My interest in politics is relatively new. Like many other Americans, I first considered getting involved in the campaign process on Election Night 2016. I remember as well as anyone else the horror of Trump’s election to the presidency and how I felt called to do more to prevent further damage to our democracy.
One of my goals this year has been to read as many memoirs of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates as possible, to help me decide who I will vote for during our state’s primary next March. So, when I traveled to Boston for the 4th of July holiday this year, I brought with me a copy of Pete Buttigieg’s memoir, Shortest Way Home.
It’s easy to get disheartened about progressive causes right now. The Trump administration seems to be doing everything it can to roll back rights and protections for all the most vulnerable members of society, from immigrant children to transgender soldiers, and Republican state houses across the south are stripping women’s right to choose faster than we can keep track.
I graduated from college in 1976. I had only one gay classmate … or so I thought. Ten or fifteen years later, I attended a reunion and learned that maybe 20 percent of my classmates are gay. Of course, I know now that my gay classmates were gay when they were in college, too. They didn’t become gay, they were always gay; they just “came out.” Today, almost everybody knows someone who is gay or lesbian. That’s a good thing, I think.
Being nice is not natural.
Being nice is not objective logic.
It is a tool of the privileged that preserves one’s sense of superiority over others while reproducing inequality under the guise of “kindness.” It is a concept rooted in our subjective experience, one already tethered to our own views about gender, race, class, sexuality, and ability. A progressive, human rights-based perspective must grapple with the painful thought that our good intentions, well, may just be a form of violence.
The Friday after Trump was elected, while upstairs looking for socks, I suddenly began to sob. Huge, wracking sobs that shocked my family into silence. There was nothing new since the horror of Tuesday night and the silent, stunned Metra ride into work on Wednesday morning. Nothing specifically different at that moment. Why did it hit me then, I wondered?
As Election Day approaches for the municipal elections, I thought I would post a throwback to my own thoughts and feelings the night before the General Election back in November. If you are thinking about running for office or supporting a campaign in any way, this might be a relevant read for you. Enjoy!