As we progress deeper and deeper into the jungle that is this year’s election, I once again find myself glad that I cut the cord on my cable a few years ago and that I don’t answer calls from phone numbers that aren’t already in my contacts. Every election, the madness seems to start earlier and get more and more insane than ever before. I don’t talk a lot about politics, and I try to keep it separate from my public persona whenever possible, but I still feel strongly called to share my perspective on this year’s circus of ridiculousness.
Putting all my cards out on the table, I am about as liberal and progressive as they come; I have never, and don’t imagine that I will ever, support a Republican candidate. We are just too far apart in terms of how government should be involved in the everyday lives of citizens, and in how I think people deserve to be treated as human beings. I am a diehard Hillary supporter, which many people find surprising given my rather radical worldview. But as much as I am sometimes impressed by Bernie Sanders’ willingness to thumb his nose at the political machine, I really do believe that we (the collective we, in this case) are not served by leaders who come from farther and farther away from the middle. I don’t like Rush Limbaugh, but I also don’t particularly care for Michael Moore. Extremism, no matter which direction it’s leaning, is still extremism.
We wonder why politics has become a game of constant obstructionism – just look at who we are electing! We need people who know what compromise actually means, and know how to act in the best interests of the public rather than their pocketbooks. We need people who can be more moderate and bring people together – being able to do that is NOT a character flaw.
But needless to say, I’ll vote for whoever ends up under the democratic ticket, and I live in North Dakota so my vote will mean fuck-all anyway because I live in a state where people don’t seem to understand that the same party that’s trying to cut their farm assistance programs is the same party whose candidate they vote for. Every. Fucking. Time. Seriously, people in North Dakota should be studied in a lab…or given some basic Civics courses before they vote.
For this post however, I want to spend a little time talking about what’s happening “over there,” to the right of the middle, and the inexplicable fuckery that is the candidacy of Donald Trump. Although the more I think about it, I don’t think it is inexplicable at all or even all that mysterious. It’s the natural progression of the political world we’ve been living in for the last 30 years or so, and maybe even since McCarthyism in the 1950s. It’s just a process working out to it’s obvious conclusion.
It’s karma. And karma is a bitch.
With the rise of the Religious Right, conservatives have fallen back on one strategy over and over again to gain support: wedge issues like abortion and gay rights. Establishment Republicans, the ones who always win the elections and get the seats, campaign on these issues and rile up a certain segment of our population while their biggest concerns, once they have some power to wield, is all economic: gutting regulation of the business and finance worlds, lowering taxes on the rich, and making it as easy as possible for the rich white guys in their party to get even richer.
You can’t campaign on that – it’s called “other 98%” for a reason. The rich guys have the bucks, but when it comes down to it, they don’t have the numbers. So you know the liberals and social progressives are going to vote against you, and you’ve already gathered all of the billionaires you can find – what’s left over? You go for the social conservatives. You go for the Bible bangers and the abortion protesters. You go for young collegiate conservatives with dreams of prosperity gleaming in their eyes. And like it or not, you go for the poor, toothless yokels with Confederate flags in their pickups. You go for all of those people who look with disgust on all of the social change that’s been happening since the 60s and you play to those fears and those hatreds. You certainly aren’t going to reel them in with promises of tax breaks on corporations – some of those corporations already laid them off and sent their jobs overseas when your party relaxed tariffs and duties on imports from foreign manufacturers.
So instead you give them a boogeyman. It doesn’t really matter who: a gay person trying to destroy traditional marriage, black folk trying to infiltrate our schools and neighborhoods, women who want to kill their children and leave their husbands to become dirt-worshipping heathen lesbians (you can thank Pat Robertson for that little gem – yep, that’s an actual thing he said). You keep talking about the “good old days” – which usually just means the 50s – and ignore the fact that those days were really only good for rich straight white men. Most of the people you are courting would have had just as shitty lives in the 50s as they do now; the only difference is that their open hatred of women and minorities would have been more socially acceptable. But being able to hate people out in the open doesn’t improve someone’s economic reality, and it doesn’t make the people in power any more willing to care for your situation when they are busy lowering their own taxes and making it easier for them to pollute, poison, bypass regulation, and do all the other greedy, nefarious things that are the hallmark of the 50s when America was supposedly so great.
So these wedge issues, primarily focused around equality and women’s reproductive freedom, have been a convenient plot point for 30-plus years, and every couple of years some (mostly white) men (and a few mostly white women) dust them off and bring them back out to get the racists and the homophobes and the misogynists all riled up and into the voting booths. Once the voting is done, all those mostly white folks have to do is make a token gesture here or there to show they really do care about these issues and get back to the business of making money…for themselves.
But those riled up people don’t disappear into the ether. They just go back to wherever they came from and they just keep bubbling. And despite all of the promises made by those slick Washington money men, women keep having abortions and gay people keep getting married and black people keep…existing. All of that rage and that anger doesn’t go anywhere. It’s still there, brewing.
How could we not end up with a candidate like Trump? Someone who speaks to that stewing rage, and isn’t afraid to make his own rhetoric just as racist and sexist and inflammatory as all of those people out there in the world who’ve been the pawns in the game up until this point? People act shocked that Trump could be a serious contender but he’s the embodiment of all of the vitriol and the ugliness that has underscored these wedge issues for the last few decades. Republicans made it ok to talk about women and gay people and minorities as if they were social ills to be dealt with rather than living, breathing human beings – and this helped them win elections! How can they be surprised when someone comes along and just takes the rhetoric they’ve already been using, strips off the $4 words, and puts it out there in its real, naked, honest, and terrible form?
This is where Republicans have to look at themselves and have some accountability. Every time someone used abortion as a way to raise campaign funds, they were helping this happen. Every time someone vilified queer folks in order to win extra votes, they were creating the reality of a Trump campaign. Establishment Republicans, you can’t shrink away and say, “But this isn’t what I meant!” What you meant doesn’t matter – this situation is exactly what you brought into being. All of that thinly disguised hatred you’ve been peddling has come back around, and you are reaping exactly what you’ve sewn. If you took part in perpetuating these wedge issues, then you created this. Not you, alone, but still you. Congratulations: you got what you asked for – and exactly what you deserve.
If there is anything we get from this election, I hope it’s that everyone from every stripe of political affiliation can look around at the madhouse that is now being run by the inmates and start to focus on creating some real change and start to work back towards the middle instead of marching ever further out to the extremes.
Here ends the political rant. Don’t worry, Champagne Dreamers – I’ll get back to makeup reviews and dick jokes before you know it!
Tags: Abortion, Bernie Sanders, Champagne Dreams Productions, Donald Trump, Election, Gay Rights, Hillary, Hillary Clinton, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Marco Rubio, Miss Jaye, Politics, President, Ted Cruz, Trump, Wedge Issues, World of Champagne