I had to dust off my blog for this. It’s been in the back of my mind for a while, and I’ve made various allusions to it in conversations – online and off line. Now that the concept is trending though – #WalkAway – I felt compelled to voice my input; not that anyone asked. It will be more of a reference point for me in the future. More on that later.
I never paid attention to politics until college (2005-2010). Until then, it was herd mentality for me, and I far from understood the nuances. My closest friends were intelligent, funny, successful, well-liked, and also Democrats so it made sense in my mind that I was too:
- I had friends that were gay and I wanted them to be accepted as anyone else.
- I thought companies were greedy.
- I couldn’t stand the idea that a shirt could sell for $200 but people are starving in the streets.
- Drugs are bad but locking people up isn’t the best way to deal with it.
- Bush was regularly mocked on television so he must be objectively stupid.
And so on and so forth. I was (and still am) very pro-gun though; one of those rare pro-gun moderate Dems. However, I never gave it much thought. Politics was something boring that smart people cared about.
A Seed Is Planted
By 2007, there was election talk and I had to start paying attention. Like any good citizen, I did all sorts of research on the candidates. I knew I couldn’t vote for McCain because he’s a Republican and Republicans are bad because Bush was bad. That was the extent of my logic. I liked a lot of things Obama was talking about though I didn’t agree with 100% everything. The main thing was ending the war in the Middle East and I saw that as a preservation of tax dollars that be used for better things. I continued to research on and found the Libertarian Party. Anti-war, pro-gun, lax on drugs, and open to other lifestyles were big things that appealed to me. At first, I was hesitant to the ideas of lower taxes and reduced regulation but everything was explained in a way that made sense. On platforms alone, I cast my ballot for Bob Barr knowing that the LP would lose. From the “lesser of two evils” perspective, I was holding out for Barack Obama to win. I went into his presidency with an open mind. I told myself I would pay attention, that I would attempt to minimize my biases, and try to understand how everything worked.
(not much) Hope & (a lot of) Change
I can’t remember the exact day or even the pivotal moment for me, but after a year or two into the Obama presidency, he lost my support. Various influential reasons include:
- Expansion of military presence in the Middle East
- Drone strikes
- Wall Street bailout
- Winning the Nobel Peace Prize despite little to no contribution
- Opposition to same-sex marriage
Even with his deeds mounting in my turn of support, the number one reason above all others was the culture surrounding him. He was hosting SNL and dancing with Ellen. There was very little focus on policy and a deafening emphasis on what a “cool, smooth guy” he is. He cracked a joke about a drone strike on the Jonas Brothers (that his daughters were fans of at the time). The man was untouchable. Any criticisms were written off as racism, and that defense solidified with constant media images of legitimate racists hanging effigies and hateful signs.
The Left Gets Cocky
This is purely my interpretation but I believe the Obama presidency to be the beginning of identity politics and the current culture war. A Democrat foothold in the White House was somehow the confidence they needed to begin, whether it was a conscious decision on their part or not. It was during this time that I first heard about concepts of privilege and patriarchy:
- “White men have been president long enough.”
- “Criticizing the president is silencing black voices.”
- “This is a space for women and people of color – white men are not allowed.”
They started fighting perceived racism with actual racism; perceived sexism with actual sexism. I have always accepted people as they are and here I am being told that I’m not welcome or desired because of my sex and skin color. Being politically to the right of Obama meant you were Nazi. Criticizing the president on any matter meant you are a white supremacist. The people claiming that their voices weren’t being heard were now silencing other voices. Their voices got louder as time went on. They moved from the halls of academia and into the mainstream. As the internet expanded, with more people having access to cable and broadband, and the proliferation of smart phones, the voices were found everywhere and the message spread.
At this point, you know where I’m headed. After eight years of rants about privilege, patriarchy, males, white people, etc, we hit the election season again and Donald Trump takes the win. How? Why? We’ve all heard it time and time again. It wasn’t out of blatant support for Trump, which, he did and continues to have his supporters. But Donald Trump was the protest vote. Yes, he’s boisterous. Yes, he’s confrontational. Yes, he has made some questionable remarks. And all of that upset the Left. Middle class white families in “flyover” country were tired of being blamed for any (real or perceived) ills. Every single problem is “the white man’s fault” and voting for Trump was their way of fighting back; casting support for someone out of spite. I’m not excusing it or endorsing it. I didn’t vote for Trump. But for a lot of people, this was the rationale.
And what did the Left do? No self-reflection. No evaluation of their methods and messages. No questioning of outsiders to learn of other world views. They doubled down. Hitler! Nazi! Racist! Anyone who even slightly disagreed is now an enemy. College students protest and interrupt speakers they don’t like – even those who are left-of-center. Mainstream publications such as Huffington Post, Washington Post, Slate, Salon, and others regularly post articles about the perceived evils of Republicans and “privileged white men.” The concepts of rape and sexual assault have been dumbed to include any minor discomfort against a female (even using the word “female” is considered derogatory) and now assault statistics have been artificially inflated. Sexism means something that a MALE did. Racism means something that a WHITE person did.
Violence is not only acceptable now, but openly encouraged. Richard Spencer was punched on television in the middle of an interview. Yes, he is a neo-Nazi and his world view is disgusting. Being a despicable person is not justification for violence though. Afterwards, the “punch your local Nazi” movement started. Given how quickly the term is used to describe someone who disagrees with the mainstream Left, it’s easy to see how quickly that logic can spiral out of control. In 2017, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise was shot during practice for a Congressional charity baseball game. Immediately, people took to Twitter to express their displeasure that he lived. How much hate must a person have to wish death on another? It’s easy to hate when you dehumanize the enemy.
I could continue but it makes my head spin to even think about. It’s disheartening to think about that this is how people occupy their time and their lives. It has consumed all areas of American society. Nothing is safe; all is political. In the last year, I’ve been working on developing more of a social life and coping with my depression and anxiety. I can’t even do that without politics coming into play. Friendships now form over people circle jerking about how much they hate Donald Trump. Perhaps I want to go play pub trivia? At least three team names will be along the lines of “Le Cheeto Hitler Drumpf is stoooooopid.” Dating apps? “White men swipe left please.” I can’t order that crab rangoon pizza because that’s cultural appropriation.
Now before someone says “but you said you’re a libertarian… why are you defending Republicans?” Yeah, I disagree with Republicans on several issues. And yes, I disagree with Democrats on several issues. But the current state of affairs is as such:
- Democrats are the loudest voice right now
- Democrats have demonized me over perceived injustices
- Republicans have accepted me with open arms, socially speaking, despite our disagreements
- In a world where I politically align with less than 0.1% of the population, I have to be more politically aware than I was before because I’ve been backed into a corner
Yes, I am a straight white male. I am staunchly libertarian, pro-gun, pro-capitalism, pro-drugs, and vehemently anti-government. I work in automation engineering and consequently, I’m part of the “job killing movement.” I am literally Satan incarnate to a lot of people. But I’ve never hurt anyone. I’m quite humble, even into self-deprecation territory. I like to think I’m pretty open minded and accepting of all people, or at the very worst, silently tolerant. Even on the small chance I disagree with something, if you’re not hurting anyone or damaging property, I don’t care at all. You do you. I listen. I care. I love. I believe that I am a good person; a reliable and trustworthy person. But apparently my biggest sin is not being “woke” enough. I don’t wish ill against anyone; I just have a different view of how to solve problems. Because of that, I am the enemy. That’s why I had to #WalkAway.