Personal Blog

I spent the evening listening to Fox News. I understand more now why our nation is so divided. We are being duped so we stay divided. I am saddened, and I am fired up. Trump is #notmypresidentyet- but that doesn’t make me a sore loser.  Yeah, I have been quiet on #Trump since the election. That time is over.

I have listened to the push-back on the #notmypresident movement and the cries for disappointed folks like me to stop being sore losers. Well, he is #notmypresidentyet, I am not a sore loser. I’m just profoundly disappointed. I accept he’s been elected by a minority of Americans, but don’t expect me to jump aboard the Trump train. Not now. Not yet. I need him to show up, man up and apologize.

But he will not apologize.  That’s one of the main reasons I am disappointed. We elected a bully that gloats the results of outright hostility and lying. I believe in redemption and forgiveness, but Trump clearly sees no wrong in his actions.

Why do I remain so bothered? Why do I want an apology? Why is he #notmypresidentyet?

  • Misogyny – the systemic hatred of women. It won. There is a rudeness and condescending way in which Trump spoke about women during the election and I will not let that go until I see a change and hear an apology. Michelle Obama said it best, but we all know the way he brushed off his language as “locker room talk” was a pathetic attempt to excuse away the inexcusable. I am sick of people brushing his words aside and being willing to accept him as a change agent someone who breaks up the status quo as though that is enough to look beyond his misogyny. It is not enough for me. All the change he might bring (and yes, I’m hoping he is successful and does good for our country) is not enough for me to accept the systemic hatred of women he emboldens. He applied sexism as a tool and then denied its very use.
  • Racism – he’s a proven bigot and racist. Unlearning my own inherited sexism and racism in my early years has made me a better person. It is thanks to patient women and patient, caring women of color that I can understand my white privilege and become more responsible for my own racist actions. Trump flaunts behaviors that look like he feels entitled to his sexist behaviors and that he has no idea of how white privilege has aided him. I want leaders who live by examples that can help shapes our children. What lessons do kids learn from Trump actions? That scares me.
  • Hate bating bullying – Trump used it as a tool and he won. Why should that make anyone happy? He’s even back-peddled from many of the position he touted during the election process – (making him slightly more tolerable?) – but not enough to lull me into complacency. Fine, he’s a good strategist. He played chess and won. But his debate behavior (talking over Clinton, blurting out insults, leering over her as a power-play) and his campaign trail race-baiting was a calculated call to the worst sentiments of racism, fear and division among us. He is part of the financial and political elite that works to drive American apart so we don’t focus on them and hold our political systems and officials accountable.

I’ve long accepted my ability to blend in with the majority of Americans (white men) as an obligation to look out for others. Obviously being gay helps me identify as a minority. I am sure that is why the election of Trump strikes so deeply at my core values.

I have to keep reminding myself that roughly 47% of Americans did not vote. Unbelievable. Inexcusable. Some 4-6% of Americans voted for a 3rd party candidate.  That means less than 50% of Americans voted and even if Trump and Clinton had split the rest (they didn’t – Clinton won the popular vote, among those that voted) – that still means only 1 in 4 Americans stood up for Trump.  I’m also willing to accept that is a small minority of them that embody the sexism, racism and bigotry that he did during the campaign.  I want to believe he’ll be President of all of us and that most of his supported are just equally pissed off as I am and wanted a change.

All of that is going to take time and adjustment.  My way of adjusting will be to write about it.  I welcome comments, but I know I’m doing this mostly as a coping mechanism.

I’m also starting a separate blog, Occupy My Street and soon will be joined by others who have something to say.  Feel free to join the conversation, occupy my street and I’ll occupy yours.  That way we can come together. That way we can stop letting the 1% define the agenda that keeps us fighting one another instead of holding them accountable.

For now, he’s #notmypresident because I can’t look past the horrible behaviors until I see a change or year an apology.  I’m holding my breath.

#unclerandy

Thank you Facebook, you’ve made an addict out of me. I look at you all the time and I wonder how I will relate to you in the future. You’ve also blocked out all the awesome cat and dog videos with opinions parading as facts.  Facts matter. Opions are interesting.  I’ve been unfriended and it hurts.

Truth be told I looked at my friend list yesterday to see who I might need to dump. This Trump-Clinton,  18-month “hell-hole” has left me exhausted and the pain of a Trump election has left me looking to create my own echo chamber. I had slipped into the “if you are not with me, you are against me, a$$hole thinking.” That’s a dark space I want to escape. That purge will not service my learning or our creating community well, so I looked over my “friends” list to find people who might be able to engage in a meaningful, spirited, but respectful conversation.

What I found is that nearly a dozen of my work, college and high-school mates have dropped me. I’ve been un-friended without warning. I will live. I don’t like it.  Not one goodbye, not one reason why. I’ll no longer get to see their kids, learn what motivates them or see what awesomeness they ate last night. I fundamentally believe that in getting to know people who are vastly unlike me and that have different opinions, I can grow- and so can they.  Without interactions with those that differ than me I remain stuck in my own thinking. I’m like wine – under stress and challenge, I produce a better fruit, we are a better vintage. Do I push for Blue States of America or United States of America?

There is much I want to say about this election.  There is much I will say. I am also, like many of you, stirred to action. Before I go to those spaces, the most important thing for me to say as white man is that I am sorry.  I have tried to combat sexism. I have tried to be an example of unlearning my own racism. I have tried to be an example of Christian faith that joins people of all religions into community rather than emphasizing our difference.  White men failed and I feel accountable. I am sorry and heartbroken.

My next post?  Facts & Opinions.  I’m searching for a way to engage my family. This passion reminds me of how annoyed my father Clovis would get when someone wouldn’t concede a fact. He’d get fired up a swear in French if someone couldn’t agree to what is a known fact.  I miss that. Today opinion seems to conflate with fact and there is an important difference.  More on that later. For now- again, I’m sorry. I’m sad. I’m still your friend.

#unclerandy

Opinion http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opinion

Fact: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fact

 

 

 

My meditation word and work this year is “purpose.”  Last year it was priority. The year prior, patience. Next year and the subsequent years (until I am 50) are the words integrity, serenity and release.  My mantra- patience, priority, purpose, integrity, serenity, release. Wow. I have needed ALL of them. So have you.  Tomorrow many of the people I know, love and respect are going to be as equally afraid for what is next as I have been. I promise I will not gloat.

I am, however, hoping that given how stirred up this nasty-long and terribly horrible election cycle has been, we can collectively remember that we are the UNITED States and that we live in community.  Community means compromise.  I just hope our elected leaders can do it.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m done being politely quiet when I see folks repeating lies. You are entitled to your opinions.  You are not entitled to make up your own facts.

Please hold me (politely) to the same standard. I look forward to the respectful dialogue.

Mash up time? Lets remember how great America is by standing stronger together!

#unclerandyelection

Headlines? I have considered buying a gun more seriously now than ever. I have considered “unfriending” people I love. I have become so frustrated I lead with anger over compassion. I look for articles that drive me mad rather than ones that lift my spirits. I find myself wanting to prove others wrong and myself right more than I value keeping dialogue going. Truth be told, I’m exhausted.

Yeah, I get it. She’s not your cup of tea. But she’s mine. And…. she’ll get stuff done. She’s smart. She fights for her values. She cares about poverty, and children, and women’s rights, and good global citizenry. She’s spent 35+ years being criticized and blamed and maligned. She’s had to morph herself into the most palatable, yet least distasteful version of herself possible because of sexism, opportunism, her husband and her own ambition- and we blame HER for the end result? This hate-on-hillary fervor falls just short of the “she shouldn’t have worn that dress” (pantsuit) – argument. It’s crap. We made her. We are lucky to have her.

In the deep, dark thoughts of my own passion for “the American way” I have told myself I would turn to violence to protect it. WTF. From whom? To what ends? I fear what the “fear of Trump” factor is making of me. Yeah, I’m calling myself out so you don’t have to.

What surprises me more now is not how far Trump has made it, but how much I bought the current narrative. Hook. Line. Sinker. I’m a goddamed sucker fish. Trump is a monster. But do we have to sink to his thinking? Examples…

  • Our system it totally broken. No, no it is not. We are not ISIS. Yes, America still can do good and we still stand for shit that matters. Despite media though-control, we are still free. Mostly.
  • All politicians are liars. Nope. That is actually a lie. Many suck. The system is flawed. We are too entrenched in positions but there are many, many people in public service that still believe in the higher ideals of the Republic, our Democracy and the democratic process. This whole balance of power thing we have- yeah, that’s pretty cool. Congress needs to grow up, but the Executive and Legislative Branches – that stuff is working. Have you read a full supreme court decision recently. All sides of the arguments. Those are some smart, smart people. Let’s add another justice and get out of their way.
  • Republicans are morons. They suck on the teat of Fox News.  Democrats are communists, hypocritically praying at the altar of MSNBC. Nope- I’ve let the stereotypes of the one define the group and all that is called is bigotry. I’m not proud, but I own it. We have more in common that we do that divides us

If you actually have read this, you are probably exhausted. So am I. I want so much more from my experience of America, but I’m slowly realizing that I can’t get it from the comfort of my couch, from behind the safety and the soft-glow of my various screens. I need to be part of the conversation, part of the solution.

I think we need a constitutional congress. Or we need a shut-up button when the village idiot spouts lies and we cower from telling them we actually only care about facts. We (I) need to take a real hard look at what we need today rather than looking back nostalgically at what we interpret our founding “fathers” felt we needed then. Times have changed. We need to as well.

But the path must be one of non-violence. This goes beyond the physical. In 2016 that should be a no-brainer. My desire to call up arms, to grab a gun and fight should be seen as irrational and irresponsible because it is. My nephew-in-law inspired me recently. He posted, “Like a lack of gun control, lack of tongue control only becomes an issue when we have gone too far and killed the character of the nation.” My husband commented that so too has Twitter and the lack of Thumb-Control. Brilliant. Words are the new weapons behind which many cowards hide.

I am not saying that times are not tough. They are. But we have first-world, American problems and we can fix them by sticking to what makes us special, together.  One Nation. Indivisible. Lets not let Trump convince us otherwise. Really. Let’s make America great again by remembering what we already have… community, integrity, social justice and UNITED states. Make America great? It already is.

#unclerandy

 

For the first time in my adult voting life I am afraid, mostly for our republic, democracy as a system and the loss of the American dream. I fear more stagnation among our leaders. I fear violence from Trump supporters when Clinton wins. I fear that Donald Trump could win, and if he does, I will no longer believe in America or a good half of her people.

Let’s start with things I believe to be true.

  • We are not nearly as divided 0r as different as our politics, media and leaders say we are. I believe good reason and getting to know someone else creates connection. Connecting and compromise can solve big problems.
  • Fundamentally our political system works. Most people in government right now fail to compromise and are not doing their job.  Washington is mostly broken.
  • Most Americans are feeling pinched economically and the consolidation of power and wealth into a small minority is the root cause. This is no different than the industrial revolution and the robber barons. I own one of these mythical small business that run America and we often feel like we are being run into the ground by America. We can fix this. I call for a break-up of monopolies and a break-up of wealth consolidation within the top 1%
  • Corporate interests in politics has failed democracy. Citizens United must be overturned.
  • Civil unrest, civil war is a possible outcome. Civic and discourse are a simple solution but seemingly impossible to achieve. Media outlets must return to facts.
  • Facts exist and matter.
  • By choosing an obstructionist position years ago Republicans have created this mess and now don’t know what to do with it. Democrats have lacked the backbone to stand up on principle and have muddied the waters by trying to game the system. Playing a dirty game because it is there doesn’t make you clean. The two-party system has failed, we need a constitutional congress.

I cried the other day when discussing all of this with Chris. Yeah, it is that upsetting. He and I both grew up on the east-coast being taught about civics and the birth of America an ideal- that the “idea of America” was equally as important as the system of American democracy. I grew up believing in a system where fairness, honesty, compromise and reaching for common good trumped personal gain. The current election calls into doubt some of the very fabric of my political belief-system and that is unsettling. Very, very unsettling.

We are poised to potentially elect a man who lies, is a rampant sexist, racist, and completely full of himself. He is proud of bankruptcy and shows no remorse for the harm cause on the working-class he has exploited. If you are voting for Trump, I believe some day in the future you will have a very, very hard time reconciling your actions. Hillary is not a perfect candidate, but I believe in her, she is qualified and she is the best the system has given us right now. She is the most experienced candidate we have ever had.

Here is one example of why I am even bothering writing this. Mostly no one will see it, so it is for me- I can get it off my mind (a little).  However, just yesterday President Obama called out Clinton supporters for booing a Trump supporter.  The President defended this man’s right to free speech, he applauded his military service and he asked the crown to respect their elders.  Not much later Trump cited the SAME INSTANCE but instead told his crowd that President Obama shouted down the protester. He flat-out lied.

Don’t believe me- here is the recording

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/11/05/obama-trump-protester-origwx-bw.cnn

That alone should disqualify him- but what is more disgusting is that he lied to a group of mad, hurting people looking to hold someone accountable to the challenges they are facing. So his lie TRUMPS up the anger, adds fuel to a fire of discontent and gives his supporters more “facts” supporting their belief that Democrats and Obama and Clinton do not hold their values. A whole section of our country has been fleeced and they don’t know it or lack the intellectual curiosity or time to discover it. Trump exploits that lack of knowledge.

Last month I said to Chris, “If Trump wins I want to move out of the country.” I mean it. If this is what the US has come to, I might want out. Canada, Spain, Portugal, Antarctica… here we come! Lately, however, I feel a fight. If Trump wins, we stay and stand up for Democracy. He is a tyrant and a bully and we can do better than that. I’ll do my part.

#unclerandy

 

Warning: long post ahead, detour if you like…I believe Justice Souter’s theory, and I believe the lessons here go beyond whatever happens on November 8th. I don’t mean to get too “tin-foil hat wearing eccentric”, but I also believe this type of scenario results from a sabotage of our educational system – from elementary all the way to the proliferation of for-profit post-secondary. This has occurred over the last several decades with plenty of responsibility for it to be spread around the political spectrum. If we really fancy ourselves as a democratic society, it is imperative there is a common realization that this comes with responsibilities. Some of those responsibilities are understanding the fundamental structure and function of our democratic institutions. I feel some of the same frustrations many people feel about our system today, most of which I believe come from the influence of money in warping that system as well as the pillars that support it – education and independent media being two significant ones.

When I listen to some people’s frustrations, I sometimes hear mixed with those words a confusion and frustration concerning how our democracy is designed to function. Increasingly, I believe this because it was never taught to them, and that is a failure of a democratic society. However, this is also a failure of personal responsibility of someone who participates in a democratic society. We citizens must be curious, apply critical thinking, seek and thoughtfully consider alternative viewpoints. Question your assumptions to broaden our understanding of our system – its strengths, its weaknesses and how it must be nurtured. We must apply the same vigor to the civic responsibility of voting (a responsibility and a privilege) by understanding the candidates and issues. Vote! Whoever or whatever you vote for, be a fully-informed voter – look for information beyond the echo chamber you might be in to make your decision (something I have to challenge myself on regularly). Votes are counted. Winners are declared. A fundamental premise of a democracy is the integrity of the commitment to it, whatever the result of an election. A healthy democracy figures out how to work – together – to integrate those results in a way that moves the society forward.

Our democratic society feels as though it has a fever right now. If we are truly the democracy we have always aspired to be, then we need to treat the patient rather than throwing up our hands and sending it to hospice, either because we don’t like how it looks or understand how it got sick. We need to treat it using the fundamental principles of democracy, have patience and compassion as it recovers, and create a healthier environment for it to flourish.