I Lost My Tribe
I am happy Donald Trump has been defeated, but it is a melancholy joy. His Presidency hastened the final annulment of my ignorant illusion that we had left certain baser inclinations on the trash heap of history and revealed that the beliefs of a political party are fungible in the pursuit of power.
For most of my life, I have been a Republican, and not one of those “I vote Republican so I am a Republican” kind of party members. I ran campaigns, held positions of leadership in the party, and had more than one piece of jewelry with an elephant on it. The Republican Party was my tribe.
I admit that I was rarely a very compliant member of the party and would regularly voice opposition in the face of its baser instincts. While others may not always have been willing to put their heads on the block next to mine, they were certainly there with a basket to catch my severed gourd and agree that I was making some good points. Then they’d sew my head back onto my neck so that I’d be ready to go back into battle when the thing no one wanted to say needed to be said. Eventually, however, I started to notice that there were more hands on the ax than hands on the basket.
The change in the Republican Party didn’t happen overnight, and, as long as I am not feeling too maudlin, I can convince myself that when I joined the party back in the 1990s this dark underbelly wasn’t really there. I was probably fooling myself, but since I wasn’t looking for it, it was easy not to find. One or two wasps gathering around the garbage doesn’t mean that you worry there’s a hive about to fall on your head.
Over the last decade, my tribe changed. It got uglier and angrier. The wasps didn’t have to swarm around the edges of the party because they convinced the party to move into the hive with them. It wasn't just that it was a move I couldn’t make, it was a move I begged others not to make. I stood outside the hive and shouted for them to come out, but not many did.
I lost my tribe.
I don’t belong to the other tribe. I can feel happy around their campfire as they celebrate the Biden-Harris win, but I’m not one of them and I can’t pretend that I am. So I am happy that President Trump has been repudiated, I am happy that we elected the first woman as Vice President on the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and I am happy that maybe we can start to focus on what makes us countrymen instead of what makes us adversaries (although my hope here is slight), but I can't join in the dancing because I don't know the steps. Instead, I'll just watch the shadows cast on the wall by this foreign fire and tap my foot to their music.
Politically, I’m wandering, and it feels very lonely. I don’t know how long I’ll be without a tribe, but I suppose it might be for quite a long time. For now, I will try to hold on to my hope in a better future and look for a steel turtleneck because I doubt I am done putting my head on the block for what I think is right.