Proud Reality-Based Liberal. Soccer Dad.

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JaBbA


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President Donald J. Trump

I've been asked many times over the last week how I feel about the election. I had a conversation with a barber yesterday that included me saying "I won't disagree with a man holding a straight razor next to my ear" (It was a nice conversation and we both had a laugh over it). But anyone who knows me knows my first answer - of course I'm not happy. I didn't want Donald Trump to win the election and I would have been much more comfortable with President Hillary Clinton. And I would have been much more enthusiastic about President Bernie Sanders (although, and this is a conversation for a different day, I don't think that would ever have happened).

So what's next?

How do I react to President Donald J. Trump? How do I reconcile respect for the institutions of our democracy with my gut reaction to giving this reprehensible man the most powerful job in the world?

Well, first, he's the president-elect and I have no doubt that the Electoral College will confirm that on the First Monday after the Second Wednesday in December. Even if they didn't, the House of Representatives would then not accept the Electoral College's vote and would confirm him as President. I'm not wasting my mental energy on finding ways to stop that. He won the election, regardless of the fact that he didn't win the popular vote.

Donald J. Trump will most likely be President of the United States.

I'm a citizen of the United States, which means that on January 20, I expect him to be my president. Unlike many of Obama's detractors, including one Donald J. Trump, I won't question his legitimacy to be president. If between now and January 20 something comes up that disqualifies him to be President, I assume that the Vice-President-elect will take the office in his stead.

His fitness to be President is another issue.

We've had some bad Presidents before - men who were unfit for the job and who came in completely unprepared. There were even some examples of people who didn't have the experience or ability, and yet surrounded themselves with people who did know how to govern, and created an effective Presidency. Ronald Reagan was in no way prepared the way policy wonks like Obama, or Clinton(s), or even Nixon were. But he surrounded himself with smart people who knew how to govern. They were corrupt as hell and did a lot of damage to this country, but they were effective, and Reagan kept to his role as the charismatic figurehead. Eisenhower knew how to lead men, and knew how to hire smart men who stayed out of the way and let our economy grow like crazy. (Nixon was absolutely focused on policy and executed an agenda. He had other problems.)

I believe that Donald J. Trump is an immoral, unethical narcissist and that he will surround himself with people whose only qualification will be how they make him feel. I believe that he has no idea how to govern and really doesn't care, his only concern is feeding his own ego. And most unfortunately, many of the people closest to him have only their own personal ambition, or have deep-seated personal animus to some part of the American people and will attempt to shape policy to their own very narrow vision of America.

So I'm not even bothering to wish him a successful presidency, beyond hoping that he survives it and doesn't do any lasting harm to our nation or our world. I don't expect him to still be president in 2020, as I believe that his personal issues and disregard for ethics or legality will result in him either resigning in frustration or being impeached for crimes in office. I'll do what I can and oppose the policies that come out of his administration that take our country in the wrong direction. And if, amazingly, something comes from this administration that makes sense, then I'll support it. (I have some hope that maybe an Infrastructure bill might just do some good. If we can keep the lobbyists from funneling all the money to their cronies).

So you won't see me carrying a sign that says "Not My President". I'm an American, I believe that as an American I have engaged in a social compact that we call America and is ruled by the Constitution.

And you can be damn sure that I'll use the freedom of speech given to me by that Constitution to speak my mind and oppose President Donald J. Trump's stated agenda.

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So how do we (re-)start the political conversation?

I'm pretty opinionated. That doesn't mean I'm close-minded. This whole country needs to get back to civil conversations on the future of this country. So a few thoughts on how I'd like to see us talk.

  • If you have a difference in opinion from me, that's fine. I'm a politics geek, and I'm interested in different viewpoints. Show me evidence that my assumptions are wrong, and I'll take a hard look at my policy priorities. If you and I disagree on moral grounds, we'll have to agree to disagree, but I'll hear you out. However - if your argument starts with "But <insert religion here> says it is so", I'm going to stop you right there. America is a county founded on rational thinking and the rule of law. My answer is go read the primary documents by the founders. You'll see how they felt about organized religion and government.

  • If you want to challenge me to show you why I am so concerned about climate change, great! I have lots of evidence - facts and figures and scientific observations - and I'd be happy to lay it out for someone who has an open mind. I'm pretty convinced by the evidence, but if you have some new evidence, then show me. But be prepared. The evidence I can see is pretty clear.

  • If you are worried about men dressing as women and sneaking into women's bathrooms because they are perverts, let's talk about your concerns and please let me explain why I think that's not a realistic danger, and why it's important to respect people's gender identity. And notice I said that I think it's not a realistic danger - I didn't say it's not a real fear. Because maybe it is a fear you have, and I'll do my best to put your mind at ease. And I can be compassionate about your very real fears, but I'm going to come down on the side of love when it's time to make policy.

  • If you think that Obamacare is a bad law, well, we can start by agreeing that there are real problems with it. And I'll try to persuade you that the profit incentive in health insurance is always going to make health care incentive. I'll listen to you if you want to try to persuade me of another way, but don't just hate it because Obama passed it. Keep in mind, however, that I do believe that people are entitled to have medical care - and that doctors take an oath to provide that care. If your policy prescription is to let people that don't buy insurance suffer, we're going to have to agree to disagree.

What do you want to talk about? Guess what? I just added comments! Go for it.

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Hate vs. Fear vs. Anger

There are some lines that we all need to be mindful about. The left and the right, Clinton supporters and Trump supporters, have at times crossed that line.

But...


We have heard months of hate and anger at people based just on who they are - the vilifying of "The Other". We have seen political leaders using fear of differences as a way of whipping up support.

There have been a lot of expressions of fear of and anger at Trump and his supporters. I hope that people understand that it is not his voters, but his supporters, that are the people who are actively working to create a culture of fear and hate. The political workers who were attempting to get him elected even as they knew that he is not in any way qualified to run this country. The people who attended his rallies and were chanting "Lock Her Up", "Build The Wall", "Jew-S-A" - these are the ones who have created the fear that many people are now expressing.

There's no equivalency between "I'm scared and angry and Donald Trump represents a threat to people I care about, this country I love, and the earth I want to protect" and rhetoric like "Obama is a Anti-white Muslim" or "Homosexuals are trying to recruit our children". So much of the rhetoric out of the Republican party is simply intended to divide us, to whip up sentiment against some non-white, non-straight population.

Don't try tell me that Hillary's "Deplorables" comment was hate speech. She was talking about people who express hate against some "other" group. She was saying that their behavior - not their accident of birth or color of their skin - but that their behavior is what put them in the "basket of deplorables" - not something I would have said, but we all understood what she meant.

There's a lot of things I dislike about Donald J. Trump. I might even make fun of his small hands or his bad hair or his ill-fitting clothes. But I'm not going to say that he is somehow not entitled to the same rights as any other citizen of this country. I'll even try really hard not to say "Some people are saying...", although when a man who is ascending to the most powerful position in the world starts throwing around innuendo like that, you can be damn sure I'm going to criticize that.

What I'm going to oppose is his behavior, his policies, and the behavior and policies of the people he chooses to be associated with. And I'm going to do it with whatever voice I have. I'll try to keep it civil, but you can be sure, there are things that Donald Trump has said that, if he attempts to follow through on them, are going to make me angry. And I'll express that anger. But don't conflate the anger and fear of people who strongly disagree with hate. I'll speak out against hate from whatever corner it comes from, and I'll call out my allies when they cross that line. But don't expect me to ever allow myself to be cowed by into silence by people claiming that I hate.

I don't hate - or at least, I try very hard not to. But love can be expressed as anger when that which we love is under attack. And I'm comfortable with that.

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The Safety Pin

I started wearing a a safety pin today.

I wear it to demonstrate my commitment to standing in solidarity with those who may be threatened by those who hold power.
safety pin

It does not represent anger or hate. It expressed my desire to be an ally for women and LGBTQ people and immigrants and non-Christians. It does not mean that I hate people who are not liberals. I haven't met a single person IRL who takes my safety pin as an insult or threat to them and I don't expect that I ever will. It's a small, innocuous and non-threatening statement of intent.

But today, in the online world, social media pictures of safety pins and posts about wearing them are being immediately attacked as being about anger and hate. This struck me as amazingly out of touch. But as I thought about it, and saw the nasty comments on friends' social media posts, it dawned on me.

This is gaslighting, pure and simple.

Yes, there are some people who are angry about the election. And yes, there are some very emotional reactions to Trump. Some - too many - go over the top. And there are some deplorable people who are on the political left. But I've seen so many heartfelt, honest posts by people who are worried and sick at heart be immediately attacked as "hate".

There's also a post going viral from a writer at the Huffington Post that purports to call out white people for wearing their safety pins out of White Guilt. But..I've also been told by people at risk that I know that when someone is willing to use their privilege to stand up and say "I stand with love for people who experience hate", that it means something.

So i'm going to wear my safety pin. I'm also going to start writing again - it's been a while, but I need it.

So expect to hear from me. A lot.

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