A Belated Post-Election Narrative About Narratives

A lot of narratives have emerged since Donald Trump’s recent electoral victory. Some have held some merit. Others, not so much. Political narratives can be important, I think, especially at a time when people are searching for answers. But they can also be dangerous, and seldom tell the whole story. At their best, they are like a good movie based on an even better book. More often, though, they’re something less — a caricature of a work more subtle and complex — a “Bonfire of the Vanities,” if you will.

This hasn’t kept me from searching for my own post-election narrative, and you can bet I have a few thoughts on the subject. Yet, as I’ve continued to mull the election over in my mind, I’ve kept coming back to the very notion of narratives, and the thought that it is precisely narratives that led us to this point — mostly false or misleading ones: that people of color are causing rural whites to be economically insecure; that liberals are coming for people’s guns; that Christians are being oppressed and religious liberty, threatened; that Muslims and “Sharia law” are infiltrating our country; that our president is a Muslim, born outside the U.S.; that undocumented Mexicans are rapists and murderers; that climate change is a hoax; that Hillary Clinton has “blood on her hands,” and on and on and on. One of the underreported ironies of this election, I think, is just how much it will go down in history as a revolt against imaginary bogeyman.

If there is a single narrative to be had from this election, it may simply be that these are the narratives that won; that these flimsy, fear-based, anger-soaked narratives, once the purview of the GOP’s radical fringe, are now firmly entrenched in its mainstream; that these narratives have proven more powerful than all the things that used to matter in politics, like facts, policies, knowledge, experience, and character. That the champion of false narratives — a bigoted, inexperienced, and unknowledgeable reality t.v. star, is now the leader of our nation.

As should be clear to all, this election was never about issues. Nor was it about facts or policies, or even reality. Rather, it was about perceptions of reality, based on mostly false and misleading narratives — narratives that have been hammered home relentlessly for decades by a media empire without shame or integrity, and the forces behind it — to an audience that has been convinced, by them, that they are the only ones that can be trusted.

This nation is as divided as it is precisely because of these narratives. Because of them, those of us on the left and those on the right are no longer even speaking a common language, let alone dwelling in a common reality. We now exist in separate, parallel universes. Our narrative perspectives have diverged to a point beyond familiarity or recognition. I could go on at length about how this all happened, about why these narratives suck, etc., but it would do no good. Those who believe them tuned out the likes of me long ago. The battle for the soul of the GOP will not be led by liberals. It will have to be waged from within. Some have tried, but have mostly been trampled. Far too many have remained silent. I’m personally tired of beating my head against that rock.

* * * * *

Which brings me to my humble little blog. When I started this, I didn’t intend for it to be a political blog, although the events of the past 18 months led me there. At this point, however, I’m not sure I want it to remain there. The world has taken a giant step in the direction of darkness, and it’s a place I simply no longer wish to dwell in, mentally and spiritually. To everyone who’s read and commented on all my political posts to date, thank you. It’s meant a great deal to me.

I may take a short break from blogging until I can find some new inspiration. I hope you’ll stick around to see what that looks like. (And I of course reserve the right to change my mind and launch into a spontaneous assault against the Orange Lord at any time). 😉

As always, thanks for reading, and the happiest of holidays to you and yours.

– T

About the photo: this is a plaster replica of my right hand (complete with my permanently disfigured fingernail on the index finger), grasping an overly-optimistic Chinese fortune. The piece speaks well to how I’m feeling right around now, in light of recent events. Copyright, Tim Fearnside, all rights reserved.

 

12 thoughts on “A Belated Post-Election Narrative About Narratives”

    1. Thanks much, Janet. You’re support has meant the world to me. We’ll see what the cards have in store for me and this blog. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in declaring its political demise. Such was certainly my mood last night. I really appreciate the encouragement 🙂

    1. Thanks, Laurie. I truly appreciate it. And I’m flattered you think these pieces have that kind of potential. I’ll certainly take your suggestions to heart. In the meantime, I’m planning on checking out your book :). Best, T

  1. I feel confident you’ll tap into inspiration to keep your blog alive, Tim. Words matter now, more than ever, even if it doesn’t feel that way today. The future is going to require voices like yours.
    Enjoy the break. Rest up. Come back soon.

    1. Thanks, Laura. I suspect we’ll keep it going, one way or another. A little break (and a little compartmentalization) may be all that’s needed (although the latter is hardly a strong suit). Or, perhaps it’s simply more art, exercise, music, and poetry. We’ll certainly need to find ways to boost our reserves in the coming times! ‘Appreciate your feedback 🙂

  2. Good Grief, Tim, Buster and his old pappy just realized that we forgot to comment on your post-election screed (just kidding of course, as is your unfaltering MO, it was a piece of fine sentiment. We’re sure you’ll be back soon. BTW, we just realized we have only this manner of communicating with you. So, do you think a little new year lunch might be in order? (you can ringy ding or text us at 410-608-5457, also. Finally, a belated, but sincere Happy Holidays wish, and also hopes for a better New Year (though our confidence level in the last aspiration is not particularly high)!

    1. Thanks so much, Walt. I really appreciate it. Yes, a lunch (or beer!) to ring in the new year would certainly be welcomed. Thanks for the info — I’ll definitely be in touch :). – T

  3. Tim, I just noticed your comment on Janet Givens blog and came to see what you are all about. I’m sad that this most recent post is more than three months old, which seems a strong signal that you have stepped back for that break.

    On the other hand, I’m glad this is the one at the top, because your observations about narrative rang my bell big time. I’m currently struggling to compress my passion for narrative, which I refer to as Story, into a dozen pages or less as a section in my forthcoming second how-to book on the topic lifestory writing.

    I also note that stories do change, and that they are based on a combination of perception and tradition. So I especially like your line “As should be clear to all, this election was never about issues. Nor was it about facts or policies, or even reality. Rather, it was about perceptions of reality, based on mostly false and misleading narratives …”

    Perceptions of reality. Yes! And no two of us perceive anything exactly the same way.

    Bravo, and I do hope you’ll be back. I’m subscribing so I’ll know when that happens.

    1. Sharon, thanks so much for popping in and commenting :). It was a pleasant surprise, especially after being “off” for awhile now. I’m really glad my piece on “narratives” struck a chord with you. I’m also very much intrigued by the topic of your upcoming book — “lifestory writing.” I think I may need to return your kindness and check out what’s happening on your blog, as well. Best regards, Tim

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