I think it was Malcolm X, who said, “the revolution cannot continue 24 hours a day.” It’s important for those of us who are active in politics or social causes to rest, recharge, and step back from the constant argument and nasty attitudes of social media. However, with the most crucial election of our lifetimes just days away, I’ve decided that now is the time to engage, to argue, to present facts, and do my best to disseminate every reason I have to vote for Biden/Harris and send Donald Trump back to the golf course.
In one online venue, I often talk to my ex-brother-in-law. He’s the only person from my ex-wife’s family I still talk to. Like many of my other friends, he’s an iconoclast and free-thinker, a creative artist who works in the IT community and makes up his own mind about the issues. For whatever reason, he has decided that the excesses of political correctness and cancel culture are a greater threat than Trumpism, and although his arguments are often mystifying to me, he’s always polite about it and never goes ad hominem. The same goes for his conservative friends. Lately, I have been jumping into the fray on his social media and trying to stump for Joe Biden. I usually go to the only area where I’m kind of an expert: business management. I point out that there are many right ways to manage people, but that it was clear from the outset that Trump didn’t have any of them. I predicted, “a chaotic administration, with mixed messaging, high turnover, a good deal of incompetence, and probably a few indictments.” I wish I’d been further off with my analysis.
While I was making my case, one of the conservative commenters asked me point-blank: “What did the big bad orange man do to you?” I thought about it for a moment and started doing some math. Back in March, his choices forced me to shut down a business line worth $3000 per month because of the Corona shutdown, and most of that business has not come back. What has the orange man done to me? Rather a lot, actually. His bungled response to the pandemic has cost my household at least $20,000.
But it isn’t about me. As a white guy business owner with a college education, a homeowner living in a middle-class neighborhood, I’ll probably do okay. People like me usually do. But how about our kids? Two of our adult children, one in college and one in the process of enlisting in the Army, both had to move back into the house when colleges and recruitment shut down. They put their entire life plans on hold for half a year.
Then there’s my mixed-race daughter and our transgender son. They hear rhetoric from the White House, see discriminatory policies enacted, and feel targeted by their own government.
And our dear, seriously ill friend in Baton Rouge, getting by on one lung and one kidney, who had to live without power for three weeks due to the hurricane. Meanwhile, the Executive Branch denies climate change and would rather ignore Americans’ plight in harms’ way than admit that anything bad has happened on their watch.
And my uncle left me to wonder in the path of wildfire in California, why the federal government rarely has a word to say about their crisis. All the while, Trump’s administration refuses to release critical funding to a “blue state.”
What has the big bad orange man done to me? It doesn’t matter—it’s what his government has done to people I love and people I don’t even know. Trumpism thrives on voter non-participation and on the idea that government is just a farce, a game show…that government policy never makes a difference either way. Asking what he’s done to me is the wrong question. We’re all in the same boat here, and what’s done to one of us is done to us all. And we all deserve so much better.