I. Give. Up. (A Progressive’s Rant)

Before everybody sits back and relaxes and says, “Oh, Trump is such a buffoon, he blew the debate last night, of course he’ll lose,” yadayadayada, stop. Don’t get too comfortable, and don’t assume that just because you think all is well now, and we’ll all be just fine as long as the “troublemakers” get in line and do as they’re told, take a listen.

A lot of people who support Trump (or third-party candidates) do so because they’re sick of the same old gridlocked political crap that hasn’t served large swaths of the country well (on both sides of the aisle) for over 30 years.

You can toss around party talking points and policy wonkiness all you want, but the fact is, none of that has a big impact on the day-to-day lives of most people in this country. If you are a well-educated professional in a handful of wealthy cities (and I’m one of them), you’re probably doing fine. But for most Americans, reality bites. The Clintonistas/neocons have always operated in a kind of sheltered wonk world that has had little interest in how most of the country actually lived. Even the Clintons ran on the premise that they did not _need_ the working class to win elections—they could win by getting well-educated professionals and affluent fiscal conservatives/social liberals from big cities on board, and to hell with those backward, working-class idiots and union members who were holding up the show. But the fact is, that’s a smaller and smaller slice of the country. The millennials are getting screwed by the same issues that screwed the white working class. Gen Xers like me haven’t had a fair shot at all (ever! our entire careers have consisted of one gigantic market crash/job decimation), and now we’re getting crushed between the boomers and the millennials.

In the final analysis, whether you’re white, black, male, female, gay, straight, rich, poor (and a lot more of us are poor), or whatever religion, it eventually all comes down to economics. Barring all else, people vote with their pocketbooks, and if they haven’t gotten relief on the left (and many haven’t for 30 years or more), they’ll try to get relief on the right. It happened in the UK with Brexit, even when so many educated and young people in the cities thought it wouldn’t happen. And the growing disdain/dismissal of both Gen X and the millennials by the Democratic party establishment are losing those voters to third parties.

I never thought I’d just throw up my hands and walk away from the party I’ve supported since I was in my teens, but I did it this year. We had a chance to do better, and we didn’t, because the powers that be determined the outcome before we even got to make our voices heard. But that’s not how democracy is supposed to work.

Democracy has failed when voters can no longer remove bad actors or stop bad policy paradigms. Democracy has failed when we’re stuck choosing between only two bad options. Democracy has failed when our elections become side shows that seem to be designed solely to generate ad revenue for profit-driven media conglomerates.

I don’t want to live in a country where almost one-third of my high school graduating class was dead by 40 from drug overdoses. I don’t want to live in a country where young black people get shot on the streets for no good reason. I don’t want to live in a country where objective journalism (and the check on power it provides) is dead.

Democacy has failed when it makes someone like me, a believer in grassroots activism as a force for real social change, who won her high school’s highest citizenship award back in the early 1990s, who has always thought that voters can always right the ship and get a chance to pick the best possible candidate they can, just give up.

I. Give. Up.



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