We can look forward to a complete ban on abortions with no exceptions, permitless and open and campus gun carry, further restrictions on voting, increased marginalization of gays, book bans, terrible education reforms from kindergarten to grad school, and growing rightwing hate groups increasing attacks on Blacks and Jews. And who knows what else.
So how do I cope? Or how can any of us who are so out of sync with the autocratic goals of the state leadership? I’ve got to figure something because I’m tired of being angry.
There seems to be little that can be done against the strength of the opposing forces. I have a wife who’s going to try. But most of us feel helpless, at the mercy of those we consider to be bad guys. After all, I live in a small but nice home in a neighborhood of small but nice homes. If you were to look down on our neighborhood from a twenty-mile height and I waved, you’d see only a dot representing me hidden in a wide expanse. It would be obvious I have little influence.
But this neighborhood is where I live and have contacts and in a major way defines the confines of my life.
What did I see before the election as I wandered this neighborhood, led by my dog?
One neighbor had a DeSantis sign in his front yard. Two years ago he displayed one for that orange haired guy.
Another house also sported a DeSantis sign that I couldn’t avoid noticing and hoped my dog’s leg also would notice.
Nearby there was a home with a Charlie Crist sign, the sad and ineffectual loser in the gubernatorial race.
In a break from the past, there were no other signs on my entire block, reflecting, I think, the fear of bringing forth the hatred that our current polarization has engendered.
Now that the election results are in, how am I supposed to interact with my neighbors?
Do I shun the ones who had the DeSantis signs and recognize they are worthless in my eyes?
Do I go out of my way to speak with the Crist devotee, realizing she is a clear-thinking lovely individual?
Do I shy from other neighbors whose political preferences are unknown, not wanting to befriend a possible right-winger?
And how do I treat the myriad of people who come to my home to deliver or repair?
This maddening, intense, destructive partisanship can really get you down.
Because I am angry at so many of my fellow citizens who support the right-wing theories and who are willing to destroy our democracy in order to achieve them.
And I’m angry at the many who supposedly are in my chosen party who fail to vote or are unwilling to strive for the greater good, threatening to withhold support if they don’t get everything their way.
I fear this anger is not good for me.
Who are these people who showed political signs? The man whose sign I encouraged my dog to visit gives a friendly hello when he happens to be in his yard. The one who previously displayed the orange haired guy is a former law enforcement officer who worked with kids in the worst of our neighborhoods with true caring, is friendly as can be, immediately removed his sign after the election, and would do and has done a lot to help me (except vote Democratic). The Crist woman is a two-dog owner and couldn’t be nicer. All my neighbors (well, except possibly for one) are extremely friendly.
I’m not going to shut them out because of known or possible different views. So it’s a cheery good morning and a pleasant chat as my dog and I take our twice daily walks.
I think there are lessons in my daily adventures. Excluding the crazies (you know, the election deniers, the conspiracy theorists, the haters) most people are pretty nice. I may never approve of some of their votes, but I can like and enjoy them as people
And I can protect myself in other ways.
I don’t have to fixate on news. Rather I can take action to eliminate intake of the days’ events. That way I won’t get angry at individuals and keep thinking negative thoughts.
I don’t have to believe that the 99% of people in a grocery store wearing no mask are not caring about my health.
I don’t have to make a snap judgement when seeing someone about whom I know nothing and saying to myself, “He looks like a Republican,” and then get angry.
What I do have to do is remember the humanity of those I meet, treat them kindly, and let them see what respect for others is, hoping against hope that will have some influence on their future electoral decisions.
On the other hand, I must never forget that many are attempting to destroy our democracy and I should do all I can to save it. Because there are times when nice is not enough.
* * *
Unless I become too incensed (which is a real possibility), I’m taking off for the holidays and will come back sometime in January.