Life in a Fragile Bubble: Trump, The American Dream and The Coastal Elite

Life doesn’t get any easier. As miserable as I was as a child, I now understand why all the adults fancied the idea of returning to those years so much. Not only did life move slower then, it also was a long, arduous climb up a mountain with the promise of fields of splendor on the other side. It seemed childhood was for fun and games but life itself truly started past the peak of that mountain—the entry into adulthood.

I could have been born in Africa or Syria, and not even had the privilege of a childhood. But my privilege is who I am, and it shaped how I feel today—this lack of ability to wake up at 6am and work out and commute an hour or more to work and sit at a desk all day completing tasks to help a company grow that may or may not work and smiling and small-talking and politicizing and head back towards home and spend an hour or more in commute and arrive home exhausted to a husband I rarely see and have no time to be a wife to and repeat this five days a week so that when Saturday arrives all I want to do is sit and stare at a television or sleep or avoid doing any of things that need to be done at home, and all this is before I have the responsibility of children in my household which would undoubtedly add a whole new layer of exhaustion and love and sense of failure and questions of purpose—another peak I’m slugging along towards now, trembling at seeing what is on the other side, and equally terrified to never see it.

My salary is incredible, more than I could have ever imagined making. If I were actually consistently good at my job it could get even higher. I could afford the $6k a month mortgage on a starter home in the Bay Area or perhaps $10k a month on a $2.5M home that would cost, for the same quality and property, just over $800k in a reasonable suburb of any other city in this country. If I play all my cards right in a deck stacked against me, perhaps I can afford for the next 40 years of my life to be exhausted and fat and sick, looking back on all those mountains and wondering why I bothered to climb them in the first place.

Then, there is the world—the world at large, which is a mess and getting messier by the day. Our President appears to thrive on chaos, attention, and doesn’t seem to have many principles to speak of other than ensuring his face and brand live on long after he is six feet under. Beyond the President himself, the Republican-controlled Congress will chip away at civil liberties until many are gone, rewarding only those who believe civil liberties amount to denying a woman the right to terminate her pregnancy if her life is at risk and being able to refuse professional service or jobs to anyone whose religion, sexuality or general look they disagree with on the basis of their own “religion.” And we’ll build a wall paid for by taking away the right to guacamole for all Americans since our avocado prices will go up in the short term and in the long term, though I’m no economics expert, it appears that all the anti-globalization policies are a set up for domestic disaster – will all that money that I’m relentlessly putting into the stock market hoping to one day feel free to spend time with my family and not be so exhausted, destined to be drained as US companies no longer can compete with nations selling their goods around the globe sans tariffs.

Trump is like my father on steroids and it isn’t pretty. It’s petty. I’m much more horrified of the amount of people who voted for him than I am his person. Trump is more of an idea, an ideology, a march towards a new world order, an acceptance that otherhood is bad and that logic and facts are the sworn enemy of progress. I remember just eight years ago when Obama was elected and all the hope for Change, but enough people did not get the change they wanted and so Trump’s rise to power became inevitable despite no one taking him seriously from the start. I hope that our country spends the next four years figuring out that putting a bully into office who makes decisions based on “alternative facts” and his feelings in the moment and whoever happens to be placating him at the time is not the best way to run the country for anyone. But it’s quite possible his actions will spur growth and thus loyalty short term, opening the doors for a million different unfortunate scenarios to play out before many years from now we see the destructive results of his actions – but by then it will be too late – our climate will be destroyed, our country, an economic wasteland, the American Dream fallen to a post-apocalyptic state of despair.

Despite the inability for most “one persons” to make a difference, I feel deeply disturbed by the state of the world right now and want to do something. Living in a liberal area there are plenty opportunities to join protests and mail postcards and try to convince congress people to do the right thing. I could march on Washington waving a sign that says women have rights and be another face in a crowd, another pink hat and a sign and a voice. I could do so many things right now to voice my opinion or try to help, but it all seems so hopeless. If I lived in an area where there was more of an independent voice for politics perhaps I could sway people one way or another, but here, we’re so far removed from the realities of this nation. Millions of us voted for Clinton, in a large part giving her the popular vote, but our voice doesn’t matter. We aren’t America. We’re the “coastal elites” with our real facts who believe that findings from peer-reviewed science should be the bastion of politics. We aren’t the America that has lost jobs due to globalization and automation, that has seen once-thriving towns torn apart and drugged up in order to survive the realities that the jobs just aren’t coming back. Then Trump promises to make their lives—their towns—“Great Again” and of course they want to believe in this vision. They aren’t thinking about the long term good of the country, they’re thinking about how to survive. And, really, who can blame them? Who can blame them for not standing behind Hillary Clinton who failed to campaign in these cities, who, failed to empathize with the plight of the average American, and thus lost the entire race which was supposed to be in the bag.

Now, I look at “personhood” bills presented to Congress, giving any fertilized egg a “right to life,” and thus making IVF for infertile couples illegal and forcing investigations into virtually every miscarriage, and I no longer feel safe that we have a Congress that will refuse to make this insane bill law. Now, I think of my President and am ashamed of how America is seen by the rest of the world, not just because of his executive orders and such, but of how he carries himself, how he bullies the weak, how he is the type of man that we’re taught is everything we shouldn’t be, yet all that we shouldn’t be gave him the Presidency. I fear for the safety of innocent Muslims and Mexicans and any person of color in this country who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the rise of hate crimes, of people who feel their hate is now justified. I fear for my own safety writing any of this online, in a country that has for centuries believed in freedom of speech as core to its existence, that cherishes spying on its citizens and the militarization of justice in order to weed out any dissonance. I wonder at what point we go from being America with a Republican President whom I disagree with to a country where liberties are at risk, mirroring the rise of fascism in any civilization since the beginning of humanity. I wonder if I should keep my head down and wait it out, rise up and protest like so many others are doing, or run away from a nation headed towards much uglier and darker times.

And yet, in my little bubble of a coastal elite city, I find myself battling my own demons—trying to remain optimistic about a very different story, one filled with six-figure salaries and the reason for waking up every morning being working hard to get a Vice President title and perhaps being able to afford a tiny plot of land in a good school district so your children can eventually try do this all over again. And I wonder if I had been born into an entirely different life filled with blind faith and the expectation of not being upper middle class but instead having family and community and enough to get by if I’d be any happier. Knowing what I know and being who I am, I can’t imagine wanting that. But still, I wonder.

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One comment

  1. Look I live in a super blue city too so I get the feeling that my congressfolk doesn’t do much. But remember that intolerance, injustice, and inequality are everywhere, even and sometimes especially in blue bubbles.

    Donate money. Volunteer. Push your state and city governments to be more progressive in the areas you care about. Oh, and since you are in California, push for denser housing development so that maybe someday people can afford to live there and not have two hour commutes.

    When midterm elections come round, go out and vote. Get other people to vote. Sign up with Swing Left to do GOTV for Democrats in nearby swing districts (about a quarter of the representatives from California are Republicans).

    Call out intolerance or injustice in your daily life. If someone is being harassed for their race, call it out. If your employer’s recruitment policy magically results in only white dudes in their twenties being hired and has no plan or desire to fix it, call that out. If you catch yourself saying something insensitive, hold yourself to account.

    Evil existed before Trump and will exist after him too. Push where you can. There is so much that you can do.

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