No More Luxuries
Commenting on yesterday’s post discussing Brian Yaeger’s 2004 interview with Flogging Molly, Jake posted a two sentence question.
Americans have lived in a bubble of safety and stability. We have that ultimate privilege in modern life: the luxury of ignoring politics.* For decades, the ship of state has sailed forward across mostly mild seas. And even the rough water wasn’t really that rough. Not St Petersburg 1917 or Charleston 1861 or Punjab 1947 or Kosovo 1998 rough. But politics happens whether we feel moved to pay attention or not, and in this era of American politics, they’re happening fast.
Today America votes, and the consequences of that vote—whatever the outcome—will be impossible to ignore. It is true that an axiom I live by as a current beer writer and erstwhile political writer is that politics divide, and beer unites. In the presence of other people in the warmth of a bar, we have the opportunity to find connection and community. At a personal level we do a lot of good in that mode. But it’s also true that at another level everything is political, even beer. There are moments in every country’s history when politics infuse life.
So to Jake’s question, the answer in 2018 is yes. There are moments, and this is one, when politics moves out of the ignoreable background and become the context in which life is lived. I have two Twitter accounts, one for politics that I set up when I was still writing a on that subject, and my Beervana account. For eight years, until late 2016, there was no overlap. Now I sometimes can’t tell which one I’m on—they are both saturated with political comment and story links. We can’t escape it and we shouldn’t, as good citizens, even try to.
Whatever happens tomorrow will not be the final word—important elections will keep coming, and the next one is probably even more important than today’s. This election will set off a series of events that will change our lives and have ripple effects that stretch for decades. Because of the very real consequences, everyone whom the law allows should exercise their crucial franchise to vote. Something’s about to happen. You either participate and help shape that future, or let it happen to you. The luxury of ignoring it is gone.
* Well, some of us. There are people with names like Hussein and Ortiz who may feel they can’t afford such ignorance.