The Denome’s Advocate: A final rant on politics

By Thomas Denome

Three years and about 30,000 words or so after I was bequeathed with a column, I am now sitting here, at my computer, writing my last little diatribe about something, anything political that captures my interest. In a month, I’ll graduate high school; I’ll head off to college in August; some underclassman will snap up the empty columnist slot left in my wake and the only evidence that I ever wrote for the Epitaph will be some dated musings on this website.

    I’m very privileged to be able to say I’ve been able to do this. By some combination of lucky circumstances, I’ve been on the newspaper for four years, had a column for three, been a senior editor for two and shared the Editor-in-Chief position for one.

It’s that very privilege I have that I want to make the subject of what will be my last column for the Epitaph.

    I am privileged in all the big ways and the little ways, and I am thankful for it all. I am undeserving of most of it, frankly. I am privileged to come from a household where, at a young age, I was instilled with an interest in the world around me —particularly the politics of it. I am privileged to have parents who indulged my thought process and helped me shape my earliest political beliefs.

    I am privileged to be in the upper-middle class, and not have to experience first-hand the problems which I spend much time pondering solutions to. I am privileged to come from a union household, where the little guy was the good guy and Pete Seeger was always playing on the stereo.

    I am privileged — incredibly privileged — to be white and male, even if I am also queer and androgynous. I learned in my formative years this means that no matter what my personality or orientations are, I will initially be judged by larger society on top of the patriarchy for no other reason than my appearance.

    And I am also very much privileged in all the little ways, with my loud voice and tall stature that lend me well to being heard in the newsroom or elsewhere. Perhaps, I am too privileged in that regard, particularly since, as a white male, I’m not qualified to speak for many other people in our rapidly changing world.

    I haven’t the same fears a black man has about being stopped by police, or Jewish and Muslim people have about a white supremacist attacking their places of worship. I feel safe using the bathroom, unlike transgender people, and I don’t have to fret about ICE agents someday breaking down my door regardless of my immigration status.

    I can go to college by virtue of the hard work of my family, and I can pursue whichever career path I wish because I do not have parents forcing me in one direction or the other. In a post-scarcity society, I do not have to worry about food nor water nor health care, nor having to migrate because of the effects of climate change. I can vote in elections and openly protest. I can freely practice Buddhism and abstain from worshipping a deity. I can, for the most part, live life exactly as I want it.

    What makes me angry about the world is not a want for anything that I don’t have, but instead the fact that all these things I just listed are privileges that are by-and-large unique to white, upper-middle class people like myself. I am not a fan of asking rhetorical questions, but I shall make an exception here: why should I have all these rights and freedoms when I am no more deserving than literally anyone else?

    My political evolution has largely centered around this question increasingly dominating my beliefs. Initially, when I began writing this column, politics was akin to theatre or sports. The things the government did had — to me at least — no basis on how they ended up affecting people. From my liberal parents, I simply knew that the Democrats were the good guys, the Republicans the bad guys, and when the bad guys did something stupid, I would gloat, even if the good guys were no better.

    I’m now far removed from that mindset, and it shows in my writing. The political theatre that occurs in Washington is nothing more than political theatre. It doesn’t concern me, and it certainly doesn’t concern people the world over who are actually struggling, and are actually desperately in need of aid from someone.

    I’m from a union household. I’ve grown up believing in the power of cooperation and teamwork to make the world a better place. And I firmly believe that it begins with normal people — people who simply want to make the world a better place for them, their peers and future generations.

    I am privileged. But I am in no way exceptional. I just want to make the world a better place as well. I want to ensure that everyone can enjoy the same comfortable existence I’ve had, both now and in the future. I know it’s possible. I’m willing to do whatever I can to make it happen.

    With the final sentence I write in The Denome’s Advocate, I implore you to do the same.