RELATIONSHIPS & POLITICS
My Ex is a Black, Trump-Loving Proud Boy, My Longtime Buddy Voted for Kanye, and I Need New Friends
Plus, a pretty gross run-in with Donald Trump I’ll never forget.
I have never been a political person. I have never fully understood or cared about politics or the people who run this country. I am not the sort of person prone to march, protest, or participate in any form of political outcry or organization. I am also not the kind of person who would join the military or any other government agency. I know who I am and who I am not, and I have a deeply profound respect for everyone and anyone who gets up in the morning determined to fight for the freedoms and rights of others.
I just don’t have it in me.
I do, however, have personal opinions on certain aspects of the political arena. Still, I choose to keep them mostly to myself. Politics is the sort of subject matter that divides family, friends, and neighbors, so I don’t openly discuss my views –– especially because I’m not well-versed enough to speak intelligently about the ins-and-outs of our government, how it’s being run, and how it should be running.
Instead, I choose to listen, learn, and ask questions. I understand the privileges that allow me to stick my head in the sand and pretend the world isn’t on fire just because I live in Pleasantville and Whole Foods finally restocked that organic bamboo toilet paper my precious taint can’t live without. I live in a privileged suburban bubble where yoga and martini lunches are a thing, weekly farmers' markets are not only enjoyed by expected, and working from beneath an umbrella while perched beside the pool at Soho House is called Mondays. So, from where I sit (you know, poolside), everything is just fine –– or at least it was.
What could go wrong?
I met Donald Trump once, very briefly, at the 2006 Emmys. I was with my then-partner Bill Maher when the two men greeted eachother with politically-correct salutations as The Donald found his way to his seat. Bill and I were already seated, and when he introduced me to a much slimmer, less orange, one-chinned version of Donnie T., the not-so-rich tax evader looked me up-and-down and nodded before turning to Bill and giving him the thumbs-up. I imagined this is how men congratulated each other in the fifties when one of them drove through post-war suburbia in a brand new Thunderbird. “Sweet ride, Bill,” I heard in my mind as my body was objectified.
It was pretty gross.
Bill tried to teach me quite a bit about politics, actually, but I was in my twenties back then, and my head was already in the sand. I was a self-made millionaire –– a New York Times bestselling author living in my dream house on an elitist hill in a predominantly liberal community located in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Life was good. Who needed politics! I was smart, pretty, and rich. My partner was super-smart, rich as fuck, and famous. There were shopping trips to Tiffany, private jetting to San Fransisco just for dinner, and a team of people to clean my house, chlorinate my pool, cut my grass, clean up after my dogs, and babysit my kid. We had it all!
I mean, what could go wrong?
Ten years later…
It was election night 2016, and I was mortified. I’d voted for Barak Obama in the previous election, mostly because he’s Black. That’s honest. It was the first year I’d ever paid any attention to what was going on in politics and didn’t want to miss a chance to help elect America’s first Black President. Other than that, I liked the way he spoke and acted. I appreciated his couth and candor. He was elegant and poised; he spoke clearly and concisely and did what I felt a President should do.
I may not have understood everything about American politics. Still, I surmised that some pretty bad people founded and operate this country, that nothing is as it seems, and the President's job, in part, is to be the figurehead, to make it all seem as if it’s under control, especially when it’s not. Maybe I’m the asshole here, but I wanted a President who wouldn’t make me nervous or scared, the way your dad says, “You’re okay, buddy,” when you fall instead of screaming, “Oh my fucking God! Are you dead?”
You know, a cool dad.
But, as I watched the election results alone in my room, I felt as if there was no good answer to the question of who would be the next President of these United States. I knew enough about Hillary and Bill Clinton to know that she wasn’t the best choice. But, I knew enough about Donald Trump to know he was the worst.
For me, it wasn’t so much about his politics because he wasn't a politician, and I knew very little about the subject, anyway. It was about his character. It was about how he spoke and behaved. He wasn’t the sort of man I’d want to date, fuck, or be friends with. I’d be embarrassed by him at a party. He’s the guy I’d give a fake phone number to or stand-up on a date I’m sure he’d try to force me to show up for. Don is that one guy with the teeny penis who tells all his friends he fucked you in the bathroom at the rave even though he’d never been.
Donald Trump was gross when I met him in 2006, and he was super gross in 2016. So, even though I wasn’t a fan of his opponent, I rooted for Hillary Clinton the way I would have rooted for anyone who was not Trump. However, as the night went on and the final votes were being tallied, Hillary’s “sure win” started looking less-and-less likely. Donald Duck would undoubtedly prevail.
Four years later…
Alot has changed since 2006. I live a more modest life, albeit privileged in its own right. As I write this, I’m on a lake out in the Poconos, wondering what the hell happened to it all. The 2008 housing crisis threw me for a loop, but I soon recovered with the knowledge that the economy can turn on us at any moment, and it’s best we live far below our means. I’ve had a few husbands from whom I have also bounced back, walking away with the knowledge that most men I know are trash.
My kid’s in college now, and so am I because I’ve learned to never bet on just one profession and to make oneself “essential” in case of a crisis. In 2015, I retired from publishing to focus on running my businesses, adjunct teaching at a local university, and performance coaching. This year, I unretired. I haven’t been on a private aircraft in years because what sort of environment-hating-douche-bags fly to San Francisco just to eat dinner, anyway?
My current partner isn’t rich or famous, but goddamn, he’s smart. I’ve learned that having it all doesn’t mean one is well-adjusted. Over the past fifteen years, I have simplified and mellowed with age. Most of us do that. Time and the ever-changing state of the world have taught me temperance. By 2019, I’d survived the first few years of the Trump presidency, and as the year came to a close, I looked forward to the new decade, which promised to bring good fortune with hopes and dreams realized.
2020 was going to be “our year.” Remember?
As Donald Trump’s reign of “what-the-fuck” prolonged, I buckled down and just waited for it to be over. That’s what you do when you’ve got your head in the sand. But as 2020 hopefully opened and then quickly shuttered with the announcement that a killer virus was in our midst, I was forced to pay closer attention.
I could die.
In the last few months, I have found myself having more conversations about politics than I’ve ever had in my entire adult life. There is still so much I don’t know or understand, but what I do know is what feels toxic, and Donald Trump feels toxic.
I know about abusive relationships, narcissism, and gaslighting. I’ve studied them, and those ex-husbands I mentioned earlier are exes because of them. I have worked so hard to get out from under the toxicity of men, the shame and name-calling, and the gaslighting that makes you think you’re going crazy. I am all too familiar with being physically endangered by a man only for him to swoop in and “save” me from a peril of his creation. I have grown accustomed to being discredited and blamed by men who can’t keep their hands to themselves or their wits about them, crazy men who beat women and skip their meds. I am not a partisan person; I am not a republican or a democrat, green, or independent.
I am a woman who is tired of being abused.
And you’re proud of that?
This year, I began engaging a few of my more interested friends in conversations about our current political and social climate. I intended to listen, learn, and hopefully be pointed in the direction of more information about how it all works. However, imagine how disenfranchised I felt when some of the men in my life admitted to liking or admiring Donald Trump as a person and finding the way he talks about women, the disabled, and Black and Brown people funny.
“Aw, man! I like that guy. He’s fucking hilarious. He says shit no one else says out loud,” my ex-lover said with a chuckle.
“Yep, and there’s a reason why we don’t say those things,” I scoffed, completely confused as to why I ever found this jack-hole attractive.
“I’m a Proud Boy, you know,” he continued. “Me and brothers are going to a rally next weekend. I’m wearing my Black Lives MAGA hat. Every time I wear it, people get their feelings hurt. They look all confused and shit. I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s just a hat!”
“And you’re proud of that?”
It was official. My ex was a Black, Trump-loving Proud Boy.
Stunned, I asked myself, how do I even know somebody like this? I wondered how I, at one point, was seeing a man who would eventually come to believe that Donald Trump was “hilarious,” and the Proud Boys is a suitable affiliation. Granted, I hadn’t been with him in years, but he hadn’t become this person overnight, had he? Was I so blinded by the dick that I didn’t realize how fundamentally different we were?
And if you read that last line in Carrie Bradshaw’s voice, you and I are sharing a vibe right now.
Politics aside, there are exponential character flaws here. I wouldn’t care if a President was a republican or democrat. No matter which side of the aisle he swings, I never want to hear our President say, “…grab ‘em by the pussy,” and I should never be able to Google and pull up photos of his wife’s pussy either, for fuck’s sake.
I never want to hear about the porn stars and sex workers in his past, that he likes being pissed on by them, and has to pay them to be quiet about their relationships with him. I don’t ever want to see a photo of our President and First Lady hanging out with known pedophiles. I don’t want a President who has been a failure in his businesses and marriages.
I want a President who doesn’t hide his taxes only to show years later that I have paid exponentially more US taxes than he has. When a raging pandemic has been discovered, I deserve a President who employs his seasoned speech writers to draft the presidential version of, “You’re okay, buddy,” followed by a swift response to actually make it okay. I want a President who has learned, mellowed, and tempered with age.
And listen, I’m no saint, but I’m also not the President.
Again, I don’t understand it all, but I do understand why so many Americans are or have become skeptical of the voting process. It was the “pregnant chads” of 2000 for me. That election was a shit show, and a three-ring circus overshadowed only be the fuck-shit that’s going on now.
Like most of you, I now have weekly, sometimes daily, conversations with family and friends about the insane news cycle and the bombshell reporting being hurled at us like napalm. I am not altogether convinced that voting matters in a world where Facebook allows foreign entities to control the minds of the masses, distort the facts, and influence elections. I don’t know if pregnant chads should be aborted, if mail-in voting is as successful as mail-order brides, or if Joe Biden is actually worse than Donald Trump but just better at hiding it.
What I do know, however, is that no one should be voting for Kanye West.
Maybe I’m the asshole.
I recently spoke to another of my friends who was bursting at the seams to tell me he’d voted earlier that day. He and I had been having regular nightly conversations about the state of world affairs, and I found myself rolling my eyes and being left with my mouth agape during most of them. He’s a conspiracy theorist and a believer of everything he finds on the internet, albeit a dark corner of the world wide web. That’s not to say I don’t believe in government conspiracies and cover-ups; I’m just not a fan of theories, except for The Theory of Relativity and The Theory of Everything. Those are pretty cool, and that last one has an impressive score by the late, great Jóhan Jóhansson. So, there’s that.
Anyway, I was convinced my buddy would vote Green this year since he spoke of Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker’s platform often.
“Yo, I voted today!” the Bronx native exclaimed.
“Oh, good!” I responded, presuming he’d cast his ballot for the Hawkins/Walker ticket.
“Yup. I voted for Kanye.”
I laughed. “Right? Like, who would…”
“Nah, seriously. I voted for Kanye!”
“Because…he’s got billions! More money than Trump and Biden combined!”
“No, he doesn’t.”
“Well, his business is worth billions.”
“He just had to get money from his wife a few years ago to pay his debts and just got an SBA PPP loan.”
“Oh. Well, yeah. Still. I voted for him. Fuck it.”
“And financial standing is no reason to vote or not vote for anybody.”
“Well, whatever. It’s all rigged anyway, so I gave the brother my vote.”
Jesus fucking christ. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Sure, maybe the game is rigged, but maybe it’s not. And if it doesn’t matter who you vote for, why not vote for a legitimate candidate with an actual platform just in case you’re wrong.
Why not cover your bets?
I mean, I’m no expert. I’m really new to this whole politics thing, and I could be wrong, but I think throwing away your vote, especially in a time such as this, is like throwing away food in a famine. If you’re going to vote, I think you should make it count. I think you should vote according to a person’s policies and personal track record. I think that who one is as a person greatly informs who they are as a President. I think that how much money someone makes in their business is not a qualifier. I think business acumen is not better than a history of righteous public servitude. I think that mental illness has no place in public office and that our President should have better taste in shoes. So, right there, Kanye West can’t be it.
But I don’t know. Maybe I’m the asshole.
Tongue in cheek.
Listen, I don’t know a lot of things, but what I have found out by finally pulling my head from beneath the surface and having in-depth conversations with my friends and family is that…I need new fucking friends.
Much of this dissertation is written with tongue-in-cheek as I wish not to present myself as someone who knows what she’s talking about all the time. But, I know what I know.
As the late laureate Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I don’t like how many men make me feel –– that goes for Trump and a few of my friends. Hell, even Biden gives me the creeps now and then.
I want people in my life who condemn sexism and sexual assault, racism, classism, and misogyny. I want people in my life who are turned off by others who display such traits and characteristics, regardless of their politics. More than that, I want men in my life who are strong-willed, who are not followers of other men, who don’t join cults of personality just for the sake of feeling as if they belong to something bigger than themselves. I want men in my life who stand on their own merit, who are leaders and well-informed from all sides, and not just from the dark side of the internet where no one wears masks and bin Laden is alive and well and living in Kokomo, Indiana.
I want men in my life who don’t think 9/11 never happened.
I’ve taken my head out of the sand and what I see now is frightening. I’m still learning about the world outside of my cozy little suburban bubble and about the people I have called friends. We don’t all have to think the same, and we most definitely don’t have to vote for the same people, but everyone in my life should, at the very least, denounce hatred, indecency, and inhumanity, and the people who encourage either or all. My friends should never think vile is funny. Each of them should at least try to make a difference, even if the game is rigged against them, not throw their privileges away because…“fuck it.” I don’t know. Maybe I’m the asshole.
I think I’ll give Bill a call.