I was online during the 2008 and 2012 elections and spent a lot of time trying to CHILL PEOPLE OUT about the “threat” of an Obama presidency. I live in a red state and saw tons of people constantly worried about the Socialism Obama was going to bring to our country. Mandatory Abortions! Abolition of the institution of Marriage! Forced Veganism To Save The Planet! All SUVs Replaced With Priuses! Government Programs Giving Poor People Money For Food!
I was always reminding people on the other side two things:
1) We have balance of power for a reason. He won’t be able to make the changes you are fearing without support of other branches.
2) He can’t do all of the things he said he do from the campaign trail. He is an elected government official who will know he has to compromise on some issues to push the ones he prioritizes.
(Yes. I’m a bit of a self-righteous snot at times.)
I keep thinking about those conversations with conservatives and wondering how many of them are now thinking the same thing towards people like me who are permanently trying to control a crisis-level panic attack over a Trump Presidency. I feel like I’m teetering on the edge some days and I wonder if they’re looking at me and thinking: Chill, woman. Heed your own words of yesteryear.
But – here’s the thing.
1) All branches (save a temporary equality on SCOTUS that will be shifted conservative assuming Trump appoints a conservative judge) are full-set Republican. There’s no obstructionism possible. My side has absolutely no power.
2) We have no legislative record to see what Trump’s real priorities are in government. All we have are the rantings from his campaign trail. We knew Obama wanted healthcare reform so we knew he’d compromise on other issues to get there. Trump doesn’t really need to compromise since he has Republican power, but if he did, what are the big issues he supports? The wall? He still is mentioning that even post-election (even though many of my conservative friends didn’t think he’d enforce that) so maybe that’s it? It’s just hard to guess what his motives are going to be since he has no legislative history and he’s even switched views on stances like the right to choose. He’s also making appointment to his cabinet that seem to be contrary to what he preached from the road. I don’t know how you figure out what his main priorities are going to be.
But again – he has no need to compromise on anything. As long as he can shift what he wants to align with conservative ideals, he has Republican majorities on his side.
And that’s the difference. That’s why Zoot’s advice from 4 and 8 years ago does not apply in this situation. And that’s why I’m trying to stay as apprised of news and politics as I possibly can; while also trying to permanently levy the waters of a full-blown political panic attack.
Which brings me to my biggest concern right now: Media and Journalism. I know many of us blame “fake news” for a lot of the bad Clinton attitudes, but can I be honest with you? We can not stifle that. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a business trying to employ non-biased fact-checkers to prevent the spread of fake news – IN THEORY – it does start paving a road that could lead to actual censorship. If we can sit back and say, “Yes! Someone is stifling that website from sending that message!” just because we believe it to be false. Who’s to say someone else (Like, let’s say a social network run by a Trump-supporting CEO) doesn’t try to implement something like that against something like The Daily Show because the line between Satire and Truth gets fuzzy.
Here’s the thing. There are slippery slopes we all should avoid. I try to explain to my Pro Life friends that removing abortion rights on any level means someone you might actually support is going to lose that right too. (This is not a discussion I have with friends who are religiously pro-Life. If you believe in the existence of some sort of soul at conception then we’re never going to really see eye-to-eye so I just agree to disagree on those conversations.) For example, if you have a friend who gets raped or a relative with a health risk, those people will lose the rights too. I believe in giving ALL women the right to choose – even the ones whose choice I don’t support – simply because I don’t believe anyone has the right to decide who is doing it for the “right” reasons and the “wrong” reasons. If I want my friend who had a baby with a terrible birth defect to choose to terminate the pregnancy after counseling with medical professionals and religious leaders, then I have to be able to let the woman who got knocked up after a drunken night of partying to choose too. If I want my friend who has frozen embryos being stored in case an IVF wasn’t successful to be able to decide what to do with those embryos, then I have to allow the woman who has had 3 abortions in the last year to have the right.
If I want my favorite satire or liberal-leaning news sources to keep doing what they’re doing, I have to allow all media sources to exist. Even if they’re publishing categorical lies. Because, if we allow someone to say, “Well, we’re flagging that because we can prove in this way and that way that it’s not true…” then who is the one that decides that the “proof” is true? This is the slippery slope that begins to take away freedom of speech. And right now – that’s all I have. All I have to keep up with this new President’s actions is journalism and media. We can spread news fast if we need to, thanks to networks like Facebook. We can call to the troops to make phone calls and attend rallies. But to do that, we can’t have anybody being allowed even the slightest bit of control over what does and does not make it across our social media.
Instead – we need to do two things.
1) We all need to call it out. If you see someone sharing out something untrue, simply tell them it is untrue with a source if you can. If we leave it up to third parties to decide, then we run the risk of that snowballing in ways we do NOT support. We all support the attack of the “fake news” that claims the Clintons have a long list of murder victims in their wake, but what if suddenly someone pro-Trump decides the reporting on his possible business conflicts is “false” because he has openly stated he will not be controlling his business anymore? You can cherry pick things he’s said and done that could build a case to support all of the reporting on his conflicts as being “fake” and then – BOOM! – Facebook decides we don’t get to see those articles anymore.
It’s kinda like how if we want to be able to protest a Trump presidency, we have to allow WBC to protest military funerals.
2) We all need to put money in the efforts to support good journalism. The New York Times refused to succumb to that first “off the record” gathering of press that Trump organized post-election. Mother Jones and ProPublica are non-profit news sources. I read Slate and The Atlantic and Guardian. I visit the sites and I click the ads so they get some revenue. We all used to have subscriptions to our local news papers before, we need to re-allocate those spots in our budget to support GOOD journalism now.
Because it’s different now. The President we didn’t want has the balance of power on his side. We have to be strong and alert. If you’ll allow this pasty white lady to borrow a phrase…we have to stay woke.