Got Your Back: On Politics in America


Most of what I could say about the shooting at a club in Orlando has been said by now. I spent the weekend working a literary festival and arrived home exhausted and sunburnt and pissed off from reading Twitter, and of course Trump is garbage and Elizabeth Warren should hold all elected offices forever, but what I keep thinking about is politics.

Of course I do, because I’m just that gross and gauche, right? Politics is SO BAD right now, as opposed to thoughts and prayers which are nonpolitical and therefore good. As if people weren’t killed because of politics, and won’t be killed because of politics tomorrow. As if all of this is an abstraction, and not caused by politics, as everything is.

Politics determine the limits of the powers of the state. I think we’ve forgotten that. I think we’ve come to think of politics as some combination of consumer choice and performance art, with “real life,” jobhomehobbieskidspetsfriendsfun, being distinct from it. But this is the only way we make decisions. It’s the only thing we have.

We turn on the tap and politics comes out. We drive on politics every day, send our children to politics to learn, feed them politics at night. We can’t afford to pretend we’re above this somehow, or separate from it or each other.

Love is a political act. Saying, with words or deed or both, this is who I love and how, that is a political act. So long as the state grants benefits and privileges to those in love, love is a political act. Politics determine the limits of the powers of the state, and if the state grants me a fishing license discount if I have a husband but not if I have a wife, then my marriage is a political act. If agents of the state, representatives of the people, call for public consequences including but not limited to disenfranchisement, imprisonment and death based on who I love, then who I love and how I love him or her is a political act.

There is no “personal or political.” There’s just life, all of it, and how we depend on each other.


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