It’s one week and change since Election Day 2012 and the most noticeable difference is the relief that is washing over many, regardless of party affiliation or levels of apathy.
The election season this year was enhanced by social media in a previously unparalleled way that brought out the claws of an entire society. Posts on Facebook threatened bonds and friendships in a way I personally had not seen before this cycle. I’m guilty of that, too. Some serious heat was placed on me by people I knew because I posted a break-up letter to those supporting Republican candidate Mitt Romney who were stored in my contact list, or kept as a Facebook friend. To me, it wasn’t a difference of opinion, but a matter of standing on one side of history or another.
So, jilted former friend or acquaintance, this tax-free one’s for you!
Now the election is over, and handshakes are being offered as the political dust settles both in person and online. But I still feel the way I feel, and I am standing by this call for cutting my Christmas card list down.
Friendships are based on a lot of things, and chief among them is usually history. Memories and stories and inside jokes unite us, but the argument that different priorities and issues mean different things to different people is simply evidence that people do change. Friends who in high school would stand up for one another against a common bully now care more about the ill-proposed prospect of saving money on taxes. The childhood babysitter who put you to sleep to the “Facts of Life” theme song may simply be reacting to her husband being hopelessly out of work for several months. But to me, that doesn’t excuse complacency when looking at human rights issues.
Like playwright Doug Wright said in his viral social media post, “You don’t get to walk away clean.” He’s right. You voted because you were concerned about the economy, but you do know that you also voted for a man who vowed to strip gays of any constitutional protection when it comes to marriage, having families, and keeping jobs, right? You are keenly aware that he would have moved to make women need permission from their employers in order to get birth control while even less fortunate women would seek abortions in back alleys, are you not? You may have voted to derail the current economic track (which, FYI, IS improving) and to shrink the deficit (which, also, you guessed it….it’s been shrinking). But you also placed a vote for a man who had the audacity to “believe in America” by vowing to strip a tenth of the US population of basic fundamental civil rights, endorsing an ignorance of equality and lack of respect for freedom the likes of which we haven’t seen since before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Your guy losing doesn’t absolve you from your vote. We are lucky we could see a repeal of DOMA, will uphold and preserve Roe v. Wade and will most likely spend the next four years getting further out of war, further out of debt, and closer to healing international wounds. I am pretty fortunate with this outcome, too. I don’t have to wonder if in a year my rights will be gone, and for that matter, neither will you. But now that it’s all over, we aren’t exactly out of the woods. We have a long way to go before I can live the same quality of life you do, and do it without ridicule.
For a country hellbent on freedom, we sure do like to place a lot of restrictions on it. “You can be free, if you look, think and act like me.” I can’t stand for the lack of equality our nation boasts, and the hypocrisy. But I can stand by my decision to fill my life with people who understand that the fight is important and will stand up for it.
Thanks for the memories. Now go the way of Mittens.