Let’s Not Be That Guy, Okay?
For the past eight years, I’ve been silently grumbling to myself about the various “Not My Fault” and “Not My President” bumper stickers and their kin.
If you live in the US and you’ve left the house during the Obama administration, you probably know the ones I mean.
Here’s the thing: my problem with them has never been a question of politics. I’m down with the whole idea of people being free to hold hold and express dissenting views, and indeed whatever views they do hold and express.
Rather, it’s the smug, supercilious tone that bugs me — because it’s a hallmark of everything that’s gone wrong with civil and political discourse (fwiw: autocorrupt gave me first “disgrace,” then “dispute” — since when does it know what it’s talking about?).
It’s the kind of thing one expects from the less-mature members of your average middle school populace.
As such, I’d like to float the idea that maybe those of us who didn’t vote for Trump could, like, find a better way to express our dissenting views — and, yes, our anger. (I mean, feels gonna feel, and venting is a necessary and healthy thing, but maybe we can keep public discourse a little more mature?). I mention this because I’ve already seen suggestions for exactly that same kind of smug-ugly mind of bumper sticker.
I have no doubt that there will be some ugly gloating across the aisle. Frankly, that’s kind of been the tenor of the whole campaign, and it’s something or culture has come to encourage(1).
- The gloaters out there should maybe spend some time learning ballet or Muay Thai or racing bikes or working around horses — all those things will take you down a peg quick if you start getting full of yourself).
Bullies gonna bull — especially when they feel like they’ve been oppressed (isn’t that, more or less, where bullies come from?).
And, let’s be honest, things are hard all over. Harder for half the population that’s now faced with a transition from a president who treats treats them as valued equals to one who treats them as expendable objects. Harder for the part of the population that follows the teachings of Muhammad (PBUH). Harder for the people whose skin is a few shades darker. Harder for those who have come here seeking refuge and opportunity,like basically everyone’s ancestors except, oh yeah, that other group whose ancestors were here first — harder for them, too. Harder for those who love differently. Harder for those whose gender expression doesn’t match the prescribed model. Harder for all those guys and gals.
But still hard all over. The vast majority of people in this country have been up against some stiff losses.
So the people who are doing doing the gloating, the bullying: they’re doing it because they’ve felt themselves losing out, and they’re fed up, and possibly their parents didn’t teach them any better (and honestly, because retribution feels great when you’ve convinced yourself you’re absolutely in the right) — but also because as a culture we’ve done a piss-poor job figuring out how to forge alliances and give each-other breathing room, and because the forces that are have done a great job dividing this house against itself (remember that whole “a house divided cannot stand” bit from history class?).
A lot of us in the opposing camp have experienced bullying before. For many of us, this is going to reopen old wounds; wounds that were inflicted when we were powerless. Maybe we’ll find ourselves wanting to bully back. We can’t. We have to respond: but not by sinking to that level. If bullies want to stoop, let them. We don’t have to.
We’ve had eight years of na-na-na-na-na-boo-boo from both sides. This is where it’s landed us.
So maybe we can can come up with something else — something better.
Maybe we can start by omitting obnoxious bumper stickers.
…This is probably the last post in going to write about this, but the way. I stay out out of this stuff partly because I don’t like to feed the flames, but also because I’ve spent enough of my life dealing with legitimate, in-your-face conflict that I just don’t have it in me to fight meaningless battles online.
As such, I’m going to say up front that I won’t hesitate to close comments on this post — not to censor anyone, but because this is my blog, and I have enough crap to deal with right now and don’t have tiiiiiiime for all that (or, well, really, I don’t have the strength right now, not here).