Don’t get too political

Kids in cages

Holding for Central American Immigrant Children 2014

Pay attention to the date on that photo. This is not a new thing. Most of us are only aware of it now because the press has been using this photo as an example of Trump’s new dubious policies.

Conservatives will say that this is just another example of fake news, that the true culprit is Obama, and that the press is just using this as a way to attack their boy Trump. And you know what, yeah. As a lifelong registered Democrat, I’d say that the Obama administration definitely has some ‘splainin to do, but that still doesn’t make Trump the hero of the hour. It’s not like he swooped down in his neon orange spandex and saved the children. Instead, he and his administration saw the problem and found a way to profit from it by making it exponentially worse.

And this is where people stop reading, if the title didn’t turn them away to begin with. It seems like the worse things get, the less willing people are to discuss it. And the thing is, I’m NOT that political on a regular basis. I’m a Democrat in a small town in Alabama, so I guess that’s somewhat radical, but it’s not like I spend my weekends holding up picket signs on the courthouse steps. Under normal circumstances, my participation in politics involves voting regularly and paying attention to the news, and only giving my opinion in mixed company when asked directly, and even then, I try to be diplomatic.

But these are not usual circumstances.

I should be writing my book in this free moment that I’ve found, not scrolling Twitter for the latest bad news, but even if I put my phone down and start writing, the images are still there. The fact that these images are dated, and are probably just being used to sell newspapers doesn’t make me feel any better. It just serves to remind me that we are ALL complicit in the current shit show. It doesn’t matter who started it. It’s up to us to end it.

Politicians work for us, and they will support whatever cause they stand to benefit from both financially and politically. Does that make you feel like it’s all hopeless? It shouldn’t. It should make you feel empowered. Whether you believe it or not, your words have the ability to make those monkeys dance the jig of your choosing, but conversely, they take your silence as tacit permission to carry on with whatever profitable scheme they can envision.

The thing you have to bear in mind is, a lot, if not most of these politicians are raised in upper middle class to wealthy families. They went to private schools, got into good colleges, and lived lives of total privilege, regardless of their ethnicity or political affiliations. Even with the best intentions, most of them are pretty clueless when it comes to the daily lives of the rest of us broke assholes. They may empathize with the plight of the middle class, too poor to thrive, yet too successful to receive any kind of assistance, or the even worse plight of the utterly destitute,but they sure as hell don’t know what it feels like to worry about where their next meal will come from if their state’s welfare benefits are cut in half.

But that shouldn’t matter, because as public servants, they should be listening to what we tell them, and doing their level best to accomplish the goals that we set for them. The problem isn’t that they don’t listen anymore; the problem is that we as a society don’t want to be burdened with the responsibility of holding them accountable. Voting? Who has time for that? Watching the news and spreading awareness? Too stressful.

I get it. I do. I mean, fuck. I’m a single parent working one full-time job and every side hustle I can fit into a day just to make ends meet, but that’s not an excuse to ignore what’s going on around me. Can I afford to donate money to every political cause I believe in? Hell no, but I can retweet the request in hopes that  someone with deeper pockets will see it. Can I spend my whole Saturday marching in the streets? Nope, I have to work and/or clean house and/or cart my kid to whatever thing he’s doing that day. But I can damn sure take five minutes to lend support and encouragement to those who can.

And yes, it’s scary, and yes, sometimes I want to ignore it all and escape. And sometimes I do. But that can’t continue to be our habit. Problems don’t stop existing because you choose not to acknowledge them. I know you know that, even when you choose to say and do nothing. The daily news haunts me, but not nearly as much your silence does.

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