What I bring with me into the voting booth tomorrow


hillary-trump-supporters-mix

Thoughts one day before the election:

Months ago, I committed to voting for Hillary because of the unique threat Trump poses. I’ve been vocal about my decision to vote for Hillary and have written about why it is important to stop Trump and have asked others to vote for Hillary as well. I have also asked for tolerance and understanding for the myriad experiences taking place during this election cycle. I have tried to offer perspective on why it is difficult for many to vote for Hillary even under these extreme circumstances and those like myself who will vote for her, but for whom it is a deep and oftentimes painful and confusing struggle. I had hoped that as a liberal reaching out to other liberals, I would be met with some measure of understanding. In some instances that has happened. Unfortunately, in far too many, it has not.

Hillary is not as dangerous as Trump. I believe that with utmost certainty. That is why I chose to vote for her. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that in this final week, I have been on the receiving end of and have witnessed much that has forced me to second-guess that decision to vote for her, that has made that personal struggle even more intense.

Yes, Hillary is not as bad as Trump. However, I have found that far too many Hillary-supporters are as dangerous in my mind as your average Trump-supporter. The level of intolerance and shaming I have seen has left me feeling that the divide between conservatives and liberals isn’t as wide as we might think or believe, that we are all susceptible to being both manipulated and instigated by fear. Even though I am voting for Clinton, I have still been called “selfish” and “irresponsible” for trying to express and share with others why that decision is such a difficult one; to offer perspective for those out there struggling to understand why and how this decision could be fraught, could be immensely challenging, even painful.

This has come from people who believe they speak for and represent the party of inclusiveness, empathy, open-mindedness, equality, freedom of speech and choice, and are fighting for the “common good.” I have witnessed a level of hate and intolerance and bullying that has left me spinning. In addition to the names that I have been called, in addition to the immense intolerance I have been shown by so very many, I have also watched women attacking other women for expressing their difficulties in voting for Hillary, for having a different perspective or a different struggle. I have seen groups of women calling other women “twats” and claiming that those women don’t even have a right to be called “women.” To me, this is incredibly destructive, it is the antithesis of empowerment. It is most certainly not inclusive or compassionate. And it certainly isn’t working toward any “common good.” The phenomenon or “trend” I am witnessing, of fear and anxiety manifesting as intolerance and discrimination and taking the form of browbeating and hostility, feels like a rampant response that has only escalated as election day approaches. Hate and intolerance doesn’t lead Democrats to a different place than it does Republicans. It’s the same road.  Continue reading “What I bring with me into the voting booth tomorrow”

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What I bring with me into the voting booth tomorrow

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

A Challenge to Democrats to be more Democratic


gavel and the US Flag

One of the more unfortunate accusations that I’ve been hearing lately is that Bernie Sanders supporters are tearing apart the Democratic Party. That Sanders needs to “back down” so we can unite. But Sanders supporters are fighting for the Democratic party to be more democratic. The media and others, however, have done a bang-up job framing real political challenges from the people (which Sanders represents) as “selfish” and “hurtful.” And a good number of Democrats are taking up those pitchforks and torches and joining the chorus without truly understanding what it is they are attempting to self-righteously snuff out.

John Nichols’ article in The Nation, A Contested Convention Is Exactly What the Democratic Party Needs, (an article widely forwarded by Bill Moyers) speaks directly to why it is so very crucial to continue to challenge not just Hillary Clinton, but the entire Democratic Party. THIS is what Democracy is all about! This is our job description! But so many people have lost sight of that – or never really knew what they could or should do beyond just casting a vote – or what the Democratic Party used to be, its history, and so they don’t recognize what it has the potential to do right now. Hillary might be the nominee in the end (though that’s STILL not a guarantee), but there’s more to be done and more to be gained by continuing to challenge her and those she surrounds herself with. At the very least to the Convention. Hopefully, a lot farther.

John Nichols:

“Prospective nominees tend to favor weaker platforms; Harry Truman would have preferred milder civil-rights commitments than were made in his party’s 1948 platform, and it took steady pressure from unions, liberals and Ted Kennedy to get Jimmy Carter to finally embrace spending on jobs programs. It will take similar pressure to get Clinton and her inner circle to accept a Democratic platform that Sanders says must include “a $15-an-hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health-care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition-free, and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.” Clinton stalwarts may want to keep things vague, but look for the Sanders team to demand specifics, such as an explicit endorsement of a national $15 minimum wage instead of the $12 proposal that Clinton initially offered, and an unequivocal rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that President Obama supports and that Clinton once championed but now criticizes.”

Continue reading “A Challenge to Democrats to be more Democratic”

A Challenge to Democrats to be more Democratic

Fearing Atheism


stephen-fry

Ironically, hearing Stephen Fry publicly articulate my very thoughts in his response to Irish TV presenter Gay Byrne’s question: “What would you say if you came face-to-face with God?” on Byrne’s show THE MEANING OF LIFE, gave me immense hope for the future. It’s
folks like Rev Ian McNie who accused Fry of “spiritual blindness” that persuade me to feel any sense of pessimism about the future of mankind.

Continue reading “Fearing Atheism”

Fearing Atheism

One Face Of The DC Tea Party: Your Fellow Americans


While this in no way represents all Republicans, it is currently the strongest voice and face of the conservative party. There are enough ignorant and frightened people in this country who are victims of outright manipulation by individuals, corporations and media outlets who not only prey on that fear and ignorance, but depend on it.

We the people have an uncanny desire to follow. Oftentimes we are lazy and fearful and easily led. And when we allow this to happen, we act like lemmings and run ourselves right off a cliff. We follow without question those who lead us. What these people believe to be empowerment, is actually manipulation through fear. We allow others to think for us, to tell us what we should and shouldn’t believe, what we should feel, all the while shrugging off responsibility and denying ourselves empowerment through education. And in so doing, we lose all commonsense.

Educate!

One Face Of The DC Tea Party: Your Fellow Americans

The Red Menace: Sarah Palin Channels Joe McCarthy?


Like the terrifying 1956 film INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS highlighted, your neighbors are not who you think they are. They look like you and they talk like you… But they’re not really like you. Not inside. Inside, they want to hurt you, to rob you of your freedom, of your individual thought, of your very humanity…

Director Don Siegel’s cinematic masterpiece reflected a nation racked by fear and paranoia. In the film, it was aliens intent on stealing our minds and bodies to create a “peaceful” existence devoid of human emotion. In the real world, it was Joseph McCarthy and HUAC who were intent on purging America of the many “communist infiltrators” that had overtaken our society while we had our heads turned away. The result? Thousands of innocent people were robbed of their livelihoods, their respect, their community standing, their very lives. It took a while, but America came to realize that the enemy here wasn’t communists, but Joe McCarthy.

Today, at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Sarah Palin had this to say:

“See, under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were, were yours, they would really collectively belong to everybody. Obama, Barack Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes, and I say this based on his record… Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us. And government kind of moving into the role as the other half of our family, making decisions for us. Now, they do this in other countries where the people are not free. Let us fight for what is right. John McCain and I, we will put our trust in you.”

Throughout my life, I’ve known American politics to be a dirty game. And its always saddened, confused and embarrassed me. But I have never felt those feelings more strongly than I do now watching this woman, and the men and women who stand behind her, make the first steps toward bringing America back to those shameful days. The only consolation is that, though Sarah Palin may not have learned from her own country’s past mistakes, many Americans have and the outrage that has been expressed by many is proof of that. Election day will, hopefully, be further proof.

I pointed out in my earlier post “It’s Alive!” Palin Goes Rogue that it appears the McCain campaign may be distancing itself from Sarah Palin as she further disregards the advice and recommendations of her aides and advisors. And though the polls show that more and more Americans now have a negative impression of Sarah Palin, it is important to recognize that she still has a large and fervent base of supporters. And they will listen to her. And they will believe.

I will also, for anyone who missed it, point you to my last post before this one, West’s Interview of Biden: An Embarrassment Of Incompetence, where WFTV anchor woman Barbara West asks Joe Biden to explain why she should believe Barack Obama’s political views are any different from Karl Marx.

Here is the video of Sarah Palin’s speech in Des Moines earlier today. Pay attention to the audience’s reaction. I’m not trying to spread my own brand of fear here. I just want to make sure people are paying attention:

The Red Menace: Sarah Palin Channels Joe McCarthy?

The Privatization Of America & Our Fear Of Change


Educate. Understand. The Republicans will try and grab you on the issues they think are important to you while avoiding the issues that will actually effect you. Afraid your children might be forced to learn about sex in school? McCain and Palin will create a scenario–an untrue one at that–that suggests that under Obama, you will have no control and that your kids will be forced to learn things you rather they didn’t until you felt they were ready. Well, believe me when I say that the powers behind the Republican Party at this point in time are treating you like those children; they don’t want you to know about anything too early. So they’re keeping you happily distracted. Meanwhile, they’re in the process of destroying the government as we know it–and not by accident–for which the only solution will be privatization, which would leave us with a government under private corporate rule. 

Actor John Cusak wrote for the Huffington Post:

McCain and the neocon ideologues won’t “reform” government, they will gut government and privatize everything in sight in the name of responding to the crises they helped engineer through Bush and Cheney. Their view of government is the reverse of the Hippocratic Oath: do harm and then when the patient is sick, give the wrong medicine, watch him die, and sell off the body parts.

They will destroy the Department of Energy, HUD and anything else they can get their hands on. With this crew, all you need to do is destroy government, privatize it and get out of the way, and then a magic utopia appears. Well, actually it doesn’t, but a lot of connected people get rich, and in the privatized war business, blood money flows and a fuck of a lot of innocent people die. The numbers and the misery are staggering.

The proof is in the pudding folks. Just yesterday our economy took another slam as Wall Street crumbled. As Barack Obama pointed out in his speech yesterday:

“We just woke up to news of financial disaster — and this morning [McCain] said that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong. Sen. McCain, what economy are you talking about?”

Obama continues:

“It’s the same philosophy we’ve had for the last eight years, one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It’s a philosophy that says even commonsense regulations are unnecessary, unwise. One that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crisis.”

Starting to see the bigger picture? Fear and distraction will allow this to happen if we don’t wake up now. This isn’t just theory, this is really happening. Today. In America. 

Deepak Chopra had some interesting observations recently on the strategy behind Palin’s popularity and attraction among voters:

[Sarah Palin] is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities
we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind…

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:

–Small town values — a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

–Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.

–Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be heeded.

–Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

–Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.

–“Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time.  She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Yes, this country is being systematically bought and sold–as John McCain has been–and it is fear of real change that will bring it down. America has disastrously strayed. But it is through wisdom and a willingness to face our fears for what they are and recognize our mistakes, that will set us on the road to recovery. Anything less will lead us to ruin. And we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves. 

The Privatization Of America & Our Fear Of Change