Monday, November 14, 2016

A Reflection On The Election and What Changes Will Follow.

Well, it happened. After months of speculation, heated discussions, disbelief, and "it'll never happen"s, it actually happened. The angry little IRL internet troll has won the election and many of us are wondering how it is possible to simultaneously feel so shocked and yet so expectant. History has shown us how ridiculous politics can get and when Trump surfaced, as astounding and unreal as it was, we all knew deep inside that this possibility wasn't as far-fetched as we would have liked it to be. Days passed after the election and I still couldn't formulate a longer response other than short tweets.

I needed some time properly digest this.

Rewind a bit. Tuesday night I told myself I would stay off the internet, put my head down, and just work. I've watched so much corruption unfold in front of our very eyes over the years that I have simply no faith in our current political system. It is extremely flawed, corrupt, and outdated, created in a world where slavery was the norm and people still wore powdered wigs. But, there was a glimmer of hope for someone like me in the form of comedy. One of my favorite comics along with his pals were set to host an "End of The World" live podcast from the famed Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Joe Rogan, creator of The Powerful JRE podcast, took to the stage with comedian friends Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, Bert Kreischer, and a grip of other comics that would filter in and out throughout the night and watch the election unfold, live in real time. What better way to pass the time as I toiled away on content for this site. The downside was that they were discussing and commenting on the very thing I was trying to avoid. I knew better and I still tuned in. Because deep down inside I wanted to watch it, I just didn't want to watch it in the normal sense of sitting at home in front of a computer or someone's TV, teetering on the edge of my seat, biting my nails wondering how it was all going to pan out, even with the favored-to-win candidate.

The margin was small when I tuned in, but Trump was actually ahead. I was taken back. "Seriously!?", I thought to myself. Although not a fan of either candidate, I definitely felt Clinton was way more qualified, albeit extremely dishonest (like most politicians). As the night grew on and the comics slammed booze and sparked joints, the margin increased greater and greater until it became so paramount that Trump was actually gonna pull off the most upsetting upset of all time. I watched the anxiety increase with some of the comics and felt my own anxiety grow as well. I couldn't believe this was going to happen yet deep inside I was also laughing because OF COURSE America would vote a fucking reality star into office. As it became more apparent and we all started to accept reality, I saw their faces drop or fill with worry. Eleanor Kerrigan had a look on her face that exemplified how most of us felt--dumbfounded and scared. Bill Burr remained composed and after his own short wave of "WTF" washes away from his face says, "We're gonna be fine." And honestly?--I knew he was right, without a doubt. I went to sleep knowing it isn't over until the final votes are tallied even though I also knew the likely outcome.

The End of The World broadcast live from The Comedy Store.

Wednesday morning came and as tough as it was to get out of bed, I did, like I always do for work--very reluctantly lol. But today it wasn't for lack of sleep or lack of drive to show up to the office that would tempt me to sleep in. As I scrolled through feeds and read articles across the net, I knew nothing changed overnight. The commute to work was eerily quiet and the roads were empty. The overall mood at work was one of disappointment and grief. The same feeling was in my social media and for the following days, America was mourning. My commute home Wednesday was tough. I felt my eyes begin to swell riding home and fought tears until I got home and simply collapsed under the weight of it all.

But not for the reasons you're thinking.

As hard as this is to say for so many reasons, I need to say it because the discussion needs to happen...

I didn't vote. And I haven't voted since I was of legal age to. I was 17 when Bush stole the election and the system's flaws revealed themselves to me that our vote is not a vote of the people but a vote of Electors, kinda by the people. That election opened my eyes to all the bullshit that encompasses the U.S. political system and I went further down the rabbit hole, I quickly started to see how fake it all is. Since then I have had great discussions on why our votes matter, yet no one has been able to truly convince me that it does. Not voting makes people angry and upset and often I am met with those emotions coupled with shaming. I get it. It is a right people die for and I refuse to exercise it. A right many people across the world, and even in our own country, don't have. It isn't something I take for granted, it is something I believe does not work as intended or believed to. Our system is extremely flawed, outdated, and broken. I don't understand how actively participating in a broken system will change anything. It's insane to do the same thing over and over expecting different results; the system has failed us time and time again. So much that people are actually calling for Electors to vote against the system. Something I don't think would happen had Clinton won. Funny how that works.

I cried that afternoon because as much as I want to believe in all of this, I can't in good faith. Even if I did vote, it wouldn't have been for Trump or Clinton and the results are likely to have remained the same. I think this is what upsets people most about non-voters in this election--it doesn't seem like people are mad that we didn't vote, they seem mad because we didn't vote for Clinton, giving way to the likely scenario that Trump would win. And rightly so, to an extent, but that is where I have a big problem with all of this. It is my right to vote for whichever candidate I believe in. It is also my right to not vote as well if I do not believe in either. All third parties aside, we were presented with two of the worst candidates in the history of the United States and hardly anyone seemed to care. Many of you didn't vote for Clinton because you believed in her, you voted for her because she isn't Trump. That is the most heartbreaking part of this entire fiasco for myself, that we were given two options that were both awful and we just accepted it and went through the motions. That isn't the bright, shining example of democracy I was taught in school or refined on my own as I grew older. That is complacency.

Trump won and we have to accept it. Or do we? Maybe this is the wake up call people need to see that this shit doesn't work anymore. In less than a week, tens of thousands of people all over the United States have taken to the streets in protest of Trump's win. I don't know what will come of that but I do know it is good to see people taking some form of action instead of just crying, pouting, and panicking over the outcome. The thing is, he isn't even in office yet so this reaction gives me hope that if shit starts to hit the fan, maybe people won't rollover and let the Patriot Act 3 or whatever other outrageous policy pass so easily this time.

Bill Burr composes one of the best responses in this election I have heard.

While many feel that any of Trump's supporters are easy to write off as racists, misogynists, or all of the other things Trump appears to be (and likely is), it is extremely irresponsible to do so. Because the simple fact remains that a good chunk of his supporters support the idea of change versus "more of the same" and support none of the other bullshit he was spewing during his campaign. Trust me, I know that seems unlikely and maybe contradicting considering the wild ideas he screamed about for so many months. Civility is important and we as a people, especially those against Trump, need to remain calm and be the shining examples of the change, rooted in kindness, that we want to see in others. Think about it--how many of you actually had a discussion with and listened to a Trump supporter over the course of this election versus just writing them off as an idiot? Because as much as you want to be angry at someone because their views disagree with yours, it is far more progressive and productive to openly talk with them to understand their views and express your own in an open manner. A prime example of this comes from Eddie Huang (Huang's World, Fresh Off The Boat). During the taping of his show, he sat down and had an intelligent discussion with a random, off-script Trump supporter. THIS is a shining example of how to discuss, and even debate, issues with someone you don't agree with.

No yelling, no name calling--just intelligent discussion.

I can only hope the majority of Trump and Clinton supporters are this willing to have discussions like this versus a screaming match about who's right and who's wrong. We cannot be heard if we are simply yelling our points of view or obscenities at one another. That approach is something that can be carried in any relationship as well. Moving forward, we cannot let fear dictate our response. Fear is such a low vibration and is the least productive manner in which to operate. So instead of cowering in fear, suck it up. Take action. BE HEARD.

Stephen Colbert delivers an awesome monologue.

The beautiful part of this outcome is that as much as people don't want to hear this over their own outrage, good will come from this. People will speak through visual art, music, discussion, essays, and so many other creative outlets. Eight years of the Bush Administration gave way to Obama and all of his positive changes. Although flawed as well, Obama did do a lot of good and was easily more relatable than any other President in my lifetime. I couldn't relate to either candidate this year. Except for maybe the humor of third party Gary Johnson.

California, along with 3 other states, pass laws allowing recreational use of marijuana.

Voting for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. Voting for someone purely on race or gender is irresponsible. Voting for a racist xenophobe is definitely irresponsible. Voting for a crooked politician is irresponsible as well. Accepting either of these candidates to represent our country is even more irresponsible. Making it okay for either of these two to represent our country is the fundamental issue. We let the Republican party allow a loose canon like Trump to become a candidate. We let the Democratic party swindle Bernie out of his chance to be a candidate. We let this situation happen by our own willing to look the other way.

Russell Brand's ideas run extremely parallel to this piece and his delivery is on point.

Trump may cause problems, this is very possible and very likely in many peoples' eyes, but it will be up to you to decide how much you will accept. How many of your rights will you be willing to relinquish should someone try to take them? I wish I had more answers for you, for myself. I don't. I do know that now, more than ever, we need to have each others' backs. We need to watch out for our fellow children, women, and men. Our friends, our neighbors, even strangers need to be vigilant with each other and do our best to always do the right thing when we see injustice.

(This video wouldn't embed properly, but it is a must-watch. You know shit's real when Chappelle is chiming in and no one does it better.)

We overcame slavery. We made it through two World Wars and several "military conflicts". We survived eight years of Bush. We are healing from all of this, including 9/11, and we are definitely making it through. We will get through this too. And we will be stronger because of it. I may have lost faith in our system, but I have not lost faith in humanity. Having said all of this, I leave you all with one question...

How will you respond?

Stay Creative,

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