For the 2,000 or so who have subscribed to this Medium profile I thought I would give you a heads up about how and why my perspective has changed so dramatically in the past year. While my political beliefs have not changed much, I have left the Democratic Party and am now a registered independent.
On Twitter, on my website and on my Substack, and certainly on Facebook (which I no longer use) people have come to know me since these platforms began. (Other than on my own site, which predates social media and has been online since 1999) most of my readers in the past few years know me as a fairly standard, fairly outspoken Hillary/Biden supporter. That was my tribe. I probably gained more followers defending and fighting for Hillary Clinton than I ever have covering the Oscar race.
I am not a Trump supporter, nor am I a Conservative, but I can no longer abide dehumanizing them, as I see happening so much on my side of things. Worse, I feel as though the left becoming dangerously close to a fundamentalist religion. That means we have a strict code of conduct, even our own language and doctrine that demands compliance and conformity. While this is surely not true out there in the real world, it is most definitely becoming more and more true in the feedback loop of social media, mainstream media and now, our politicians.
We are coming from a place of fear, paranoia and hysteria, I believe, and are behaving in such a way that recalls the Salem Witch Trials or the Red Scare. People are found guilty with no due process, cancelled and deplatformed with Big Tech using their unlimited power to decide whose message deserves to get out and whose doesn’t.
We did not elect these folks who run these massive websites we entrusted with our data, our attention, our personal information and our privacy. They do not seem to have the basic principles of being an American citizen in mind.
I was looking for any Democrat in government or in media to push back against the capitalist authoritarianism we’re seeing now. But only people on the right seem willing to do this.
I mention this because I will be writing more open minded pieces, even criticizing the left. You might be unprepared for this and wondered why you subscribed. But I hope that this explains it.
If you’re interested in hearing how I arrived at this point, then by all means, continue reading. If you are angry, or if you aren’t down with what I will be talking about and how I will be addressing it (not as a tribal, centrist Democrat exclusively) then you should unfollow and I wish you all the best.
How did I get here?
I am, as you can see from my past Medium articles, someone who advocated and voted for Joe Biden, advocated and voted for Hillary Clinton and I’ve voted Democrat my entire adult life. I was very much a “good liberal.” I fit into my tribe and my friends and I had a shared ideology we believed passionately in. I imagine that for many on the right that might be akin to religion but for us on the left this WAS our religion. Being good liberals. Being responsible and careful not to offend. Recycling, driving hybrid cars, eating organic, never breaking the rules ever. Our lives were strident and pure. We never deviated from our loyalty to the Democratic Party and any member therein. I fought viciously with Bernie supporters and Trump supporters all through 2016. When Trump won it was like a punch to the stomach. I had predicted he would win but perhaps deep down I never thought it would actually come to pass.
When the 2020 election started I firmly believed only Joe Biden could beat Trump. Like all of my friends, I sometimes felt Trump was the worst thing that ever happened to this country and this world when he took office. A living breathing embodiment of everything offensive.
I believed Russia had hacked our election and our country. I sank deep into the land of “Trump is a fascist” and a Russian stooge and Bernie is a grifter, etc. I was as caught up in the hate as everyone else and was quite toxic and abusive online. I felt Hillary Clinton and the Obama family had been horribly treated and dehumanized, thus for me it was easy to see who the bad guys were. I believed the press. I listened to NPR, watched Frontline, read the New York Times and the Washington Post. I was a fierce advocate on Twitter.
But then COVID happened. I watched the press, all of it but especially CNN, go into full blown panic mode. At the same time there was an effort to blame Trump for not only mismanaging the response — but for making it much much worse. Rather than working together as a country, even with a less than desirable (even hated) president, we all owed it ourselves and each other to come together as a country to help save each other and our economy from this tragedy. Instead, it turned into the “gift from God,” to quote Jane Fonda as a way to finally get rid of Trump. But we got in over our heads. As Trump and his various supporters urged re-opening the economy, he too noticed they were using this to make sure he didn’t serve a second term and he was willing to put actual lives on the line to make sure this didn’t happen.
First, there came the anti-mask, anti-lockdown protesters showing up armed and demanding freedom. That was bad enough. Then came the killing of George Floyd and ensuing protests, and suddenly nothing we said, nothing we did, no fear we’d been selling about social distancing seemed to matter, with the largest protest in history. Then it was just fine to gather in large groups, even not wear masks because the cause was deemed more important than the virus. Fast-forward to when it was all over with then the fear and COVID panic would start back up again.
In there somewhere I noticed just how biased the press was with regard to COVID, Trump and the protests. They ignored the violent eruptions by people no one could identify because they could not even admit there was violence at all, let alone identify who might be the cause. Surely they were happy to talk about the Proud Boys as being the biggest fear, and stoke fear among Americans about all Trump supporters, whom they stereotyped as white supremacists and racists, even though the amount of time I invested in learning about them for myself did not match this accusation. Defeating Trump took priority, eclipsing even the truth in the media or in our lives.
That was the turning point for me, especially watching the New York Times debate the narrative they wanted to push as a PR arm of the Democratic Party in the wake of the protests. American citizens were afraid enough to say the military should be brought in but the New York Times had to make sure they stayed on point: protesters were mostly peaceful and how dare you suggest otherwise! And the police and Trump supporters are evil and don’t you dare humanize them. Ever.
Then came the firings. Then came the most severe episodes of “cancel culture” we’ve yet seen. Somehow all of that has stuck and become the norm. During the Red Scare in Hollywood fear had also become the norm. Anyone accused was blacklisted, just like they are now if they break the strict code of conduct on the left.
The gaslighting was so obvious to a good many Americans that they just flat out lost any trust in the press. They were telling us what we could plainly see with our own eyes wasn’t true, and they continue to further their chosen narrative even now. I kept waiting for things to normalize but they never did. I pushed back hard against the left on Twitter hoping someone would listen and the spell would be broken but it never was.
I am worried for the future of this country. I am worried at how badly it’s going to get. We’re already seeing authoritarianism — and even a kind of fascist ideology rising on the left, which says you must comply and believe what we say you must believe, say what we say you must say, and follow our rules or else you will be blighted, deplatformed, purged from society.
I also was aghast at how unbalanced this election was. Biden was my guy and I thought he could win on his own. But by the end, Biden didn’t even have to show up. The election was won for him by a combination of very deep pockets (billions), Big Tech intervention, and finally a massive media industry 100% devoted to helping one candidate over another. Democrats genuinely believed Trump was the Devil riding into Salem and thus, everything done was justified. I hope I never see another election like it because THAT was not democracy at work.
What surprised me the most about spending time in Trump world was how diverse it actually was, how NICE they all were, and how their side was much more about love where our side was much more about hate. Watching all of Trump’s rallies in the final days I got something I never got from the media: an honest picture of what the Trump thing is all about. They want Americans to believe Trump supporters are frothing Nazis but that just wasn’t what I saw. This is impossible to explain, I know, and I’m not asking you to believe it. I am just explaining how my own perspective shifted.
I saw first hand how the media doesn’t just shape opinion. In this case, it fomented dehumanization. Now, many in the media repeat the lie that 73 million who voted for Trump are all white supremacists and racists.
Now, I find myself an island. I don’t have a tribe. I have been mostly shunned across the board except for a few people who know me well enough to still see me as a worthwhile human being regardless of what I think, but honestly, most don’t. I had to be on board with all of it or else I’d be shunned, like an “SP” in Scientology. And NOW I KNOW why such horrific episodes of genocide happen. I have seen it first hand how hard it is to pull back from a group awash in dehumanization of another group of people. You have to take a side. With or against. Taking a stand is terrifying, alienating and dangerous.
I don’t want to live in that kind of country. I want to be treated with respect and treat others with respect. I want to see things from different points of view and not condemn other people for one thing they think that I disagree with and I’m not going to spend another minute of my life calling people racists unless they are straight up wearing a KKK T-shirt.
I would love actual journalism back. I would love it if they spent time getting the story right instead of churning out Twitter friendly clickbait. We can’t survive much longer with two different realities in two different Americas. We need brave people to start crossing the divide. We need journalists who are able to do this without fear or pressure from Twitter.
The only way this country can unite is if we do this. If we reach out and humanize. I know that we won’t because at this moment the left is trying to figure out how to “deprogram” Trump supporters — people they don’t know and have absolutely no clue about. This is a widely accepted notion among my former tribe. I want nothing to do with it.
If this is goodbye, thank you for reading my past work. If you want to stick around I hope you will be civil. Let’s try to build back better — REALLY.