Friday, 18 November 2016

The Mole Hills Are Now Mountains

Last Halloween, I wrote an op-ed for The Gargoyle called “Costume Policing” talking about how the politicization of costumes seemed to get in the way of a proper cultural exchange. During the writing of that article, there was a part of me that kept on asking “what the hell is the big deal about this shit?”. After all, did Chad wearing that lazy Mexican costume while pounding tequila shots lead to any further turmoil in the Middle East? Are the bigoted costumes why the Canadian economy is in decline? I’ve certainly been seeing the “we’re a culture not a costume” poster for the past couple years, so it must be an urgent matter. And if we want to be more recent, it seems like Starbucks is bringing back the drama with their new coffee cup. Remember last year when conservatives nearly exploded from the lack of holly-jolly the dreaded red cup of communism those baristas gave us? How dare they ruin Christmas! Nevermind that the Eaton Center just had a winter wonderland bukkake as soon as we went into November, I feel threatened!

The trivial often seems to become some travesty to someone. And the news can’t help but indulge in these thinkpieces. Maybe they just serve as pointless filler to pad in between the more urgent issues, but perhaps to some those are the urgent issues. I don’t believe Christmas is threatened when people say Happy Holidays (though I am of the belief that if I said Merry Christmas I meant it with good intentions; it’s not like I pissed in your place of worship or lack thereof), but some people truly see that as some threat. Our poor neighbours to the South find themselves turning any small matter into a battleground for the culture war, with alt-righters and progressives having a veritable pissing contest over what domains are their own. I mean they took Pepe, now we must take him back! #SavePepe

Part of me does find the exaggeration to be quite absurd. I come from Venezuela, where there’s a lot of absurdities to face already. Especially now where the smallest problem is figuring out what to wear to go out to the supermarket to wait for a long line to hope to get any food as you try your best not to be torn apart by thugs or the police or people who revere the bus-driving dictator piece of shit, later wondering how the fuck an oil-rich nation became one suffering horrible inflation and poverty. But hey, that doesn’t mean we feel for you! We do feel your pain when it comes to the small grievances. Focusing on them distracts us from the larger horrors that we face. Maybe such a feeling is the same that you all face.

But if such does not apply, I think there may be something else to it. See, Canada’s a swell nation. So is (or maybe was) the United States. It’s the reason why we immigrants do our immigrating, as we see you as a safe haven from the collapse of our homeland. No country is perfect though, and you have your own problems to face. There’s some large and some small. Now while the large are indeed important, they also take a lot of time to fix. We need our intellectuals, our political leaders and our savvy pundits/late night comedians to help us through them.

In the meantime, we can tackle the small problems, those that are well within our reach. We don’t necessarily want to feel as though our tackling of these problems is just meaningless. If such is the case, then our efforts were wasted and we would have to try to deal with those larger problems. And they’re tough, we need to invest so much time into those. We’re busy folk, damn it! So in order to make those problems a lot more important, we inflate them. Sometimes, we can find that those tiny breadcrumbs that we deal with actually lead to a greater conflict, that those microaggressions have an impact that further emphasizes the corruption of systemic injustice. Other times, we’re just trying to justify our angry yelling. In this process, what seems as minor does in fact become the major, because it is one that is well within our reach. It is one that we can have a dialogue on because it’s surface-level, allowing for everyone to understand it and make their opinion on the matter as fast as possible.

Our walks of lives are quite different and as such our priorities are quite different. What one might consider as innocuous, the other may see it as morally reprehensible. And as such, everything becomes contentious as a result. So very little in this world is agreed upon universally. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people object to oxygen. But especially in these privileged wonderlands, we want to distract ourselves from the utter boredom of our lives. And the only way we can is through conflict. So don’t get too flustered if someone starts a petition for bringing back a cancelled TV show or if a newspaper publishes a smear campaign towards manbuns. Just remember, that you too have small things that feel a lot larger. And yes, I am talking about penises.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

A Post Post-Election About The Election Results

Now that I've had some time to digest the results of the election and take things into consideration, I feel as though I might as well go about making some long-winded post about it. I mean everyone needs the obnoxious politically-minded friend, so I fulfill that niche.

First off, as much as I may be fuming from the win being the sensitive little liberal that I am, I congratulate my Republican brethren for their victory. Amid the fearmongering and the gerrymandering and the voter supression, there are decent people who had valid reasons to go to this candidate. I said it before and I'll say it again, not all who went for Trump simply did it for the bigotry. I assume that many voters voted for what would be best for the US, not simply for themselves. And though each day in the election brought more astonishment that people still went for this man and the demographics show that white people were mostly supporting Trump (which means that there certainly was a race factor in all of this no matter how much you try to spin it), you stuck through it. Your passion for the man knew no bounds. I hope we can start to bridge the gap and I'll do my part to give the man the benefit of the doubt for a year or two. I won't be any doormat and I will have my reservations, but I'll play nice and maintain a level head. Assuming that he doesn't cross any large lines.

Second, to those who voted for third parties or made protest votes like going for Harambe or Bernie, as much as the liberal in me wants to choke you to death, I can't stay mad at you contrarian rapscallions. A part of me did believe that third parties had some place back then. And if there was any time to protest, this would be the one. You went with your conscience and you voted to protest a disgusting establishment that gave us two of the most unlikable human beings ever as the heads of the major parties. There was some way that people could have swayed you to the other sides but by being dismissive and arrogant certainly was not the right way. I don't have the same feeling for those who didn't vote at all. Especially in this election. Fuck you, you lazy shits.

Third, let's face it, Clinton did not cut the mustard. With Trump, the energy that his supporters had was incredible. They would die for the man. I think the only people who would for her is Lena Dunham or Samantha Bee. She did not captivate the populace, instead assuming that she had this election secured and neglecting the priorities of others. She was artificial and two-faced, with the deception from the DNC looming over her as people paved the way for her to march forward. You can make any argument you want about how these comments about her might just have to do with a sexist society, but you can't dispute that she lost. And the liberal smugness clouded the frustrations that people had with the general establishment. It may only serve to cloud further to reprimand the half of the nation that mobilized themselves enough to move forward.

Fourth, while there's a lot of factors to take in such as the intensity of the Republicans to block the Democratic vote, the passion for Donald Trump in compared to the lukewarm reception for Clinton, third-parties or protest votes taking away from Clinton, or the Democrats' utter complacency to the whole system, to me the greatest factor in this election was the media. The fucking media didn't shut up. They hyped everything to insane levels. They took the bait that Trump laid out every time and put a nice big BREAKING NEWS graphics package in front of it. You can either see them as playing into the status quo and neglecting the real anger that people had with politicians or as riding the sensationalist rollercoaster, using false equivalencies and hot air to fill in the void of true conversation about policy. Personally I see them more as the latter, since money runs their industry. Trump ruled the airwaves and the thinkpieces. And perhaps we can also be at fault of that for taking it in, but we were far past the point where we could have averted this.

Finally, amid all of this I say to all of you that it is not over. The election was close. There is still ways to push back. In a way, we can see this awful victory as a grand wake up call. The politicians didn't take the prospect of a man like him getting as far as he did, and he made it to the farthest point he could. Remain attentive and maintain the passion you have. The political infrastructures that we depended on were filled with termites. They are now being knocked down by a bulldozer with a huge shiny Trump logo on it. And in this wreckage we must restructure ourselves and push to prevent the radical or the incompetent from coming to fruition.

Don't look just to 2020 to prevent his second term, look to anything that comes near. I don't think that Democrats playing the obstructionist card will do any good. And I say that not because they have little sway in the government. But because that only furthers the frustration. The voice of the people must be heard and if that voice can stride for unity, for the betterment of the nation, they will follow it. I may not be proud of this election, but goddamn it, I'm still American! I still can see hope since there are still checks and balances in place! I believe that we can get through this! So let us keep going! For if America is terrible now, then we must try to make it great again.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Rock The Anti-Vote

It seemed as though God decided to bring the scares of Halloween early in the year by essentially subjecting the world to one of the ugliest American elections in history. I mean it’s quite horrendous that out of all the millions of people the 50 states could hold, they could only consider a rotting pumpkin-headed bigot-billionaire and a two-faced millennial-baiting robot as the best candidates to represent them. These two are hated not just by their opponents, but even by people who are under their party. They’re both corrupt, pathological liars, guilty of some sort of crime and driven by their egos. And as each day marches on they essentially drown our poor neighbours to the South with scandal after scandal. And boy it’s not like the third parties are really throwing any life preservers. What with Johnson being the libertarian scarecrow in desperate need of a brain and Stein being a green witch whose magic spells give people smallpox because they believe vaccines cause autism.

Now I’m one of the (un)lucky few who was able to vote in this election. And I certainly have been quite invested by the whole process. Seeing Barack break the black barrier and facing the eight years of vitriol that the right had thrown on him had me hooked on the political circus. Adding on a news media that at best was sensationalist and at worst partisan, the unmitigated gall of the standard politico’s penchant for lying, and the comedians who took it upon themselves to make the days’ events more palatable to the youth made me feel like there is something so beautiful about the broken system. And well, why not throw my pebble to the pond? I was sure 2016 would be just fine.

But then the US got to where it is now. And some of us have done some soul searching.

Over the years, the way in which I viewed the political world in the US was from a very typical point of view. That being that as a young man, I was staunchly Democrat and you dirty Republicans couldn’t convince me otherwise. Indeed, I still find myself holding on to the left, especially given the current circumstances. But I’m sympathetic to the Republicans. It seems quite unrealistic that we cannot focus on the reasonable Republicans, on the moderates. Such seemed so alien, so contradictory in the media lens. And indeed I was finding myself more disenfranchised by the Democrats who seemed not to do much about what they talked about.

Even amongst this election, with an orange clown constantly tripping and saying that he never slips, and the venomous alt-righters who would happily make a conspiracy theory about how what Clinton eats is actually supporting the terrorists and call you a shilling cuck if you disagreed, I do understand why this race is closer than we’d hope it to be. I see why people can’t trust Hillary because I felt the Bern and found myself aflame after the DNC leaks. I understand that are people who would like some better border protection who aren’t doing so out of a bigoted mindset but rather a frustration and insecurity that they feel. Most importantly, for as much as I love being on the left, Christ Almighty there are some obnoxious and ignorant people who only serve to belittle you because you don’t toe their line.

The US was building up to this powder keg exploding, with the divisiveness only growing with each coming year. It would have been so nice to see some peace and compromise, to find our leaders being more reasonable and shaking hands. But it’s foolish to hope for that in 2016 after the birther issue, the Benghazi scandal and the government shutting down like a Windows 10 computer abruptly updating. America was on the edge from all the stress that the government was causing. 2016 is the electoral equivalent of screaming at a pillow and punching a wall; our anger just had to come out – we could no longer kid ourselves with the fa├žade of civility we were maintaining.

This election has been so much of a burden, so much so that even here in Canada, I feel it necessary to talk about it because of just how much it affects the world. We mull through the speeches, the scandals, the think-pieces, the surrogates, the news coverage, the jokes, the memes, the conspiracies, the comments from strangers, the arguments with parents, the tacky merchandise, the inner thoughts and the policies of each candidate and we still feel unsure of what will come. Moreso, we feel unsure of if our decision is the right one. Not many of us Americans who vote will be completely confident in our candidate. And more so than any other year, we will vote more because of how much they can’t stand to see the other one take the helm. Such may be run-of-the-mill of elections. But in this one, we’re tired of it all. We just want some calm. 

Note: I'm well aware Halloween has passed but this was written before such.