Expertina responds to questions about life, love, work, and relationships. Readers may submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first time in my life, I feel seriously depressed and enraged due to the onslaught of racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, hateful, and antagonizing language issuing forth from the President. I don’t even want to type his name. I wake up in the morning fearful that he has started World War III while I was sleeping, Or that his Loyalist followers, with their rooted belief that he is the Savior instead of the Anti-Christ, have taken up public violence against the enemy (#therestofus) because he incites a riot.
This is causing me problems because the majority of people where I live and many of my relatives are Loyalists, and they like to gloat about realities that cause me suffering, like the separation and incarceration of families and Family Values at the border, the defunding of Education, the restriction of Reproductive Rights, and the impoverishment of Those in Need. The Loyalists will even attack Vaccination Laws; as one Loyalist told me, “Why should a woman have to give her kid a shot that causes autism when she can kill it before it’s born?” It drives me crazy.
I know several Loyalists who stockpile guns, from hot pink, girly pistols to AR-15s, and who are waiting and ready to go to War when The Government led by their President tries to take over. Who knows, they might even be willing to kill people like me to keep him in the Whitehouse.
I know, I know, my fears are random and irrational, but my depression and anger are real. What advice can you give me?
Alienated in Plain Sight #addictedtoreality #whatcanido
I feel your pain and want you to absolutely know: You are not alone. As your letter acknowledges, there are “the rest of us.” There are humanitarian heroes who risk their freedom in order to cache water in the desert for immigrant refugees fleeing violence and oppression, and those who provide shelter on both sides of the border. There are the everyday heroes who speak up when Loyalists direct hate or hostility toward #therestofus in public spaces. There are activists, advocates, organizers, politicians, and artists who spend their lives speaking up. While at times we may forget, there are as many people who believe in “liberty and justice for all” as there are Loyalists.
Still, it often seems that #therestofus are on losing ground. When the ongoing practice of separating and incarcerating families at the border is legitimized, it feels like losing. When the national rhetoric touts Family Values while state governments gut public schools and social services for those in need, it feels like losing. At times it seems like the worst of the nation’s history is being repeated, and the horror of it makes us want to wave the white flag.
But history teaches us we must persist, and that the struggle will never be over. Next year, for example, is the 100th Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, a manifestation of “liberty and justice for all” in the form of women’s suffrage, which didn’t happen overnight. Women and their allies fought and agitated for suffrage for one hundred years before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. When we believe in a Just Cause, we must continue to protest and agitate while knowing that we may not see the fruits of our labors in our lifetimes.
Speaking of voting, another thing we can do is to commit to voting in every future election and encouraging or assisting #therestofus to join in exercising our Right to Vote, whether the issues are local, state, or national. While elections in America are fraught with obstacles—from gerrymandering to registration laws to malfunctioning voting machines—our Right to Vote is an end unto itself. Universal suffrage represents the best of our U.S. Democracy (which is not the same as the predatory Government feared by Loyalists). (By the way, my boyfriend assures me that if any wAcKjOb President ever refuses to leave office, the Secret Service will escort him out.)
Speaking of my boyfriend, he has at least one strategy for dealing with hostile Loyalists we encounter in public. Once we were at a bar when a Loyalist started spouting off about Obama, going so far as to call him a foul name. While I felt provoked, my boyfriend diffused the situation. He said to the guy, “Hey, what about that George W. Bush? Now, he was some kind of President.” The Loyalist was instantly pacified and walked away content. It was better than wasting my good energy arguing with a Loyalist because it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Sometimes deflection can save the day.
There are other ways to interact with Loyalists that can defuse hostile situations. Some general advice is not to confront the Loyalist, but instead focus on support for #therestofus. For example, if a Loyalist is harassing a member of #therestofus, ask, “Are you okay? I’m here if you need to feel safe.” Ask the person being harassed if they would like an escort out of the situation—whether it’s from a store or a restaurant, or to their car in a parking lot. Don’t be afraid to speak up for #therestofus when a Loyalist acts out with hatred, racism, or threats.
Finally, it’s important to remember that U.S. Democracy is an ongoing project, and our nation is grounded in Rule of Law. The Twenty-second Amendment limits a President to two terms, which means that the current Administration can’t last forever. We are not outside of history, and history will make note of #therestofus who resist and confront with our daily lives and actions the racism, hot air, and hate coming from the pulpit of the President. On my best days, I believe #therestofus can vote him out in 2020. On my worst days, I rely on the fact that his reign can last no longer than eight years. Even if the President is a wAcKjOb, there are limits on how much he can screw up U.S. Democracy because #therestofus are multitudes.