Talking Politics is a Dead End Game, but I Want People to Not Hate Each Other

Ever since choosing to only write two posts a week, it’s been much harder to post.

And this week—well, it’s much harder than most. The election finished but no one won. The viciousness and personal hatred of this election is unlike anything in my experience, and the ugliest part of our culture. How much do you hate the other party, strictly from the judgement of one word? That’s how much I hate every single one of you all the time, says the misanthrope. In other words, we all lost.

And yet, despite the rhetoric on television and online, where people genuinely refuse to recognize any humanity in the ‘other’ side (when they’re exactly the same, really, just differently labeled), when I’m actually interacting with people, in real life: conversations face to face, we all passionately agree that politics has become irreparable.

Guess what. We didn’t blame the politicians. Who lets them get away with this? Every single voter, who make it personal on the micro level without holding the ones actually making decisions accountable.

Well, I don’t really blame myself. Despite how often I hear ‘every vote counts’, mine really doesn’t. I live in northern California, the only choices are made by the great metropolises of Los Angeles and Bay Area. But I have voted on every single ballot since I registered, which I did at eighteen. It is what you do in my family. The only reason my mom registered at nineteen was because that was the year they amended the constitution and brought the age down. I will accept no reason for not voting…at least in part because in this election you must have known something about the presidents. Likely nothing true, and probably nothing truly relevant. But something.

Now see, if I were in charge, you’d have to prove you could think before voting. and you couldn’t be generally stupid in other ways. Also, education on the issues would be mandatory. You wouldn’t have to agree on issues, but voting on anything other than the issues or only based on media coverage. Or else. (This is why I’m not in charge of anything.)

Of course, this also relates to the positions I hold theoretically, but could never espouse for real people, real situations: the whole, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

So yes, I had a delightful conversation in a coffee shop with my friend on politics—though we hardly agree on everything—but then we were joined by two other women who were also actively engaged and interested and passionate. And we had great fun talking about politics when we clearly all fell on different political axes* but we never never never tried to tell each other we were wrong about the little things, because we realized there were far more important problems than who belonged to what party. There used to be a phrase, something like ‘vote policy, not party,’ only it sounds better. It’s not advice anyone is supposed to follow anymore. Wonder why nothing works?

*”Axes (/ˈæksiːz/), the plural of axis, is pronounced differently from axes (/ˈæksɨz/), the plural of ax(e).” Wikipedia

I’ve yet to catch up on Elementary, which I saw the pilot of and didn’t like, but wanted to give another chance. By chance, I’m watching the sixth episode. For a moment, I thought they’d brought back a Holmes who genuinely cared about people, which the original did, and I was impressed. Spoilers: they haven’t. Well, not really, but that’s mostly due to the actor. (Aw, he has daddy issues! Do people really think this is original still? I hope not.)

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Breaking News: Akin is a Moron (No, really!)

Usually I try not to mention anything even involving politics because there’s no possibility of real discussion on the internet, but then I remembered I posted three times last week that I wasn’t going to apologize for having opinions anymore. Nevertheless, this post isn’t about my political beliefs, but about the general stupidity of what passes for ‘political discourse’ in this country.

Much as I love words, I don’t think talking any more about Todd Akin will accomplish anything.

What he said was stupid, absurd, and awful. There you go. That’s all that needs to be said. The continued coverage as though it goes any further than that implies there is room for debate. There isn’t. What he said was WRONG in every way.

And you know what? He’s trying to get elected. What’s the solution?

DON’T VOTE FOR HIM

That’s why we have a system of representative government. So when an idiot wants to be in charge you can tell him no. Or ‘over my dead body’.

I saw a clip of an interview he did on GMA this morning and apparently all he wanted to say was that he didn’t like abortion? Not sure how he even got from one to the other, but whatever. That was the political opinion, and you don’t have to vote for him either.

Only Missourians can keep him out of office. So there’s no room for national outrage unless he is elected to the Senate. Then maybe the rest of use could call our Senators and tell them not to vote for anything he puts forward, especially if it’s anything related to humanity (I don’t know his position on infrastructure, but considering science knows pretty well how pregnancy works and he hasn’t a clue, I wouldn’t trust that either).

Why is everyone worried? Because no one votes.

Fifteen percent of eligible voters voted in California in the primaries. 15% Admittedly, this is because there’s almost no point in voting during the primaries in California because of whoever decided that they shouldn’t be all on the same day and by the time it gets here we don’t really have a choice. But we still have the largest population…maybe we could get it changed. If anyone actually voted.

The Whiteness Mystique

Last week I went to a lecture called “White Privilege and the Politics of Identity” as part of the Conversations on Diversity, given by Dr. Jill Swiencicki. It was an overview of the study of Whiteness scholarship today, mostly an introduction designed for people who hadn’t heard of the topic before.

Whiteness studies focus on how white people benefit from racism, and the inherent privileges that come from being classified as white in our societies (and possibly others). Basically it “pays to be a member of a dominant racial group.” When part of a dominant racial group, it’s difficult to acknowledge. It emerged with slavery, and has become ingrained in society. Whiteness means that white people get more trust, money, and jobs than people who belong to other races.

It was actually less a lecture than a conversation series, more than usual, perhaps. Dr. Swiencicki gave us several topics and a little history and then prompted conversations with our neighbors. I went with a friend, and since I’m not very outgoing I ended up talking with her for all of the conversations. This wasn’t really a bad thing, I knew I could be more honest with her than I would dare with a stranger. And after each small conversation, then there would be a group discussion.

We heard some interesting thing. One man said that he didn’t realize until he went to New Zealand that he wasn’t being watched in stores all the time. Instead, he was The American. Another guy, I think a business major, said that he had to dress better for interviews than others. A woman mentioned that she got fewer call-backs for jobs. Several people mentioned their school experiences, where people would claim the cafeteria lunch tables based on race. And while one person said that when they came to CSU, Chico from a primarily white suburb they found the campus to be very diverse–another said they were surprised by how homogeneously white it was.

I confess I had that same impression when I first came to Chico. I remember coming on campus my first semester and thinking “it’s so white!” I don’t know if that would have been my though right out of high school, though perhaps it would have been. I’m about as white as one could be although there may be some fraction of Native American on my dad’s side. And both sides of my family have been in the US for generations, which means there may well be lots of different contributions from unknown donors. That sounds odd, but really, there’s no such thing as race under the best of circumstances, and things only get murky once people actually begin interacting. Anyway, I spent two years in Santa Clarita, CA going to community college. One person here in Chico called it the place with “all the pretty girls”–the model types. But apparently it counted as less white than Chico.

But there I met my favorite professor, and probably the smartest person I’ve ever actually met. Professor Varga had some sort of descendant tie to Alexander Hamilton and was mostly Hispanic–but he had blue eyes and light skin. I had him for the Modern History of Latin America class. Apparently, at one school, they didn’t want him teaching Chicano studies because he looked too white.

So I guess that brings me to the one thing I didn’t like about the lecture. It wasn’t anything in the real lecture itself, mostly the subject itself. Not even that, really. My point is that I don’t like separating racism, which is basically just prejudice with an obvious visual element. Makes it harder to avoid, yes, but it just seems divisive to start a subject called “Whiteness studies” when it’s just an aspect of racism. Of course, to me it seems obvious that the impetus behind racism [prejudice] is for a privilege. People spend a lot of time–no matter how educated or enlightened–looking for ways in which they are better than others.

So as far as I’m concerned the way to stop, at the very least, racism, would be to simply not divide people into races anymore. See–there you go.

No, it isn’t that simple. But honestly, I can be really naive, and I don’t see why not. People, just be smart already.