I realized today, when reading this diary that I'm one of those people who is voting democratic but has become so beaten down with all the crazy and the seemingly intractable problems that I'm not doing a damn thing other than that in what is probably the most important election of my lifetime.
In the past I've tried donating. All it seemed to accomplish is to fill my inbox with pleas for more money, years later, from people in districts far from my own.
I've tried phonebanking and canvassing. It's hard work, emotionally and the latter, also physically (I live in an area with a lot of hills). Futhermore I live in an area that is about as "safe" for dems as it gets in this country, so the only place I can have an impact with such activities is elsewhere, where I don't know the people, their problems or their thinking. Also I work for a living with a demanding job and support a disabled wife. I don't have a lot of spare time or emotional energy.
Below the fold is the reasons why I feel beat down. Some good news on any of those fronts would help my emotional energy. But what I really need is some kind of fresh ideas on how an individual can actually make a difference against all this stuff.
so...my current list causing "outrage fatigue". It is likely not helping that I'm originally trained as an engineer and in my youth had a foolish idea that facts could actually sway opinion. I've learned better over the years, but it is a dream that never quite dies.
I'd like to pick even ONE of these things and try to make an actual difference. Ideas welcome.
Relentless attempts by the right to make the two Democratic presidents in my voting lifetime illegitimate, often with breathtaking hypocritical rhetoric. This time around the % of population that believes ALL of the conspiracy theories is scary high.
Absolute refusal to have fact based dialog by an increasingly large percentage of America's population on Economy, Evolution, Climate Change, the role of revenue in government, the role of government in society, various forms of medical research, or any candidate's record on any topic, even when all the information is public record.
Trend of increasing influence of money on politics. Related, the increasing costs of running for office and the amount of time our representatives spend fundraising instead of governing. If it didn't cost so freaking much, money wouldn't have the power it does.
Refusal to see woman as actually people by a lot of the population. The trendlines might be in the right direction, but that has been balanced by my increased awareness of just how bad and pervasive it actually is even in western liberal democracies. In most of the rest of the world, it's worse. I feel pretty much the same about racism of any stripe, but it's harder for me to see (I'm a white male, and while I can see the effects of anti-women attitudes on my wife, mother, sister and friends, I don't know many people of races other than my own, aside from Indian co-workers who are almost all Brahman caste and mostly male and all ranging from middle-class to wealthy). Only the progress in LGBT rights makes me feel better in this area, plus a few green shoots of sex-positive stuff the web is enabling.
Destruction of the public school systems. I hate that my friends are feeling the need to either homeschool kids, or warp their entire lives around getting into a "good" school district. I hate that in my state we went from very affordable and high quality state colleges in my lifetime to "majoring in debt" in a way that rivals the worst private schools cost in my own youth. Raise some freaking taxes and fund the GDDAMN schools already, do it nationwide with universal standards and do it with a funding source that isn't at the whim of yearly levies or state government raiding.
I hate that all the privacy protections of citizens in this country are pretty much gone, and every couple months new legislation is pushed to make it worse. A few bills are stopped, but they just re-introduce it later. Related, I can't fly anymore. I just can't take the security theater. When I was a kid, I liked flying. Now it is more of an ordeal than spending several days driving.
I hate that one party in this country cares for nothing except raw power, choosing to obstruct their own solutions to our many problems just to score political points and maybe get the presidency back 4 years earlier. I hate even more that this country REWARDED that behavior with a wave election in 2010.
A media that refuses to call out lies. That's even worse than the media that has become 100% propaganda. I would actually prefer a landscape of nothing but Fox News equivalents for each point of view than these gutless false equivalent "neutral" media we have now.
And finally I'm staring down an election that could enshrine a conservative court for the rest of my life, will roll back medicare and social security, will finish off public education and do its best to make a race to the bottom in working conditions.
I actually have it objectively really good. Enough money, a nearly 25 year relationship with my wife, decent if not perfect health. But I'm somebody who would like to be proud to be an American....but really am not right now. Every single trendline seems to be in the wrong direction and we could take a huge freaking stair step turn for the worse in November. I've read a lot of history, and the precedents are unnerving. Read about the Boni in the late Roman Republic, the Nazis in Weimar, the Bolshelvicks in 1918, the French revolution followed by the Napoleonic empire.
They started when people who were supposed to govern could not, usually in large part because one significant minority chose to make the government unworkable. And people like me stood by and did nothing.
What can I do that won't be futile? Any ideas, no matter how crazy, welcome.
9:11 PM PT: Thanks for the diary rescue. It helped with what was shaping up to be a pretty crummy evening. Maybe somebody will have something helpful to say, to me and those who commented who are feeling the same way. And it is nice to know that somebody thought this rant was worth sharing with a larger audience.
Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 6:54 AM PT: Thank you for all the responses. Among other things it's hardened my long term resolve to, as soon as I can afford to "downsize" my job to more sane hours (and a lot less pay likely), volunteer in my community likely in some area of education.
In the short run, I should work out how much money I can spend and target it as effectively as I can. The suggestions showed me that time is my biggest problem in the short run, the lack of it (and lack of emotional energy to temporarily give up on things like exercise or sleep to make time) killed off most of the things I could do short term.
I'm reading and appreciating all the posts, even if I don't respond to all.