President Donald fucking Trump.
The last few days have been strange. There was a kind of trick we played on each other as kids, where we’d hold one fist on the other person’s head, hit it lightly with the other hand, and trickle our fingers down across their hair, telling them we just broke an egg on their head. If you had the right touch, it could be an effective illusion. And that’s kind of what it felt like – a shock, too light to hurt exactly but unignorable, followed by a creeping feeling as the egg that wasn’t there slid down the scalp, the neck, slimy.
That slimy creepy feeling is still there, placed in honor of a slimy creep. Every day when I wake up I have to remind myself of the way my country has chosen to self-mutilate. President-elect Donald; Donny P; King Trumplefuckle, first of his name. That feeling has mostly subsided now, the numbness as mostly faded.
What’s left is rage.
Anger’s not that interesting to talk about, but god damn I feel it. It twists my guts up. And I’m trying now to figure out how to let it stray far enough away that I can think straight while still keeping it on a leash to make sure I never lose it. We’re going to need anger and outrage. Anger at injustice is the lattice that holds hope together, that affects change, that can protect and sustain us through what is likely to be one of the most dangerous eras in American history.
There’s a part of me that wants blood and violence, that wants to scour the country with fire until the cancer of white supremacy is burned to ash. I won’t say that violence is categorically unjustifiable, especially in a confrontation against those who believe that lynchings are an acceptable tactic. However, these are the minority of the opposition. We won’t defeat them by crushing them. We will defeat them by discrediting them. This work was begun but never finished: We must make the concept of white supremacy as disgusting nation-wide as it always should have been. We must make the very idea of race entitling you to a better life, making you mentally or physically superior, as a sick fantasy, masturbated to in dim light briefly before the curtain of shame falls.
So, yeah, normally I like to talk about video games here. I will, again, soon. The world carries on, and art is still important – terrifyingly so. Our culture has gotten away from us, has founded itself in lazy reinforcements of stereotypes rather than new stories that teach new ways of being and seeing. We’ve chewed up and regurgitated tropes that have lasted for far too long, colonialism and racism and sexism dressed in new clothes so we could pretend that’s not what they were any more, so that we could do things the easy way, so we could just hide behind paying tribute to the classics, so that we could make art that just reinforced the same ancient and lazy thoughts that have motivated the worst violence of the past centuries.
That’s what I have to say to the artists. Do good, and do better, and try to ease pain and light a way to a better place. Also endeavor to spread diversity both through the work you do and the work you boost. It makes everything more varied and vital and interesting, and maybe if people will be a bit less cavalier with voting for xenophobia if their favorite musician or artist or whatever will be hurt by it. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
However. Good art isn’t enough to fix this, which is a huge disappointment since that’s the field I tend to be most interested in.
First and foremost, we need to talk about harm reduction. Protect and take care of yourself. Survival is protest. Once you’ve made yourself as safe and comfortable as you feel you need to, protect and care for your friends and family. And so forth, it echoes outwards, together creating the most safety we can for each other, to our friends, to their friends, to strangers on the street and on the bus. Solidarity. We must come closer together. We all have our differences, and someday will probably need to negotiate those, but now we have a lot more in common and a much bigger problem that needs solving. These communities may be needed if the police fail to function, which is quite possible when they’re compromised at the state level – especially since, even before that became a concern, they often failed to actually serve the communities they were assigned to.
I won’t say things are going to be okay, but we have the power to make things more okay than they would otherwise be.
After that, we need to do everything we can to keep the ground we have gained over the past century. Obstruct, obstruct, obstruct: Fortunately we’ve had a good example set for us over the past 8 years by the GOP. Don’t let them do a fucking thing. Bury them in yellow tape, make sure not a single change goes by uncontested for four years. Our lawmakers have to be told that this is what we want. It’s fine: Democrats have a proven track record of getting nothing done, so they should be up to the job.
If things are going to get anywhere near as bad as I think they will, there are going to be deaths. Actually, there already have been: Several suicides on the night of the election and day after. But the full damage remains to be seen. When it manifests, we must do everything we can to tell the story. We must draw the line from the human suffering effect to its root cause in policy and rhetoric. Avoid accusation, but make the conclusion obvious and unescapable: The voice of guilt must come from within.
America has made many mistakes, and Americans know it, even if they don’t like to say so. Much of what went wrong with this election was a lack of a narrative, but this provides us with a powerful narrative for the next election: Redemption. “Everything has gone wrong, everything is fucked up, but it’s not too late: Together we can fix this”. It’s a powerful message, but for it to be effective we need to have a wide consensus that things are fucked. Obviously, with Trump in charge they will be, but that’s not the same as getting everyone to agree that they are – if we’re not careful, the Trump Empire will become the new normal. That’s why the story of the human suffering created must be told, told again, retold, until it becomes widely understood that things are broken.
Of course, selling the brokenness is only half the battle. We will also need a plan to put things back together. We’ve needed such a plan for a very long time. The lack of such a plan lost this election. Perhaps something like basic income will be the only effective strategy to combat the extinction of manufacturing and mining jobs: I don’t know. In two years we must be ready with a plan and candidates who are behind that plan.
Perhaps most vitally, we must stop letting our opposite define the terms of the conflict. We let them define our defense of our human dignity as ‘political correctness’, and let them make it a virtue to flout that common decency. We let them pretend that the imaginary transgressions of our candidate were comparable to the many monstrous grotesqueries of their candidate. We let them call themselves patriots while they worked to undermine the constitution and everything this country has ever stood for. Maybe we’re getting smarter about these things, slowly, but we have let far too much slide. So I will say this: If we are ‘Social Justice Warriors’, then let this be the Social Justice War. I, for one, intend to win it.