Tag Archives: Trump

Acknowledging my Dismay

It may seem silly for me to say that I need to take a moment to talk about my dismay. You may be hearing the combined weight of those of us who lost lamenting, licking wounds, expressing rage or just generally expressing anxiety. For what it’s worth, I know this little trickle will not move the needle. But I have to do it. I’ve been searching and seeking understanding and I think I’ve gotten some. I think the issues that are pressing to me differ from the people I grew up around, who voted pretty overwhelmingly for Trump and it shouldn’t surprise me as I had a unique experience. I’m from a multicultural, multiracial home in a fairly homogeneously white region of the world. I’ve been seeing racism up close for as long as I can remember. My sensors formed before many would be aware of the issue. I’m going to continue to try to understand and build bridges to those folks that voted for Trump in spite of his ideas. But I need to take a minute to indulge this existential despair. I owe it that much. If I don’t acknowledge it I will be consumed by it. I need to purge some periodically to keep from being fully defeated .

Have you ever run into the customer service person behind a desk at say, the DMV, who responds to your honest and simple question about proper procedure with an audible sigh, eye rolling exasperation and a general disdain for you as a person. That’s what it sounds like when I share a genuine anxiety and a feeling of existential dread about the years to come. I’m happy that after years of your seeming existential dread of the President I loved you are relieved by this result. Good for you. But honestly, don’t engage with this if you are telling me it will all be okay. You don’t know that. Objectively, we are going into uncharted territory and besides, even if you are right, that’s not what this is about. So go away. I’m not trying to change your mind. This is a yell for empathy from people, mostly, who agree with me and share my dread. That is my disclaimer. I’m going to make clear my fears here. You may feel like you’ve heard it a million times the last week or so, but this is my turn and I’m not interested in your levity. This is a support group post for other people weighed down by the state of things. Don’t be that DMV worker Go away and let me get this off my chest for and with the people who get me. As I learned when I got married, sometimes it’s not about finding a solution. Sometimes it’s just about being heard and empathized with.

Now, for those of you left who I know will get this… What the hell has happened. We have a president who is terrified of the job. He clearly was so focused on winning that he didn’t consider whether he wanted the prize. I’m convinced that for a long time he was TRYING to lose. In his private moments I’m sure he’s daydreaming about the network he was so well positioned to start and lamenting the fact that he can’t do it as president.

But more so I’m terrified of the schism that is revealing itself. It’s a schism that has always existed, but the boorish violence that is now occurring with such a lack of shame is disturbing. I feel like in this new ‘Trump’s America’, the Klan may just do away with their hoods. Why should they hide. The shame is gone. I heard Strange Fruit yesterday and never in all the time I’ve heard the hauntingly beautiful song about lynchings in the south has the grotesque reality of that world of which she sings seemed so present.

I’m tired of bending and flexing to make my moral outrage quiet enough to hear the justifications. I don’t want to be relativistic in terms of racism. There are built in, institutional disadvantages I’d rather be fighting, playing the long legislative game. Instead we’re faced with heart and soul of Breitbart having an office off the oval and the ear of a dangerously reckless, nihilistic president in way too far over his head. There might be some fear around the world at the prospect of this administration, but there also has to be a certain amount of opportunistic energy prepping to fleece our very overwhelmed and scared president.

Also, while I’m at it, why can’t we all just come out and say that racism is bad, that misogyny is bad that homophobia is bad and that we should all be working to make sure it is exposed as such. That these things are anti-American and in direct opposition to the concept of liberty. I mean if we can’t all just say F*ck the KKK what can we say together. What the hell?

Also, are we sure you aren’t at least a little racist or Misogynist or xenophobic if you voted for an openly hostile (granted he’s toned it down in the days since Nov. 8th) person who is all these things? A person who mostly answered questions of policy in such a blank slate way that there was no policy to reference if you wanted to vote for him on the basis of ideas. A person who played on the fears of angry white voters and gave ‘huge’ encouragement to intimidate ‘those people. You know who they are, you know’ at the polls and suggested that the ‘2nd Amendment people’ get to his opponent. I hear a lot of my friends, and myself, saying a lot of things that start with, ‘Okay, so you’re not racist/sexist/xenophobic but…’ I’ve believed it about those I’ve known as real life people, but I think the blanket exemption is not altogether true. Something more like, ‘I know you don’t think of yourself as a racist/sexist/misogynist/xenophobe, but as someone comfortable voting for one…’ might be more accurate. But that would shutdown the conversation.

It’s time to harden our moral outrage. Not just at the opposition but at the lurching away from wage earning families and cozying up to corporations our own party has engaged in for more than a generation now. A habit that leaves us so out of touch that there is an opening the size of a truck that anyone could have driven through were they only willing to run on a blatantly white nationalist message, putting dog whistles away for openly racist appeals, willing to treat many women worse than the worst ways we’ve imagined of a presidential nominee, being caught bragging about sexual assault and defending it as ‘locker room talk’ and making sharp, personal identity jabs at ones opponent. We should all feel lucky, for now, that it was someone so brazen and so incompetent. A different type of sociopath, a competent AND charismatic one could have done far better and would have been plausibly able to claim a mandate.

I’ll get back to reflecting and analyzing soon. For now I just need to wallow in dismay. Just for this time. Just now. Then, I have to get to work.

 

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To Exercise Virtue

‘Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without it you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.’ -Maya Angelou

I’m thinking a lot about this quote and the idea it contains today.

Last night we elected a man to lead our country who I find to be dangerous. And I’m a white, middle class male. I can’t imagine the fear that my darker skinned brothers and sisters are feeling right now. I identify with them and I agree with them and I vote with them, but I am disciplined in acknowledging always that I am not in their shoes. I cannot have their perspective, even if I empathize with it. I am not the father of little girls nor am I a woman. I’m a native English speaking American and don’t have to fear being rounded up. I advocate for the disabled, both professionally and personally and I’m not them, watching a man openly mock an actual person with a disability, bullying him while doing his job from the podium with flags flying and crowds cheering and guffawing. I’m an advocate, but I’m protected.

I’m from the disaffected, largely white area of the country that would appear to have given the Presidency to Donald Trump. I know that the people that voted for him see something other than a dangerous, white supremacist, misogynistic monster. From my angle I’m afraid that that thing they saw allowed them to think they were supporting someone of virtue. Someone who would prioritize them without hurting others. I fear that they similarly can’t see what this feels like to fellow, hard working Americans with skin darker than theirs. Or the hard working immigrant families who’ve sacrificed whole lives, whole histories and all social standing to come to the place where hope lived only to find it lead by a man threatening to deport, insisting on building a wall and enthusiastically able to belittle and dismiss the sacrifice of families who’ve lost loved ones in defense of our highest ideals.

I don’t have any idea what I can do but stand up and try to find a sliver of light in the dark where I can try to send love through. It’s hard to listen when you are afraid. I am afraid. But it’s incredibly important to listen. I will try. I’m pretty sure I’ll fail a lot of the time, but i will keep trying.

What I do see is there is a lot of anger. There is a lot of fear. The air has been thick with it for years. My instincts in this moment are awful. I want to scream. I want to yell and lash out and blanket the land in judgment. It would feel good to do that. The fights that would ensue would make me feel like I was doing something. But I’d be working against the solutions we need. The fact is that this is a time that demands virtue. You can’t defeat the dark without light. You can’t address fear with fear. Anger will not go away with louder anger.

Patience. Love. Understanding. Compassion. Empathy.

These are the virtues we are lacking. There are real world problems that require real world answers. Yes. But if we can’t hear each other, if we can’t understand and empathize with the real fears than we can’t even begin the difficult conversations we need to have. We can’t ever learn to understand why something so confounding, how something so terrifying ever could have happened. I’m scared, I truly am. For me to overcome it’s going to take courage. It’s going to take courage to be patient. To listen. To try to reseed humanity, whatever tiny little portion of it I can effect with love.

There’s work to do. We must shine light into darkness. We must stay curious. We must seek out hate and counter it with love. We must find fear and meet it with empathy. We must meet anger head on and do whatever we can to show people compassion and love.

We must have courage and exercise our virtues. This is a time for our better angels to reveal themselves.

7 Things My Three Year Old and The Donald Have In Common

  Three year olds are hard. Ask anyone who’s lived with one. I’ve spent 2 of the last 3 years living with 3 year old’s and I can tell you, it’s a difficult stage. 

You know who else has had a three year old or two or three to challenge him and make him ocassionally, in desparate moments, question the wisdom of the decisions he’d made to put him in such a situation? Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Don’t know why I thought of that right now, right before comparing the traits of a 3 year old and a specific, orange presidential nominee. Hm. 

Let’s see, how is a threenager and a ‘Donald’ the same..

  1. Neither Reads – In my boys case it’s merely because he has yet to acquire the skill. I assume Le Grande L’Orange can, it’s just clearly something he doesn’t engage in. From what I can tell anything beyond 140 characters in length exhausts him and anything about someone other than himself bores him.
  2. Refusal to Apologize – My 3 year old is getting better at this. To be fair it’s a hard concept to grasp and the fact that he’s learning that he can make mistakes and should apologize for them is great. Monocle Monopoly Man has yet to master this skill. On the bright side, once he comes around he’s going to have so many chances to practice!
  3. Incomprehensible Judgment – Just unbelievable. The both of ’em.
  4. Supreme Confidence – My three year old honestly believes he is a doctor when he uses the Doc McStuffins kit. So does Spray On Don. 
  5. Emotionally Unstable – Incoherent babbling can lead into angry outbursts followed by maniacal laughing right into silly face time. Wait. Which one was I talking about?
  6. Neither Understands Sacrifice – I mean, c’mon. He’s three. Give him a break. 
  7. They Believe Everything They See On TV – My boy wants to grow up to be an Octonaut, believes superheroes are real and thinks there’s nothing strange about a man dressing in the same yellow outfit, complete with hat and tie, every day of his life and living with a monkey. Donald believes he’s Rick James, B****!

 In the end it’s this. They both believe firmly that they are the stars of the only show worth watching called ‘Life’. It is beyond their comprehension that something they say, no matter how devoid of reason, sentience or even it’s own internal logic could ever be considered wrong. In my boy’s case it is an age and stage thing. He in fact is incapable of seeing a perspective in which he isn’t the center of the universe. It’s a thing he must do for this time in his life. It’s healthy and he is wonderful. In the deranged game show hosts mind it’s like he’s happy to have found the Donald Trump portal next to the John Malkovich one and he’s happiest in a world of endlessly repeating Donald Trrump’s. 

Do yourself a favor, write in a three year olds name if you can’t just vote for Hillary. I assure you, they wouldn’t do any worse.