This morning, I was talking to a dear friend who said that while he loved the story I told at Urban Storytellers, I was "subtle as a sledgehammer." That was a really scary thing to hear, but I later decided that this is going to be my new motto. Jamie Subtle-as-a-Sledgehammer Shanahan has a nice ring to it, after all. Subtle as a Sledgehammer also nicely describes recent events and mood on social media, and otherwise (that thing formerly known as real life.) Trump could also be described as Subtle as a Sledgehammer. He sure sledge-hammered the crap out of me. I didn't realize so many people were struggling that hard and I feel like a blind idiot.
Before you think I'm some entitled schmuck, I'm not saying I've had it easy- I can compare making a living to pulling a rabbit out of my ass for my entire working life. I graduated with an English Literature degree during the great Recession, which basically means I'm a really good waitress with a ton of student loan debt. I've done everything from ski-instructing to childcare, dishwashing to cleaning motel rooms. I've worked for non-profits for nearly ten years in every capacity imaginable. Yes, I realize I should have majored in something that would have made me more money, but do you remember what it was like in 2001? We all believed that college was the best investment you could make. I thought I'd be a teacher. But now, there is no way I'm going into any more debt to enter the teaching profession. This is a whole 'nother blog post, but after working in school systems throughout the State of Oregon I don't believe teachers are treated well or properly compensated. My Uncle, who ironically gave me my first job, and my second, emailed me recently and said, "I just realized you're too young to remember what it is like to have a prosperous nation, what it is like when everyone has a chance at a good paying job and you have many career choices." These are wise words, the kind that make me re-think everything I know.
Today, a friend was talking about the holidays, already feeling the blues of not having family around, of going through another Christmas alone. She also questioned why the idea of Christmas alone made her feel so bad, when her family drove her nuts anyway? She said, "You know when all of a sudden you're with your family and you don't feel like yourself anymore and you're just your father's daughter, or your sister's sister?" I feel like this right now about this country. Like I'm just my country's citizen. My fellow citizens made this decision, electoral system aside, this happened because other Americans wanted it.
Excluding the actual nut-jobs who voted out of hate,I don't think that it's very likely that that many people are actually crazy or evil. By calling them crazy or saying that every Trump supporter is an extremest, we are in fact normalizing this type of hate and stigmatizing mental illness by associating it automatically with a vote that we feel morally offended by. I think that a lot of Trump voters felt forced to overlook their morals out of desperation for change. We have to think of them as citizens just like us who made a really tough call- some of them even Bernie supporters who flipped to Trump because they were that unhappy with the way things are going for them in this country. In our country. Again, electoral system aside, I don't think that what many Americans said last night is that they stand behind hate. I just can't believe that. I think what many Americans basically said last night was that the Democratic Party is fired.
My hope is that this is some kind of moral rock bottom that we needed to hit as a nation to make real change, and by moral rock bottom I mean a world where people believed that they had to elect someone like Trump just to get rid of what they view as incompetence. I hope that instead of the sociopath many of us fear him to be, Mr. Trump makes good on a couple of his unclear and murky promises. I hope he gets a therapist and develops an allergy to spray tans. I'm not building a bunker yet, because the best measure for good health is the hope for good health. I'm holding hope, and I'm holding out against the idea that I am seeing all over social media right now- that I'm better than other people because of my vote. And I hope the media figures out how to report a less-biased reality, because what I don't understand the most is how we were all so surprised. Maybe it's because we "unfriend" everyone who doesn't share our beliefs. Once someone told me there are beings on this earth that are put here to look after us, and they are each other. Maybe we have to start listening to each other and watching out for not just people who we agree with, but for everyone.