Older people keep telling me that climate action is impossible because nobody’s going to want to change their habits. Honestly, it’s harshing my whole buzz. If nobody changes, then we are necessarily doomed. That’s the whole point of talking about climate change. That’s why scientists are freaking out en masse and ecologists now have support groups to handle their grief and feelings of helplessness.
That’s why, when I vote in my local election today, I will only be voting for people who believe in the crisis. But I worry it won’t be enough. Everything has to change if we’re to save ourselves – particularly the collective power that used to define American-ness. The real reason that everything’s fallen apart is not that there are immigrants, that conservatives are assholes, that Trump is angry and insane, or that we’re all different religions and colors. Women working has not destroyed America. What’s killing us is that we can’t do one freaking thing cooperatively.
I’ve written a lot about why people don’t like to change and how they might be motivated. Unfortunately, that nonsense is all theoretical at the minute because somehow the ball of orange yarn that I fished out of my cat’s vomit this morning has decided it wants to be president of the United States for another 21 goddamned years. He’s not interested in encouraging any cohesiveness or behavior change. Chaos feeds his ego, so he’ll instigate as much of it as he can. Our current trajectory toward civil war suits him quite nicely.
So obsessed are we with his outrageous behavior that we forget what the bedrock of our nation really is. Local politics? What local politics? The Distraction in Chief has done something abominable and his supporters are saying “make America white again!” Resist the siren song of the federal outrage generator. Local politics is more important than ever. This is where you can actually make a difference just by showing up and participating. Yes, things are bad. Yes, one vote won’t fix it all by magic. But Americans coming together to uphold the ideal of a collective government is itself powerful. It gives us the power of knowing each other, knowing that we care, not only about ourselves and our one vote, but about doing something together that matters, regardless of the outcome.
That’s power we need, because we have not yet seen our darkest days. Mark my words: the president is not going to leave office peacefully. If he voluntarily quits or gets shunted out of the actual position without incident, he’ll start a media network and rail about how unfair it is that he wasn’t allowed to be in charge for longer. Then he’ll maintain his bottomless need for attention by feeding the fire of his cult right-wing status and his cronies will continue what appears to be a hell-for-leather mission to break the nation by breaking its cohesion.
Local politics is the antidote to division. It brings communities together to do one thing – one thing! – as a group.
Maybe you think your vote doesn’t matter. That it won’t be counted. Buddy, that’s possible! Our voting system has sucked for a long time, and not just because the machines are crap. I can’t even go into the problems with how we vote – between the racism, the gerrymandering, the influence peddling and the rest, it’s too huge for a writer of my own humble statue to address in a single blog post.
But I put it to you that voting in local elections is also one of the last things that non-related people in a community do together. If we lose that, we lose our unity at its most atomic level, and then we’re just a random crowd of people who happen to live together. Cooperation, not control, is the first step to making sure our elections are fair and our politicians not batshit. Everything follows on from the group.
The only trick is that we have to choose that. In a cowboy nation obsessed with the lie of the lone wolf, I’m not sure we can anymore.