I’ve lived in Dayton, Ohio since 2007. Elections are, understandably, a big deal here. It’s a swing state. The divide here is sharp, and fairly stereotypical. I live very near downtown, where you are highly unlikely to see a sign up for the Republican candidate. We live in a traditionally black neighborhood, and Dayton itself is split when it comes to race, with about 46-48% of the population nonwhite, and growing as we welcome new immigrants who are kickstarting businesses all across this once dead manufacturing town.  It’s Hillary/Kaine all the way down.

But drive up the hill into Oakwood (where convicted rapist Brock Turner went to high school), and the houses get bigger, the tax rate jumps up, and it’s white folks on every corner. When you see someone not white, it’s likely they are being pulled over by police (dead serious. They are THOSE kinds of police). Oakwood is that kind of place. And, predictably, there at the base of the hill, you start to see the signs for the Republican candidate pop up. It always reaffirms my insistence on not living in Oakwood.

We have representatives from every Dem group imaginable coming to our door every day now, reminding us to vote. I tell my spouse to just stop answering the door, but he is endlessly polite. I joke often that I think he’s secretly Canadian. We vote every time at a church up the street. At this point, I’ll likely just be voting Dem all the way down, and approving every single measure that requires us to pay more taxes to fund more services. Voting in Ohio takes on an extra urgency that I never felt in any other election. The first presidential election I could vote in was in Alaska, the infamous Gore/Bush darkest timeline Florida recount Jeb Bush calling the state for his brother crazy times. Even knowing that Alaska would go red, I voted (it always goes red. Tho I’ll note that right now it has a 1/3 chance to swing to Hillary this time, which is wild).

Voting for Obama both times was a far more satisfying experience. He was able to churn up positive emotions for hope and change in a way that I hadn’t seen since Regan (tho it turned out Regan’s “change” began the rapid dissolution of the American social services and safety nets, alas. Emotion still works). This time around all I feel is fear, which is the other side of the emotional spectrum and which does, alas, work just as well. Fear is driving all voters this election cycle: just toward different candidates.

As many have noted, this election is the Sad Puppy fiasco writ large. The media has given a voice to extremist wank because reporting extremist outrage causes reactionary outrage, which causes more extremist outrage, until we have no actual idea of what anyone really thinks in the middle. The fact that I read a lot of news and still have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on in real life is pretty fucked up. The media has become one big comment section, literally, as news stations now make entire stories out of people’s tweets and comments. The more extreme the view, the more the clicks, the more they get paid, the more skewed our view of what’s “normal” out there.

The only real I see these days, then, are in the neighborhood signs. The clear demarcation there at the bottom of the hill shows me the expected slice. The fact that I see no Republican signs downtown, but do still see Hillary signs up there in Oakwood amid the Republican ones, tells me more truth than the news. Not everyone has taken the extremist train to racist-sexist-xenophobia land.

Let’s just hope they all show up to vote the way they did at the Hugos.

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