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It started off on Buswell Street in the fall of 2000. I was sitting in my obnoxiously large single dorm room, awaiting two older white men to commence the intellectual sparring match that would confirm who would be more qualified to lead the free world. This was the first presidential debate I would witness after (1) aceing my AP Speech & Exposition Writing class my junior year in high school [third year in secondary]; (2) participating in said high school’s debate club; and (3) finally being able to vote. I was anxious at the idea that the techniques that I, a veritable nonentity, had learned were going to be employed in a forum that affected up to 260 million people.

You know how folk get about the NFL and NASCAR? That was me in anticipation of the Gore/Bush debates.

 I lasted 18 minutes. Within 18 minutes of a two-and-half hour debate, the 100+ pages of reading on maritime and aerospace law (Oh, how you are not missed, Intro to IR Law) due the following day had officially superseded significance in my brain.

At 20 years old, it occurred to me that I had better things to do than watch a couple of toddlers piss and shit over who deserved the sandbox territory more. What didn’t occur to me until later was that my refusal to expose myself to The Executive Branch’s Quadrennial Fall Body Slam Event was an outright act of protection for my mental, emotional and psychological self.

Before I continue, some disclaimers.

  • First, I am fully and adamantly acknowledging my class/socioeconomic/education privilege. I come from an upper-middle class background. I am the 5th generation of my family to attend college. Both of my parents have attended graduate school. They never allowed me to attend a public education institution from preschool through secondary. I graduated from the university on the east coast with the best International Relations program. I lived abroad for a year during the 9/11 attacks and interned at international think-tanks and defense advisory organizations. My opinion and insights derive from this very elitist upbringing.
  • Second, I am fully acknowledging my cognitive ability privilege. While I have been diagnosed with mood and personality disorders, I have never been diagnosed with anything that could severely impair my cognitive reasoning, perception, or sensory skills. I rarely require information to be re-interpreted or reissued to me in order to comprehend it. In fact, chances are, if I seem like I didn’t understand, I simply was not listening or did not care.

This in no way captures any and all aspects of privilege that I may have. As with most humans, I am bound to express a form of privilege that I did not previously cover or consider. I’m fallible, so eventually, I will fuck up. It’s how I handle said fuck-up afterwards that is important.

With that being said, I will now proceed to explain why I would rather lay down in a bed of centipedes in the presence of Joe Rogan that expose myself to the 9-car pile-up on the Dan Ryan that is our presidential debate system.

I Have A Very Low Tolerance For Self-Harm

Grant it, if you are one of the few lucky readers who knows me in meatspace, my personal history suggests the opposite. I engage in risk-seeking behaviors. I thrive on conflict without taking my surroundings into consideration. I have a well-documented impulse control problem.

There may or may not exist an Incident Report on which I may or may not be listed as “Vehicle A” or “Unit 1”.

I make a lot of really questionable decisions.

On the other side of that mess, I pay my bills on time, including my student loans. I hold down a full-time job while heading up the most active writing group in Chicago. I begin every panel preparation session no less than 4 weeks prior to their speaking dates, much to the [hopefully] mild annoyance of my panelists. And I am always the first to leave a problematic relationship.

In other words, I take great pains to ensure that I am minimally inconvenienced emotionally and psychologically, since I abjectly fail at doing so physically. So perhaps it is plausible to see how expending my precious, finite energy by listening to two uber-privileged puppetmasters bicker like Maury Povich guests on DNA Test Day would rank below “Find More Effective Ways To Pick My Nose” on my lifelong To-Do list.

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I’ve turned on the TV, logged onto the Internet, or gotten out of bed enough times to various landfill fires this year alone to remind myself that I don’t matter to those in power. I’m not going to voluntarily expose myself to more of it when the fate of my country is involved. Speaking of the fate of my country…

I Am One Of Those Schmucks Who Honestly Believes In The Republic For Which It Stands

How much do I believe in the Republic? Let’s just say that, if Scandal goes further off the deep end and introduces Olivia Pope’s long-lost sister [because soap opera tropes, amirite?], I will fight like hell to get that part because that long-lost sister would be all of me.

Hey, we don’t really know jack about Maya Pope. This is a totally plausible plot twist. But I digress.

I had the Pledge Of Allegiance memorized when I was 4. I had all four verses, including the hella racist and imperialistic third and fourth verses, memorized when I was 10. I had to turn down the opportunity for a full-scholarship upon joining the NROTC at 17 [please refer back to the mention of my mental health status]. I took the Foreign Service Exam at 21. I had a 2-day email argument with whoever in Former Rep. Henry Hyde’s office was responsible for responding to email at 23. As of the writing of this post, I have voted in no less than 9 primary elections and 8 general elections.

In spite of its pervasive and damning history of oppression against everyone who is not cis, white, rich, abled, and male, I fucking love this country; I fucking love participating in the democratic process, and I have no problem openly saying so.

So you will excuse me if I can’t watch the electoral process disintegrate further into Kimye-level fuckery than it already has. It fucking hurts too much. Like knife inside of your skin hurts. And seeing as I know intimately what this feels like, I would prefer to never have to repeat that sensation. [I told y’all I make GREAT decisions].

Now, far be it from me to tell y’all not to watch the debates. If you feel you must, you must. If you want to be entertained, then be entertained. If you want to be enraged, be enraged. I’m mad and hurt enough, but again that’s me. If you do decide to continue watching the debates, please understand that I will probably be gawking at you like a confused baby owl, desperately trying to comprehend why you would want to expose yourself to this level of agony.

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Otherwise, please leave me out of the conversation. I don’t care about Hillary’s pantsuits. She’s a highly accomplished person who knows how to own her shit and the fact that she has damn good people working for her. Why shouldn’t she be looking as awesome on the outside as she thinks she is [but really isn’t] on the inside? I also don’t care to hear about what “new” racist/misogynist/homophobic/cissexist/ableist/classist bullshit Donald Trump is spewing from his vomit hole. He’s been saying the same goddamned things for THIRTY YEARS. SAME. DAMN. THINGS. The only thing that consistently changes is his fucking comb-over part. Well, it’s more like a comb-around, but you get my point.

So, in the coming weeks, if you notice that I’m shrinking away from the political debates that I used to relish in, you now know why. I may even try out one of those wonderful web filter extensions I keep hearing about. Rest assured, I will be one of the first mofos in line at my polling place on November 8th. I will get my Vaseline-laden prints all over that voting screen [because femmes gotta moisturize], take my printed receipt to the judges, get my damn sticker and post that shit all over Facebook. Because this is my home. This is MY AMERICA.

And gods damn it, I will do anything else I can so she can be better.

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