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Chamomile, Canada and Congress

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Photo from Wikimedia Creative Commons

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I tried to swim to Canada the other day.

Well, not really. But I was seriously considering it. If I hadn’t seen that last chunk of ice float by I might have even tried. I had to settle for gazing longingly across the lake, close enough to at least get damp from the spray. I wanted to be in Canada. I wanted to be in Canada so bad I considered hypothermia as a fair tradeoff to get there.

        But it wasn’t the moose or maple syrup driving this desire, rather their dreamy Prime Minister and his even more dreamy policy positions. In Canada, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party hold the political power. Their stances on immigration, government regulation, and health care expenditure line up with my own personal stances– along with the progressive platform of the Democratic Party over here in America.

However, it was mostly the current political climate of Washington making me want to jump into a freezing lake and attempt to swim to safety in Windsor. On a litmus test I rank over near Bernie Sanders. And the current administration is just about the exact opposite of Sanders– aside from age and hair styling skills that is. So I wanted to be over in Canada where their progressive party is in power, where those who share my beliefs have power to enact some of them. Since over here, well…  political leanings are trending to the right of me.  

I wanted to go back to pre-Nov. 8, back when my political beliefs had some majority support in elected office. I wanted to be somewhere where my political ideologies are not in the minority. Canada is as close as I can get. But it’s too cold and too fast a current to swim for it still.

        Now, I think I finally understand what hardline conservatives felt like under the Obama Administration. I understand what it is like to have no power as a citizen or a constituent when all your represented officials don’t represent you or even remember you exist. I understand what it is like to live under a government that is not of you or for you or going to protect or advocate for your interests. I understand and I do not like it.

        I feel marginalized and disenfranchised. I feel powerless and voiceless. All those lawn signs I planted, those voter drives I attended, those doors I knocked on, those campaign rallies I volunteered at, those angry Facebook comment threads I posted during the election were useless.

And now everything I do feels a little useless. I went to the Women’s March, I’ve been to protests, I’ve gone to forums, I’ve joined Facebook groups, I’ve donated to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and NAACP, but Democratic voices, without the Congressional votes to back them up and without a president willing to sign their bills, are useless. Even Trudeau’s Snapchat videos about the good of getting involved in politics won’t make that useless feeling go away.     

        Back in 2009, when the House and the Senate and the presidency were all held by Democrats– with only a one person conservative majority in the Supreme Court that would often lean left in decisions– many a Republican probably felt the same way liberals have been feeling lately. Back in 2009, the Tea Party became a political force, along with the Freedom Caucus. Anger and political disadvantage on such a scale led to grassroots movements and in 2010, Republicans turned it around winning back seats in Congress and shifting the votes.

Republican voters who felt as useless as I, and other Democrats do, now managed to pull themselves together, to unite around core conservative beliefs under the Tea Party banner and do something to make sure that feeling would not last long. Mobilize and vote or continue to feel sorry and dream about moving away– those are the options laid out for the political minority.

I remember that during those first days of the Tea Party and their major outcry over Obama, I said they should just suck it up and deal with it. They had lost the election– presidential and congressional– and now they had no right to complain. Now I realize how stupid that was. I can’t imagine just sucking it up and dealing with how I currently feel towards Congress and the presidential administration or towards my own lack of a voice in the direction of the country.

When you are part of the minority party, it might be easier just to roll over and not fight– especially when there are not enough representative to votes to end a bill or even stall cloture–  but it is even harder after enough build up and stonewalling by the majority opposition to do just nothing (and swimming to Canada counts as doing nothing in this case).

Liberal voters left behind by the current political leanings of the entire federal government to the right need to take note from the Tea Party. If you don’t like it, change it. If you don’t like, don’t just wallow, but flip seats and shift the balance during the midterm elections. I know being the marginalized minority party may feel like the end of political advocacy as we know it, but it just means a change in tactics is necessary.

Every time my phone buzzes with a new news alert I can hardly read through the headline without an exacerbated groan escaping me– I just can’t handle (what I perceive as) all of this populist ideological idiocy day after day, which means I will have to become a part of the leftist grassroots movement and do something to change that.

In the meantime, I set my phone so I get news updates about Canada instead of just Capitol Hill. Now, whenever Trudeau hugs a moose or passes new legislation to aid Syrian refugees over in Ottawa, I hear about it all the way down South in the States. And in between those updates and the various emails from the ACLU and DNC, I have time to continue to fantasize about Nov. 2018 and what I am hoping will be a landslide congressional victory for the rising Democrat Tea Party.

   

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Chamomile, Canada and Congress