I know you guys come here for photography—but I'm headed elsewhere today. Basically, because I need to.
The above quote is someone's comment on Facebook regarding Undocumented—a 362 word post I wrote about losing our mom, attending her funeral and the guilt I felt at having been emotionally unable to document these very hard, last few years of her life. If you read this blog regularly you know I don't filter out much of anything—it may be ill-advised on my part but for better or worse, this is my journal, through and through. Undocumented began with a statement of facts:
"So I'm easing back slowly. I'm following the Trump nightmare, hoping for the best. I had a deadline this week—my Photokina article for the December issue of Photo Life magazine—and it was good to sink my teeth into something substantial."
I follow Canadian and US politics (always have) and was simply reacting to current affairs, something that was on my mind as I was putting down those thoughts. Apparently, 10 words out of 362 were enough to brand the entire post as "political posturing". Well, here's my answer:
I've always considered politics—like religion—to be highly private. I don't shy away from discussions and have no qualms with making my own opinions known, but like many I've rarely done so publicly. Mainly because it's so damn easy to stir up unnecessary anger around world views that are personal and shouldn't—under normal circumstances— speak to who we are as individuals. We can all have diverging points of view regarding the management of society and still come together in the end. Politics do influence culture but they're first and foremost about structural decisions.
The 2016 American elections however, are NOT about politics.
Hyperbole is always a much too easy path to follow, but no matter how hard I try to distance myself I just can't see red vs blue, left vs right, globalization, free trade, liberal vs conservative. None of the usual suspects that make up the US political landscape every four years. I see crossroads, an inflection point no one would've believed possible twelve short months ago. I see hints of a civil war, millions of people following a man whose agenda is not only flawed and profoundly dangerous, but goes against every single principle laid out by the Founding Fathers of The Great American Experiment. A man who drapes himself in a constitution he clearly fails to understand; pushing policies that would be impossible to implement without destroying its entire edifice. A man advancing ideas on the world stage that show an utter lack of discernment and no awareness of consequences. A man whose life is rife with the abuse of others, who has never been motivated by anything other than ego and the accumulation of wealth, now willing to let the very fabric of his society burn to the ground as he watches from his golden towers. A modern-day Nero, a Narcissus eternally entranced by his own TV reflection.
When David Frum rejects the official Republican presidential nominee and makes the case for Hillary Clinton...boy, you know this reality has seriously gone sideways. What's more, the rampant racism and violent nature exposed by Trump's campaign, the sexism, the intolerance, the presence of hate groups at rallies, the endorsements by radical entities... these cannot be dismissed as politics. Donald Trump represents a real and present danger to democracy and to the world at large.
On my last night in Cologne a month ago, a friend pointed out a very innocent looking balcony as we were walking back to the hotel. This was where, he said, Hitler had made one of his now infamous speeches—which eventually lead the world into the history we now know so well. We all believe we're immune to such a catastrophic descent into collective insanity. We believe we have checks and balances in place to prevent madmen from seizing control of our "enlightened" societies. But seeing Donald Trump four days away from a possible, even if unlikely presidency, is proof those checks are all too fragile. Mob mentality is just a stone's throw away, ready to take over. Dark impulses can prevail, anywhere, anytime.
Political posturing you say? Unnecessary? Well, I happen to believe there hasn't been anything this necessary in a long time. Remaining silent, on this blog where I have the freedom to express everything I feel, would be the height of hypocrisy on my part.
Last summer, as events were unfolding, I wrote and recorded a song called Rabbit (under my old Jade Leary project). It's about contempt, violent impulses and demagoguery. It's about Trump and the crossroads. I'm not expecting any of that—or this—to make a difference; I'm not deluded. Perhaps I've even ruffled some feathers. But whatever happens, I want the record to show I was against the rise of this man and all he represents. Not as a political watcher, certainly not as a citizen...but as a neighbour, a friend and a human being.