It’s Come to This: An Op-Ed Political Essay

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getty images

I’m just one more voice screaming into the abyss.

Some days, I’ll be scanning through my Facebook or Twitter feeds, and as the constant and seemingly endless stream of status updates and selfies and shared articles and political rhetoric, the likes and dislikes and misinformation and click bait stack up like garbage piles infinitum on my eyes and brain, I’ll come to the gradual realization that I hate everybody I know. Or, more to the point, I abhor their online presence. I tire of all the “Look at me!” posts and the “Can you believe?” links, the mundane and asinine as glorified by characters and pixels. But I particularly loathe all of the political screeds and the trash spam articles masquerading as news. And I hate all of the condescension and contempt that harbors within me towards these people I normally have love and respect for in the non-digital world…the real world? And goddamnit, it always gets so much worse during an election year.

This election year has been a nightmare.

It’s difficult for me to write down my political opinions, as I fear I am nowhere near nuanced enough to convey any type of message that doesn’t come off as hyperbolic arm waving, or worse fear mongering. I’ve always felt that political identities should not primarily inform our relationships with others, as there is so much more to everyone you’ll ever meet ever. There can be mingling between the aisles, even if your ideologies are in conflict. There are just as many conservative friends that I love as there are liberal ones. There’s no need to be exclusive.

This election year has made that infinitely more difficult.

I would love to have a more balanced approach to discussing topics than I’m probably capable of, and I wish I could be more versed in any and all of the challenges that we as a nation or even a world will face down the line. I want to be able to express my opinions with journalistic integrity and insight, a voice of reassuring calm and reason in an absolute sea of calamity.

But this election year…damn.

So fuck it. If you’re voting for Donald Trump, I don’t even know you anymore.

—–

Admittedly, I am a pretty liberal person, but I can certainly skew center, or even right of center, on some issues. My views on gun control, or trade agreements, or foreign policy are not necessarily going to line up in unison with other liberals. Nor should they really. Essentially, I am a registered Democrat who does not vote straight party ticket. Ideally, I try to learn about every candidate or proposition before I vote for them or it, as should probably everyone. We are all individual thinking beings, capable of making our own decisions and drawing our own conclusions…which is why it’s disheartening that so many people are being so brazenly ignorant.

I get it. There’s a lot of descent out there right now, a lot of unrest, social, political, or otherwise. There’s a disparity in wealth, in opportunity, in health care, in life and liberty and happiness. There’s a fear of the unknown, of the otherness of individuals not like ourselves. Of violence. Of the police. Of being left behind. Of our rights being taken away from us. Of being ignored. Of our ways of life slipping away. And there’s a growing resentment because of all that. There’s also always the feeling or consensus, justified or not, that we’re all just voting for the lesser evil every election cycle.

Let me go ahead and throw this out there now: I am voting for Hillary Clinton.

And I don’t believe that she’s the lesser of two evils, but we’ll get to that.

—–

When we really boil it down, despite the media saturation and water cooler debates and prominently displayed yard signs strewn about neighborhoods across the country, the outcome of a presidential election has little effect on the day to day life of a regular person. Local and state elections carry so much more weight, the effects of those decisions making noticeable waves throughout their communities, whether it be taxes, city planning, or just the availability of various social services. These elections are vital and important and get increasingly depressing voter turnout numbers because they’re not as sexy as the big-ticket ballots.

So, I implore all of you to get out there and first and foremost, vote for your school boards, vote for your city councils, and vote for your state legislatures. Do your research. Make your decisions. Focus locally and then move on to the national ticket.

—–

clintontrump2But back to this confounding, nausea inducing presidential race, whose stakes feel abnormally high, and the results of which could prove to be genuinely frightening. I’ve certainly never felt this way during any previous election, even when I was less than enthusiastic about the two major party candidates (2000 and 2004 anybody?). Hell, even the independents this time around are garbage.

From the Green Party, we’ve got Dr. Jill Stein, a pandering twit with no integrity and no idea how to enact or pay for any of the policies she champions. And when a medical doctor won’t come out and emphatically state that vaccines DO NOT cause autism, you’ve got a problem. If Ben Carson defied the stereotype that doctors are intelligent, Stein seems ready and willing to pick up that ball and run with it.

From the Libertarian Party, we’ve been graced with former New Mexico governor and walking, talking gaffe Gary Johnson, a blubbering fool with terrible domestic policy ideas (no money for education) and a non-existent foreign one. He’s an odd duck who seemingly wants to do away with all government, exalts his own ignorance of the world at large, and totally reminds me of some of the burnouts and acid casualties I went to school with. In short, he is a ding-dong.

From the Democratic Party comes the most unpopular candidate to ever grace their presidential ticket, but more on her in just a minute.

Finally, we have the grand ol’ Republican Party and the abominable clusterfuck that is Donald Trump. By now, you’ve already heard or read a hundred different terrible things about the man, and your decision to vote or not vote for him has probably already been solidly made. Nothing I say or do will sway that decision. And, while I can certainly understand the desire to vote for a non-establishment candidate, and the frustration that comes with the “politics as usual” attitude of Washington, voting for a joke like Donald Trump just seems like something akin to punching oneself repeatedly in the head. Regardless of the horrible things that he says, his racism, his sexism, his probable financial ties to Russia, his penchant for temper tantrums, or his flippant disrespect for our democratic process, above all else, he is a joke. He’s the reality TV version of a presidential candidate, an attention seeking, ratings chasing, substance-free train wreck. He is the epitome of the lowest common denominator. A Trump presidency would be a mass cultural suicide the likes of which this country would never recover from. So okay, you want change, but you don’t “shake things up” by throwing a fucking hand grenade into the White House.

Please do not vote for Trump.

—–

Oh, Hillary Rodham Clinton, what are we going to do with you?

Let’s be blunt about this. A lot of people do not like Hillary Clinton. They do not trust her. They think of her as cold and calculating, a career politician, an opportunist, a snake in the grass. Some people outright hate her. They call for the former Secretary of State to be jailed, cries of a whole slew of misdeeds and ridiculous accusations of murder or treason perpetuated on a 24-hour basis by conservative think tanks, talking heads, and media outlets. Whitewater! Pay for play! Private servers! Deleted emails! Benghaziiiiiiiiiii!

In all likelihood, 90% of the controversies and accusations levied against her are bullshit. At the very least, they are blown up to be something they’re not. I think deep down, we all know that. Maybe she’s been involved in some kind of questionable or nefarious shenanigans in the past (though I would posit no more or less than any other longtime politician), but the inevitable and seemingly unending series of investigations and hearings always come up empty. There’s never convincing evidence. There’s never a smoking gun. There’s never concrete or definitive proof of anything. And while Secretary Clinton’s detractors would just offer this up as some kind of desperate confirmation that she’s this crafty and conniving (make believe) villainess, I would say that it actually just affirms the fact that she and her family have been the victims of a partisan driven political witch hunt for the last 25 years. Republicans hate the Clintons. They always have. And they strive to disgrace or discredit both the former President and the possibly soon to be future one with an endless series of legal and moral allegations, hypocrisy be damned. They accuse her of any and everything. They call her every dirty name in the book.

But no one has ever called her incompetent.

And that is really the reason I am voting for her.

—–

While Hillary Clinton was never going to be my first choice, the 2016 list of presidential hopefuls never gave me one to begin with. So my inclination now is to go with the person who can best do the job, the person with the most experience, the person who isn’t batshit crazy. And that’s not going to be Stein or Johnson. It’s certainly not going to be Trump. Sure, Hillary’s kind of lame and all too politician-y a lot of the time, but we don’t necessarily need a “cool” president (though I’m certainly going to miss the current one, flaws and all). We need one who will do the job. Whatever your feelings are of Clinton’s policies or of her as a person, at the end of the day, she’s the most qualified person on the ticket. She will do the job. And after four years, if she sucks, we’ll get her out of there. It’s not like the nation will be in such a state of disarray that there’s no return.

That would be the alternative.

—–

I fear that this op-ed essay has in essence become the political screed I didn’t want it to become, just another rhetorical argument. For that I am sorry, but it feels good to have gotten it off of my chest. Please allow me to step down from my soapbox now. Go about your day. Do what you have to do. It’s almost over and we’ll all be enjoying cat videos online again soon. And on November 8th, realize that people are going to vote for whom they’re going to vote for, and we’ll all just be awaiting the final tally. Maybe with bated breath. I do hope that Clinton wins, but in the event that she doesn’t…well, I suppose we’ll all just have to regroup and go on from there.

At the very least, the nightmare scenario will probably give us some great punk rock.

 

Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

2 Responses to It’s Come to This: An Op-Ed Political Essay
  1. Shawn C Baker

    Shawn C Baker Reply

    Beautifully written sir. The first five or so paragraphs sum up my current state perfectly, in regards to fb and social media in general. I’ve been so repeatedly inspired to delete my fb account over the last 8 months, all based on what people post regarding politics and what has become loosely labeled as the sjw phenomenon. And honestly, most of the posts that annoy me the most are from the left, which in it’s mounting extremity is now just as rabid and ridiculous as the right.

    Interjection: The word vagina is now considered ‘hate speech’ in some leftist circles. The preferred nomenclature? “Front Hole”. Not making this up.

    I myself have come to eschew both parties and would live to posit the rise of a new one, one I think should be called simply, The Common Sense Party. But of course that would have no appeal in 2016; common sense is at a premium based on its growing scarcity and nothing as trashy or ridiculous a pragmatism would be enough to motivate a large enough portion of the population of this country to participate. Because we no longer value the traits that SHOULD define a president. I blame Obama for that, as his eight years of increasingly high profile celebrity undertakings (Maron’s Podcast, endless Jimi Kimmel appearances, etc) have increasingly ensured that the spotlight on the Presidential office now shine specifically on what I’ve come to think of as the ‘talent show portion’ – a facet I feel has NO place in politics. Do your podcasts and late night appearances after your term, not during. Politics is confusing, taxing and time consuming enough to those who have followed it for multiple decades; younger people who weigh everything by ‘likes’ and online analytics no longer have to think or work at cutting through the bullshit for the facts and nuance of the office, they can just go by who is the ‘cool(er) candidate.

    Interjection: I don’t dislike Barrack, I’m just disappointed that when congress bound his hands he seemed to give up and focus on setting himself up with a post-office runway for celebrity.

    You address one of the major issues of the election – there is no longer any attempt from either side at Bipartisan ship. Hell, for years my dislike for Reagan was a bitter, seething hindsight on all the damage he did while in office. Now he looks like the fucking golden child, simply because the gipper would absolutely reach across party isles if it meant getting something done for the people he was supposed to represent. That is no longer the case, and we see proof of that with how quick the gop fell in line behind donny when they realized it was that or Hillary. Shit man, does it not seem to you that if the democrats were running a hideous, baby devouring monster from dimension X against trump – one who labored under the platform that he would kill as many Americans as he could the day after he took office – that the gop would STILL vote against Hillary?

    The upshot? I realized recently there is no conceivable way dt can win. The media has to make it look like there’s an actual neck and neck race for the hype machine’s wheels to stay consistently greased with advertising dollars, but if you just think about demographics there just is no way.

    Or I’m wrong. Which would suck because honestly, if you think trump is bad, I’m pretty much certain that if he DOES get elected we are absolutely going to see kanye west run in 2020

    • Thomas H Williams

      Thomas H Williams Reply

      I have to agree with you on the politicians as celebrities point, as it bugs me too. I don’t know how much of that you put on Obama though. Some for sure, but i fear that it is just a reflection of the world we live in now. I’m sure it’s all the technology and digital connective-ness of the world now, but that’s an entirely different essay.

      As for all of the social media political trash cluttering up my feed, both sides are annoying. Just a bunch of non-fact checking self righteousness. I feel like i get way more from the right though, most likely a side effect of living in a great big red state like Texas. It makes me wonder if you’re getting more leftist screeds living in California. There’s probably something to that.

      And yeah, it does seem increasingly unlikely that Trump will win anything, though his sociopathic inability to cede defeat worries me some, as i fear he’s just never going to go away, especially as he now seems to be the social, political, and cultural icon and voice for a whole swath of the country, namely the hordes of angry, disaffected white men and the cretins of the alt-right.

      What a time to be alive! Yeezy 2020!

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