Twisting Political Beliefs Into Rage & Intolerance


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I recently had to unfriend someone on Facebook. Someone I’ve been close to for over 20 years. Someone I know to be a terrific, smart, creative, generous and kind person. But since the election started, she has moved to a place that can only be described as outwardly and openly hateful toward anyone who does not agree with her politically. It’s one thing to be critical, to disagree, to be passionate about one’s beliefs. Lord knows I am. Daily. It’s a very different thing to display hatred and intolerance and to create the “other.” Unfortunately, this is also a political strategy used by candidates to “rally support” against a “common enemy.” We certainly see Trump using it every day.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s also a tactic Hillary Clinton has given into on more than one occasion. Whether it’s old comments like “Super-predators” or more recently “Deplorables,” or the flames she stoked (if not outright helped create) of the “Bernie Bros” narrative of violent, misogynistic men. And yes, my friend is someone who latched onto that particular narrative and is still running with it with a violent insistence that those who don’t see Hillary as “progressive” or consider her “hawkish” on foreign policy, are vile, moronic, and deluded, if not outright woman-haters. It’s not fun to be on the receiving end of that level of intolerance and unbridled hostility. I’m all for heated political arguments, discussions, disagreements and opinions, but this is something that overflows into another area altogether. It feels, to me, far too close to the kind of bigoted hate and intolerance displayed by many Trump supporters. It’s not rational, it’s not logical, it is deeply emotional. And incredibly damaging to other human beings in myriad ways. But it also does not define all they are.

This person, I am certain, still also holds all those qualities that I loved about her and kept us friends for so many years. Anyone who reads my posts knows that I am very vocal and passionate about my political views. And I have had many discussions on Facebook and elsewhere with like-minded individuals, fellow liberal friends with whom I have disagreements, and even Republican and Conservative friends who see things very, very differently from myself. But the conversations I’ve had with them, even at their most heated, were civil and respectful.  Continue reading “Twisting Political Beliefs Into Rage & Intolerance”

Twisting Political Beliefs Into Rage & Intolerance

If Hillary loses, her most-avid supporters are already preparing to blame Millennials


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While it’s true that Millenials not voting for Hillary will negatively impact her chances, as well as independent voters, it is crucial to recognize that this is a prime example of why many worry about Hillary’s ability to “read the room,” as it were, and make the best choices.

 

In my opinion, Hillary is in danger of losing to Trump whose supporters are so excited and stoked that 95% of them are polled as “absolutely voting.” Hillary doesn’t come close to those numbers. Why is that? It’s pretty simple, really. Trump recognized the immense level of discontent, disenfranchisement, establishment distrust, and need for change that was out there and strategically tapped into it and chose to unequivocally represent those impassioned people, as misguided and dangerous as that was given the direction he chose to rally them.

 

Bernie Sanders invigorated and rallied a similar base, only this one made up of liberals fighting for liberal and progressive change – with an equally unstoppable level of excitement and need. Only Bernie used a message of inclusiveness and equality instead of instigating hate and bigotry, as Trump did.

 

Hillary got Bernie to endorse her. Sure, there were always going to be those who would simply never vote for Hillary. But that was always a small percentage. That rallied and excited base – with their chosen candidate now out of the race and endorsing Hillary and asking his constituents to vote for her – were all but ignored and left behind by Hillary the moment Bernie stepped out of the race.

Continue reading “If Hillary loses, her most-avid supporters are already preparing to blame Millennials”

If Hillary loses, her most-avid supporters are already preparing to blame Millennials

Revisiting Grateful Dead at SPAC ’83. Again.


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I just finished listening, again, to one of my favorite Grateful Dead shows from the many I attended. Saratoga Performing Arts Center, June 18, 1983. I’m going through the vast 30 Trips Around The Sun box set which showcases a single concert from each year of Grateful Dead (30). I’ve been adding shows to each year as I move through chronologically, The Dead at SPAC is not in the box set and there are no soundboard recordings in existence that I know of (if there is, point me to it!). But there are some quality audience recordings.

 

 This was a show that had everything for me. I was with dear, dear friends, the entire scene was so celebratory, magical, perfect. We spent the entire day, the entire night, and a chunk of the next morning (as you will see in the photos below) immersed in Grateful Dead heaven.

 

 One of the things that made the Grateful Dead so unique was how different one show could be from the next. Not just the setlist, but the energy, the approach. Some nights were tight, elegant, with nary an off note. Just exquisite playing. Other nights, like this one, would be filled with mistakes and struggles, but tap into an uncontrollable storm of savage beauty that the band rode like a tidal wave.

 

Continue reading “Revisiting Grateful Dead at SPAC ’83. Again.”

Revisiting Grateful Dead at SPAC ’83. Again.

Hillary Clinton Is Not A Monster – And Why That Does Not Diminish The Challenges We Must Confront When She Is President


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The questioning of Hillary Clinton and her political and financial ties via the Clinton Foundation and other sources is nothing new. This conversation and its concerns have been happening for some time (see Hillary Helps a Bank—and Then It Funnels Millions to the Clintons and The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview, both from 2015), It is not a plot to discredit Hillary. Nor is it a strategy to give Trump more votes. Or Jill Stein, or any other candidate. It is about questioning a political worldview that deserves scrutiny, attention and challenge. It is not about painting anyone as evil or a monster. I, personally, don’t believe in such things. What it is about is addressing our decisions as human beings trying to do right by ourselves and others and looking closely at the choices we make and the repercussions and effects of those choices.

I understand that many people are concerned about criticisms of Hillary. I don’t point them out because I want to see people not vote for her. I keep the conversation alive because I believe Hillary will be the next president of the United States and – though we’ll be spared a Trump presidency which is no small achievement – we will nonetheless have a president whose approach to politics is via a corporate worldview that became popular in the Reagan era and, via Bill Clinton, also became part of the Democratic political landscape.

I believe deeply that it is an immensely unstable and detrimental approach that desperately needs to change if we are to avoid the wars and military actions already in the making that I believe Hillary Clinton will likely lead us into. If we are to build a thriving middle class, offer Americans a genuine profit-free health care option, and – maybe most importantly and dire – tackle Climate Change in the precariously short window we have left.

Continue reading “Hillary Clinton Is Not A Monster – And Why That Does Not Diminish The Challenges We Must Confront When She Is President”

Hillary Clinton Is Not A Monster – And Why That Does Not Diminish The Challenges We Must Confront When She Is President

Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives


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I understand the thought process behind a piece like Clay Shirky’s “There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote”. I’d like to offer a different perspective. I chose to focus on Shirky’s piece because I believe it accurately reflects a particular perspective that is out there and the article itself is currently being shared extensively on social media and elsewhere as a school of thought some people are connecting with.

I think Shirky’s viewpoint runs the danger of functioning as a narrative for those who want to feel irreproachable in their voting decision by making any other voting choices or perspectives ineffective, irresponsible, and/or a sign of weakness. Shirky’s insistence that “Presidential voting is an exercise in distinguishing the lesser of two evils. Making that choice is all that’s asked of us, and all that’s on offer” can be seen as one example of a school of thought that indirectly (or even directly) stifles political change. It most certainly can be argued that it stifles progress.

Shirky sees only three options in voting this election (or any other):

A. I prefer Donald Trump be President, rather than Hillary Clinton.

B. I prefer Hillary Clinton be President, rather than Donald Trump.

C. Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me.

Continue reading “Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives”

Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives

Facebook Impressions: An Open Letter To My Friends & Loved Ones Struggling This Election Cycle


Dear friends,

I’m not trying to paint a picture of Kaine or Clinton as monsters. They are not. Nor are they Trump. Not even close. But they also do not represent the values of the Democratic base, which feels continuously irrelevant and disregarded and I think there’s a real danger in that. More immediately to the outcome of the election come November, but even more globally and long-term in what the Democratic Party stands for and how it can and desperately needs to affect positive change. I want the Democratic Party I believed in back. It is not that anymore. And I obviously do not stand alone in that deep desire and commitment. And there is no easy or faultless path.

I do not believe being silent now and waiting till after the election will change things, In fact, from where I stand, we may lose this election if we cannot get Hillary Clinton to up her approval rating by directly embracing her base. The center/right, the moderates, are not the Democratic base. And right now the base is being made to feel like they are more of an annoyance than anything else. Even though they are fighting so hard and in the face of so much criticism from many of their friends and neighbors and a near-complete disregard from their own Party’s establishment. This is not a fun road, nor is it a straightforward one. There are many unknowns in every direction.

Continue reading “Facebook Impressions: An Open Letter To My Friends & Loved Ones Struggling This Election Cycle”

Facebook Impressions: An Open Letter To My Friends & Loved Ones Struggling This Election Cycle

Facebook Impressions: Our Current Political Landscape, July 6-24, 2016


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Just after I decided to start posting some of my Facebook commentaries here, Tim Kaine was picked by Hillary Clinton as her choice for VP. Much of what I’ve been posting lately addresses both that possibility and reality. I’m gonna lay out some of my thoughts below as originally written for Facebook posts and commentaries. There’s definitely some overlap of ideas, here, but I wanted to share them nonetheless. There are some insightful articles attached to the comments below which I think make for some thought-provoking and informative reading:

July 6, 2016: Despite the title of this article and many others like it (“Bernie Sanders Booed By House Democrats For Refusal To Endorse Hillary Clinton” by Sam Stein), there were FAR more Democrats, apparently, who did NOT boo Sanders and were respectful.

But those who DID boo… Those are the very ones that make this journey all the more important, all the more crucial. I understand that what Sanders is doing is out of the ordinary step-aside deal-making that happens at this junction in an election cycle, but if Bernie were to abandon his ideals and whatever leverage he has now to simply fall in line, then he would be no better than most of the intimidated, for-sale politicians he has been criticizing, who are now, of course, trying to intimidate him and his supporters to be more like them. 

This is why Bernie Sanders represents the conviction, the integrity, and the alternative of genuine ideals that speaks SO loudly to SO many of us and that goes so far beyond the outcome of a presidential race. And this is why his supporters remain so committed and see him as walking the walk. Unlike those we know who just talk the talk.

I’ve never seen Hillary Clinton display the courage of her convictions. So I get that when her direct challenger does, it makes her look bad. As it should.

Continue reading “Facebook Impressions: Our Current Political Landscape, July 6-24, 2016”

Facebook Impressions: Our Current Political Landscape, July 6-24, 2016