This morning, my daughter was complaining about something inevitable. I believe it was something to the effect of there being an extra bed in her room that we use when we have guests. "We're not gonna have guests right now, so we probably can put the extra bed away for a while." Cue the tears. I found myself sighing, as I often do when I feel frustrated by how kids tend to blow up little problems into big problems.
"Mom, why are you sighing?"
"You noticed, huh?"
"Why are you upset?"
"Because it's very exhausting to be around someone who keeps complaining about decisions that cannot be changed."
The irony being, this is exactly what a lot of people around me, myself included, have been doing for quite a few days. I probably don't need to go into details as to the decisions in questions. Assuming you have access to a TV or the internet, you probably know what kind of decisions people have been complaining about. The thing about it is, horrible idea or not, sometimes you just need to accept what the decision is, and move on. Acceptance doesn't mean you're folding house and leaving, per se. Nor does it mean you agree with the decision. Sometimes it just means you tell yourself "Ok, this didn't work out. How do I move on towards my goals?"
I have some ideas about that, ideologically speaking. I believe one party let themselves be cowered from following through on the ideals based on The Other America: namely that it is unthinkable that in a nation that thinks of itself as wealthy, so many people struggle to make ends meet. For myself, the ideals behind the so called "war of poverty" is what attracted me to the Democratic Party in the first place: the ideals that if you're struggling to make ends meet, for whatever reason, we are in your corner.
Sensing a political backlash from said war, the Democratic party has spent the last 20 or so years moving away from advocating for the disadvantaged, into advocating for equal rights for everyone. Don't get me wrong, there is much to admire in the switch. The impetus behind it is that if we could treat everyone around equally, then everyone would thrive. In a purely ideal world, that's the perfect switch to make once the realization hits that whatever economic programs a state enacts do not in fact leave everyone targeted better off.
However, switching from an economically-based ideological track of equality into a more theoretically human-rights based track could not, of necessity, come without leaving behind some people who still needed help. It isn't a platitude on my part. It's a fact. Caring for minorities of any kind and caring for the poor isn't mutually exclusive. However, when you take one side of the equation and favor it over the other, there are some people that are going to be left out because they don't happen to belong to both categories.
In so doing, the people sacrificed in the name of not being labeled and accused of "liberal socialism" were essentially left to fend for themselves. In this climate, it seems fairly easy for someone to swoop in and say "See? They don't care about your welfare, not really. They just care about the other guys.". This is exactly what the other party has been doing all these years.
Now, in calm and rational times, one should be able to reflect and say "I'm sorry, but... How are you any better than the other party? How exactly do you propose to do things that benefit me, and what exactly would that involve on my part?". That said, a lot of rural America does not have the luxury of calm and rational times. They are seeing a lot of opportunities inevitably disappear, and seeing a lot more despairing and self-defeating behavior (think: opiate epidemic that is destroying many rural communities) appear. In such straits, it's human to give into hopelessness and rage.
Rage isn't so bad. In the right circumstances, rage helps things move forward. But a shortcoming of rage, and I should know this because (as my husband not so fondly reminds me) it's my to go mode when I'm pissed off, is that the forward momentum can often come with blind and reckless grasping. It propels us forward, but not necessarily with a clear idea of what a better outcome is.
There was a lot of rage voting out there. I suspect that some of those voters have had ample time to recognize that in their rage they either abstained from voting when they should not have, or voted in any perceived good outcome for themselves without weighing what else they needed to give up in return. In their rage, they might not even have realized they had anything left that they might be trading away.
Time will tell. For now, we just move forward, for better or worse. I think those of us who didn't like the outcome of this election can ill afford to engage in the usual scoffing of "why did you vote against your interests?". That response doesn't really serve anyone, winners or losers. On the other hand, I believe that some soul searching is granted.
Moving forward doesn't just mean blindly raging ahead. Moving forward can also mean reflection and searching.