I have tried, for several days, to find a word that best describes how I feel about this year's presidential election cycle...rather, to find the words that most politely describe my feelings and will not burn bridges between me and people whose friendships I wish to retain. After a lot of private venting and after reading the public blog of a Christian who chooses not to participate in the voting process due to the power imbalance it perpetuates--this person cannot, in good conscience, participate in a process which demands someone must lose and be forced to endure a legislature they find untenable--I have come up with two words.
When the election odyssey started, my research started. I listened to the mainstream media. I listened to first-hand accounts of people's experiences. I listened to the candidates. I listened to people's opinions. I began to see a very different story was happening on the ground than what was being reported in the media. There was a lot of fraud and race-baiting happening from the camp of the now president-elect. There was a lot of mockery from his supporters. There was resistance to the truth. I do not know why the mainstream media failed to report on these things that people saw and experienced with their own eyes. But I know I spread the word, sometimes passionately. I posted about these things here and usually did not allow dissenting discussion, as that only served to perpetuate the half-truths the media was telling and obscure the fact that things were not as many people believed them to be.
For my efforts I was called an uninformed liar. I was called bitterly paranoid and close-minded. I was told to grow up. I was told to filter my political posts rather than keeping them public--my blog was a way for me to share many aspects of my life, not just politics--and when I refused, I lost readers, some of whom called themselves friends. It was so important to them that they not be exposed to the truths I told that they were willing to entirely walk away from the venue by which I shared my life with them, rather than merely skipping the political posts the way I skipped political posts I did not agree with. It hurt, but I continued to put the truth out there, sure it would help people make the right decision. And in the end, the country voted into office the very person who had lied and cheated to get the Democratic nomination. My words and the words of many like me did not matter to those people, except as something to complain and joke about. To say I feel "betrayed" by their decision (some of whom started out in the same camp) is a polite understatement, but in the interest of not burning bridges, it is the best I can do.
Now I feel, for the most part, invisible. (That is, when I am not being targeted as an object of angry derision.) I grew up in an environment where I was shown and told my views did not matter and would not be considered, even if the outcome of others' decisions directly affected me. This feels like more of the same. The media ignored me. Some folks who called themselves my friends ignored me. They are going on with their celebrations without any concern for the warnings folks like me gave them. It is as though we and our warnings do not exist. The outcome of the 2000 and 2004 elections affected me in exactly the same way, with one exception: the bulk of my friends and associates felt as I did. Back then I had them to mourn with me. Now I mourn alone or amongst near-strangers.
So now I wonder why should I bother participating in the election process. It has been a long time since I have felt my vote matters. This will be the third consecutive administration which is opposed to my concerns. Adding insult to injury is the fact this administration will come from the party I used to believe represented me and my ideals. I am reading the posts of a Christian who chooses not to participate in the voting process, and I will read the various reference materials this person has compiled of like-minded thinkers. Part of me does not want to take that road; as an African-American and a woman, I am aware many people suffered a lot of pain and indignity and even gave their lives just for me to have that right to vote, today. As someone who has gained more respect for the role third parties play in our political system, I am aware supporting them often forces the two major parties to address concerns they would otherwise ignore, and failing to support them insures the political landscape will remain bipolar
. But at least on the national scale, it is obvious my views and my vote do not make a bit of difference in the outcome of things. So why should I bother?
I do not yet have the answer to that question, but I will return to it in the years to come.