Most elections are divisive. That’s politics. We argue policies and economics, court appointees and entitlements. Emotions can run high, but most of us take it with a grain of salt and a dash of maturity and agree to disagree. Other people are just jackasses.
This year has been atypical in more ways than I can list in a single post, but a few stand out for me. I have, at least temporarily (perhaps permanently) lost relationships over Trump. Over an election. Something I swore I was above, something I never imagined could happen to me. Why was this year so different?
First, with social media opinions flew as quickly as keyboard warriors could hack them out, with little to no regard for the hundreds of other people who would be exposed. Facebook is like a dinner party, not an intimate evening at home with one’s closest friends. Suddenly a quiet day became a brawl for which I was de facto referee, and my resentment quietly began to build.
Next, everything became a political statement. A comment designed to bring attention to the Louisiana floods and my friends in the region was immediately pounced on by a woman who was overcome by her need to blame everything on Obama. Within an hour, weary and gobsmacked that five folks could now be battling Hillary’s Benghazi record, I deleted the entire thread and gave up. I simply hoped my loved ones in Baton Rouge hadn’t seen any of it.
Furthermore, and probably the worst for me personally, is the post-truth, spread a lie, personal attacks that are the bread and butter this season. Nothing I have said or done seems to penetrate the skulls of those willing to say anything; but willfully perpetrating false information regarding health, charitable work, jobs, immigrants, etc., is incredibly damaging to real, everyday people.
When I see a friend discussing how having pneumonia means a woman is dying, that she is unqualified for her job, I can’t help but be transported back to the hospital room where I was diagnosed. I feel like less of a person, knowing this is common knowledge, that I’m lumped in now to this category. My qualifications are diminished to these people. It has become personal.
Additionally, there is a level of hypocrisy I have never seen. Whether it’s a family member raging that all liberals want is a free ride, when I know he is filling his fridge with food stamps; Christians judging other Christians based on edited videos of a prayer at the convention and declaring every democrat a tool of Satan; or a secret philanderer decrying the President’s family as anti-God while promoting Trump (good one, right?). It has become almost comical in absurdity but beyond my ability to laugh.
Broad statements are broad. When one attempts to elicit a reaction, it can hardly be surprising when a reaction occurs. Life does not exist in a vacuum. Words matter, and no amount of shaming or telling me to “toughen up” is going to change my mind. My mind is responding to my heart, and my heart is broken. It’s not broken over political choices; I’m not that shallow. It’s ripped to shreds at how people chose to express those views…not as well-informed, well-intentioned voters, but as shameless, shaming, gutter-slime sharing, hypocritical jackasses.
And I finally accepted that it is not me who has the problem here. It is the jackasses.