Many years ago, I opened a fortune cookie so dead-on that I kept the fortune in my wallet behind my license for years. I’ve since switched wallets a few times and it became too difficult to preserve the brittle paper’s integrity, so it’s presumably gone. I have a bad habit of jettisoning things from my life before realizing I need them. But the fortune, it said something like: surround yourself with people that generate more light than heat. And while it took some time for such a powerful sentiment to sink in and become part of me, I’ve had the concepts of light and heat in my mind for quite a while.
I came to realize that in the last four years, we as people have dealt with only heat. Even for supporters of President Trump, there has been only animosity. We’ve all had our guard up for years, constantly paying attention to what our impulsive President might do, either decrying his latest behavior or defending it (in the case of his supporters). In that perpetual state of defense or offense, we’ve been dealing in only heat.
I recognize that it’s a point of privilege to say what I’m about to say, but stick with me: I miss when politics were boring. My whole adult life, I was fully able to ignore the President’s daily actions. Even when I didn’t support what was happening, it wasn’t so heinous that I needed to keep my eye on it every hour of every day. News notifications barely mattered. We’ve been pulled by our shirts into psychosis, forced to consider the immense dark cloud that has been looming over us for four years. As I said, even the President’s supporters aren’t in a state of victorious jubilation, they’re instead having to go along with whatever their leader said, regardless of whether or not it contradicted a previous statement of his or turned out to be an outright lie, all the while claiming persecution.
That much does damage to people. Being forced to believe things you know aren’t true, to support a person you know only cares about himself, who has no real moral fiber to speak of – all of these things do serious damage to our psyches. Having completely conflicting beliefs is nothing new, we all deal with that to one extent or another. But the President’s supporters, I actually sympathize with them. They were sold a bill of goods by a man who knew just how to appeal to their “traditional” sensibilities. Ultimately, they were hoodwinked by a gifted career confidence man. Many of them must harbor thoughts about whether or not they’ve gone too far to get off the train now.
And for those of us who are not supporters of the President, we’ve dealt with what essentially amounts to a crazed boy king, a leader whose incompetence is only dwarfed by his ego-centrism. This is all compounded by the fact that everyone’s life has been upended by a global pandemic. But the worst part of all that is we’ve still not been able to let our guard down. Even matters of public safety like wearing a mask to prevent the virus’s spread turned into a battle between warring factions. A close friend of mine reported that she was verbally assaulted in her car for wearing a mask while in the drive-through line at Starbucks. This isn’t good for us, we’re shortening our life spans with such stress.
And so, as we head into the 2020 presidential election, we must consider our health as a people. Can we really handle more of the constant fighting and uncertainty? A lot of the President’s enablers in his administration and in government have shed their values for a chance at improving their own standing, but not their people. If nothing else, we need to generate more light than heat once again. Unfortunately, the President is constantly ablaze, so we need someone less flammable.
Vote, and keep your head on a swivel. Election day itself idles overhead, an omen of dark partisan divide and voter intimidation sanctioned by the President himself. I have legitimate concerns that things will turn violent, especially with the President’s base serving as armed de facto poll watchers. Regardless, vote if you haven’t already.
The uncertainty is killing us, and the results of this election will most likely throw our country into upheaval in one way or another, but know that what’s gone on for the last four years is yet another dark spot on America’s checkered past – for our health and sanity, we cannot allow it to carry on for another four years.
Vote, and I’ll see you on the other side.