When I sit down at my computer, I always start with the same thing – open the news and scan. It’s not a healthy habit. I usually hit up WaPo, NY Times, NPR, and frequently BBC and the Guardian; and at least a few times a week I visit Fox News, just to see how the other half hallucinates. I would keep an eye on the Wall Street Journal, but they have a strict paywall and I don’t want to give them money.
If I was a pulled-together buddha-person, I would set aside a specific time each day when I allow myself to read the news, so that the rest of the time I could be peaceful and emotionally blank. Instead, I’m a disheveled masochist. These days, reading the news all day long means feeling angry, anxious, and slightly terrified all day long. I have long internal ranting monologues about COVID-19, voters being disenfranchised, the gaslighting of America by the GOP, all the lies of the right-wing conspiracy machinery, global warming, universal access to healthcare (or more rightly, the lack thereof), poverty and wealth disparity, the fact that Americans no longer seem to remember that capitalism and free markets aren’t one and the same thing, police brutality, gun culture, racism, on and on and on.
The last few days have been especially focused and bad for me, as I watch things go down with the presidential election. Gaslighting is a word that rattles through my head over and over. “Stop the Steal” indeed. Some A-hole in Texas – who happens to be under federal indictment – thinks he should have the right to cancel my vote in Wisconsin and give the choice instead to the GOP legislature that has gerrymandered itself into permanent power here. (side note: the GOP legislature here wants to give itself the power to decide who gets a COVID-19 vaccine and when. Hey, yeah, that’s not politicizing public health.) Almost a quarter of the members of our national House of Representatives, and seventeen state attorneys general (that’s a full third of our states), have joined the Texas A-hole in this quest. It is literally shocking to me. They have come out: their singular goal is for Trump to be president come February, no matter what, democracy be damned.
The threat to our nation and constitution isn’t from some mythical monster the GOP and Fox News imagine and brandish, some apparently giant brain capable of manipulating a nation-wide election to give the Democratic presidential candidate a fake 7-million-vote lead but unable to wrest control of important state houses out of the hands of the GOP. There really is a threat, but the real threat is the GOP’s willingness to do and say anything, literally anything without reference to reality or truth, to hold onto power. Complacency is not an option right now, and yet folks all around me are all chill, hey it’ll all work out, we’re winning, the election will hold and the Supreme Court …
Do you remember Kavanagh? You trust the future of our republic to a guy like him?
And why is our federal government, aka OMG-that-man-is-our-president, rushing to execute people?? Is it an implied threat? Is it just… mean? It’s certainly not pro-life. It’s brutal and awful and I hate it.
Tip of the iceberg. I can’t go down this rabbit hole right now. How am I supposed to hunt gratitude? It feels cloying and false today, as it did yesterday and the day before and…
Well. Today I will reboot. I will make gingerbread and mince pies. I will smile and bake. I will hug my kids and watch Christmas movies. I will take a nap.
I will be grateful that, for now at least, I still live in a nation where I can still say these things without having too much fear that I’ll be jailed or killed for saying them. I guess we’ll see if that holds true in the years to come.