I'm a generally apolitical (if not anti-political) person, and certainly keep that my policy online, but i'm making an exception here.
My latest attempt to capture my thoughts on the election is below for those who want to read it, but the most important point is this:
If you're reading this — whoever you are, however you voted, whatever your feelings about the election — i care about you, and you have my love, good will, and sincere consideration of your views.
Last week, i found myself commenting on a lot of folks’ posts about the election. I sought to comfort those who were distraught, but also to raise my concerns to everyone about the real problems with this election. From my perspective, these have nothing to do with its result, and inevitably affect all of us in the long term. Because i found myself hitting a few main themes over and over, i decided to write up a piece to capture and share my thoughts about the election and people's reactions to it. As i fleshed out the ideas, the piece started getting very in depth, and started taking more time to complete. As i spoke with people in the interim, i found so many who seemed to have already decided how they felt about things, and seemed reticent to let go of those feelings. I consequently decided to abandon my piece, as i figured it would just end up an overwrought ineffective obscurity that's unlikely to be of much aid to anyone. I suppose i will continue to try to share my thoughts with folks as appropriate via “regular" channels.
On Sunday, i had an opportunity to try to convey a portion of my thoughts at a group function. I again declined, thinking better of it. However, in the process of considering it, i found myself starting to boil down my thoughts to more basic points.
As i continue to survey the inescapable noise surrounding the build-up and aftermath of this election, i still find myself restless to speak my peace and hopefully add something constructive. In lieu of resurrecting my full-up piece to address this, i thought i'd try to share a more developed version of those boiled-down points. I welcome any who wish to delve deeper to invite follow-on discussion.
Rather than try to convince anyone of anything or attempt to directly address folks’ overwhelming feelings, i'm simply going to state some things that i believe.
I believe that the overwhelming majority of people are good and care about other people, even those whom they do not know.
I believe that, while we are not perfect or without our biases, the overwhelming majority of people are not hateful to individuals or groups.
I believe that when we are frustrated, angry, scared, or unhappy, we often develop instinctive protective barriers that cause us to distrust and/or blame other people.
I believe that, if this happens, we very often seek comfort in identifying allies, and righteousness in identifying adversaries.
I believe that this, in turn, leads to divisive thinking, and to a sociopolitical discourse full of false dichotomies, accusative assumptions, and negative communication.
I believe that this, in turn, leads to an inability for us, as a people, to unite constructively.
I believe that our sociopolitical systems, media, and economic forces are akin to organisms that have evolved to perpetuate themselves within the environment that is our modern civilization.
I believe that, like most successful organisms, they thrive because they are capable of manipulating their environment to their benefit.
I believe that they benefit from keeping us divided, and therefore unable to unite and threaten to alter that environment for our own benefit.
I believe that they therefore benefit from over-representing ideas that keep us frustrated, angry, scared, or unhappy, and that keep us distrustful and polarized as a people.
I believe that they therefore benefit from over-representing acts of hatred and anger, and from exaggerating the presence of opinions and extremists that contribute to these emotions.
I believe that they benefit from propagating ideas that divert accountability for their transgressions onto us, and from encouraging us to blame each other for any negative impacts of their existence.
I believe that they also benefit from keeping us distracted and unable to recognize all of these distortions.
I believe that they especially benefit from the emotional intensity and distraction of wildly over-representing the importance and impact of large-scale elections, which are often heavily divisive by their two-party nature, and that of high-profile public offices such as the U. S. Presidency.
I believe that they benefit from cultivating the false notion that such elections and offices are a viable vehicle by which we can empower leaders who will truly represent us, and who will solve the problems in our lives about which we are frustrated, angry, scared, or unhappy.
I believe that their evolution has resulted in a modern political process that actually prevents anyone who truly represents the people of our nation from reaching viable candidacy in a large-scale election.
I believe that, with perhaps very rare exceptions, this process eliminates these people well before a primary election or any other point at which they would get large-scale media coverage.
I believe that the overwhelming majority of citizens are therefore not represented in any way by the candidates for whom we can actually vote.
I believe that this election provides an excellent example of this, as the political process that supposedly expresses the will of the nation provided us instead with a choice of either (a) an obviously unqualified, narcissistic, bigoted, and broadly-abhorred madman, or (b) a manipulative, entitled, obsessed career politician who was so widely hated that she couldn’t even beat him.
I believe that, in large-scale elections, the overwhelming majority of people are forced to choose someone with whose policies and values they largely disagree.
I believe that this is one reason why many people do not vote in these elections.
I believe that almost all of those who do vote in these elections must heavily compromise their own values in choosing one of the available candidates.
I believe that the overwhelming majority of people who voted in this past election are therefore not represented by the apparent values of the candidate for whom they voted.
I believe that most of the people who voted for Trump are good people who are not unlike us, and who are not racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, or hateful, or interested in alienating large groups of people, despite his association with these ideas.
I believe that most of the people who voted for Clinton are good people who are not unlike us, and who are not in favor of a nepotistic, corrupt, deceitful, or self-serving political establishment, or interested in eliminating our freedoms, despite her association with these ideas.
I believe that, despite the misleading dichotomy implied by this divisive, two-party election, we are surrounded every day by an overwhelming majority of people who are good, and with whom we have much more in common than we realize.
I believe that the overwhelming majority of our citizens love our country and wish to make it better.
I believe that most of the people who voted selected their candidate mostly because they felt, as a result of their own unique perspectives, that the other candidate was an even greater threat to our nation than their own.
I believe that most people unintentionally masked this fact by over-representing their support for their candidate, both because they were forced into a polarized discourse, and because they felt it important to encourage potential allies to fully join in that support.
I believe that, for all of these reasons, we as a people should not seek to identify ourselves, our fellow citizens, or our nation by the transpirings of this or any other large-scale election.
I believe that we are all trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle that forces most of us either to vehemently support a candidate that does not represent our values and ideas, or to surrender entirely our participation in large-scale elections which many people feel is critical to the preservation of our democracy.
I believe that the perpetuation of this cycle benefits from the over-representation of the fallacy that voting is by itself sufficient to preserve our democracy.
I believe that voting is good, but that it is only a snowflake on the tip of the iceberg of what must be done to break this cycle and to subsequently preserve our democracy going forward.
I believe that, to break this cycle, we must enact new kinds of change.
I believe that, to do this, our modern political process must be dismantled and replaced with a process that allows members of our citizenry who truly represent us to rise to viable candidacy in elections of every scale.
I believe that, to do this, we must dramatically alter the environment within which the currently dominant sociopolitical systems, media, and economic forces thrive.
I believe that, to do this, we must overcome polarized thinking, and constructively unite across the divisions that have been cultivated among us.
I believe that, to do this, we must tune out the distractions and over-representations that incite our distrust and negative emotions, and maintain a healthy skepticism of any information associated with any construct that would benefit from inciting them.
I believe that we must sufficiently withdraw and protect ourselves from the currently dominant sources of information and forms of sociopolitical discourse, and that we must cultivate new ones.
I believe that we must start small, with our family, friends, and neighbors, and grow our awareness and trust outward.
I believe that we must reach out within our communities and seek to forge constructive relationships, eliminate divisions, and eradicate distrust.
I believe that we must rise above our frustrations, angers, fears, and unhappiness and cultivate faith in others, even in the face of injustice or loss at the hands of those who are so flawed or desperate as to exploit that faith.
I believe that we must challenge ourselves to connect with and understand those whom we have come to believe we must distrust, or with whom we disagree.
I believe that we must cultivate and proliferate the idea that merely voting in elections cannot by itself preserve our democracy, nor allow us to empower qualified and representative leaders.
I believe that the currently dominant sociopolitical systems, media, and economic forces will respond to this threat of change.
I believe that we must be intelligent enough to recognize the desperation with which any organism will fight to perpetuate itself.
I believe that we must be humble enough to account for how easily we can be duped and manipulated by sociopolitical systems, media, and economic forces that have been evolving a finely honed ability to do so since before our lifetimes.
I believe that we must resist the urge to be lulled by their claims that the fault for their transgressions and negative impacts lies with our fellow citizens.
I believe that we must fight our inclinations to be seduced by their false dichotomies and rhetoric that will seek to divide us.
I believe that we must be strong enough to accept the regrettable truth that the concepts of democracy and self-governance that we hold so dear are not, in fact, in meaningful force within our nation as we so desperately wish to believe.
I believe that we are all in this together, and that we must view each other as allies against these deceptive forces.
I believe that if we, as a nation, and ultimately as a species, are to have any meaningful future, all of this will be required.
I believe that it will not be easy.
I believe that the alternative is to continue to subscribe to the seductive illusion of the false dichotomy that tells each of us that we are part of the “side" that is right, and that the "other side" is wrong, and that the success of our nation lay in our ability to somehow finally defeat that “other side”.
I believe that the alternative is to allow this illusion to prevent us from altering the environment that allows our current sociopolitical systems, media, and economic forces to thrive at our expense.
I believe that the alternative is to find ourselves, within another decade or two, choosing between two Presidential candidates so terrifying as to make these most recent two look benign.
I believe that the alternative is to continue to permit the decay of our nation, all of us blaming each other for our woes, until we have fully borne out that we as a people are too primitive and too easily deceived to govern ourselves, and that the American Experiment has in fact failed.
I believe that i am willing to take the first steps to work to unite us as a people and to prevent the alternative.
... so i believe i’m just looking to see who’s with me.