Let me say up front that this is NOT about sympathy, empathy, or sorrow. In fact, it is about an internal journey that has produced a myriad of feelings and explorations. This is about me and only me, so see that as you will, but as I have gone through about fifteen drafts of the post-election column I intended to write, the difficulty, for me, was that none of them felt real or right.
It took me a long time to figure out why, but I finally did.
I was attempting to write something for you. To help you. To comfort you. To maybe even help heal some of you. Then it occurred to me starkly, I didn’t want to do that. What I wanted to do was NOT write something for you but to write some honest and reflective. That’s another way of saying that I am writing this TO you, not FOR you.
Last week’s election results — across the country and across this and many other states — were devastating for many on the Left. I get that. But this is not about a single day in our history. Far from it. It is the culmination of many years of activism, advocacy, hard work, fighting, speaking, writing, and trying to convince people that voting against their own best interest will not give them the lives they want.
I have failed in that regard in a HUGE way and I accept that finally.
As I have thought about the past a great deal, what I have discovered is that of the thousands of political and social fights I have engaged in over the last three decades, the many elections and candidates I have helped — or tried to — my own run for public office twice, and my travels from Union Halls to living rooms all over the country, the message was perhaps well received, but my record is something like three wins and about 3,000 losses.
I wish I were joking, but I am not.
Last week’s election did not make me angry. It embarrassed me. I found it disgraceful and unconscionable on so many levels that it would take to writing a book to get it all in.
Over the past week, I have heard from hundreds of people asking me what they can do. I have been sought after for my advice as to how we course correct. I have been asked what the next step is. I have been asked the same questions I have been asked after almost every election I have been actively involved in.
So, here is my answer:
I don’t know. I really don’t.
I do know I cannot spend the next two to four years posting about, writing about, and speaking about the evils of Trump. I know I can no longer attend meetings, webinars, and discussions that NEVER lead to change, ever! I know that, as a communicator, my message did not succeed and if I did have the answers, and I obviously do not, then I would not be writing this at all, would I?
Yes, we can mobilize and try to lead. Yes, we can form new organizations and try to change things. Yes, we can pretend that our passion is stronger and our resolve is more robust than “theirs”, but I am no longer the messenger the movement needs and it is clear to me that effort and hard work, most especially in politics, is not rewarded. If we are to be honest, and we must, we all know this to be true.
The Democratic Party, both at the state and federal level, have failed us miserably, and we know that, too. The “insider” knowledge I have is astounding and, again, is embarrassing, even disgraceful. We do have politicians who endeavor to lead and some who push for real change and advocate they way we would like them to, but there are too few and the rules of politics will always work against them.
If you are thinking that Senator Bernie Sanders would have won this presidential election, I do not share that view for many reasons, but mostly because it was not meant to be. Those on the Left can’t even figure out what kind of definition of Left they belong to, let alone embrace. That anger has replaced cooperation and division in our own Party is clear. As just one example, look at the fight over who will lead the Democratic National Committee that is raging on and on.
We all have to prioritize where we are at in our lives. A kind of a personal inventory. I have been doing a lot of that the last three years. Yes, three YEARS. I read too much. I get offended, as many of you do. I wonder and watch and scream at the television. I shake my head in disbelief at the stories I share and the information I get. And I am scared for this country in so many ways. I am frightened for our collective and my personal future but mostly I wonder how much more pain can we endure?
I have no answers but wish I did.
There are so many issues, causes, and constituencies I care deeply about and those who know me know how true that is. But the truth is simple. I have not been effective in fighting for them because I am still fighting for them thirty years later with no positive change.
I am still and will always be a passionate, creative, and caring person. That will never change. But now it’s time for me to find a new path where what I do will actually make a difference. I want to make people happy. I now know I want a life devoid of politics and constant pushback. I also know people are resistant to change at their core, in spite of their rhetoric, and I can no longer tolerate that hypocrisy, I just can’t.
I will write this one more time in my “political” life. It’s a truth so hard for people to comprehend, but so very true: Change and outrage are fine but it has held true from the beginning of recorded time that until an individual is personally touched by any issue, it is just that, an issue.
Look at any movement and the vast majorities for people doing the heavy lifting were personally touched by the issue. I have seen this thousands of times. Another hard truth is eventually they go away, too. It’s what happens when you lose over and over again.
I am NOT quitting. I am not asking for solace and comfort and I know that I will take some heavy hits for writing this, but I can no longer pretend that the work I have done and the issues I care about have moved in a direction that leads me to believe we are on the precipice of real and dynamic change in the direction we want it to be.
There is a real and dynamic change coming, and it is actually here now, but what can and will we do about it?
Again, I no longer have answers.
Just thinking about writing and posting and talking about the disrespect and degradation of society has given me real anxiety. Seriously. Thinking about preaching to the choir for the next few years to see no change is disheartening, and I am too young still to feel that my best days are behind me.
My gravest concern is for our children on so many levels, but it starts with better parenting and changing public education so that it can be honest and important again. I wish for that and even pray for that.
I have spent a lot of the last week unsubscribing to news feeds, partisan newsletters on both sides, and a bevy of other sources so that I can now begin to heal myself.
I’m not firing shots at anyone, but I am shedding light on my truth, and it is MY truth. I am not asking anyone to buy any of this. I am just saying goodbye.
This is my last column. I will be leaving my podcast in the very near future and then I will find a way to make myself and others happy because that does matter to me. My social media involvement will diminish drastically and ,when I find who I am once again, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Be strong and know that the wind that guides you is still in my lungs and always will be. But for now it’s someone else’s to turn to succeed where I have failed. I pray for that success and look forward to living in that world should it happen as I pray it will.
Thank you to everyone who has ever supported my efforts in any way. It was never unnoticed or unappreciated.
Also, my apologies to my family who suffered for many years as I allowed myself to be taken from them too many times and not given them the better world that I promised them I would give them as my excuse for being away from them. I hoped for better. I didn’t deliver!
Lastly, we have all heard the adage that “I didn’t leave my political Party, it left me” right? Well, I didn’t leave my country and the many movements I have embraced, they left me.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Everyone here at Eclectablog, and me in particular, are sad to hear that a true progressive warrior is laying down his sword and shield. We will sorely miss Tony’s contributions to the ongoing conversation in our state and in our country. I, for one, disagree with Tony’s characterization that he has not changed the world. The world without an activist like Tony Trupiano would look significantly different than it does today and for that we all owe him a deep debt of gratitude.
We wish Tony godspeed and will welcome him back with open arms and open hearts should he ever decide to return.
I love you, Tony. Namasté.