Democrats Need To Stop Finger-Pointing About Hillary’s Loss

Like millions of Americans who have been crestfallen by President-Elect Pussy-Grabber’s election win last month, I have done a lot of reflecting about what the hell exactly happened over the past 20 or so months that led to the travesty of the United States electing the worst presidential candidate in modern history, and probably ever, to the highest office in the land.

As with most other things, I don’t think the answer is any one thing.  But for me, it boils down to an American society filled with misinformed and willfully ignorant people, that were okay with racism, xenophobia, misogyny and a general lack of decency, as long as it offered catharsis for their anger over losing ground in the American culture wars during the last few decades and returning to an era of heterosexual white male patriarchal dominance, especially in a symbolic sense.  This is why Trump is seemingly invulnerable to the normal trappings which would have doomed any other presidential candidate.  Trump’s supporters didn’t care so much about what Trump did, but more what he stood for in their eyes.  And this is why I think that, even as Trump breaks more and more campaign promises, he will still have his cult of followers standing by him.

On social media I have seen a lot of angry Hillary supporters pointing the finger for her loss since November 8th.  One of the targets has been the mainstream broadcast media, which has been faulted for normalizing Trump’s bigotry and glossing over the many glaring and legitimate reasons he should not be president.  While I ultimately fault voters for their bad decisions, I do think there is validity to the frustration that many people felt with the reporting done by news outlets like CNN and the other major networks.  Like many other people, I think members of the media simply didn’t take Trump seriously as a candidate, and this was reflected in their coverage.  They got caught up in the clown show, which was good for ratings, and forgot to treat Trump as a legitimate, fascistic threat to our society and democracy.

Another target of liberal ire has been Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  There are many Democrats who think that the issues Bernie raised while he campaigned against Hillary, such as her ties to Wall Street, did lasting damage to how voters perceived her, even though he ultimately did support Clinton.  I think this is really unfair, and fails to see the reality that many voters already believed the negative perceptions that they had about Hillary, due to years of attacks put out by the likes of right-wing propaganda pushers such as Fox News, and would have thought the same way even if Bernie had never campaigned against her.  This is compounded, no doubt, by deep-rooted sexist double standards about how American society views and receives women in high-power positions of authority.  And it didn’t help that broadcast media offered such a disproportionate amount of coverage about Hillary’s “damn emails.”

It is important to note that, even though I fervently supported Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, she was far from my ideal candidate, and wasn’t my first choice.  I wanted Bernie to get the nomination.  Alas, that didn’t happen, I accepted it, and when it came down to Hillary against Mr. Sexual-Assault-Is-Okay-If-You’re-A-Celebrity, the choice was clear as day for me.  I don’t like to play hindsight guessing games or dwell on “coulda, woulda, shoulda” scenarios, but I do think Bernie would have fared better against Trump, and sometimes I even wish Senator Elizabeth Warren had been in the race.

One soundbite from Warren comes to mind as a symbol of why Hillary was flawed as a candidate, or at least how she might have fared better against political “outsider” Trump.  When the Wells Fargo fake-accounts scandal broke earlier this year, Elizabeth Warren laid into their CEO and others of high rank there, highlighting the hypocrisy of low-level employees losing their jobs because of the scandal, while high-ranking executives got off with few consequences.  As she tore into Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, she displayed a fire and fighting spirit on behalf of working and middle-class Americans that I think was sorely lacking with Hillary Clinton in the minds of voters.  Compare that clip of Warren to Hillary proclaiming during one of the debates that she would have the big banks “cut it out” when it came to behavior and policies that led to the economic crisis of 2008.  There’s just no comparison.  Senator Warren and Sanders both frequently demonstrate that they have the gusto and “oomph” that I think many voters are looking for as they deal with the (justified) perception that the economic system is rigged in the favor of big banks and corporations.  This is something that I think would have really helped Hillary, but too often, she came off as somewhat robotic and as if she was offering up canned responses that she or her handlers thought voters wanted to hear, rather than passion coming from the heart.

I think Democrats need to stop finger-pointing and focusing on who or what to blame for Hillary’s loss, and instead should start placing their energies into how to morph and solidify the Democratic party into what it should have been all along, but which I think has been lost in recent years – a progressive party that will fight for American workers and stop being so influenced by big corporate money and donors.  Now that the disaster of a Trump presidency is upon us, progressive Americans need the Democratic party more than ever to step up and fight the inevitable Trump/GOP agenda of privatization and their overall threat to programs which help average Americans, women, people of color, the disabled and others who need someone in their corner in the fight against the corporate control and oligarchy that has come to threaten and degrade many Americans’ faith in the “American Dream.”

Now is your chance, Democrats.

#Resist

 

Hillary Clinton photo credit: By lorie shaull (source) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Hey Laura Ingraham, I Did Nazi That Coming

Ingraham - Nazi

Back in July, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham made a gesture at the end of her Republican National Convention speech, which looked a lot like a Nazi salute.  She understandably got a lot of backlash on social media, and although it definitely looked bad to me, I thought that it could have been an awkward wave or unintentional. Besides, would someone really have the nerve to do that on national television in America, representing one of the two major political parties? I thought there might be a chance that it was sort of accidental.  Accusing someone of being a white-supremacist is a pretty heavy allegation, and it’s not something to be thrown around lightly.

However, after watching a recent video from The Atlantic which has surfaced, which shows white supremacists (I am refusing to use the passive euphemism “alt right”) offering up actual Nazi salutes and shouting “hail Trump!” at a conference in DC, any doubt that I had regarding Ingraham’s gesture has begun to fade. It simply looks like the exact same thing that Ingraham did, and there is no question as to the intention behind it, among the racists at that conference.  There are plenty of people who deny that Ingraham was actually performing a Nazi salute, and they often provide still frames of other famous leaders mid-wave which appear to look the same as what Ingraham did.  However, when you watch the video of her full gesture in context, it doesn’t look like just a coincidence.

How has the GOP come to this? I mean, full-blown white supremacists now? We have known there to be racists in the Republican party for years, but these days they aren’t even trying to hide it. Scary times, indeed.

#Resist

Donald Trump – An American Disgrace

Donald Trump - An American Disgrace

America, you’re never, ever, ever going to live this one down.  This repugnant, embarrassing, narcissistic, arrogant and disgraceful bully is the man you thought belonged in the White House.  And the photo above represents just one of a mountain of things which should have disqualified him from the presidential race, long before voting even began.

Thanks for making us the laughing stock of the world, Trump voters.  As George Carlin said, “garbage in, garbage out.”

Trump - Selfish Ignorant Citizens

Jon Stewart Is Letting Trump Voters Off The Hook Too Easily

Jon Stewart recently did an interview on “CBS This Morning”  and was asked about his thoughts concerning the recent election of Donald Trump to the presidency.  I am seeing a lot of this conversation being shared online, with a highlight on Stewart’s claims of “liberal hypocrisy” regarding viewing all Trump voters as a monolith of racists.  He makes the point that a lot of people he knows that aren’t afraid of blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, etc. voted for Trump because of reasons other than his racist rhetoric, and the message is being taken that we shouldn’t call all Trump voters racist.  The interview can be found here.

Well, nope! Jon Stewart is wrong on this point. I know some people want everyone to get along, and unify and settle our differences, but in my opinion he is letting Trump voters off the hook too easily. Racism is not something that exists in absolute forms – that is, it’s not a simple black and white, yes or no question. There are varying degrees of racism that people can have and display. And racism is not just defined by one’s behavior, but by the behavior they tolerate. And at the end of the day, Trump voters saw a man who disparaged Muslims, Mexicans, the disabled and women, and ran a campaign promising to register people based on their religion, or outright banning their immigration to the country. And those Trump voters said, by voting for that man – “hey, that’s okay with me.” And that is despicable, and we shouldn’t forget it.

It’s like when we had slavery. Not everyone was personally a slave owner, but the people who supported those in power who did own slaves were in their own way supporting that practice. So, by voting for Trump, people validated and supported all of his divisive rhetoric and the campaign promises he made (whether he actually fulfills all of them or not.)

I understand that people have an instinctual desire to get along with other people, and it’s easier to brush differences under the rug than to expose them and talk about them honestly. But the election of Trump is and should be viewed as an outrage. Those who voted for him displayed absolutely no respect or empathy for any of the groups he routinely disparaged. So, we’re divided. And I don’t know if it’s even possible that we can “heal” that division. But that’s reality, and we shouldn’t hide from it. Hiding from and denying reality are part of the reasons that led to a president-elect Trump in the first place.

Trump Voters Racism

 

Photo credit:  Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

President Trump And The Beginnings Of Hate (On Both Sides)

I felt it the other day.  I think it was the day after Trump’s election to the presidency, which sent shock waves throughout America and the rest of the world.  But I felt it.  It was something that I have to try hard not to let grow into fruition.  It was the beginnings of hate.

Often I have taken a look at the world, filled with war and conflict, and asked myself the question in the abstract – how and why can humans be so cruel to each other?  How do people get to the point where they are willing to commit murder against other people on a mass scale, as in war?

It begins with dehumanization.  It starts with not seeing other people as human beings, and rather, something lesser than what you are and therefore, not deserving of the full respect that you might offer someone else.  And I feel that, on both sides, Trump’s ascendance to the presidency of the United States has opened the floodgates and legitimized hate and dehumanization.

Whatever Trump ends up trying to do policy-wise, it can’t be argued that he ran  a campaign that fed upon, stoked anger against, and debased “the others,” whether it be immigrants (Mexican or Muslim,) disabled people, women or gays.  We saw a rise in hate crimes during Trump’s campaign, and since election night, an even more noticeable spike.  This is because people have become emboldened by his legitimization of dehumanization and bullying.  If he can be president, with all of his shameful behavior and rhetoric, people start to feel less inhibited and more validated in their own misguided anger and bullying instincts.

Even before Trump won, as I followed his campaign and through all of his despicable behavior and words, I asked myself – do I hate this man?  And the answer was – absolutely.  I despise Trump.  It’s not a pleasant feeling, and it’s not a place I like to stay in, but it’s the truth.  It’s possible that this could change, but highly unlikely.  To my knowledge, Trump has only once ever uttered a half-assed “apology” for any of his disgusting antics.  I might be more open to forgiving the things I can’t stand about Trump in time, but it would have to start with him publicly acknowledging the damage of his words and actions, and atoning for them.

Trump’s election repulsed me, and instantly made me realize just how many of my “fellow” country men and women are okay with all of the dehumanizing behavior that Trump stands for.  Someone on Twitter put it best, as I paraphrase – “Trump’s supporters might not all be racist, but they decided that racism was not a deal-breaker.”  Right away, a division started happening in my mind – Trump voters vs. non-Trump voters.  And then I realized, that’s how it begins.  It begins with looking at another person and seeing some aspect that makes them lesser in your mind.  A thought that came to my mind was how, during war, people look at others and see “the enemy” and something to be reviled and destroyed.  And that’s what was happening to me.  It’s something I struggle with.  Because I am extremely angry.  I do think that there are some people who live in this country that are more morally and conscientiously evolved than others.  And I often wish our lives didn’t have to be impacted by those that want to go backwards through decades of societal progress.

Trump’s victory reinforced the knowledge that we are seemingly irreparably divided.  There have been many times in the past when I have thought that life might be better if the United States broke apart somehow.  Meaning, in my case, maybe California or the West Coast could secede from the Union and become a nation in its own right.  This all sounds crazy for many, but right now it is an idea that suddenly sounds desirable for a lot of people.  That’s how divisive this election has become.  Maybe this will fade in time, or maybe it will grow into an actual movement.  We shall see.  But, whatever happens, from here on out, it is clear that I will have to struggle to contain and channel my anger and loathing into something constructive.  It will be a tough road, but I don’t want to become that which I despise about Trump.

 

Photo credit:  Pixabay/PeteLinforth

 

Don’t Fret, America. Latinos Will Be A Game Changer.

The message to the GOP over the past several years has been “adapt or die.”
 
Their long-standing bastion of dependable voters, white men, have become a shrinking percentage of the American electorate as a whole. It has been clear to many that as minority groups made gains in population and eligible voters, the Republican party would have to try to expand their base.
 
So what did Republicans do in 2016? They ran Donald Trump, one of, if not the most, blatantly racist and chauvinistic presidential candidates in U.S. history, at least in modern times.
 
I have long stated that I don’t think this race has been or will end up being as close as it is being portrayed in the media, providing there is no horrible event such as a massive terror attack before election day. I think the key difference-makers will be women and Latinos.
 
I think the race has been presented as closer than it is for two reasons. One, the media wants to build interest in the race, for ratings. They want it to seem closer than it is to keep eyes and ears on their broadcasts.
 
And two, because the patriarchal white male power structure that still dominates most major news corporations simply doesn’t take into account the voting power of women and Latinos and the influence they would have on the election. What should have been at the forefront of the conversation for months (that women and Latinos would be mobilized by, in particular, Trump’s despicable offensiveness to those two groups) became an afterthought for far too many pundits and pollsters.
 
Well, it looks like Latinos in particular have begun answering the call that Donald Trump inadvertently put out to them with his constant racism and immigrant bashing. But it’s not only that. Latino voters don’t just care about immigrants. They, like many other Americans, are repulsed (rightfully so) by Trump’s despicable, embarrassing and buffoonish behavior. They, like many other American voters, see a repulsive pig who has the audacity to think he can take over the reins of the United States of America. And they want to send a message loud and clear, that they are here and are a force to be reckoned with.

Trump Supporters Are Full Of Shit

The New York Times recently revealed that, due to claiming a nearly billion dollar loss in a single year in the mid 90’s, Donald Trump could theoretically have paid no taxes for the following 18 years. Since he claims to know the tax code better than anyone, and since he refuses to disclose his tax returns, it becomes very easy to believe that this is, in fact, the case. In addition, there was at least one year in the past in which it was revealed that he didn’t pay a cent.

This information exposes the Trump phenomenon as a movement of bigoted anger with little in terms of justifiable substance when it comes to the basis for that anger. Trump supporters have been said to be angry about feeling shafted economically for years and believing that the system is rigged against them. Their chosen savior? The person they think can and will fix their problems? A billionaire who very well could have lived for nearly twenty years in opulence and luxury without paying anything in taxes. Donald Trump is the EMBODIMENT of the rigged economy that these people are said to be so angry about.

Trump Taxes Those Are For Poor People

Who do these people think have been picking up the slack? Do they not realize that THEY have? Do they really still think it’s just great that someone like Trump can live high on the hog for years while they struggle paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet?

The Trump phenomenon, then, isn’t really about economic anger. It’s about anger, definitely…But it’s part of a culture war, being waged against gains in recent decades made by minorities, women and gay people. These people want to go back to an America where English is the only language option at ATM’s, and where black and brown people and women know and remember their place in society. They want a “strong man” to take their anger out on those fucking terrorist Muslims and border-hopping Mexicans. They don’t want an actual answer to their problems, unless it involves fucking over the “others” in some way.

In short, Trump’s popularity and the closeness of the race to this point is really because of an electoral temper-tantrum. His supporters don’t want an America of fairness and equality. They just want America to be THEIRS again.

What Does It Mean To Be A Patriot?

The whole situation with Colin Kaepernick and the way some of his detractors are slamming him for being “unpatriotic” because of his refusal to stand during the national anthem has had me thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a “patriot.”

To me, being a patriot means more than obediently falling in line and saluting a flag or standing for the national anthem.  Yes, those are ways that we show our love for our country as common and shared expressions, but they shouldn’t be used as a litmus test for deciding who is a patriot and who is not.

The real test of patriotism, in my opinion, is how much a person ascribes to the ideals that their country represents, how much they practice them in daily life and how much they are willing to defend those ideals, not just from outside forces but also from the very government institutions that we create which are supposed to uphold and enforce those ideals. As soon as those institutions begin to act in ways that are not in sync with the values that a country represents, I believe it is the duty of citizens to respond.

Which is exactly what Kaepernick has been trying to do, although many people have chosen to stick with the (in their eyes, disrespectful) imagery of him sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, rather than actually listen to his grievances.  With any protest or refusal to salute or pay respect to a national symbol or song, there needs to be consideration of the context of the intended statement.  If Kaepernick were simply trying to be ornery and troll others, and if he didn’t offer any legitimate reason for refusing to stand, then there could be an argument made that he’s just trying to piss everyone off by refusing to respect a song that has become treasured by millions of Americans who love their country.  It would still be his right, but he would probably look like a douchebag to pretty much everyone (except maybe other trolls) and it wouldn’t be as easy to defend him.

But Kaepernick has offered very clear and coherent public statements about exactly why he refuses to stand.  He is protesting what he sees as clear indications that people of color are being systematically and disproportionately harassed, injured or killed at the hands of corrupt police departments.  And we have seen some pretty obvious instances and reports that support that stance.  In addition to the several graphic videos that have emerged within the past few years which depict excessive force (or outright murder) being perpetrated on black men and women at the hands of police, there have been damning reports from the Department Of Justice which have revealed bias against minorities among police departments in major cities.  These are American citizens that are being hurt or killed unjustly at the hands of government institutions that are funded by taxpayers and are there supposedly to protect us.  The concept of what America stands for might vary from person to person, but I would pretty confidently say that injustice, and citizens’ deaths at the hands of police, are not fundamental values that most proud Americans would say are representative of their country.

I think the controversy surrounding Kaepernick does reveal deep-seated racial divisions within our country.  Because we have seen and heard countless instances of white citizens complaining about the “tyranny” of government, and the public response from most Americans towards them is very different than their views of Kaepernick.  They actually present themselves as “true patriots” while the government is this big bad entity that exists to quash our rights.  A big reason that the second amendment is so adamantly treasured and defended by gun rights groups is that it represents the ability of American citizens to protect themselves from the threat of the government stepping all over their rights and lives.  The fact that Kaepernick is a wealthy and famous athlete in the NFL compounds some of the resentment towards him, (which is wrong too,) but I think at the end of the day, his skin color and culture (have you seen his ‘fro lately?) is a major reason that he is not seen as a patriot while other (white) citizens who complain about the government are.

Patriot_Defend_EdwardAbbey

It is easy to be a “patriot” when all that means is flying an American flag outside your door or having it as your profile picture on social media.  But how “patriotic” is a person really being, when they choose to ignore the legitimate grievances of their fellow American citizens?  That’s not true patriotism, in my eyes.  American author Edward Abbey once said “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”  This is exactly what Kaepernick, in his own way, is doing.

 

 

Colin Kaepernick photo: by Au Kirk; cropped by Moe Epsilon [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

People Love Freedom Of Speech, Until They Hear Something They Don’t Like

Colin Kaepernick has a lot of people talking as of late. A lot of anger, a lot of admiration, and some ambivalence, depending on who you talk to.

My own view is that most people are fine and dandy with the notion of free speech, until they hear or see something that they don’t like. Which is interesting, because the whole point of freedom of speech is that it is there to protect expression that may be unpopular.

Ultimately, whether a person agrees with Kaepernick or not, I would like to see them at least grant him that space to voice his opinion.  He is aware of the possible consequences in terms of lost endorsements or backlash.  So let him speak out if he so chooses.

Kaepernick - Free Speech