I have few fond memories of the presidential election of 2016.
Tempers were bolstered around the country, and our worst sides were exposed. The campaign brought division, even within my own family.
We had to take an “agree to disagree” approach to avoid discussing politics. To add a bitter cherry on top of my melting sundae, my candidate was not elected.
In spite of all of this, I have to admit that I was enlightened.
Aside from my personal Facebook account, I chose to expand my social media presence to Twitter. In addition to using Twitter as a way to follow multiple news outlets, I monitored the daily asinine remarks that spewed from the account of Donald Trump.
While I rarely created my own original tweets, I often re-tweeted others. I found that even recycled stories captured the attention of random strangers. For every thumbs up my tweets received, there seemed to be a harsh remark to counteract the support. I was called an assortment of colorful names, but the one that piqued my interest was “libtard.”
The term was applied to me over and over again, but I didn’t know exactly what it meant. With a curious mind, I began my search to define a libtard. Anybody with an understanding of the English language can conclude that “lib” is a reference to a liberal-minded person, and “tard” is an abusive allusion to a handicapped person. Hence, a libtard must be a person who is considered crippled because of his or her willingness to be open-minded.
As I respectfully disagree that any approach in the interest of humanity is a bad thing, I remained confused by descriptions associated with a libtard. The accusations of selfishness, stupidity, ignorance, laziness, entitlement, and immorality both baffled and exasperated me.
I considered how I must appear to online critics. It may seem that I am unable to understand the views of working class people who voted differently than myself. I understand how a perceived disdain for the modern-day plebeians could be considered selfish. The same pundits may even think I am stupid because I fail to address my obvious errors in judgment.
Since I vehemently oppose registries and border walls, it’s fair to accuse me of being ignorant of the need for safety in our country.
The assessment of my work ethic and allegations of entitlement could come from my support of affordable education.
Above all, I have become most familiar with my lack of morality, which begins with my non-secular views and extends to my support of prison reform, a woman’s right to choose, gender equality, and marriage equality.
Equivalently, this makes me a cop-hating, Christian-bashing, hormonal, baby-killing dyke who sympathizes with terrorists and might worship Satan.
I have indeed been enlightened.
But I have to wonder if these self-appointed judges would change their opinions if they knew I was born in Georgia, lived in western North Carolina, and currently live in Tennessee. Would it make a difference if they knew I came from a family of farmers, loggers, line cooks, and factory employees?
While I was fortunate enough to receive higher education, I acknowledge that formal education does not define intelligence. Perhaps I am ignorant for believing that people should be judged by their character rather than the color of their skin, the languages they speak, or a stereotype attached to their race or religion. But if that’s true, I proudly stand on the side of ignorance.
Though it may not change one view, I wish I had the opportunity to explain that I joined the workforce when I was 15. Would I still be called lazy if everyone knew I had a job while I completed two degrees? Would I still be labeled as entitled if I could share that I never asked my parents for a dime while I attended college? Or that I am still paying for the loans I received from the government? I may not appear to be so fancy if everybody could see my 2007 model vehicle and rented home.
While I am grateful for all of it, it may explain why I support making college more affordable. Somebody might even conclude that my views aren’t derived from a sense of privilege.
I can offer no arguments for my immorality.
When ridiculed for my stance on prisoners, I challenge anybody to provide one example of a time that stripping a human of all dignity actually improved a situation. When a non-violent felonious action stigmatizes a person for the rest of his or her life, how is the person with the proverbial scarlet letter supposed to have hope of a better future? My hope is that our former prisoners can find peace and assimilate back into the real world once they have paid their dues.
I dislike the term, “pro-life,” because it seems to indicate that if you support a woman’s right to choose, you must be “pro-death.” While I don’t support abortion as an alternative to birth control, I understand that every situation is different. It’s sad that such a personal and private situation has become a political platform where a candidate can say anything without consequences. As a gay female with no children, I don’t anticipate ever having an abortion. But as a human being, I won’t criticize a woman who may be making the hardest decision of her life.
Gender equality may conjure up visions of Rosie the Riveter. However, it’s important for others to understand that I am the only woman working in a business full of men. I do speak up. I speak out. I speak loudly, and I don’t apologize for it. In my world, you are only heard if you speak with a loud voice. But I believe if you’re going to shout from the mountaintops, you better have something constructive to say.
The attitudes of my opposition toward marriage equality and religion baffle me. I group these two topics together because they seem to go hand in hand. I understand why people disagree with same-sex marriage or different religious beliefs, but I’ve never understood the anger behind the condemnation.
As a woman who is married to another woman, I have faced my share of banishment to eternal damnation. I assure the world I’m neither possessed by demonic forces nor do I worship an evil entity. I embrace the love of a heterosexual couple just as I hope others can find a way to embrace mine. I treat the brown lady in a hijab with the same respect as the Caucasian lady wearing a cross necklace because I don’t accept that religion or sexuality defines any person.
Now that the election is over, I still get called a libtard by many angry tweeters. And they are correct.
I am, indeed, a libtard.
While they intend to disparage me, they associate me with everything I hold dear. Therefore, I no longer ignore them. Instead, I thank them for the compliment, and I am grateful for the enlightenment.
Author: Mandi Fields
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren