There is this meme that goes around from time to time. There are many variations, but a generalized summary is something along the lines of “I’m a better person than you because I don’t unfriend people whose politics I don’t agree with.” The meme is part of a trend of political apathy where people claim to not care about politics, or just write off the entire institution as being an exercise in futility where all parties are ultimately the same and nothing ever changes. The belief is that politics is nothing more than just theoretical ideas about governance, and not really anything tangible or applicable to the “real world.”
The ability to take politics for granted is a privilege because it comes from a place of knowing or feeling as though no matter what comes, you will survive the next x many years. It comes from a place where you belong in the status quo. Where your identity, your right to exist, your right to live and support yourself, isn’t questioned on a daily basis.
For you, it can be just a theory, because even when your life is made actively worse by certain administrations, you have the expectations that “you’ll live.”
This isn’t the case for all of us.
Take the US. Millions of people have lost or are about to lose healthcare coverage. This means they can no longer afford to go to the doctor, to receive treatment for chronic or acute conditions. People will once again delay going to the doctor until things are critical, which means the risk of fatality is largely increased. Those who manage to survive will be faced with so much debt, they may well lose their homes and everything they own. Since homelessness is not conducive to rehabilitation and recuperation, it may well mean that that they become permanently disabled or even die of preventable complications.
Thousands will have to sit and watch their children die, will have to carry their child’s dead body inside their own, will face a society that tells them their children are worthless and not worth keeping alive, or educating, or feeding.
Thousands face increased discrimination and the evaporation of laws that were still less than adequate when it comes to protecting a person’s right to shelter, work, and life. The dismantling of protective laws will also see a rise in violence directed at these same populations. Violence that will lead to more deaths.
Thousands will lose what little government support they had, or see it severely reduced. People who are already going hungry so that their children can eat, will face having even less food.
And these are just the most extreme examples. Politics is not just about theory. It’s not just meaningless ideas. They are ideas that form the reality of the society we live in. It’s the difference between women and People of Color having the vote. It is the difference between being allowed to marry the person you love, whether they’re the same sex as you, or a different race than you. It is the difference between being considered a human being or not.
Treating politics like it is just a theory, like it is a spherical cow in a vacuum, in never knowing what it is like not to be considered human. To have your life be deemed worthless or having your continued existence be deemed immoral. Some of us don’t have that option. You can keep the friends you disagree with because you will never have to face being less than human in their eyes. You will never have to watch them celebrate your death.