Saturday, November 12, 2016

Election 2016

Facebook isn’t going to cut it for this one. 

Two (now three) days in on this hot mess, and while I can think of other things for small snippets of time, it’s still looming large in my mind. Donald J. Trump is our President-elect. This is a man, thrice-married, elected by a party of social conservatives. This is a man, a supposed billionaire, but definitely a tax dodger with multiple bankruptcies and likely criminal abuse of his charitable foundation, elected to balance our budget. A man who married a woman with questionable immigration bonafides but wants to “extreme vet”, build a wall, and deport all undocumented immigrants. Who called into question the ability of a federal judge to do his job (that he swore an oath to), due to where his parents came from. Who regularly shows disdain for women. Who speaks of citizens in urban areas in the most patronizing and paternalistic manner. Who thinks that having money and privilege allows him to sexually assault women without consequence. Who is going to trial for running a fraudulent “University” that bilked its students out of thousands of dollars apiece. Who’s first ex-wife testified of being raped by him in a divorce deposition. Who hired a campaign manager who was still doing work as an unregistered lobbyist for Ukrainians with strong Russian ties. Who threatened the first amendment with a promise to loosen libel laws against news outlets. Who threatened some of our country’s most critical allies with abandonment if they didn’t pay their “fair share”. Who received a deferment from the draft and serving during Vietnam, but heckles former POWs and families of slain servicemen.

This is who the country chose to be it’s leader for the next four years. This is his platform to enact in the first 100 days of his presidency

I’m still not sure how to process this turn of events. I am scared of his temperament, of his ignorance, of his unknown loyalties and his vulnerability to flattery. I frankly am scared of his vision for our country, and that he may be empowered to bring it to fruition. But mostly I’m angry that we’ve so demonized the concept of pragmatic politics and reasonable compromise that we’ve thought Donald J. Trump is somehow a cure for what ails us. 

He is not. He is a charlatan. And he gained office by stoking fear and resentment and hatred, and by making outlandish and awful promises that are opposed to the best principles and traditions our country has had to offer. 

And he was enabled by a party that was too intoxicated by his following and his primary results to say loudly and unequivocally what needed to be said. That this was a man unfit for the office that he sought. So this is on Paul Ryan, and on Reince Preibus, and Mike Pence, and Kevin McCarthy, and Mitch McConnell, and Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, and so many others who tried to toe a line that should have been leapt over.

And he was undoubtedly benefitted by the actions of the Director of the FBI, James Comey, who violated longstanding norms regarding interference in a national election by announcing investigative activities toward Sen. Clinton just days before the vote, only to walk it back mere hours before. 

And he was unbelievably promoted by a press that would rather do anything other than cover his policy proposals (or lack thereof) as long as it generated ratings. 

We’re in the muck. And there are so many people who now feel targeted because our President-elect has in fact targeted them. And it’s wrong. And it’s cruel. And it’s on us to figure out how to keep it from becoming a disaster. And to figure out how to make it better. How to make our Union more perfect, for all. 

But right now I just feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Repeatedly. Ever since Tuesday night. 


Saturday, July 9, 2016

An Alternative to Screaming

We have too many guns. The NRA is no longer functioning as a rational organization, and is instead acting as a single issue shill for a right that does not exist to trump all others. We exist in society, and our society is much more densely populated and much more diverse than it was 240 years ago. There are many more chances for interpersonal friction, and it is far too easy to resort to a gun when these encounters arise. We need to make this harder. We need to somehow make people see the humanity in each other in the instant before rage or ignorance or fear triggers reaching for a firearm. We need to do better at keeping weapons out of the hands of people who are aggrieved, unstable, violent, murderous. We need fewer guns, and we need those guns still around to be held responsibly.

We have too many racists. We don’t need a wall, we need privileged fuckwit blowhards to shut their traps and learn some empathy. We need to understand the perspective of people who have lived in fear, or resignation, or exasperation in their own home, who the system was rigged against for (nearly) all of our country’s existence, who still face governments and political parties that do their damnedest to take away their vote and their voice, who have many more good than bad, but are still referred to as thugs or worse in “respectable” society. Black lives do matter. It needs to be said, because for far too long we’ve behaved like they didn’t, and that is unconscionable. 

We have an irresponsible media. In times that call for frank discussion and reasoned debate, we give over an ungodly amount of airtime to spectacle and screaming. PBS and NPR can’t shoulder this burden alone, we need Fox and MSNBC and everyone else to understand that there is duty above profit in the profession of news, and it’s well past time for them to answer the call. 

We have a dysfunctional politics. At the national level our Congress won’t understand that their job is to behave like adults and work with people that aren’t a part of their particular tribe to accomplish what our nation needs. Many of our leaders are beholden to moneyed and powerful interests as opposed to their full constituency. In several states the notion of fiscal responsibility and long term planning is farcical. But by blowing dog whistles and kowtowing to idiots they try to maintain power, just adding powder to the keg for their own greed.

We have an apathetic citizenry. Liking something on Facebook isn’t political action. “Throw the bums out” isn’t research. Supporting the troops is fine, but even better would be demanding their engagements are chosen wisely and judiciously. Donald J. Trump is the Republican candidate for the President of the United States. In no sane world does that happen with an engaged public. And voting in the presidential election and nothing more isn’t affecting where the biggest problems lie; midterm, state, and local elections are of huge import.

We’ve got a fucked up relationship with the police. Cops are too often put into the position of “service of last resort”, forced to deal with the preponderance of guns, the stratification of the economy, the segregation imposed by historical policies, the inflammation caused by media rhetoric, the loss of governmental services inclusive of mental health treatment, the criminalization of benign activities, and so much more. They are not experts in all these fields, they do not receive training sufficient to deal with all these issues, they are often understaffed to perform the job safely, but the vast majority put on their big girl/boy pants and do their best. We vilify them for doing their job, and we demonize them when they screw up. Yet they are simply humans doing work that is unbelievably hard, mentally and physically. 

Yet the police have a fucked up relationship with themselves. I get the blue line. I still agree with it. I’ve seen enough media circuses and political agendas to know how easy it is for some to throw others under the bus, and cops are easy targets for many reasons. But goddamn, if you’ve got an asshole amongst you who’s going to screw up in a bad way, and they’re not going to be made accountable through the avenues the rest of us are subject to, then it’s on all the brothers and sisters in blue to make sure it’s dealt with properly behind that line, and before the shit goes down. 

That's all for now. I'm tired. And sad. And angry. And hoping to be hopeful again, sometime soon.