I wonder sometimes, how much of my life can be explained if I tell you that my parents voted for Nader in 2000. I was a good daughter back then, and dutifully followed along. I was the only girl in my 2nd grade class to do so, the only block of green construction paper on the chart we compiled. I was proud of myself then, and I’m proud of myself now.
I hate politics. That might be a lie. I hate the way the American political system exists and is executed currently. I like politics as an idea. I’ve watched a season and a half of the West Wing in the last week. Politics are fine and good when they’re fictional.
Today is day two of the Democratic National Convention. I had to leave the house to get away from my mother watching it on TV. Last night I stayed and hid in my room, but I could still here the rhythms of the speeches through the wall, and that was too much. Thinking about politics makes me sad. I simply do not want to here them talk.
Yesterday’s speakers included a line up of politicians I like alright, and respect as much as I respect a politician. I like Franken a lot, I’ve voted for him. Elizabeth Warren is great. I graduated from the same high school as Keith Ellison’s kid, and I’m proud that he’s representing me. Bernie almost got me invested in this whole shebang. But god, I did not want to hear them talk last night.
Whatever they were saying, I knew I couldn’t make myself trust it. I knew I wouldn’t really care. As much as I like these individuals, as much as I think they’re probably descent human beings, they’re still politicians.
This past week I’ve been reading The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem, who’s a situationist, which is as I understand it, a very specific sort of Anarchist. Reading anarchist thought in the middle of American Politics is Not Good for my mental health. I lean towards anarchism on the best days, and party conventions are the worst days. Party conventions are an example of all the things that get on my nerves about America politics. They’re about money, and popularity, and selling slightly different flavors of centrism.
At least that’s usually what they’re about. Trump and the Republics last week are more frightening than that, but it’s still a fair point. The Republican National Convention actually didn’t bother me as much as the DNC is. The RNC had an element of theater of the absurd. It was poorly executed, and at times laughably bad. That people were listening to him is incredibly frightening, but I’m still far enough away that I can laugh some. Laughter is a better choices than wanting to die. I didn’t see anyone expecting the RNC to be anything other than a joke or a tragedy, and it was both.
My problem with the DNC is that people I know are getting excited about it, and it seems like they think I should be excited about it, and that isn’t gonna happen. I am not going to get excited about the Democratic party. I’m going to vote for them, but I’m not going to like it. They’re the lesser of two evils, but a wide margin this year, but still — not great.
I’m not excited by this political machine that’s far more to the center than I am. I don’t feel like it’s speaking for me — looking out for my best interests, sure, definitely more than the other guy, but actually speaking for me? Actually reflecting what I care about? No.
And nothing in mainstream American Politics ever will. Because to become Mainstream American Politics and actually get anything done you have to have money, and you have to make deals, and compromises, and basically sell pieces of your soul to a thousand different interests. That’s how Mainstream American Politics work. It sucks, but I’m not going to be the one to change it.
I am going to use harm reduction practices and vote democratic. I am going to support the local politicians who seem like they’re still human. And I’m going to invest all of my idealism and energy into things that aren’t politics.
Politics are dead to me. Politics are lies. I am not about them.
I am about volunteering at the collectively run bookstore in my neighborhood, and helping with the community meal at my church, and doing small things to be good to the people in my life. Engaging with Mainstream American Politics makes me want to die, so I am going to do Not That.
It’s simple really.
I was in high school when the RNC was held in St Paul. I remember friends going to protests. I remember months later going to a house concert where the cover went to the folks who got arrested. I remember being so confused as to why the fuck this thing was in my Cities, where it clearly does not belong.
I wasn’t watching the DNC speeches yesterday, but I saw on twitter that Wellstone’s name got mentioned, and there were still cheers in the crowd, more than a decade after he died. I remember when he died. It was right before the election, and they scrambled to see who would be running in his place. It wound up being Walter Mondale, a good name, but not the one on all the green signs in people’s yards. My mother and I made a Mondale banner, and walked to hang it off the edge of the Lake Street Bridge. Mondale lost that election.
There are still so many Wellstone signs in Minnesota. So many bumper stickers. I see a car ahead of me with a green rectangle with the Wellstone name on it I know it’s someone I could have a conversation with. I know we believe in one of the same things. That’s what politics is supposed to be.
I wish there were more politicians I could get behind. I wish there was a system I could trust. But there isn’t, and expecting this to be anything other than shit is just going to break my heart, and I have better things to do with my life.