by Nia Hampton

Am I the only one who’s grown weary of tracking El Cheeto? It’s a terrible thing to acknowledge, because political apathy is what got us into this situation in the first place, but it’s the truth. Every week we have a new cataclysmic event, a new basic human right to defend, and the only thing we know we can count on is 45’s golf schedule. My numbness may not help the fight, but as rumors of a second term start to swirl, I am starting to suspect that putting distance between me and this fool is a method of defense.

The optimist in me wants to believe Trump will not even see another year in office, let alone seven. But the realist in me knows that far worse things have happened to far better countries. While acknowledging the natural ebb and flow of American politics, it feels to me as if we are taking too many steps back from all of our most recent steps forward. When does the turning point come? If the Tea Party radicalized in reaction to Obama, what will the progressive version of the Tea Party look like, and where do I sign up? Keeping up this fight on my own is exhausting, and the more exhausted I become the more aware I am of the danger to my own sanity. I want to step back, but there’s a fine line between resting and sleeping. And I worry about stepping back now, because it still feels like things will get much worse before they get better.

Where is our model for impeachment? Why is it that the presidents of history that have symbolized the most important progression are the ones whose lives are often claimed, whereas the president that abuses those he is meant to serve lives life so unscathed? Why do we allow ourselves to be bamboozled so continuously by heart-breaking distractions? We mourn for the loss and insult to Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson but end our investment there instead of digging further into the real events that led to her husband’s death. From Vox.com:

“(The wars are) a fight that takes place largely in the shadows, led by small teams of US special operations forces. In Somalia, Navy SEALs are hunting members of al-Qaeda and ISIS-linked militants from groups like al-Shabaab (one of the commandos died in a botched raid earlier this year). In Libya, they’re carrying out counterterror missions like the one that captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a militant linked to the deadly assault on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi. And in Djibouti, the US flies armed drones out of a major airbase at Camp Lemonnier, which is also used for counterterrorism and counter-piracy operations in the region.

US forces have also regularly conducted raids and other missions in Chad, Cameroon, Uganda, and, of course, Niger, where there are at least 800 American troops deployed.

The missions rely on a broad array of legal authorities but have one particularly important thing in common: They have never been specifically authorized by Congress, let alone discussed and debated by the American public.”

The plot thickens. I encourage you to journey down the rabbit hole of America’s international politics if you can stomach it. But I cannot.  I created this F*ck Donald Trump series for All the Pretty Birds at the start of his administration, and now I find myself reconsidering where I invest this energy. I knew this presidency would be bad. But each week we sink to new lows, draining a reserve of energy I did not know that I have. Last week the dystopia expanded with Betsy Devos’ rollback on punishment for campus sexual assault. Any survivor, on hearing this news, felt their heart sink to new depths for the victims yet to come. From the New York Times:

The most controversial portion of the Obama-era guidelines had demanded colleges use the lowest standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence,” in deciding whether a student is responsible for sexual assault, a verdict that can lead to discipline and even expulsion. On Friday, the Education Department said colleges were free to abandon that standard and raise it to a higher standard known as “clear and convincing evidence.”

What does ‘clear and convincing evidence of rape and sexual assault even look like? Photos? Stained underwear? Condoms? Everything about Devos’s so-called reform is insulting, traumatizing, and regressive.  I don’t want to be a part of this media train wreck anymore. Our energy should be put into resisting, organizing alternate realities for ourselves. The great Toni Morrison once said:

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

This quote applies to all manners of oppression. Fuck Donald Trump, I’m tired of talking about him. From now on, I’d much rather focus on how to build better realities. How are we letting ourselves be distracted? What misdirection is ruling our lives right now, keeping us from doing the real work? These are the questions I am asking myself as I pull my eyes away from the sleight of hand and focus on the face of the magician. What are you really doing?

Personally, I’ve started therapy. It’s not necessarily to deal with Trump as much as to temper that millennial nihilism that no longer serves me. I’m 25 this year, and as much as I find myself feeling estranged from society at large, I’m still a member. And I would like to be a functional and contributing one. I hope that through therapy, I can stop feeling helpless and start making strides to better my personal life. and in turn, the lives of others in my communities. As the government implodes on itself, it becomes increasingly clear that all we really have is each other.

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