I’ve never been a joiner, and I don’t particularly care for groups. I find that no matter how liberal the group, there is a core mentality to which you have to adhere in order to be embraced. Otherwise, you’re tolerated at best, coldly snubbed at worst. As anyone who has interacted with me knows, I’m not a follower. I have a hard time with authority for various reasons, but mostly because I’m wary of a concentrated amount of power, no matter how just it might seem. In addition, we are all tribal at heart, whether we want to admit it or not, so the temptation to skew to the group norm is great. It’s not always a conscious thing, which makes it harder to recognize in yourself.
I’ve talked before about being a contrarian in part as a defense against falling into herd mentality. It’s partly because I tend to see things as multifaceted rather than as one thing or the other, which makes arguing on social media an exercise in frustration and futility. What I haven’t talked much about is how lonely it makes me feel a lot of the time. Despite my rather brash persona online and my prolific use of cuss words, I have a rather pathological need to please people. Or rather, not to offend people I care about and/or respect. Even when I disagree, I strive to find a way not to make it obvious that I’m doing so. It goes past trying to find common ground; I simply cannot tell someone I think they’re wrong without feeling overwhelmingly guilty. I’ll point out discrepancies or edge around the issue, but very rarely can I say, “I don’t agree.” I think there’s value in being polite or trying to see the other person’s point of view, but there is a limit. My way of dealing with issues in which I have a firm opinion is to not talk about it. For example, I am about as leftist as you can get on the topic of abortion. I think it should be legal all the time without question. Since I know I have no budge to give on the topic, I don’t discuss it with anti-choicers because there’s no point. I won’t change their mind, and they certainly will not change mine. Yes, I used to write about it ad nauseam, but that was just me preaching to the choir.
Right now, I’m disquieted by the number of liberals who are bending themselves into pretzels in order to defend Bill Clinton. Full confession: I loathe the man. I think he’s a sexual predator and a narcissist, and I believe he’s sexually harassed women at the very minimum. He showed extremely poor judgement with Monica Lewinsky, and it was an abuse of power on his part. I remember liberals throwing Lewinsky under the bus, and it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Fast-forward twenty years to now, and some liberals are still defending Bill with all their might. To make matters worse, it’s oftentimes the same people who passionately declare that you have to believe women when it comes to sexual assault. All women. All the time. Believe women.
Except if the women accuse someone you like. Except if the accusations are inconvenient. Then, fuck those women, apparently. Let me be clear. Donald Trump doesn’t give a fuck about those women, and the fact that he’s using them to deflect from his own criminal behavior is grotesque. That said, it’s disturbing how many liberals are quick to push the meme that these women are liars or unstable or troublemakers because they’re accusing Bill of sexual harassment. One said Hillary threatened her after Bill raped her. To be fair, she denied Bill raped her under oath, but that might have been because she was fearful of retribution. Again, I don’t know the truth in most of the cases, but I do know that Bill Clinton was at fault in the Lewinsky case given the vast power differential. At the very minimum, his behavior was wildly inappropriate, and he never apologized for his behavior. In fact, he lied about it under oath. I haven’t forgotten that.
And, no, he’s not running for president. But, his wife is, and she’s said that he would be the one to revitalize the economy, which means he’s going to be working for her, even if it’s unofficial. In addition, if Hillary did threaten the woman Bill allegedly raped, then that is concerning to me as well. The amazing thing to me is how Bill has avoided censure from the left for the most part, even now. The cognitive dissonance is deeply disturbing. How can we advocate believing women no matter what if we add, “Except when it’s our guy”? And, no, “Trump is much worse” is not a good rebuttal. Trump is a terrible person in many ways, including being a sexual predator, but that does not excuse Bill’s behavior at all. At least not to me. I’ve mentioned this a couple times on Twitter, but not the extent of my displeasure with how many liberals are treating this. As a survivor, it’s disheartening to know that some people on my side would discard my reality if it came in conflict with their political goals. In addition, I’m fully aware of how if I voice the depth of my concerns, I’ll be accused of aiding and abetting Trump. I already have, and I simply said that Bill Clinton is one of my biggest deterrents to fully supporting Hillary.
It’s possible to denounce Trump and his egregious behavior without defending Bill; it’s not an either/or proposition. I know that the impulse to do it is because you don’t want to show weakness, but I think it’s strengthens your position if you’re able to talk about your own flaws as well. I know it’s not easy to admit to your own wrongdoings or to those of people on your side, but I think it’s better to do it yourself rather than let your opposition attack you with it. It’s not just about being self-reflective or being the better person, it’s a good strategy. You take the wind out of your opponent’s sails (I initially typed win, and I think that’s a good Freudian slip), and you look like the bigger person in the process.
The love the left shows for Bill Clinton makes me feel like I’m crazy. The man took advantage of an intern, and don’t tell me if it was, say, Mitch McConnell, the liberals wouldn’t be calling for his head on a platter. I don’t approve of closing ranks and protecting one of our own if that person isn’t deserving of said protection. I have grave concerns about Bill Clinton, and I resent that other liberals think this means I’m a traitor to the party. I’m a lifelong Democrat. I have been one all my goddamn life. That doesn’t mean that I accept what any Democrat does without question, and it bothers me that so many liberals seem willing to just root for the D beside someone’s name. I will vote Democratic for the foreseeable future because we have such a shitty Republican party, and it’s not viable for a candidate from the third party to win. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to hold my elected officials accountable, and that includes candidates.
There has been much griping about Trump not being held to the same standard as is Clinton. While I agree, I want the candidates for president to be thoroughly vetted. That means I don’t mind Clinton being grilled–as long as Trump is as well. Speaking of abortion, I would like that to be discussed more, but I know that’s a pipe dream. Abortion, queer rights, police brutality, and climate change are all apparently off the table. And so is sexual harassment/assault/rape. I’ve been really befuddled why Trump’s numerous sexual assault cases haven’t been more widely discussed, and one thing I can agree on with the rest of my fellow liberals is wondering why this is the line being drawn by Republicans. Trump has said horrific things about so many groups of people and done such terrible things in general, why is this the thing to push them over the line? I thought about it quite a bit, and I concluded that it was because he said pussy. He was being too vulgar in his choice of words. Other theories are that ‘grabbing’ is the word that really turned people off and that it was because he was disrespecting a white woman. I don’t disagree completely, but I do think it’s the use of pussy that really pushed the Republicans over the edge.
I’m tired of biting my tongue. I can tell because I snapped at a friend tonight who didn’t deserve it. It’s one marker that I need to back away from politics and social media–I need to regain my equilibrium. At its worst, social media can make me feel more lonely than I did before. I know many people feel empowered by social media, that it allows them to have a voice. For me, I see the groupthink happening on my TL, and I feel as if my opinion doesn’t matter. I’m just shouting into the void, and it seems like a waste of my time. I’ve questioned what I’m doing on social media many times in the past, and I’ve been aware this election season how much it sours my disposition. I’m not the most positive person in the best of times, so the last thing I need is something that makes me even more depressed. To be fair, I also get some good things out of social media, including witty repartee, tons of cute cat videos, and funny GIFs. I’ve met some really good people as well, including Ian*, who’ve I’ve mentioned many times before. I’m not ready to give up social media completely, but I still need to cut down on my intake.
I find that I’m happier when I’m not constantly checking my timeline on Twitter. I once didn’t check in on my social media for a week, and I barely missed it. It’s not as if people couldn’t contact me in other ways if I left for good. On the bad days, Twitter just feels like the negative voices chattering in my head. “Don’t do this.” “Do this.” “You’re a shit if you think this.” I have enough of that in my own brain; I don’t need to hear (read) it, albeit not directed at me, by people who are supposed to be on my side. And, yes, I get more indignant with my own side being hypocritical or being dogmatic because I expect more from my side than I do from Republicans. We are supposed to be the tolerant party, the one which embraces diversity, humanity, and compassion. I don’t want to lower myself to the Republican’s level, no matter how gratifying it might feel in the moment.
It seems as if I’m in the minority in saying that, however, because even with PBO, many liberals were mad that he tired to work with the Republicans. I will agree that went too far in trying to compromise, but I respect him for operating in good faith. I know it’s naive of me to believe that we should all try to be our best, but I still do, despite my cynical mien. This election is testing my humanity, but I’m determined not to let it break me. It’s the one thing I can control.
*He’s my video game pusher. He suggested Torchlight, the first ‘hardcore’ game I’ve played as an adult, and he’s the one who introduced me to the Souls series, which he found out about from his brother.