.  We are afraid that change will happen so swiftly that we will be disoriented.  We also loath those who are different from us, what made America great was our acceptance of those from other lands and cultures, but now they are the blame for all the problems.

See a trend here?  Well lets take this one issue at a time.  Lets start with Fear.  We are afraid, we face a great deal of uncertainty, and honestly we always have.  Few things are certain, from waking up in the morning, to getting into the bed that night.  We know that we are born, we know that we will die, and that is about as certain as it gets in this existence.  Our lives start, and they end, the rest is about as certain as it can get.  In a semi-rational mind, that uncertainty should make us nervous, its a good thing to some extent.  Uncertainty makes us plan ahead, think forward, it makes us tread lightly, not because of fear, but because it is always good to have a plan B, its good to reserve judgement, just in case.  The problem arises when uncertainty becomes fear.

Here is how I see it, as someone who had many things to be afraid of, real things to fear.  When parents and I were on the verge of homelessness, we took people at face value, we were scared that we would be on the streets for a brief time, we were facing an uncertain future.  Rather than have a plan B, which was even scarier, we ran with what was not certain.  It was a fear based choice, it was a poor choice.

When you are scared while you are making decisions, your judgement isn't all that good.  You are more likely to make a bad decision based on your fear.  Your decision making capabilities are diminished when afraid, or stressed.  Really anything you do under duress is diminished.  You do things you normally wouldn't do.  Each choice made in fear, leads to an even worse choice, with more disastrous outcomes, until finally you are left with no choice at all.

Politics in this way, works the same way your personal life is.  For over three decades we have been making choices based on fear, fear of what the other candidate will likely do to us.  I don't blame people for it, how can you?  If you know everything is going to go to shit with both candidates, but one is going to throw in the added insult of ensuring you become homeless, you aren't going to vote for that person.  The problem is, the next time you have to vote, the candidates are slightly worse, but you are fool yourself into believing that homeless is better than starving, and the following election, starving is better than dead.  Each time the fear is greater, the stress is more intense, and the choice made is worse.  Eventually, there is no choice to be made, you are stuck. 

Sure, that is an extreme exaggeration.  Things have not progressed nearly that far for the majority of people yet.  But for some people, it has.  Who we decide as a majority to elect has that exact outcome, there are people who are at that level, where a vote for a candidate means the difference between a job staying in the US, in their community, or being jobless.

So, here is how I see it right now, today, at a little before 2000 hours, on a Sunday night.  You have many people making political choices based on fear.  Fear that Trump might get elected, he might have his finger on the red button of nuclear doom, therefore we must elect Clinton.  You have people voting for Trump because they are afraid of terrorists, and illegal immigrants.  People are scared, and they have every right to be.  But that is the problem, we have been scared for so long, we have made so many choices based on our fear, that we are quickly reaching the end of what choices we have.  We will wake up one day and realize that we never had a choice to start with.

Maybe that is the problem with the Bern or Bust movement, people are scared.  Not of the grumpy looking old socialist out of Vermont, not so much of his supporters, but that you have a group of people so upset, so tired of everything, that they are willing to walk through the gates of whatever hell exists to change things.  They are willing to throw the dice of not just their lives, but all lives to see something change, to try for something more.

I am an idealist, at least part of me is.  I want to see change, massive change.  I want to see a better world for me.  I refuse to vote based on the "I can keep you safe from..." mantra I have watched the GOP play my entire adult life.  I refuse to vote based on the SCotUS appointments, we already lost that joker years ago, and third-way neo-liberal Democrats won't help take it back.  I refuse to vote based on the fear that a candidate will do me more harm than good, when the other candidate basically says "Nope, can't do that, America as a whole isn't ready," or "That massive amount of change would scare too many people."

For me, there is a choice, a deeply painful one.  A choice between candidates that will do harm to me, one will do more harm than the other I am sure, or go third party and hope enough people do that the party that claims to represent people like me wakes up.  Set a mandate of sorts, this is totally unacceptable.  But the sad fact is, any way this election shakes down as it stands at this very moment, there will not be change of any worth.

The hop and change we can believed in, was not for the better, it maintained.  If anything it made some things worse.  And that is the way it goes, when you make a choice out of fear.  Made worse when multiple people do it.

Oh and that loathing part, yeah that is pretty much based on fear.