From All The President’s Men. I feel like these words are truer than ever this week. I don’t think humans are designed for so much news, and news of such intensity, in such a short time. I don’t know where this is going, and I am 100% certain it will be a bumpy ride, but I think I need to dig out my copy of All The President’s Men this weekend.
Every year, on the 17th of March, the Taoiseach of Ireland participates in a slightly twee and bizarre ceremony, known as the shamrock ceremony. He (thus far, always a he) presents the President of the United States of the day with shamrock in a crystal bowl and there’s a photo op and sundry other Irishy things happen around various parts of Washington DC, the USA and the world. We’re always told it’s great for Irish-international relations and trade, that it is a type of access that’s utterly unique and aren’t we fierce lucky that we have this type of thing to draw attention to ourselves every year.
I don’t think it should be done this year. I don’t think I want the leader of our country participating in this type of event given the current circumstances, where facts can be dismissed and lies presented as alternative facts. I don’t think we should pretend this is another opportunity to go about business as usual and I don’t think I’m alone in wanting our Taoiseach to skip it this year.
Enda, this year, please stop the shamrock. We’re better than this. And we really should show that we are and we will be.
In 2004, George W. Bush was elected on my birthday, November 2nd.
In 2012, my husband and I marched in protest for the first time ever on November 17th following the death of Savita Halappanavar.
In 2015, in November we went to view the house that we would buy and in which we made our first home that was just ours together.
Today, it’s another cold November day and I’m thinking of myself and the other November days that have brought me happiness and that made me cry. I wish I could be a little less selfish but today I’m allowing myself to indulge in a lot of ‘what might have been’.
Emily of New Moon needs to write things out to get them out of her system and make sense of them. I approach things in a similar way (but thankfully those teenage angst filled diaries have long since been disposed of), and no more so than now.
I supposed I need to look a little at me, from my lofty privileged position, before I start understanding how others can ignore sexism, racism, grandiose lies and everything else when casting a vote. I don’t think I voted with all the information available to me in my younger days. I have voted in my own self interest. I have voted for a candidate despite only agreeing with them on a single issue and holding my nose about the rest of their crazy (to me) policies.
I haven’t always thought through the consequences of my voting. I haven’t always been as proactive as I could be. I remember a teacher in school telling us that it is our job as responsible citizens to inform ourselves before we voted. This was before an age when social media was twisting our views inside out and traditional newspapers had to deal with legal threats from candidates running for public office. That’s not really an excuse though. I think deep down we tend to know a candidate’s position, no matter how things might be twisted.
It isn’t comfortable admitting to yourself that you need to do better. That a rant on social media might feel like you’re doing something, but really the only person I’m helping here is myself-helping myself towards a bit more understanding. That can’t be a bad thing, but it does make me feel a little self indulgent.
I don’t even live in America, but I have spent the week stuck in the first stage of grief. Total and utter denial. I switched off the TV before the result was called and went and cried in the shower.
I am an angry white woman. I come from a privileged middle class background. Both of my parents had jobs, both are educated. I grew up in a solidly middle class area and in a very stable family. I faced no financial barriers to attending college and my parents were able to pay for extra classes for me to ensure I would get into my first choice of third level institution. On leaving college, while I struggled a little to find my feet, I was able to secure employment with ease and I’ve never been unemployed since. My parents helped me to buy my first home.
When I met my husband, one of the first things we had in common was our backgrounds. When we got married, we chose and were able to pay for the wedding we wanted. We were able to buy a larger home in an area we wanted to live in. We have incomes that place us in a privileged position relative to the national average. We’ve been able to take holidays, purchase luxury items and have a very good standard of living. We’ve been able to donate to causes that are important to us and can choose to attend marches and rallies knowing that we’ll be safe.
I know I am white. I know I am wealthy. I know I have not struggled against adversity to any great degree. I know it is probably a first world problem to have spent every hour since 7am on Wednesday in a daze, wondering what on earth happened, and how and why it happened. And if I, as a privileged white woman living in an entirely different country to the one that elected a fraud, a sexual predator, a man who mocks disability and thinks building walls are a good idea, I cannot imagine how those who aren’t as privileged as me living in America are faring this week.
I’m trying to figure out how I can use my privilege to bring about change of any kind. When I started my blog, I just wanted to write a bit and have a creative outlet because my paid employment doesn’t really allow for that. Campaigning on repealing the eighth amendment was the start of my wondering if perhaps I need to channel my anger. Because sometimes anger is a good emotion to have, and a necessary one too.
Three debates down, none to go and we’re nearly there. I still have moments of cold hard fear when I think of the stakes. The thoughts of having a man who might deem me too unattractive to sexually assault in charge of the nuclear codes makes me want to send him a DVD of Threads. Anyone interested in what happens when things get out of control and nuclear weapons start flying needs to watch it.