Monthly Archives: November 2016

2017 Political Resolutions

Well, 2017 finally arrived.  For some of you, it’s a chance to pour gasoline on 2016 and light a match.  For many, it’s a chance to once again make yourself or your life better.  But what about your country?  Whether you like it or not, we can’t change the 2016 presidential election.  While you’re working on giving up chocolate or alcohol, how about resolving to help bring us together by giving up these bad political habits we’ve picked up over the last several years:

Protesting–Stop protesting protests.  Yes, I know. Americans don’t think it’s a good protest until they throw a cinder block through a plate glass window.  Complain about that. But protesting remains a fundamental piece of American democracy.  Plus, the reasoning behind hating protests is always flawed, be it after a police shooting or a presidential election as contentious as this one.   If you’re a Trump supporter saying,  “I know he said some hateful things, but I needed to do what’s best for me and my family.  Why can’t you guys unify behind that” you need to work on your unification skills.

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men” Abraham Lincoln

Patriotism–This goes hand in hand with protesting. If you stand at attention every morning, hand over heart, as your pet bald eagle raises the flag while your children read the preamble to the Constitution that’s tattooed on your back, you definitely love our country. Guess what? So do people who kneel or sit during the national anthem. Or burn or step on the flag. Or protest wars. Stop calling those people “un-American” or telling them to leave the country. They are just as patriotic as you. They’re just showing it in a different way.

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” Howard Zinn

Name-calling–I’ve done it. You’ve done it.  Hell, our politicians do it.  But if you want to win a debate or change someone’s mind, calling them a “racist” or “libtard” usually isn’t a good way to go about it.  You may call someone names who is NOT involved in the conversation.  But don’t attack your opponent. Any “kumbaya” moment around the campfire usually ends when someone tosses around “xenophobe” or “stupid.”

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser”  Socrates

Political correctness–You morons don’t even know what this means (see the political incorrectness there?)  Originally, liberals used it to mock each other for using “correct” terms about a group for political gain. Then, somewhere in the late 80s, both sides weaponized it. The GOP began calling it the “thought police” in an attempt to peel away working-class whites while the Democrats used it to appeal to minorities like women and African-Americans.  Now, everything offends everybody and we must always apologize even if it’s completely insincere.  We really need to purge it from our vocabularies.  Lefties, stop getting offended if I say “fireman” instead of “firefighter” or when a celebrity wears a Native American costume.  Righties, stop calling liberals “snowflakes” while at the same time wailing about the lack of them on a Starbucks cup.

Compromise–People constantly bring up how this word doesn’t exist in Arabic.  Well, it doesn’t really exist here either.  A Pew research poll shows most Americans believe compromise means getting at least 60% of what they want.  I’m pretty sure this describes both our Congress and marriage.  If we, the people, can’t even agree on what compromise is, how do we find ways to compromise politically? Maybe the Arabic language got it right.  It uses the word “taaradhin” [tah-rah-DEEN] which implies a positive “win-win” mentality.

Religion–Religion should be a personal relationship with your God.  Go to church, post Bible verses on Facebook, pray.  But stop with the Darth Vader “I find your lack of faith disturbing” public tirades.  Stop voting for fringe evangelicals like Dr. Ben Carson and Pat Robertson.  Stop re-electing politicians who try to pass overtly religious bills like State Rep. David Moore of Montana (who wanted to add yoga pants to the state’s indecent exposure law) or Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen who suggested making Sunday church service mandatory.  Stop blaming the country’s problems on a loss of faith.  Our problems stem from the lack of faith in government and lack of acceptance of others beliefs, not the lack of acceptance of God or Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.

“Religion is like a penis.  It’s perfectly fine to have one and take pride in, but when one takes it out and waves it in my face, we have a problem.”  Author unknown

Diversity of thought–Did you know the FBI agent suspected in the Hillary Clinton email leaks  committed “suicide?” Or that Donald Trump was born in Pakistan and his real name is Dawood Ibrahim Khan?  Well, millions of you believe it despite factual evidence to the contrary.  That’s called “confirmation bias” and it’s killing diversity of thought in America.  “Confirmation bias” means people search out or interpret facts in ways to back up their own beliefs.  Enter slanted commentary and “fake news” websites.  We surround ourselves with re-enforcers of our beliefs. Our friends, news, and politicians must say what we already think, otherwise they are biased or liars or pinko Commie bastards.  This is the single biggest destroyer of unity in our country.  You need people around you who think differently and push back against each others’ preconceived notions and beliefs. Being a Democrat shouldn’t mean you can’t be pro-life or pro-gun rights just like a pro-gay marriage stance shouldn’t disqualify you from being a Republican.  Remember, 2+2=4.  But so does 3+1.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together”  Malcolm Forbes

Voting changes–Yes, we need to make some changes.  But getting rid of the Electoral College is so 2012 (Fox News and Forbes both published anti-EC commentaries when they thought Romney may win the popular vote and lose the presidency.)  Pushing for term limits shows desperation:  “Hello, Congress?  Hi, it’s ‘We, the People.’  We’re too stupid and lazy to vote senators and representatives out of office.  Could you handle that for us?  Thanks!”  Neither of these will pass.  Plus, we need to find ways to get MORE people to vote. Why not set up a national voter registry like most advanced industrial nations while changing all Congressional terms to four years.  All federal elections would take place in the same year, when most people come out to vote because it’s a presidential election.  Weird, I know.  That way, we can overhaul the White House and Congress, and everybody starts fresh at the same time.

Blame–This is the single biggest reason we now call Donald Trump President-elect. He played the blame game, plain and simple.  Illegal immigrants steal jobs and drive down wages. Muslims scare us because they’re trying to sneak in and kill us.  The media is biased.  Our elections are corrupt.  Many of you drank it in like a Bill Cosby cocktail, complete with the memory loss of who to really blame.  We did this. Let me repeat myself:  WE DID THIS.  I’ve said it hundreds of times:  “Government is a reflection of the governed.”  Any problem in this country can be traced back to what we as citizens, voters, and consumers do or allow.  We blame Obamacare for job loss instead of blaming the business owners who actually cut the jobs or the insurance companies who hike rates.  We want illegals kicked out until we have to pay $20 for a watermelon.  We complain about our crumbling infrastructure while refusing to pay more in taxes to fix it.  And we complain about government gridlock while re-electing the politicians perpetuating the gridlock.  Time to stop blaming everything else and start fixing the real problem:  We, the people.

“In a free society, government reflects the soul of its people. If people want change at the top, they will have to live in different ways. Our major social problems are not the cause of our decadence. They are a reflection of it.”  Cal Thomas

 

WTF happened?

Donald J. Trump is President-Elect.  Let that sink in for a bit.  Thanks a lot, 2016!  Now, as we begin dissecting why the pollsters missed it and the political pundits missed it and the media missed it and the Clinton and Trump staffs missed it, this is the first thing I thought of:

I think I know what happened. But none of us want to admit it.  

Everyone will admit Hillary Rodham Clinton is an extremely flawed candidate. Voting for her is like needing a colonoscopy–you avoid doing it until you have to.  I told my wife there was a 50-50 chance I’d vote Republican this year until Donald Trump became the nominee. To me, a smart potential presidential candidate doesn’t set up a personal server as Secretary of State.  You don’t project an arrogance about the democratic process. You don’t act like the candidacy is a coronation.  You don’t attack voters who believe differently.  But I still believe in the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” in our country’s judicial system. So I willed myself to vote for her based on her policy ideas, or Trump’s lack thereof. I’m like a kid on Christmas when it comes to Election Day.  But this year…ugh.  

I don’t believe this election was about that. Nor do I believe those who #feelthebern would be celebrating an election victory today.  Bernie Sanders’ socialist message inspired millions of Democrats and millennials.  But could he seriously  beat a GOP candidate who presented a similar populism without the negative connotations associated with socialism?

I honestly don’t believe this election was about Donald J. Trump either.  How can you after seeing the results?  Many of you think Hillary is a criminal. And you may be right. But does that explain how evangelicals overlooked the flaws of an ungodly man?  Does it explain how some women overlooked the flaws of a perceived sexist?  Does it explain how many Republican leaders overlooked the flaws of a candidate they not only disliked but many downright despised?  Does it explain how many of us claimed to want change in Washington and then overlooked the flaws of Republican incumbent senators who spent six years perpetuating gridlock?  Does it explain how Hillary Clinton could very well win the popular vote and lose the electoral college a la Al Gore after her husband’s two-term presidency?  Does it explain how pollsters and pundits from every political spectrum completely whiffed on this outcome?  Nope. 

If you really loved Trump, polls would show it.  The GOP would have won more seats in the Senate.  White college-educated voters would have voted in bigger numbers for him.  President Obama’s approval ratings wouldn’t be in the mid-50s and consistently going up since Trump won the GOP candidacy.  A conservative in Utah, a former Republican governor who eats marijuana edibles and a Cincinnati Zoo primate would never impact this election.  People focused on jobs and the economy would have demanded a more extensive plan.  He would have released his taxes. 

So WTF happened?  Whose body lies on the election autopsy table?  Mine.  Many of yours.  About half the country’s.  This wasn’t about the candidates or the issues or the political parties. As Trump likes to say, this was about YOU.  And your revenge.   

Remember, revenge is a dish best served cold.  You don’t want the other person to see it coming, like the outcome of this election.  Well, this dish cooked for eight years and fed many of us a heapin’ helpin’ of Clinton crow.  Look at all that’s changed since 2008.  This is revenge against all of us who voted for a “Muslim-Kenyan” twice and a “criminal” once. This is revenge for marijuana legalization, abortion rights, and a rise in atheism. It’s revenge for LGBT rights, gay marriage, and transgender bathrooms. It’s revenge for believing in policies like single-payer or universal healthcare and free college.  It’s revenge for wanting a path to citizenship, wanting to get out of the Middle East and the rise of ISIS. This is revenge for the Supreme Court rulings, political correctness and “Black Lives Matter.” Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan backs up my argument. To me, the “again” refers to both a time of economic prosperity but also a time before all of this happened.  Just look at the divisiveness of the election campaign. We just fought a political civil war. Brother vs. brother. Friend vs. friend. Tweeting vs. unfriending. Most of you voted for Trump out of anger. Some of that anger is directed at Washington, D.C. and the establishment.  Some of it is the economy, jobs, and trade.  But nearly all of you are pissed off at the rest of us.  

If you truly want us to come together, you need to admit that.  I believe in conceding when you lose and getting behind the new President.  If “Crooked Hillary” won, it would have upset many of you.  However, over time, that emotion would dissipate and we would return to relative calm.  But how do you ask an African-American to support someone whom he or she believes is a racist?  How do you ask Muslims to support someone whom they believe is a xenophobe?  Or women who believe he’s a sexist or misogynist or sexual predator?  How about Hispanics who believe he wants to split up their family?  That doesn’t even include the LGBT community, atheists, progressives, people who may lose health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, etc., etc., etc.  And perhaps, most importantly, how do you ask someone like me to support Donald Trump?  I am a white male largely unaffected by the outcome.  I dislike Hillary. But I am a former journalist. And not only did Trump consistently attack the media, some of you did too.  

This picture personifies the problem we face moving forward as a severely divided nation.  When you ask Clinton supporters to now get on the Trump train, you’re asking us to sit next to this guy.  You’re asking minorities to overlook Trump winning 58% of the white vote while attacking nearly everyone else.  You’re asking her female supporters to forget the gender gap in this election was the largest in the half-century history of exit polling.   That’s why some took a Trump victory to mean this:


I don’t believe that.  These types of allegations upset me just as much as they upset you.  The question is–why didn’t Trump’s remarks upset you as much as they upset me?  This feels an awful lot like someone who says, “Why are you blaming me?!  I’m not the one who committed the murder.  I just helped bury the body.”  Is Trump’s child-care policy, repealing Dodd-Frank or filling the Supreme Court SO important you’re willing to overlook every, single hurtful thing he said about some of your friends?  In our eyes, Trump left bullet-riddled corpses strewn all over 5th avenue.  And as he predicted, you just looked the other way.  That’s what makes this election personal.  Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can all ask us to unite.  But as I said earlier, it’s not about them. It’s about you.  It’s why people are crying.  It’s why you’re losing Facebook friends.  They need to know you don’t believe in everything coming out of Trump’s mouth. If you really hope for a less divisive America, don’t gloat. Don’t tell the grieving to get over it.  Reach out.  Explain yourself.  Make the effort to understand and accept why she won the popular vote.  Listen to why we didn’t support him. It’s the only way for us to accept why you did.