Category Archives: Political

One Nation, Indivisible.

     You know when the first, hard death knell for democracy was tolled in America? When McCarthyism succeeded in adding “Under God” to our pledge (and soon after made it mandatory on money. *see below)
     Look at the placement–“One nation under God, indivisible….” Dividing one nation, and indivisible with the very thing that divides us most completely. There is no denying the overwhelming influence of Christianity on the United States at inception, and in the present, but religious freedom is one of the prized tenets of Americans as a people. It’s being used as a weapon of mass destruction, and no one seems to get it.
     I’m not blaming God. Not yours or anyone else’s. Don’t get all twisted up thinking I’m disdaining your faith. I’m disdaining those who saw, as history has always seen, that you can control a whole people by controlling their god. That is something all people of faith should disdain. Religion is being used, repeat–AS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN USED–for power, and political gain.
     This is where most of the strife comes from, whether it’s a Muslim ban or anti-abortion advocates demanding their beliefs dictate the choices of all, the misuse of “God’ has divided this nation. It’s no secret that the Republican party, that proud and respected entity, has dug too deeply into the pocket of the Christian Right, and now can’t seem to get out of it. Every other party in existence can rant and rage and protest, but the power to actually fix anything lies in the hands of Republicans who have the courage to say enough is enough, to take their party back from the dark places it’s gotten lost in.
     I’m not a fan of Russel Brand, nor do I have any animosity for him. I have no real opinion of the man, actually, but he said something I feel deep in my core–this thing is done. (Speaking of Trump as well as Brexit.) What we need to concentrate on is how it was allowed to happen. We need to know why it did, and take measures to see that it can’t happen again.
     Under God…You may say, “So what? They’re just words.” But words have power. It’s subtle, and it’s insidious, but it is very purposely done.
*It was stamped onto coin currency starting 1864 and has appeared on paper currency since 1957. A law passed in a Joint Resolution by the 84th Congress and approved by President Dwight Eisenhower (who also approved the change to the pledge) on July 30, 1956 declared IN GOD WE TRUST must appear on currency.

 

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Politics for the Storyminded

(Spoilers concerning Harry Potter and Star Wars ensue. You’ve been warned.)

Let me begin by stating: I’m a total dork. I know this. I accept this. I embrace it. Now that that’s out of the way…

I’ve recently been listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, narrated by the extraordinary Jim Dale. If you love the books but have read them until whole passages are memorized, give them a listen. It’s an entirely new experience, and makes them like new again. Trust me on this.

Being fully absorbed by this world, I couldn’t help seeing the parallels between it and the election. From the Democrat perspective, the primaries, the trail, everything right up until Election Day was The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban. It was a constant battle against great evil, but the fight was won every time.

And then came our Goblet of Fire.

At the end of Goblet of Fire, there is no happy ending. There is no vanquishing of the evil. Voldemort rises despite all the battles against him won. With him rises all the fear and denial and infighting in the Wizarding World. No one wants to believe it happened, and so they pretend it hasn’t. They go out of their way to prove it’s all lies. Old prejudices rear their ugly heads. The greatest battles now lie ahead.

That’s where we are now–at the end of Goblet of Fire, going into The Order of the Phoenix, and we have a fight on our hands.

But from the Republican perspective, it’s the same hero’s tale–Star Wars–just a different perspective. The last eight years have been their New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back. Their evil overlord was in power, and they were fighting him with all they had. Those two stories ended with the rebels sticking it to him, but the Emperor was still in power, still needed to be overthrown.

This election was their Return of the Jedi. Against all odds, their candidate won. The Rebel Alliance toppled the Empire’s power, and set the balance in their favor again.

But a story doesn’t end when the last word is read, or the credits roll. After The Goblet of Fire, the Wizarding World fights to get their world back again. After Return of the Jedi comes The Force Awakens. The Empire is on the rise again, and has been since the Ewoks did their victory dance.

I keep saying that in the middle is where we’re going to find peace. Some days, it feels impossible to even hope for that. There aren’t simply two perspectives, but so many in between that there’s never going to be something that makes everyone happy. In the world of Lord of the Rings, there is definite good and definite evil, but, much as I’d love to claim otherwise, Donald Trump isn’t Sauron. His people aren’t Orcs. They’re people who believe they’ve just won the fight of their lives and, whether we agree or not, they have.

Life is a story. Hillary Clinton’s loss was a huge blow to a great many people for so many reasons, trying to touch on even a small portion of them isn’t possible in so small a space, but that story isn’t done. We still have to get through The Order of the Phoenix, The Half-blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, at the very least. And Trump’s win isn’t the end of that story either. He’s still got The Force Awakens (plus two more movies) ahead of him.

And it doesn’t end there, either.

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Scarlett had it right

Tomorrow is another day.

Yesterday, I mourned. As a woman. As the sister of a gay man who has had to remarry his husband of thirty years several times as the laws changed and changed again. As the aunt of a special needs nephew, and Puerto Rican nieces. As a mother of amazing children who will have to keep fighting for what’s right. As the mother of a child lost to the stigma, and the on-going lack of understanding about addiction. I mourned for all the Others who I can empathize with but never know what it is to be them.

Now it’s tomorrow. I will not mourn.

I fought and fought and fought for Chris, and ultimately lost in a way we can’t come back from. All my mourning belongs to him. I have fought my whole life to unravel what it means to be a woman in this man’s world, in a world that supposedly venerated the mother who stayed home to be a mother, and alternately found fault with her choice of “tradition.” I’ve fought to find my value, to embrace it and exude it and claim it when society wouldn’t give me my due. I believe I am a strong woman, a confident woman., and I am, in my world. But my world is small, and though my value within it is vast, it apparently doesn’t extend much beyond that sphere.

Yesterday, the country proved many things, and one of them is that there are too many people who believe that the only way to live their authentic lives is to make sure everyone else lives theirs by the same rules. This election wasn’t about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. It was about the clash of ideals.

Conservatives see their world crumbling, their values being compromised, their pockets being picked. Liberals see that crumbling as expanding, those values being altered to encompass those who don’t fit the old molds, and sharing the wealth too long being hoarded. The extremes of both groups speak the loudest, and frighten all those in the middle. That is where the common ground lies. That is where we all, Conservative and Liberals, get to live our authentic selves.

We need a place that rejects misogyny, bigotry, and racism (MBR) without stamping out those mindsets we don’t agree with. There are comparatively few who would say, “I’m a racist/bigot/misogynist! What of it? It’s my right as an American.” But they exist, and they’re the ones wearing the face of Conservatism proudly, and across the globe. Most who are promoting MBR don’t believe they are. I’m treading on very shaky ground here, because I don’t understand how people who claim something like, “Muslims should be banned from coming into this country,” don’t see that it’s racist. I don’t understand how my brother’s marriage somehow invalidates theirs. And I certainly don’t understand how anyone who believes they have the right to dictate a woman’s reproductive health doesn’t see the misogyny. But these mindsets exist, and they feared all the change as somehow impacting them and their rights. They saw the last eight years as that change being forced down their throats. What Liberals saw as progress, something to be celebrated, they saw as horrifying, and threatening to the fabric of their existence.

Conservatives tend to look inwardly. Liberals tend to look outwardly. Self-preservation means something different to both sides. What won the election for Conservatives was fear. What lost it for the Liberals was apathy. What this whole country suffers from, on both sides, is ignorance.

This thing has been done. It will go horribly wrong for everyone if ignorance continues to prevail. It’s time to embrace the Other, whoever that is. If we always act in kindness, we can’t go wrong. If we always treat the Other as we would want for ourselves, our loved ones, everyone wins.

I will not be silent. I will not mourn. I will not give up the fight. We can get there, America. We will get there.

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Prove me wrong

America has spoken, and what it says breaks my heart. White privilege is stronger in this country than compassion, than progress, than a wider scope of who gets to have what.

To the people who voted for Trump, I say–No one has been asking you to give up your rights. It was asked that you share what you’ve had for centuries with others. But Liberals got cocky. We thought, we actually believed, that recognizing the rights of all in real ways was an actuality. It wasn’t. White privilege raised a paternal fist and snatched it back, “Now, now. That’s enough. You’re getting out of hand.”

The dream of equality was just that–a dream. Women still have only what the benevolent men in their lives agree to give them. The same goes for the LGBT community, and all people of any color other than white. My husband, my beloved Frankie D, said it perfectly this morning, and he has no idea how it exemplifies my biggest fear. “You know how important you are to me.”

To me. Yes. To him. My adoring, white, well-off man. I’m important to him, but I’m not important to this country as a woman. None of us are. That has been proven by the fact that Donald Trump will be our president for the next four years.

Someday, people are going to understand that my brother’s right to marry his husband of thirty years has no bearing whatsoever on their marriages. They’ll understand that a woman having an abortion for any reason is a personal, heart-wrenching decision, not theirs. Saying, “Happy Holidays” isn’t a slap in Christmas’ face, and Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean others don’t. Being Muslim doesn’t make one a terrorist. Identifying as transgender isn’t a new craze destroying our youth and robbing the sanctity of our bathrooms. Someday. This is, apparently, not that day. Willful ignorance has won.

Mexicans aren’t stealing your jobs. They’re working jobs Americans won’t work for a pay they’d never be able to afford to live on. These are not the people bringing drugs over the border. That’s not going to end, with or without a wall. Believing that overseas jobs are the bane keeping Americans out of work is far too simplistic a response, and as right as it is wrong. “Made in America,” isn’t just a patriotic slogan; it’s the reality of paying an American at least a fair minimum wage. When we can no longer go to Walmart and buy a pair of jeans for $12, and instead have to pay $40 for the same pair, let’s see how people feel about a global economy.

White. Male. Straight. Christian. Middle-to-Upper Class America, and those who believe that’s the end all, be all of existence, you’ve made yourself perfectly clear. Global warming is a myth, because believing it’s real is far too scary. You feel threatened by others sharing your privilege. You fought back, and you’re proud of that. You’re taking back your country, and going to make it great again even if it’s on the backs of others, at the expense of others, because that’s how all greatness is attained in the world you’ve built. Not by building each other up, but by keeping everyone else down.

For me, there will still be holidays with beloved family, and vacations. I’ll go to book club and writing group. Books will be written, and books will be published. I am ensconced in the white privilege I eschew; life will continue. It’s darker now. All I believed about the inherent goodness in people has been proven false by the election of a man who represents bigotry, racism, and misogyny, whose platforms hinged on fear and division. He is the face of our nation. The face we are showing the world, and I am ashamed.

I want to be proven wrong. 100% wrong, even 50% wrong. I DO NOT WANT TO BE RIGHT. Time will tell.

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Today is the day…

…sixteen years ago, Chris’ life was irrevocably altered. A freak accident, a mismanaged string of events no one quite understood at the time, and if they did, didn’t speak up, set him on the course that ended in his death. We trusted doctors we thought knew the right way. Fools, we were, in hindsight. Cruel, unfair hindsight. There’s no knowing how things would have gone had this event never happened, or been handled appropriately from doctors to school to our own misguided trust in both.

But that’s not what this post is about, really, though it decided me on a course of action when I saw the date on my calendar, and all the silence from too many directions, including Christofer’s, hit me so hard I literally doubled over.

Silence has its place. It can be powerful. I’m a peacekeeper, by nature, and it takes a lot to get me riled up. As a writer, I pride myself on being able to see all sides of a situation through someone else’s eyes, as a way of understanding a character, and getting them right on the page. I also see the benefits of applying that to life, and the people who populate it. A mother’s knee-jerk reaction to defend her young is a difficult one to overcome, but I’ve always tried my best to step back, see the other perspective, and then act from a place of understanding, not just emotion.

This election season has been a tumultuous one. I feel strongly, passionately about my choice and why I’ve made it. While I respect other people’s right to an opinion, I don’t have to respect that opinion. Some of what I’ve read, written by people I truly love, like, admire, respect, has left me flattened. Just this morning, because of some comments left on several posts I made yesterday, I’d decided I was going to step away from the whole political thing. I’m not changing any minds. No one is changing my mind. And then I saw today’s date.

I will not be silent.

It might cost me friends, but I will not be silent.

Some family members might get pissed, but I will not be silent.

I could well lose readers of my work, but I will not be silent. Because it’s important enough to get this peacekeeper riled up.

Women, especially, are taught from early on, to be silent. To back down. To defer. Anyone who doesn’t see what’s going on with this election is, in my opinion, purposely and determinedly putting blinders on.

So, I will not be silent.

 

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America, the Beautiful?

I usually keep my political opinions to Facebook, where I have few qualms about speaking my mind. But yesterday, I backed down from getting into it with a very beloved friend. All who know me will agree, I’m generally a peacekeeper. I kept the peace yesterday. Today, not so much.

I’m not going to extol the virtues of Hillary Clinton. Those of you who don’t like her–even feel you hate her–have your reasons. Right. Wrong. Doesn’t matter. Advocating her election isn’t what this is about. It’s about trying to understand why any rational human being would support Donald Trump. I am genuinely more flummoxed by the day. I don’t buy the, “I just can’t vote Clinton” in any of its forms. What are Trump supporters FOR, not against. That’s what I need to know. I need to have hope that, should it happen, America will land on its feet.

And let me go on the record before you read any further–I would love to know why you are FOR him. Any “I hate Hillary” comments will be ignored, as will name-calling and derision.

I genuinely don’t understand veterans standing behind Trump, not only are his plans for the military a fantasy, but the healthcare reforms alone will essentially privatize the health care for men and woman already fighting for the care they earned, and desperately need. And recently, the disrespect he showed to not only Humayun Khan, but retired vet, Lt. Col Louis Dorfman, who presented Trump with his Purple Heart, is unconscionable. Not only did Trump not realize his disrespect, but neither did Dorfman. How can that be? Is it a copy? (It was a copy, by the way, despite Trump’s fantasy retelling.) He always wanted one and this was much easier? Am I the only one who sees that disrespect? Trump didn’t serve (as a matter of fact, he had several deferments during Viet Nam) and yet he disparages Sen. John McCain for having been captured. I’d have had to admit respect for the man if he–in MY fantasy world–handed it back to the Lt. Colonel with a, “You served. You earned this. I didn’t, but thank you for the honor.” No, he pockets it and then uses it as a prop in his speech.

Christians, this one really flummoxes me. Does no one see he’s suddenly claiming his devotion to get them to feel good about voting for him? He isn’t Christian in word or deed. And don’t tell me I can’t know what’s in his heart. He shows what’s in there every time he opens his mouth, every time he disparages yet another category of people he doesn’t identify with. You know it’s true. There isn’t a single, rational person who can claim otherwise. And Catholics, how do they rationalize voting for him when the Pope has made his opinion clear? (To be fair to both Trump and Pope Francis, the pontiff has refrained from a direct statement.)

And women–how can any woman vote for this man? His misogyny is legendary, and he has no idea he’s a misogynist. That’s the scariest part. Women have their place in Donald’s world, and it’s abundantly clear what that place is. Pro-choice? Pro-life? He won’t commit, so whichever side of the fence you’re on, don’t count on him being on yours. He claims pro-life but this, like his faithful devotion, is a new thing. He showed some spark of humanity when, early on, he said Planned Parenthood did more than perform abortions, that it provided necessary services for women–and yet now he says he will defund the program entirely.

Those able to look beyond all this because they believe he will be a more fiscally agreeable choice, please understand that whether he’s had more success or failure, paying partial debts to other countries (as he’s done with countless contractors) isn’t going to happen. A country isn’t a business, no matter how much anyone wishes it were so. And, really, does anyone truly believe Trump’s business ethics are commendable? I suppose it’s always fiscally advantageous to pay $2000, when the contracted price had been $8000 (random numbers here.) Because he can. Because his lawyers will drag litigation through court for years. But is that the way YOU want to be treated? How about you work your 40 hour week and then your employer says, “I’m only paying you for 16 hours. Take it or leave it.” Or how about the social security check you depend upon suddenly gets cut in half? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Small businesses struggling to keep afloat? He’s not on your team. The tax benefits and healthcare repeals aren’t going to make your life any easier, just hard in a different way. He has no real intention of bringing jobs back to the US. It’s not economically feasible.  And do you really, really think Trump is going to close his factories in China and Bangladesh? (<–old, but…) Really?

So why is anyone still behind this man when it’s clear even to his own party that he’s completely unqualified? The horrifically sad conclusion I must come to is that this country still harbors far too much racism and misogyny. And fear. So much fear. Fear of the Other. Those most avid about Trump are afraid, and his team preys on that fear. They breed it. People who were afraid of Obama, are afraid of Clinton, afraid of same-sex marriage and transgendererd people they didn’t even know existed ten years ago using the same bathroom they do, are afraid. They cheer for the wall Mexico will supposedly pay for, and the deportation or registering of Muslims, and rolling back the Marriage Equality and Healthcare (flawed, agreed, but better for many with the wrong economic status and/or skin color) Acts, because they are afraid. And that makes them angry. So, so angry.

They want “the good old days,” when men were men, women knew their place, and homosexuality was in the closet. Things like child pornography and domestic violence didn’t exist. Not in the good old days. In the good old days, we could all afford a house, a car, our 2.5 children, and a new fridge when the old one conked out.

Oh, mercy.

You didn’t want to be a woman in the good old days. You had no rights to your children, your home, any of your marital assets should the marriage–gasp!–fail. A wife had no legal standing in the event of marital rape–oh, right…that didn’t exist either. Neither did addiction. The town-drunk was a funny guy, harmless and endearing. Don’t be a child with a disability in the good old days, where there was no such thing as mainstreaming, your child who was likely institutionalized, sometimes lobotomized and/or sterilized. Don’t be black in the good old days. Or gay. Or anything other than white, male, middle/upper class, straight, and Christian. Or those who aspire to be at all costs.

But the fact is, America has never been a white, middle/upper class, Christian country. It just played one on TV. Were there Cleavers and Griffiths and Brady Bunches? Sure. But they’ve never represented the majority, or even the “norm.” There is a reason why the misfit is as universally beloved as the hero in any story. Most of us identify as the misfit, even if we want to be the hero. Even heroes identify as misfits.

I’m not changing any minds. I’m just getting it off my chest. We don’t have to make America great again. It is great. We have problems. We’ve always had problems. That’s what comes of a vast country housing the multitudes of ethnicity, religion, and individuals claiming the most diverse ideals, identities and cultures within cultures in the world. Whatever our failures, our injustices done, our tragedies endured, Americans rise up and make noise. We don’t fear, we conquer fear.

This is what the 2016 election is about, at its core, why Donald Trump won the candidacy when there are many, many Republicans far more qualified. Put every other policy and scandal aside and see this bottom-line core. The strides made over the last few years have scared people afraid of change, of losing their place at the top of the food chain, or their grasp for it. It’s time to topple that fear, not feed it. The America we live in, the America we love, the America that has made mistakes and will make more but won’t belly up to fear is in jeopardy of falling backward and doing exactly that.The hatred Trump has bred, the division, the fear, the backwards bounds he promises whether it’s socially or fiscally, nationally or internationally will bleed the United States to a husk.

Trump won’t feel the fall. To be fair, neither will Hillary Clinton. They’ll both still be rich and powerful. We’re the ones who will feel it in every aspect of our lives. Every one of us.

 

 

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