Thursday, November 08, 2012

Today We Are A Very Happy/Sad Country

My books have always attracted a wide range of readers. Many of them are Democrats and many are Republicans so on my Facebook newsfeed I can see a wide range of emotions in response to the results of the election. Most of it is predictable. The Dems are jubilant, overwhelmed with relief and pumped up by victory. The Republicans are angry, devastated and scared.One of my earliest memories is of the election of Ronald Reagan. My mother was very focused on nuclear disarmament and in the months leading up to November she invited people over to show them films of the effects of Hiroshima. I was so young but I still remember the pictures of mutilated children. They terrified me. And I understood my mother's message. If Reagan wins we will all die. So when he did win I ran into my bedroom and hid under the covers shaking and crying. My mother immediately came to me, comforted me and walked back her words, assuring me that we probably wouldn't die after all. Again, I was a little kid. I didn't understand nuance. When people I trusted alluded to the idea that life as we know it depended on the results of an election I believed them and when things didn't go the way I wanted them to I freaked out. Like I said I was very young and naive so it took me years before I realized...

....we never grow out of any of that. 

When it comes to politics people continually reject nuance. The leaders we admire continue to tell us that the fate of the world as we know it hangs in the balance of one election....that happens every four years. We continue to freak out when our guy doesn't win at which point the very leaders who told us we were about to be destroyed in an apocalypse give us a metaphorical pat on the head during their concession speeches and tell us that actually, if we work together we'll be okay after all. But it's hard to undue months of doomsday talk with one head pat so we continue to cry, shake our fists, hide under the covers and freak out until we notice that the sun really is still rising and setting every day just like it did before the election. Our towns are not on fire. No one is breaking into our homes and stealing away our birth control or our guns. Conversely when our candidate wins we eventually realize that our problems didn't magically disappear. Shockingly, life continues (and will always continue) to be hard in a lot of very real ways.  

Of course not many of us delve into that particular brand of election-day-crazy while we're still tugging on our mother's skirts. I guess I was just precocious that way.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that if you voted for Romney and are now really upset and worried that this signals the end of everything you cherish about this country...well, I get it. If anyone tells you that you're stupid or gullible for feeling this way and that if you only really understood the issues you'd be happy Obama won tell them to shut up. If you voted for Obama and are dancing in the streets I say party on! If anyone tells you that you're stupid for being happy about this outcome and that if you only understood what was happening to this country you'd have voted for Romney tell them to shut up.  If you don't want to hear the Democrats' cheers or the Republicans' rants then stay off of social media for a few days. 

Because in a few days the Facebook posted pictures of candidates are going to be replaced with pictures of cute animals again and the biggest trending topic on Twitter will no longer be #election2012 but something more along the lines of #SadIceCreamFlavors. Most of us will start talking to the people who politically disagree with us again without a lot of acrimony knowing that they're not actually an enemy of our country and "knowing" in our heart of hearts that they're still wrong about everything.  Anger will dull to disgruntlement, panic to low level anxiety, exhalation will dwindle to mild contentment and feelings of triumph will transform into low level anxiety about the next election. This is America. This is our process. It's emotionally exhausting but it works. 


Cei said...

So true. In a democracy we don't always get what we want - but we have the freedom to choose. Win or lose, we are all in this together. I just wish there was less divisiveness on both sides and we'd start being a little kinder... you know - that "Golden Rule" thing. It is too easy to type hateful things when we are posting comments to an unseen or unknown audience. Although I didn't vote for our President, I pray for him and our leaders. He is the leader of our country and that is the least I can do.

kyradavis said...

Yes, if we could be kinder that really WOULD improve the country and it might even encourage rational discourse. Calling one another unAmerican or comparing each other to Nazis (and BOTH sides are guilty of this) is simply unacceptable . We need to get back to the time when disagreeing without being disagreeable was actually a goal and seen as an attribute not a sign of weakness.

catslady said...

That was so wonderfully said. I use to always agree to disagree but with the last 4 elections it's been getting harder and harder and I finally had to stop talking about it with some people which is sad. I just think things have gotten so extreme now and I do not remember such hatred even if people still disagreed. I really think it's getting way out of hand and something has to be done - shorter time periods and a lot less money among other things.

Suzan Harden said...

Please write or e-mail your senators and representatives, and tell them you want to see some comprises.

Don't say, "They won't listen." They CAN'T LISTEN if you're NOT TALKING.

kyradavis said...

It is definitely getting more extreme. We no longer stop at, "He doesn't agree with me and therefore he's wrong." Instead we go to, "He doesn't agree with me and therefore he must be an awful human being." This American Life just did a piece in which they told stories of a guy who told his brother-in-law that he would not be allowed to eat the food he makes for their family get-together's because he voted for Obama and a woman who told her friend she would not be allowed into her hiking group because she was a Republican. That's insane. One of the things that has been so great about this country is that we tolerate dissent. If we no longer tolerate that we destroy the very country that we're working so hard to "protect" from one another's policies.