I apologize to my readers about this post as I realize no one wants to talk about it anymore.  However, the only way to navigate a trauma is to talk about it.  That’s the only way you bleed off the real.  You do so through the agency of the symbolic.  There’s a lot of the real that I still need to bleed off.  I wish I were done with it.

It is hard to fully express and put into words my grief over the last election.  For me, above all, the last election meant game over for the planet earth.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s the thought I can’t escape.  I think the single greatest threat facing us is climate change.  I believe that we have a very narrow window for having any hope of addressing this issue.  With the election of Trump, a Republican senate and congress, and a right-leaning supreme court, I believe that we have lost that window of action– America is among the highest for carbon emissions –and that our daughter can look forward to a future akin to the world of Mad Max.  I really don’t think people appreciate the gravity of the effects of climate change at the level of the atmosphere, its economic effect, and the very possibility of having anything like a society.  It’s not one issue among others.  The others matter, but it is the foundation of all the rest.  I can’t shake this thought and I am despondent over it.

Read on!

What I feel is rage.  And strangely, I don’t feel rage at the right because I know how they are.  No, I feel rage at democrats.  I feel like they threw the election and gave us Trump.  I feel like this should have been a landslide victory, that things like Comey, the Russians, a negative press, misogyny, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and all the rest shouldn’t have made a meaningful difference.  It should not have been close.  And the dark thought I keep coming back to is that this election– both the election of Trump and the nomination of Clinton by the democrats –was America’s Brexit.  Polling shows that it was overwhelmingly Boomers and older that voted to leave the European Union.  Polling also shows that it was also overwhelmingly Boomers and older that nominated Clinton; a deeply flawed candidate due to years of rightwing attacks, and pervaded by scandals.  I can’t shake the thought that with this deep responsibility, they forced a candidate upon us and orchestrated things so we didn’t have a real primary (and no, I’m not talking about Sanders here; I’m saying they cleared the field of potential candidates before the primary even began.  My views here aren’t “Sanders vs Clinton”, but about the entire process from beginning to end two and a half years ago).  I cannot help but believe that they forced a deeply flawed candidate upon us, a tremendously weak candidate, that led to a race that was this tight and ultimately loss.

I hate generational politics.  I hate it.  But I can’t help feel rage and bitterness.  I can’t help but feel they came from a perspective of fear from earlier experiences like the monumental loss of McGovern and couldn’t imagine that an alternative was possible.  I can’t help but feel that they came from a position of privilege, where they have been fortunate to send their kids to college, where they have been able to own homes, where they have enjoyed prosperity, where they will get to retire comfortably and where they projected this lebenswelt onto the rest of the country.  I saw them actually argue that free college would spoil the kids today, and raise questions about why they can’t just get a summer job.  Due to how the democratic primary process works and who participates in it, they gave us this candidate who failed in her deep responsibility and gave us Trump.  I did my duty and voted for her through clenched teeth, but this is what we got.  And in the wake of all of this, her ardent supporters have had the audacity to say we were critical of her because of misogyny and racism, or that we were hoodwinked by rightwing propaganda, or that massive campaign contributions from banks, insurance companies, energy companies, private school groups, and all the rest don’t influence policy.  That’s what they’ve told us as we face wage stagnation, mounting personal debt, and a planet that burns.  They say this is what elicited our criticism and our hope of a better possibility and better, more visionary leaders.  They call the X-er and Millenial men, women, and people of color, “Berniebros”.  That’s what they call us.  In short, I believe they suffered from either a lack of courage, imagination, or vision.

So yes, I feel like our parents have condemned us through their choices during the primary process and I’m full of rage and bitterness.  I believe it is valuable to express this rage, because I believe that if it is not understood we will continue to do the same things.  This is not “relitigating” the primary or general election, but is about the future.  It is about not running another Gore, Kerry, or Clinton.  It is about not repeating Third Way politics.

But I need to overcome my rage and bitterness.  I need to remember what Boomers have given us.  My way to left politics came through my mother.  She was and is a militant feminist, with socialist leanings.  She was my first political awakening at the age of 13, where my first issues were those of reproductive rights and gay rights.  She had and has an intense and gentle sense of justice that always points her in the right direction.

I remember her stories about her youth regarding women.  You had to have a man or your husband co-sign to get a credit card or to buy property.  When she went to university and wanted to study languages and diplomacy, professors told her that that would not get her her “Mrs” and asked why she wasn’t just interested in landing a husband.  When she got her first job at a bank, her boss required her to take the pill in front of him every day at the water cooler because “he wasn’t going to take the job from a man who needs to support a family because a woman got pregnant.”  Your husband automatically had access to your bank account, so you couldn’t save money on your own and rest assured that it would still be there (cf. Dolores Claiborn, that was really a thing).  None of this even begins to address job opportunities and advancement.  This was the world and they fought all of that.  They changed all of that, even if we still struggle with many of these issues today.

But they were also revolutionaries in another sense.  My mother taught me that we all suffer from patriarchy.  These revolutionaries who were facing death at the possibility of being sent off to Viet Nam or at having their lovers sent off to Viet Nam, also completely transformed the nature of relationships and gender identities.  Despite coming from highly patriarchal and gendered backgrounds, they explored and created entirely new forms of romantic intimacy.  Yes, the divorce rate is high today, but they envisioned a new form of relationship.  They explored new realms of pleasure and enjoyment, calling for a higher satisfaction among both men and women.  Who, among Generation X, did not find a copy of The Joy of Sex on their parents’ book shelf, or on the bookshelf of an aunt or uncle?  These are people that reprogrammed their programming, that envisioned a different world.  They are people that passionately fought for a variety of different forms of civil rights, ranging from race issues, to issues of sexual orientation.  And, of course, they struggled for peace and the possibility of peace.  They created an entirely different world.

Cecily’s mother, another revolutionary– who was torn from us horribly by cancer –was a single mother, who struggled throughout her career and attained the rank of PhD.  I feel like she was torn from our lives.  I only got the privilege of spending a brief amount of time with her and I ache at the loss of her in our life, but selfishly in my life.  She was someone who completely transformed her psychological programming based on where she came from and who touched countless lives.  She was remarkable and glowing in both her capacity for care and her brilliance.  She created herself– almost like a Kantian, but in a different sense –from scratch.  Cate said, at the end in her email tagline in rainbow colors, that “just because it involves death and dying doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.”  I know that sounds insane.  But that’s Cate.  That’s how she was with everything.  And she made herself that way.  You’d have to know Cate to understand it.  She always created her own perspective on the world, invented herself, and made the world better, more just, and more beautiful.  She raised my partner in crime, and she taught us something about who we are, but also, above all, who we can be.  She taught us that we can fashion or make ourselves.  We take this as axiomatic.  It leads to some goods fight, believe me.

I don’t write this post to exculpate the Boomers.  They also dismantled worker protections, deregulated everything, and found all manner of ways to create profit and destroy the planet that today are at the heart of our struggles.  I write it to deal with my grief and bitterness, to get beyond it.  They also gave us things that we, today, take as axiomatic, in our own struggles.  We take it as obvious that there should be gender and racial equality.  We take it as obvious that love, whether hetero or queer, should be something we should be able to pursue courageously and without apology.  We take it for granted that there should be a certain form of emotional intimacy, that no one in the amorous relation should be subordinated to someone else, that we are comrades struggling against the world, and that we should be able to enjoy one another and attend to the enjoyment of each other.  They gave us a revolution.  The only problem is that we need further revolutions.

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