We all know them. They’re our Facebook friends, co-workers, and family members. They’re the liberals in our lives who ignore politics.
They rarely comment on our political posts, and when they do comment, they write things like “Why can’t we just get along?” And they post things on their own pages like “I’m not that political,” “I only want to see positive posts,” or “I’m tired of all the arguing.”
Make no mistake: These people are every bit as damaging to democracy as Deplorables, but instead of owning their apathy (which would mean admitting that they can’t be bothered to pay attention to politics), they make bullshit excuses that allow them to take the high road.
But, hey, guess what? It’s 2018 and the American government is keeping kids in cages; Putin hijacked our election; schoolkids have a greater chance of getting shot than cops or soldiers; our so-called President is swiping right on one of the most dangerous dictators in history; protesters and journalists are being jailed for exposing the truth; black and brown people are getting beaten up and killed (sometimes by law enforcement) just for existing; we’re all in danger of losing healthcare and Social Security; big business has been given free reign to destroy our air, soil, and water; women are losing their freedom to make decisions about their bodies; and there’s a seething, surging white supremacist movement getting more powerful by the day. Yes, in your town, on your street, on your block.
If you can’t be bothered to care now, then when? How much worse does it need to get?
I’m telling you this as someone who learned the hard way. I haven’t always been “political.” Like lots of straight, middle-class, white people in America, I’ve been afforded the luxury of living in a bubble where I trusted things would work out because the rule of law established in the Constitution seemed unassailable.
In fact, I didn’t even really become invested in politics until Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, the first political platform that ever resonated with me, in part because living through the 2008 recession had opened my eyes to the damage oligarchs have been doing to our democracy.
That feels like a lifetime ago now, but it seems like every piece I’ve written, every post I’ve made, and every political conversation I’ve had since then has been an effort to try to jolt oblivious (willfully or otherwise) liberals into paying attention to what’s happening. But many of you just change the channel on me, the same way you do when you hear Sarah McLachlan’s angelic singing and that monotone voice-over about abused animals.
Ignoring what’s happening now doesn’t change the essential facts. Trump and his GOP cronies are working with Russia to destroy American democracy. Full stop.
Say it out loud. It will get easier to believe the more you say it.
Remember how not saying Voldemort’s name allowed Voldemort’s power to grow? Refusing to acknowledge that we have a president who knowingly sold out our country to an enemy because it’s too scary to contemplate only empowers the people who want to turn America into a fascist state.
Say it with me again: Trump and his GOP cronies are working with Russia to destroy American democracy.
The liberals I know who refuse to give voice to this now-undeniable truth fall into four different categories:
Lazy Liberals: Keeping up with politics requires vigilance, especially in the twelve-parsec-Kessel-Run-news-cycle we live in. It requires a willingness to put in the time to read, watch, listen, and sift through what’s credible and what’s not. Liberals who are too lazy to bother with this are the kids who coasted by with a “C” in school and were absolutely fine with it, the kids who recycled the same damn English paper over and over for multiple assignments, the kids who never bothered to take advantage of the chance to do extra-credit work. They’re willing to share the occasional misleading meme from Occupy Democrats, sign a Change.org petition, and that’s about it. None of that accomplishes anything except putting more money in the pockets of political operatives.
Faithful Optimistics: These Panglossses infuriate me the most. They stay out of politics because everything is in God’s hands and will of course all work out for the best. Or they think everything is in fate-with-a-capital-F’s hands. Or in elected officials’ hands, and we all know they’re trustworthy, right? A few of my Christian Facebook friends fall into this category, and I want to scream at them to wake the hell up. Jesus Christ, you guys have kids. What kind of world do you want them to inherit?
Selfish Liberals: These liberals stay out of politics because they’re white, middle class, and often men. They already got theirs, so screw everyone else. What happens to other people is none of their business, and they know that no matter how bad things get, they’ll be fine. Oh, sure, when push comes to shove they identify as pro-choice, LGBTQ-friendly, and pro-immigration (because those are the politically-correct positions to take), but they’re essentially Libplorables: Deplorables in liberals’ clothing.
Passive-Aggressive Pacifists: These are the liberals who say they don’t like all the anger and negativity, and only want to post and talk about “positive” things like their kids’ sports, homemade meals, beach vacations, and cute pets. They constantly try to shut down political conversations because politics makes them feel “uncomfortable.” In the end, they’re as much a danger to democracy as the Deplorables who deny the existence of objective truth.
So, what do I want these liberals to do? First of all, vote. An astonishing forty-three percent of eligible voters didn’t even bother to in 2016. Many of those non-voters undoubtedly fall into the categories I outlined above.
Second, they need to show us they’re paying attention. They don’t have to go to protests (although they could), but they need to speak up. I want them to risk being unliked by voicing their convictions. I want them to make themselves vulnerable by taking a stand — because there is strength in millions of vulnerable people coming together.
The rest of us out here who are worrying about the country so much that we can’t sleep, we’re getting depressed, and our anxiety is ratcheting up need to know that they’re with us, that we’re not sacrificing our health and sometimes safety (considering how dangerous it has become to express anti-Trump/GOP sentiment) for nothing.
The popular rallying cry for unions applies here too: Which side are you on? At this point, silence = enabling Trump-Russia.
Need inspiration? Go listen to some RATM and then come join the rest of us in The Resistance:
If we don’t take action now
We settle for nothing later
Settle for nothing now
And we’ll settle for nothing later
It’s not too late to turn this around, but it will be soon. When Trump declares martial law, and he will if he gets the chance, we will have arrived at the kill screen in this game called American democracy.