Grieving and Surviving Trump’s America
I’m not even an American citizen. I’m a Canadian and I don’t even live in North America. But like a tense scene in a horror story, it didn’t stop the feeling. The feeling of living in a terrifying dystopian universe. Article, be my therapy.
I moved to Vietnam a month ago for unrelated reasons, yet for me, changing timezones, cultures and hemispheres by traveling to the literal opposite end of the earth was the closest thing to an escape from my fears and frustrations. But the grass is only greener on the other side of the same suffering planet, and hiding in a small Asian-town won’t exactly bide me a lifetime’s asylum from a society that’s seemingly losing hope.
Alt-right. Post-truth. Fake-news. Normalized. “Racist police officer acquitted for homicide”. These words and associations are hellfire’s sparks and ash falling around us like parade confetti. They burn us like quick stings, but there’s a fire being stoked from the top down that just keeps raining more of it with every scarring, suffocating sizzle on the flesh and lungs it reaches. A confetti comparison is apt, because not only does it distract us with flurries of short term flash, it makes a spectacular mess that we’ll street-sweep away until it happens again. And in a world that needs quick and consistent stimulation, it does happen again. And again. We need look no further than the comment section of a social media troll’s posts to see that there’s a sick celebration associated with every colorful storm of these fiery sparks that befall us.
We can ask how we got here, but we’d be asking a rhetorical question. We know very well how we got here. One of the most powerful countries in the world just elected a rapey, incestuous, multiple times bankrupt, pathologically lying, tax-evading, political experience-lacking, narcissistic, hyper-sensitive, racist, sexist, fascist reality television star for its President. Another country celebrates its Prime Minister’s youth and fitness, barely forgiving him for his tone-def appraisal of a late Cuban dictator. Another European nation hastily seceded from the European Union. Everyone knows how they got here, and everyone is responsible.
I once learned to stop discussing politics and making political posts, because I know nothing and never did about government, constitution or the duties and responsibilities of politicians. And everyone becomes a know-it all around American election season because they have selfish requests, demands, and expectations of the world around them. Preconceived notions and righteous declarations and such. Reposting the liberal “propaganda” in my echo chamber is neither a reflection of my knowledge nor is it effective activism, a measured voice in my head reminds me. It references SNL “bubble” skits and gives me Morpheus memes telling me that my worldview is biased and fabricated to the point of near-delusion. There’s an accuracy in these thoughts that tangoes with my self-awareness, preying on my lack of academics on the matter, devouring my insecurities ravenously all the while.
And then something- call it a moral compass, call it common-sense, call it a conscience- reminds me of the fundamental differences between right and wrong- screaming:
NO! A U.S. President does not have the right to twitter-troll, or abuse the media’s inability to declare his falsehoods as the lies they are. “President-elect announces, President-elect alleges, President-elect claims” the press publishes, until journalism in a post-truth era is properly and formally reinvented.
The same voice in my head, the same one protesting the ‘don’t discuss politics’ one, watches the US President-elect denounce a variety show’s parody before he condemns millions of hate crimes and Nazi salutes in his name. In my mind and to my soul, the anxiety twists on itself, trying to wring the meekness and humble withdrawal from the conversation out like an exorcism.
So I look outward. Beyond forums and chats, I toy with engaging the situation by observing the people I love, admire, and respect for support. Every single individual in my immediate circle- a small one, but a circle nonetheless of idols, love interests, immediate family members and best friends do not recognize the sensation, the crippling feeling that the world has spun off its axis. Not just with the obvious, but with its implications, the transforming culture, the stepping stones and seeds that brought us here.
Within my OWN circle, I’ve been met with passive silence from acquaintances and family, which is expected of most people who respectfully withdraw from hell on earth.
Maybe if we ignore it, it will go away?
When facing things one cannot really change, it’s appropriately zen to put it out of sight and mind. To bury our head in the sand, because we should give energy to what we want, not what we don’t, law of attraction and all. More of this in a moment.
I’m incredulous though, because I’m as passive as they come and envy their ability. So stalking their social media for some of their true sentiments, I still see nothing from my circle, because respectful and functional members of society do not use social media as a political platform, you never know who might be reading, after all. I wrote a 3000-word essay about this phenomenon on Facebook alone.
So I probe friends for their thoughts, direct approach.
I start with two Donald Trump supporters, people of color mind you, and my inquiries get me the answers I expect of people that are either passive nihilists to the apocalypse or aren’t of the opinion that there’s a Trumpocalypse at all.
Third and fourth friends are conspiracy theorists, they believe that hell on earth had been in motion for millennia, and that I’m naive to only be awakening to it now. Enjoy the roller coaster ride down. Join me, let’s play classical instruments on this sinking ship, because there’s nothing you could do nor could have done. The alternative to the orange imbecile would have been a war-mongering evil fembot that doesn’t even flinch when a fly lands on her face during her Presidential debate. Both wings on the same bird, they say.
I admire the courage and fearlessness of those who neither have nor feel the dread and debilitating empathy that I do.
Fifth friend laughs, he is in it for the entertainment value. Why… so… serious? I want some of the popcorn he’s prepared for the show, but I suspect it would taste like tears. Too much salt.
That salty feeling intensifies as more friends prove they can’t relate to my feeling that the media dubbed for me as “Trump’s America”. More fiery confetti falls, I’m seeing posts on my facebook timeline that feel like defections- pure revulsions to my sensibilities. Inciendiary posts from Black Conservative Larry Elder denying the existence of racial profiling and advocating for respectability politics. Cringey commentary commending and celebrating a UofT Professor’s ideology that white-privilege is a “class-based collective guilt” and advocates for the right to wear racist costumes on Halloween. His charisma and ability to articulate his white tears so succinctly wages a poetic war on our figurative hellfire’s burn victims, by branding them as oversensitive social justice warriors.
Though I find no one that can relate, I ask them for advice anyway, expecting little counsel since we can barely agree on a standardized point of view. Also because I need consolation that doesn’t come from the left-wing media… otherwise at this rate, I’ll also need therapy.
The best advice I get is of course the new-age hippie pontifications I’ve always gravitated to and touched on earlier: Focus on what you want and not what you don’t. What you resist, persists. Remember that the world only manifests what you give personal power to. We only live in the dystopia that you believe in. The force of your will is more powerful than you can imagine.
I also get my conspiracy theorists’ consolations: the whole system was always fu*ked. Recognize and accept it, make peace with it. Normalize it, it’s fate. Give it a chance, this is all distraction for a grander scheme. The world won’t get so much worse until the elite-level puppeteers decide to make it so. This is all about control and your perception, your fear is the narrative under control. You, like the politicians are a puppet with the strings that they use to make you dance in your feelings while there are even more nefarious things going on behind the scenes.
And then there’s the “look on the bright side” crowd. You have to suffer in order to progress. These silver-lining folks remind me that life was never easy, and knowing and experiencing pain whether directly, emotionally or by proxy- only prepares you for the positive progress ahead. This is a test for how much suffering you can endure, the personal and emotional sacrifice towards the YUGE, TREMENDOUS reward for your endurance and ability to weather the trial that is this storm.
So I concede, or try to daily. I normalize the situation and consider that my apocalyptic dystopian perspective is just a creative exaggeration. Everything is going to be fine.