My name is Lydia and I’m a democrat. I was raised in a city of democrats by parents who were democrats. I grew up thinking everyone was like me—choosing social justice over corporate greed. That’s how I saw it. Power to the people. Democracy flowed freely, and no one tried to shield me from it.
Democrats were glamorous. I remember the Kennedys— JFK was shot before my time, so I can’t tell you where I was, but I do have vague memories of Bobby, or maybe I’ve seen so many film clips that I can’t separate memories from documentaries. I assumed everyone loved the Kennedys with their endless passionate causes. I would dream about little John John saluting his dad, and then later about him on his shirtless romps in Central Park… republicans never had a John John. The Kennedys were superheroes with a K. Democracy was the air in their lungs…the air that eventually killed them.
As I grew into young adulthood, Ronald Regan cemented my political leanings. I couldn’t turn off the thoughts—’trickle down this, asshole’. Political discussions with classmates and friends were never fun for me. I’d avoid places where politics might be served up.
I’m not too proud to admit I once dated a Republican. I didn’t realize it at first. I thought he was pretending to be a republican to get my attention and engage me in debates. Friends would look at me when he’d say anything political, and I’d say- “he’s kidding”. Then we got married and I realized he wasn’t kidding. I wore him down, but his republicanism was always there just under the surface…festering like a blister under a bandaid.
The Bush, Clinton, Bushness of the next several years were a fog. My head pounding after having engaged in debates and not even knowing how they started; why did I do that to myself? It felt good for a few minutes and then took on a life of its own…waking up on a couch somewhere with msnbc still playing on the television. I disgusted myself.
The foundation of my world began to crumble with Facebook. It started with one unfollowed “friend”, and then the second. Now my newsfeed is virtually non existent. I never know when the children of acquaintances win a soccer game, or when people I met once go on vacations to places I will never be in a position to see. I don’t see their posts. They’re dead to me.
Rock bottom came a couple of weeks ago when my little boy asked me what was for dinner. I couldn’t hear what Rachel Maddow was saying so I waved him off. Rather than feed my child, I tried to string together: oil, Trump, Russia, fossil fuel, T Rex – Rex Tillerson, Exon-Mobile, and Putin’s Rosneft…my sixteen year old child was forced to make himself a sandwich. I knew I needed help.
Today, if I find I am in a situation where politics is the subject of conversation, I excuse myself. I walk away because I know if I stay I will find a way to justify making that first comment. I hear a statement I don’t think is correct and I tell myself– one clarification and I’ll stop. Now I know one rejoinder is just right, two is too many, and three is never enough. You make one point, and the second point makes itself. It doesn’t end with the first one.
This is the cross I bear- my daily battle. All I can do is try to string together two non-politicized thoughts in my head and build from there. Hopefully someday I’ll parlay those thoughts into a few hours of freedom from politics.