Starting soon after the Trump election, I started posting, then curating/coordinating, a daily email list of advocacy things. I also subscribed to a bunch of podcasts and news sites (NYT, Economist, Pod Save America and then Pod Save the People, More Perfect, 538 Politics, and a bunch of email newsletters I’m still trying to get out of.) And I tried to get involved with some political organizations, most actively Indivisible and then Sister District.
Starting about 3 months ago, I haven’t been doing any of that. (Except the podcasts. Some of them.) And I have two main feelings about this:
1. happy to have so much time and brain space back
2. vague feeling of dread that I’m not addressing something that I should be, as if my doctor said I have cancer and I’m just ignoring it
I keep seeing worrying signs of slides into fascism in the news. Trump flouting norms and then laws (Russia sanctions, Mueller investigation meddling) and his congress buddies just going along with him. Onetime anti-Trumpers (Lindsay Graham, John McCain, Jeff Flake) making big speeches and then just voting with him all the time anyway. It’s not Trump that worries me; he’s an idiot. It’s the fact that all his boys are content to let him take whatever power he wants.
At the same time, I kiiinda can’t do anything about it. My experience over the past year has done… nothing? I mean, I got some nice form letters from Pelosi Feinstein and Harris, so I guess some intern tallied my calls/emails. I gave some money to some small candidates in close races across the country. I guess I’m doing my part and that’s ok? Like, if Trump becomes Hitler*, I guess I’ll look back and say “why wasn’t I out in the streets every day?” but otherwise in the meantime I’ve got to live my life.
I don’t have anything smart to say about this. Just, it’s a bit tiring to live like this.
*what would this even mean? would this be “when we have concentration camps, gestapo, and laws banning ethnicities”? I mean, Guantanamo, ICE, and Muslim Ban, right? Sure, they’re smaller in scope, but Hitler didn’t show up on day 1 and say “let’s kill all the Jews;” it happened slowly.
Adam Jaffe - Feb 3, 2018
Man, this really resonates with me, and I feel the same way. I mean, I vote, I canvass, I call my senators (who obviously never listen), I volunteer weekly and…what else can I really do, short of quitting my job and devoting my life to social justice or politics? I still have to work and eat, and do my laundry, and go grocery shopping, and socialize, and I’d like to raise a family at some point, and these things occupy most of my time and mental energy.
I feel I’m doing my best for now, and you probably are too. We can’t fix everything, and you’re already doing 200% more than the average person. I find my volunteer work (music therapy at a psych clinic) at least gives me the feeling of “Hey, I’m setting aside a bit of time every week to cheer up a few people and counteract a bit of the world’s awfulness,” which is nice.
Dan - Feb 3, 2018
If blogger allowed me to “like” your post, I would do that.
Sometimes I think about it too like Maslow’s hierarchy, or like, you can’t really be there fully to help someone else unless you’re all set yourself. Obviously at the lower levels - you can’t be donating food unless you have enough to eat. But even higher up - I can only give from a secure, social, self-fulfilled life; I can’t guilt myself into helping.
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