By Eva Blodgett
As I reflect on my feelings and fears at the current political climate, I cannot help but go back to May of 2016, the month when I became a newly minted citizen of the United States. I felt thrilled at the idea of finally being able to vote, particularly in what was shaping to be a very volatile and historic election. I followed the news, listened to podcasts, debated with friends and family, and felt proud to be politically active and engaged. Emigrating from a post Soviet country, I was also aware of the possibility that the party who supported civil rights, climate change, and overall progress may not win. Just like in Soviet days, I felt I could not fully trust the system and the leaders or the ideology that made claims that it was truly the people who elected the party leaders. In conversations with my spouse who kept assuring me that there was no way that the Republican nominee would win, I explained that my fear of reliving the authoritarian and dictatorial regime repeating itself was ongoing. I would also explain to him that, based on my experience with oppressive political regimes (I grew up in Lithuania who was occupied by Russia for 50 years), I did not quite trust that good will, intelligence, and noble intentions always win.
Post election, my old fears are very much re-awakened and alive. When I hear talks minimizing the value of NATO and requests for NATO parties to pay their share as a condition of U.S. providing military assistance in times of need, I fear my native country may be re-occupied by Russia. I speculate what would happen to my family who still lives there and, who has been more trusting in the democracy of America than I have been lately. This fear is further fueled by Twitter messages discounting CIA reports on Russia’s involvement in the pre-election process and the President’s dismissive comments on the impossibility of identifying hackers
Among many other fears for the upcoming administration, there is a fear of my own political apathy that set in on November 9th. I found myself avoiding news channels, watching less political coverage on TV, and warding off thoughts on political activism and action. I have felt the absence of the opposition, a lack of voices from the Democrats, and less conversations about political revolution, to quote Bernie Sanders. It has felt safer to ignore the politics altogether, to immerse myself in clinical issues and readings – anything to silence disturbance and dread of the political unknown. I am fearful of my own voice losing volume and I am fearful of choosing the path of indifference and passivity.
One of my first reactions post election was the concern of what would happen to those whose voices were already silent and who were already struggling to find a safe space to be visible and known. People like my transgender patients, patients of color, and many others who were systemically marginalized . During the first post election days, I felt a strange rush of energy prompting me to do something for those already unheard and invisible persons. Yet I have struggled to sustain that energy and have found it challenging to identify ways to give voice to my own uncertainty and fear. Perhaps my fears are fueled by doubts that there are not many left who still wish to listen.
I wish to conclude with hope that writing this post election reflection is the beginning of my way to resist political apathy, passivity and compliance. I also hope that by continuing speaking, I may offer my voice for and to those who may feel the space to speak has just become smaller and less safe.