So, it’s been a month, and progressives and Democrats have been hearing a constant refrain–that we need to reach out to Trump supporters, to try to understand the forgotten working-class base in the heartland of America which voted for him.

That is a very good point.  We do need to do that if we want to win the next election.  There is only one problem for me:  I don’t really want to know or understand the Trump voters.

This is not the wisest attitude to have, and I guess it marks me as an elitist of some sort. But I don’t care.  I don’t want to know why people continue to support Trump and overlook all the things he’s already said and done when it comes to women, immigrants and Muslims. When I recently visited a website where the deplorables gather to chat, I saw plenty of caricatures of yarmulkas and hooked noses, and references to Reichsfuhrer Trump. Blaming the Jews for your own economic woes is an age-old tradition.  The Trumpsters clearly feel the need to scapegoat someone for their own miserable situation.  What can I possibly say to them about that?  How would I change their mind?  I could suggest changes to the political and economic system which would make their life better, but these are the same people who thought Obama was a Marxist and the ACA was a government assault on their liberty–and frequently voted against their own health insurance coverage.  What does one do when faced with such ignorance?

Not to mention that in order to reach out to the Trump voters, I would have to find them where they live.  Thing is, I love my urban bubble.  I have little interest in going too far beyond its protective shield.  I’ve lived in the rural world before and I’m grateful to have escaped it.  I have no desire to move to a place where my neighbors give me the side-eye just because I don’t attend the same church they do and behave in ways they don’t consider “normal.”

Again, this does not bode well as a political strategy.  Democrats did get the popular vote in 2016, but the Democratic electorate is clustered in a few major metropolitan areas, mainly on the two coasts, and that’s not the way the American electoral system works. Hence the idea that progressives should transplant themselves to swing states.  If only I could convince myself to be enthusiastic about a midwestern or southern swing state….

The progressive movement certainly needs ambassadors right now to take its message across the country.  Unfortunately, I’m not that person.  And I wonder how many of my fellow liberal bubble-dwellers are willing to do the difficult work of outreach.  And if that work doesn’t get done, what will 2020 look like?

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I turn my laptop on in the morning already knowing that the battle continued raging even while I was asleep.  Indeed, shots were fired in the middle of the night.

“You have to ask yourself, are you here for the revolution?  Are you a revolutionary or what?”

I’m definitely a “what.”  And the correct category is…?

“Are you a patriot?  Are you fighting for liberty?  We are continuing our fight against the useless bureaucrats in D.C.”

“How can any liberal support Hillary?”

“How can any conservative support Kasich?”

“Bernie will smash the banks…”

“Trump will keep those illegals out…”

Remember when the Internet used to be all about posting pictures of babies, lunches and kittens?  Believe it or not, I really miss that time.

“You people are privileged and don’t know what it’s like to struggle…”

Hey, everyone!  Here’s a video of Chirpy!

“You people have never had a real job or paid taxes–you don’t what it’s like out there in the adult world…”

“Old and square…”

“Young and dumb…”

Chirpy is a parakeet.  He likes to play the synth…

“Racist…”

“Politically correct sheeple…”

“Fascist…”

“Communist…”

Watch him play the Game of Thrones theme!

“You Nazis should get sent to camps…”

He even whistles along!

“You SJWs should get shot into a ditch…”

And isn’t it hilarious how the cat is watching him from below?

Right?

Guys?

“Let’s burn everything down!”

“Let’s burn everything down!”

It’s not too late.  We don’t have to burn everything down.

 

Somewhere, in the darkest of night, Jeb and Hillary are curled up in a ball, having a panic attack.  If they were not avowed political adversaries, they would be hugging each other to ease the trauma.  I want to find out where they are.  I want to find out where they are, so I can curl up in the fetal position next to them, because I’m just as anxious about the primaries.

This is not going to be a good election year for moderates like me.  I can already tell.  This is not the year of the negotiating, calculating political animal.  I thought America during the early Obama years was not a place for middle of the road compromise, but now it’s even less so.

In a way, we’ve gotten what we deserve.  I remember joking about this with my family a couple of years back.  “Oh, 2016 is going to be so boring!  Bush vs. Clinton!  Yawn!”  Well, we wished for interesting and we certainly got it, did we ever.  We didn’t want another Bush, so instead we get the complete nutjob Trump.  We didn’t want Hillary again, so instead we get a democratic socialist calling for a revolution.

Revolution.  Funny word, that.  It’s a very exciting word to shout at rallies–I can say that from experience.  But when there’s a risk of it actually happening, my resolve starts to wane.  I do realize that Bernie is promising a political revolution, not a literal one with guillotines.  But the truth is, my family and I have built a good life for ourselves here in the States, and I’d rather avoid anything that would disrupt that too much or turn our lives upside down.

So besides the fact that I’ve turned out to be a bit of a fraud as far as my political activism goes, what are my options now?  Bernie’s too much for me, but people don’t seem to like Hillary.  Is Bloomberg really going to be a candidate?  Can we still somehow force Joe Biden to run?

What will most likely happen is quite simple.  If we end up with a Bernie vs. Trump match-up, the alternative of Trump in the White House will be unthinkable for me.  So I’ll hold my nose and vote for Bernie–and hope that someday, somewhere in the course of the election zodiac cycle, the Year of the Moderate will be back.

Dear Portland…our relationship has been difficult lately.

There was the time when we went for a gallery walk on First Thursday and none of the art galleries were open, because it turns out you shut everything down super early.  The same thing happened when my friends and I decided to go out on a Wednesday evening.  The night was still young, but you were a ghost town.  As my mother so aptly put it, “Portlanders go to bed with the chickens…except that here, the chickens are wearing hand-knitted sweaters.”  Portland, you’re a city.  Part of the deal is that you’re supposed to entertain me after it gets dark.

And do I even have to bring up Cover Oregon?  You had such big plans–our health insurance exchange was going to be the most ambitious in the country.  Obviously, it did not work out that way.  It’s embarrassing when Kentucky does a better job at socialist health care than we do.  And now, the FBI might be investigating Cover Oregon to see where all that money went.  Portland, please leave corruption to the big boys like Chicago.  You are inept at it.

But in spite of it all, I still love you.  Even though you try way too hard to impress me with your weirdness–were the bearded men in tutus really necessary?  Even though you’re not very wealthy, not very good at sports or business.  Every time I think about walking away into the arms of New York City, I end up staying.  You’re just so damn pretty and intelligent.  And like you, I’m a failing dreamer.  Yeah, we’re stuck with each other.  I’m even willing to forgive you for that Unipiper guy.

Like any long-time lover in a worn relationship, all I ask for anymore are the simple things.  Please, would you give me sunny weather for my week off?  I know late May is when you bring back the rain, but will you make an exception for me?  I won’t complain when it rains in June, I promise.  I’ll post pictures of you on my Facebook and talk about how beautiful you are.  I know how much you like being flattered.

P.S. —  I’m also planning to see an art exhibit this Sunday.  I’m sure it will be empty and closed.

xoxo, Karolina

So this is it, 2012.  This is the year when it will all end for us, or we will all get elevated to a higher level of consciousness.  I’ve heard some interpret the Mayan calendar to say that this is when “He will come”.  And of course, the Presidential election will save or end America as we know it.

So here’s to 2012 being the year of something I sorely lack in my own life – the Year of Certainty.  It will once and for all become clear who and what is right in this world.  God’s existence will be proven or disproven, especially if the year includes His arrival.  Scientists will find the God particle and we will understand why the Universe is here.  The election results, whichever way they go, will make America a great country again.  Either the free market or socialism will give everyone prosperity, security, and a job.  I will finally know what I want to do with my life.  

But naturally, none of this will happen.  Instead of coming to a swift, graceful end, our existence will continue to plod on.  There will be nobody returning to us from the clouds, and nobody at our door.  My heart will veer wildly from spirituality to cynicism, depending on how much pain it is in at a given moment.   Those damned quarks and anti-quarks will keep doing their own thing.  And I’ll keep working at an insurance company because I can’t come up with anything better to do.

Still, I wish everyone a happy doubtful and dithering 2012.  To those of you who already have the miracle of Certainty and who know that you are always correct about everything, I envy you.  For the rest of us, may the decorations on our tree be funky, our cups of chocolate mint tea steaming hot, our dogs and cats cuddly on our laps, and our blogs controversial.  Happy Holidays!

I went out into the garden, where a gentle rain was falling, and stood on the lawn.  I breathed in deeply.  Something was different about the air.  It smelled like the air should smell in January.  Jesus had been sworn in as President, and the four seasons of the Earth had gone back to normal.

I didn’t have anyone to share my joy with, though.  I couldn’t exactly talk to my sister or Mom about this.  Finally, with some trepidation, I called Leah.

She seemed happy to hear from me.  “I’m still amazed.  In just a few years, our lives could be completely different,”  she said.

“Are you quitting your job like you said you would?”

“No, I’m going to keep working.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but Squircal will be under new management.  All the old executives are going to be arrested.”

“Are you going to get paid more?”

“Not right now.  But I think we will have so much more dignity.  Would you like to come work for us?”

“Uh…in customer service?”

“Don’t miss out on your chance, Blue.  We’re building a new society….you don’t wanna be left out.”

“I’ll think about it….”

“You can think, but make it quick.”

***

This time, when I came back to the Squircal headquarters, it was filled with stacks of bread, boxes of cheese and canned fish and oranges, and bottles of cheap wine.  A banner which read “Food Distribution Center” was hanging in the lobby.

The Squircal receptionist and a few others were busy carrying in more food crates.  The receptionist didn’t say anything in greeting.  As I watched them, Leah walked up to me, embraced me and kissed me on both cheeks.  It was as if nothing bad had ever happened between us.

“I see you made your decision right on time,”  she said to me.

“What’s all this?”  I asked.

“One of the Squircal execs had taken ownership of a Grocery Outlet.  We’ve liberated it from him, and we’re going to be in charge of distributing the food fairly.  The cool thing is, as one of my friends, you are entitled to a ration of it.”  She handed me a note.  “Go to the sixth floor and talk to Nina.  She’s Director of Edible Materials now.”

***

For the most part, life continued as it had before the inauguration, quiet and unimpressive.  I was employed at Squircal.  There were anti-Jesus riots in town, and a couple of the troublemakers got arrested.  Their names were listed in the newspaper, and they included Paul, who was apparently found in illegal possession of a large knife.

“Did you hear about Paul?”  I asked my sister.  We were at the kitchen table, and I was slicing up Swiss cheese for everybody.

Every Friday, I brought home a box of rations from Squircal.  The amount of food I received was extremely fair and just, but I had to share it with my family, as RedGirl and Mother were not employed, and Father’s job was not one of the desired occupations, so his ration was small.

“I really don’t care.  Shhhh, my dancing show is on!”  At first, RedGirl was devastated when “Dancing With The Stars” was taken off the air.  But now, she was a big fan of the synchronized dancing displays which had replaced it on prime time.

“It’s the little girls’ fan dance!  Ohhhh, so cute!”  She dissolved into gushing.

“I have to admit I think the old reality shows were more interesting,”  I said.

“Eewww.  They were kinda trashy, compared to this.”

I shook my head.  “Whatever happened to the ‘America will be destroyed’ stuff?  You were weeping about that not too long ago.”

She shrugged.  “I guess I was wrong.  Some things are different, but I still have food and my house, and my TV.  So America didn’t get destroyed.”

“That’s good to know,”  I said.  “Here, have some cheese.”

***

To my relief, I didn’t have to take a lot of phone calls at Squircal.  We were always doing other, more important things, and we mostly ignored customer complaints unless they came to us in written form, and even then they would go to the Office of Complaints, where they would disappear for months.

The arrests continued, but in very small numbers.  Still, they made me uncomfortable somehow.

“I don’t understand why the receptionist was arrested,”  I said to Leah.

“She would tell people to have a nice day, when the workers were having a miserable day.  This behaviour was deemed to be close to deceit,”  Leah explained to me.

I should have been satisfied with this answer, but wasn’t.  It was ludicrous.  And so, once again, I found myself taking the elevator up to the top floor of the Squircal building, where the new union committee which now ran the company was located.  This time, I did not wrap myself in a protective aura.  After all, I was one of them.

A grim secretary welcomed visitors to the top floor.  Probably overwhelmed by all her new responsibilities, I thought.  Must be difficult.

“How are you?”  I asked.

“Horrible.  It’s been an awful day,”  she snapped.  “Why do you want to know?”

“Just making conversation,”  I admitted.  “Hey, I’ve got a few concerns I would like to bring before the committee.”

“Like what?”

Undaunted by the harshness in her voice, I continued.  “I have questions about the arrest of the downstairs receptionist.  Also, I would like to hear more about the reasoning behind the way the rations are distributed.”

“What do you mean, the reasoning?  The rations are what they are.  They are based on the amount of food we have.  What is there to reason about?”  She turned her back to me.  “Thank you.”

I was taken aback at getting shut down like this.  “Well…I might still have problems with this…right?  Can I talk to someone, please?”

“You can submit a written complaint.”

“Oh….well, then.”

I sighed and started filling out the form.

***

Leah was very agitated the next day.  “I had to talk them out of arresting you.”

“What?  All I wanted was to ask some questions,”  I said.  “Are you kidding me?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?  We are finally achieving our goals.  Are you going to fuck things up just because you get hung up on the details?”

I felt a sudden, crushing tiredness.  “Leah, what’s the point of us having achieved anything?”

She came closer to my desk.  “The only thing I ask is that you at least wait for a while.  It’s too soon after the riots.  They’re a bit jumpy right now.”

I slumped in my chair and nodded.  “I’ll wait.”

***

RedGirl found me lying curled up on my bed.  “And what are you crying about?”

“You were right.”  I rolled over onto my back.  “America has been destroyed.”

“Even if it has, you’re on the winning side.  Quit whining.  I need you to give me a reference for a position at Squircal.”

“Squircal?”  I sat up.  I wanted to shake her.  “Sis, I thought I could depend on you in a moment like this.  You were supposed to be the loyal opposition.  Don’t you have anything for me?  Not even a tea party?  Or a militia?”

“A militia?  Oh, Lord.  Really, that kind of drama isn’t necessary.”  She adjusted her cape.  Our heat was low, so she had it wrapped around her neck like a scarf.

I lay back down and covered my face with my hands.  Everything around me was spinning.  For the first time, my sister and I were on the same political side, and it was a nightmare.

“So, who’s going to stop these people if they go too far?”  I asked, when the vertigo went away and I was able to speak again.

“I dunno,”  she said.  “But you can always find some idiot out there who wants to be a rebel.”

***

So my sister wasn’t going to be any help.  It turned out that for her, being conservative wasn’t about any specific set of beliefs, it was about conserving.  Whoever was in authority, whoever could offer stability to her world, that was who she was going to follow.

Two weeks later, I received an e-mail letting me know I was invited to a meeting at which my productivity was going to be honored.

“I don’t want to be honored,”  I thought.  “Just let me work in my cubicle and leave me in peace.  Don’t single me out for anything.”

But you didn’t say no to e-mails at Squircal.

I entered the conference room where the meeting was to be held and froze.  There, around the table, were the old Squircal executives.  They weren’t wearing suits and ties.  They couldn’t wear suits and ties, of course—they were now union leaders.  They smiled at me.  In front of them was the contract I remembered, and a little box with a medal in it.

“It’s nice to see you here on more friendly terms,”  one of them said to me.  “I trust that, under the changed circumstances, you will accept this token of appreciation from us.”

“I thought you guys had been arrested,”  I said.

“You will be pleased to hear that the guilty parties have, in fact, been arrested,”  he said.  “And now, we are at last able to lead this workplace into a brighter and more progressive future.”

I hesitated, but sat down.  The feeling of exhaustion was back.  No matter what happened, no matter which government was in power, I would have to keep fighting these men over and over and over again.  I didn’t think I was up to it.

“Do you have a pen?”  I asked.

I pulled the contract over to where I was sitting, and then stared at it, unable to make the final choice.

“Well, what else are you going to do?”  the exec joked.  “Are you going to commit suicide again?”

“Maybe,”  I mumbled.

“You are free to do that, if you wish.”  He gestured towards the window.  “Keep in mind that your family will die with you.”

And so this time I wasn’t going to crash through the glass, but I was still going to kill myself, or at least kill the person I once was.

When I emerged from the conference room, the contract was signed and a medal was pinned to my chest.

“We look forward to working with you,”  the exec said to me.  “You’re lucky to be one of us.  A lot of perks come with doing this.”

I held on to a doorframe, nauseated.  Something was bubbling up inside of me.  Possibly my disgust with the world.  I could already tell this would be one of those embarrassing moments when I couldn’t stop it—I had to throw up.

I heaved and a small explosion took place.  Two of the executives were knocked down to the floor, and almost all of them were covered with shiny blue slime.

“Not this again,”  I groaned.  My idealism was like an illness I couldn’t get rid of.  “Erm, sorry about that,”  I said to the executives.  “This kind of hiccup might still happen to me once in a while.”

“Do us all a favor and try not to use your….special gifts from now on,”  one of them advised me.  “It will make life a lot easier for everyone, including you.”

***

When I went back downstairs, Leah was waiting for me.

“Congratulations,”  she told me.  But her eyes narrowed when she saw the medal.  “I see you got through it okay.  I’ll be keeping an eye on you, though,”  she warned me.

“I don’t have a problem with that,”  I assured her.  And I didn’t.  When I stepped out of the building, I was determined not to be BlueGirl any longer—just an ordinary liberal blue girl.

I called my sister to let her know we would be getting extra rations.

 

 

[To Be Continued In “BlueGirl In Paradise”]