We still don’t know who will win the Presidency yet, but we do know that people (OK, primarily white people) turned out in droves to vote for Donald Trump. More people voted for him this year than in 2016 which is…deflating. Heartbreaking. Infuriating. He has been a catastrophe for the country by any standard and now people want four more years of this madness? Why? It is too much, in an already brutal year, to contemplate.
So don’t. It’s time to give up on America. I certainly have, and it’s kept me mentally and emotionally sane these past few days, no matter what the eventual outcome is (though clearly I am rooting for Biden).
Over the last five years, I found myself expending so much energy angry at what some dipshit in Alabama thought that I wasn’t looking in my own backyard. A backyard that is almost entirely Democrat. A backyard that epically mismanaged, racist, and corrupt.
I get it, the MAGA crowd is a bunch of assholes, and their politics are not only infuriating but are specifically attacks on our core beliefs about decency and humanity. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting to see how filled with hate so many of our fellow Americans are. The point of this post is not in any way to let them off the hook for the hatred and heartlessness that drive their political beliefs. It’s simply giving up hope for them to ever change, and deciding to no longer waste our time trying to convince them to do so.
On the flip side, my boss at my first job had a saying: “When you point the finger, there are four more pointing back at you.” It’s something those of us who consider ourselves Democrats should seriously consider. Because not many greedy developers tearing apart Philly’s black communities to colonize neighborhoods are Republican. The reason some of our young people still don’t have access to wifi isn’t because of MAGA. The reason our schools are filled with asbestos has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
When COVID tore our world apart, I knew I’d go nuts if I didn’t try to to step up my level of activism. So I reached out to various community leaders to see if there was any small way I could help. That led to lots of Zoom meetings, to very frank discussions about race, about opportunity, about the future of Philadelphia. And after listening and soul searching (and trying to keep my own big mouth shut, to varying degrees of success), I came to the following conclusion: if we don’t transfer at least some of the energy we spend being angry about what some random dipshit on Facebook is screaming about “muh freedom” and instead direct it towards creating a better city for our citizens, then we’re wasting our fucking time. Even worse, we’re engaging in performative activism, wearing our “woke ideals” on our sleeves but not willing to put in any actual work.
This isn’t an accusation, and I’m not trying to sound preachy. I’ve done plenty of yelling into the void on twitter, and I’m sure to do plenty more. But I also realize that I need to expend more energy in the trenches. I realize that if we don’t change the way we look at the world (with more emphasis on Philly and less on America), we’re wasting valuable time.
And that time and energy needs to be utilized NOW. COVID is wiping our small businesses off the map. It’s making the gap between the haves and have nots larger than ever. It means more homeless, it means a spike in violent crime, it means an increase in mental health issues. The problems are massive for a city our size. And all the time we spend screaming into the void about the voters of Bedford County, with whom we’ll have essentially zero interaction with in our real lives, is time spent not focusing on our racist police union, our homeless, our 26% poverty rate…things that hundreds of thousands of people right here, in Philadelphia, our neighbors, are dealing with every day.
Look, America as a whole sucks. That became clear in 2016 and the exclamation point was just added on Tuesday. But Philadelphia doesn’t suck. It’s awesome. The people are amazing, there’s an energy here unlike anywhere else on earth, and if I learned anything since March it’s that there are a hell of a lot of AMAZING Philadelphians who are already putting in the real work to try to solve the problems facing our city. But they need help. This city has got a lot of freaking problems. Big problems. And We the People…not City Hall, not Joe Biden, not Comcast…need to step up our games to try to fix them. Therefore, no matter what the end result is of the election, I would encourage anyone reading this to resolve to spend more time in the next four years focusing on what’s happening in their own backyard, and less time worrying about what the MAGA crowd thinks about “muh freedom”. It’s time to give up on America, but it’s damn sure not time to give up on Philadelphia.