Monday, January 30, 2017

Searching for the Democratic Party

If you haven't thrown your hat in the ring for the position of Chair of the Democratic Party, apparently it is not too late.  Yesterday I saw yet another candidate being interviewed on MSNBC and I yelled at the television, "And who the hell are YOU?"

While puppet Donald Trump is turning our government over to Vladimir Putin and Steve Bannon, while Americans are protesting the horrors of the promised anti-immigration decrees, our Democratic Party is still debating who will run it.

You may not recall that in Florida, the National Democratic Party last year chose not to waste its time throwing support behind Patrick Murphy, even though Marco Rubio had been scalded during his run for president, and Murphy was a solid candidate.  Had they put some energy into that campaign, it might have given us another senator; it might also have helped Hillary win Florida.  Just sayin'.

Then, after the election, when the country was shocked at the "victory" of Donald Trump and looking for a way out, the Democrats were nowhere to be found in Louisiana's December runoff for Senate between republican John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.  Unlike a game of Where's Waldo? the Democratic Party wasn't even hiding in the crowd; meanwhile both Trump and Pence were out stumping for what was pretty much an assured win.  Here's the thing:  it may not have resulted in a win for Campbell, but it would have proven that the Democratic Party wasn't going down without a fight.  BECAUSE IT WAS JUST THAT IMPORTANT.

And in Georgia, we now have Rep. Tom Price who is likely to be confirmed for Secretary of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.  Two issues here:  Price is an animal.  He is a physician who wants physicians and pharmaceutical companies to be able to set prices for services under Medicare until, that is, he takes down Medicare.  And by the way, he is determined to rid us of the Affordable Care Act once and for all.  With Donald Trump's blessing he will fulfill the dream of Speaker Paul Ryan.  Number two is that he is leaving an opening on the House of Representatives.

In a district where Donald Trump won by only one percent, there will be a special election for a House seat.

As a Democrat I can barely conceal my excitement.  This is an opportunity we surely can't pass up.  Can we?

At a time in our country when Americans are more dissatisfied and suspicious of their president then they have been since the end of the Nixon years, and for good reason, the Democratic Party should be front and center of this fight.  Instead, I heard one Democrat saying that the people were taking care of things with their protests.  WHAT???

Democrats RIGHT NOW have the opportunity to save the country.  They should be educating and confronting the media constantly about the freedoms that are at stake in the abomination that is called the Trump administration.  There should not be a day when there is not a pronouncement by members of the Democratic Party in our major newspapers and our nightly news.

This is not a time to try to appear reasonable.  There are enough reasons for outrage over the actions of this illegitimate president.  The author of that uncompromising assessment, John Lewis, is a true leader of the party and the country.  But after his comments about Trump's legitimacy, he was invited to meet with Trump.  As he answered questions about that upcoming meeting, I was horrified to hear caution instead of outrage, if not actual walking back, a measured, "we'll see."  Which, by the way, is how the Trump power game works.

I don't believe I have ever had a criticism about Elizabeth Warren, until now.  Apparently, being incompetent is not a reason for a no vote for a cabinet position.  She defended her vote for idiot savant Ben Carson in something that sounded like, "at least he hasn't said he wants to get rid of the department he has been appointed to lead."  She didn't actually say that, but I am hearing what I've never heard from Warren, compromise and a willingness to accept the low bar of the Trump administration.

Again, to all the Democrats that are trying to appear reasonable by voting for Trump appointees that are not total Nazis:  it is not about whether they could be trusted to not destroy the department they will be heading.  It is not even about competence.  It is about the fact that they are being appointed by a president who is indeed illegitimate.

At this time, Democrats should be refusing to cooperate with republicans until there is "extreme vetting" of this clown president and his minions.  Steve Bannon is now running the Oval Office.  And in the latest move to privatize and take over the White House, Trump has given Bannon the power to reorganize the National Security Council.  The first of these measures will be to remove the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, from NSC meetings. The excuses given are the intention to reduce the bloated council and to free up principals' time.  We can also look at it as the logical conclusion by a man who gets bored at Daily Briefings.  But this actually represents the consolidating of control of Trump's White House under Steve Bannon, the brains behind the bully.  And the exclusion of any members of the security team that might present arguments or opposing views.  Or who might feel the need to inform members of Congress or the American people when something is going very wrong.

Democrats, it is absurd that you are still fighting over control of the party when our democratic process is being dismantled.  Now is the time to get in the face of the republican Congress and challenge them to investigate -- immediately -- if not impeach -- Trump.  This is the time to hound the media constantly about what is going on behind closed doors.

Members of Congress have taken to leaving their mailboxes full and sneaking away from angry constituents.  Bernie Sanders, who is no longer a Democrat but an Independent, has sent out the following message:

If you're getting a full voice mailbox when calling your senator or congressman, Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to know about it. His office is tracking these, as it appears that some of these full mailboxes remain that way intentionally. Reach his D.C. office at 202-224-5141.

Why are the Democrats not all over this?  Perhaps it is because they are still spinning over what is wrong with the Party?  Let me suggest that this, in fact, is the answer.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Save Yourself!

I am proud to be part of a group of the most empathic, caring, generous people in the country.  They are my friends and my political allies.  They have been on guard with me since November 9 as our country became a radical, right-wing dictatorship run by a madman.

We have put aside our personal pleasures and responsibilities to try to slow the tide of hatred and power mongering that has completely altered our country's path in just one short week.  We worry, we have trouble sleeping, we feel anxiety and outright fear for ourselves, our loved ones, and those who are more vulnerable than we are.

From time to time, we enjoy the feeling of unity that comes when we march, when we speak out, when those of us who are on the inside of this now closed group of leaders leak information about those who hold the power, when those with voices more powerful than ours speak publicly.

But then we return to the reality of the rights that are being taken away from us all every day -- every moment -- of this corrupt presidency.  We have seen a Congress that has blocked progress for eight years and has salivated at the thought of complete control jump into lawmaking with a vengeance, and stand silent as the appointed leader of the country makes insane claims followed by bizarre and totally undemocratic executive orders.  He damaged our country's image and stoked fear throughout America and the world before he took office; since then he has confirmed our worst fears.

Yet we continue to reach out to each other as we attempt to persuade our leaders to stop this insanity, all the while trying to ease the fears of our children and calm our own anxieties.

What we need right now is to learn ways to survive this nightmare.  We need to regain our faith in ourselves, we need to find again some joy in our lives.

In December, overwhelmed, I went incommunicado for two weeks.  Up until then I hadn't been able to turn off the news; I woke in the middle of the night with obsessive thoughts of what was happening to our country; it had been difficult for this voracious reader to sit and read with pleasure or even concentration.  Those two weeks may not have changed reality, but they brought me back to myself.

As we try to fight what may be the greatest evil we have seen in our country's short history and in our even shorter lives, we need to walk away from time to time.  We need to shift our perspectives and rethink our goals.  Here are a few ways to accomplish that.

Let's all accept that we cannot fight all the battles.  We can support all the groups that are under attack without signing every petition and reading every link we are sent.

Take some time to focus on what is most important to you.  If you are most worried about Trump's immigration decrees, stay on top of that and make it the focus of your energies.

Learn what you can about what is happening in the areas you are most concerned about.  And let others know what you learn.

Unite.  Don't stay home and worry.  Use social media, form lunch groups, get together and protest.

Play to your strengths.  If what you do (what I do) is write, then write:  blog, email, letters to the editor, letters to congress.  If you find it easier to call, call your local TV station, call your representatives.  When you can't reach the White House comment line, follow Bernie Sanders' direction and contact one of Trump's hotels.  If you like the idea of confronting your member of congress face to face, do it, and if you can, do it with a friend or a group.  Don't get angry at yourself for not doing it all.

On the other hand, try something new.  I went on my first march since 1969 last week, thanks to the invitation and urging of a good friend in Maryland.  Others have described that wonderful experience far better than I could.  In short, it gave me energy and hope.  Phone calls may not be as difficult as you think.  I have learned in the past couple of years that it is far easier to talk to politicians than I once feared.  Do it, and whether you decide to do it again or not, feel good about it.

Reaffirm your family and friends.  It may take energy you don't think you have to make that phone call or go to a movie.  Don't think too much about it; just pick up the phone or put on your coat and do it.  If you are concerned about someone who seems to have become more isolated, reach out.  Call, email, get together.  And next week, do it again.

For gods' sake, remember how to laugh.  When I am close to the edge, humor is what brings me back to life.  We owe a debt to our country's comedians, from Alec Baldwin to John Oliver to the great Samantha Bee.  But we also need to laugh with our family and friends.  Silly things are still happening.  And our government is now funnier than it has ever been.  Minimize the power it has over you by laughing at the ignorance.  The Orwellian creepiness of "alternative facts" was diffused not just because it was wrong, but because it was hysterically funny.  As funny as KellyAnne's inauguration dress.

And, by the way, since KellyAnne told us about those "alternative facts," Orwell's 1984 is back on the best-seller list.  And since Trump went all ballistic on the media that day after the inauguration, even people like Chuck Todd (not my idea of an objective and righteous reporter) finally confronted the newspeak we have been hearing from Trump and his minions for two years.

Which brings me to my last thought.  We need to hold on to what is right and good.  The things that make us smile and laugh.  By all means talk to your kids about the things that are going on that are wrong, but make sure to step away from it all and play a game or watch a movie.  Have a glass of wine with friends and get silly.

They can't take that away from me.

Speaking of which, watch some Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers.

Or go out dancing.

And if there is anything that will put this shitshow in perspective, it is a few words of wisdom from Monty Python.

Writing this has picked me up a bit.  I hope it helps you as well.  We need to be there for each other, and we need to remember why this fight is so important.

America has been in some bad places in the past, and we have come back and gone forward, as recently as 2008.  We may not have wanted to fight those fights again, but here we are, and we aren't going to back down.  And whenever we can, we are going to enjoy this fight, and especially the victories.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

That Liberal Guilt

Yesterday in the New York Times, Frank Bruni dressed down all us liberals who have stepped over the line of decorum to denounce Trump and his minions with indelicate words.  I snorted and went on to read the next column, but the article stayed with me throughout the day.

Our candidates have been trashed by the right wing for decades, since Clinton bashing became a sport in the 90's, with the media leaping into the fray to reap the benefits of spreading scandal.  In Man of the World, the biography of Bill Clinton's post-presidential years, Joe Conason says, "While Hillary served in office, her approval ratings hovered at high levels; the Gallup Organization had identified her in its surveys as America's 'most admired woman' for seventeen years in a row....  But whenever she ran for office, her popularity would drop rapidly amid the partisan clash."

And Donald Trump feeds on lies.  Before his candidacy, he spent seven years attacking President Barack Obama's legitimacy by making repeated and baseless accusations that he was foreign born.  And, of course, the dog whistle being Africa, it brought the racists out to howl at the moon.  During the presidential campaign, leading with his strengths, Trump was cruel, stupid and relentless.  He shivered at Hillary having to take a long pee break at a debate and shunned all women with the ignorant "blood coming out of her wherever" and "fat pig" cracks.

Decades of lies and conspiracy theories about the Clintons led far too many rational voters to question Hillary's sincerity, and too many to refuse to support her in the end because "she lies."  At Trump's convention, the party atmosphere involved joyous chants of "Lock her up," the violent pronouncement that she should be put before a firing squad, and swag with pictures of Hillary behind bars.  She has put up with years of being harassed by the right wing and the punch-drunk media, and decades of one frivolous investigation after another.  Undignified and inappropriate are the least of what I would call the insults and accusations that Trump hurled at our candidate.

And it wasn't just politicians that Trump went after.  A lifetime of bullying yielded an unfailing instinct for going after those in our country least able to fight back.  He started his less-than-illustrious campaign by calling Mexicans "rapists" and fueled post 9/11 fear with anti-Muslim rhetoric.  Out of his ignorance came apocalyptic and insulting images of African American life, and out of fear and ignorance came the mocking of the disabled.  A lifetime of gynophobia and reaction formation result in a litany of verbal and sexual assaults that belie his purported love for women and pursuit of women of beauty.

After two years of being pummeled by Donald Trump, we are tired of listening, sickened by the mad paranoia and narcissism.  Despite his loss of the popular vote by nearly three millions votes, the bully was sworn in.  His unholy alliance with right wing republicans has seen a tsunami of executive orders designed to take away rights and freedoms and do damage to the poor, minorities and women.  He has leaped into action with enthusiasm to make good on his promises -- to the wealthy and powerful -- to lower taxes, increase profit.  His advisers and cabinet reflect the radical republican goals that have failed since Ronald Reagan proposed that filling the coffers of the wealthy would result in prosperity trickling down their legs onto the rest of us.

And our legislators can count on Trump to distract us from the damage they are doing to our environment, to our educational system, to our access to health care and housing in the name of profit.  Paul Ryan, unlike his president, is not stupid.  He knows "the wall" is symbolic and a waste of tax dollars.  With the exception of our own Lindsey Graham (not often I have chosen to identify with the senator), republicans have allowed Trump's paranoid delusion of the millions engaging in voter fraud to gain momentum.  Because while we are pursuing his mad insistence on a formal investigation rather than backing down, we are not pursuing his tax history, his past financial involvements with foreign governments, and his post-election web of corruption in the form of favors and gifts.

Each day since November 9 we go to bed worried and wake up anticipating more hate-fueled words and actions.  We see our safety nets being torn to shreds.  We hear the threats to the freedoms of people of color.  We watch, helpless, as women's health care, women's dignity, women's right to self-determination is destroyed.  Our environmental protections are being dismantled for the sake of profit and even just so that the big corporations, petroleum and agriculture, can assert their right to control the country's assets.  People who have finally been recognized and respected as LGBTQ will once again be under assault.

I am a 65-year-old white woman, worried about my social security income (inadequate to make ends meet as it is) and medicare.  But my fears just cannot compare to the obscene plans that feature demonizing, controlling and punishing people of color, people whose faith or sexual identity differ from the majority.  I just cannot wrap my mind around living in a country that builds a wall to keep what it considers inferior others out.  Or that will force people to register based on their religion.  These are the horrors of countries and eras of the past.  This is not the America I have spent my life in.

Back to Frank Bruni.  When we are being relentlessly pummeled, there comes a time when we no longer are able to go high when they go low.  When we are being systematically stripped of our social safety net, our right to work for a living wage, a healthy environment, when we see those we love threatened and hurt, we get angry.  And we fight back.

When we fight back, some of us are able to do it with more civility than others.  Some will attempt to persuade; others will find other ways to resist.

I will not judge the quality of the expression of the anger at the unceasing assaults.  When the president of the United States has spent years hurling insults, I will defend the right to free speech for the rest of us.  When his surrogates tell us we should respect the office of the presidency, this is my reply:  I have too much respect for the office to stand by while it is soiled and corrupted.  We are watching a wealthy family dynasty take over the country, with obvious plans to hold onto that power as long as possible, with the aid of an all-too-compliant Congress.  Civility is not in order.

I have watched our Democratic representatives make strong statements and then cave in to vote for cabinet nominees who will further the foul agenda of an insane man.  And I am wondering, where is the outrage?  Where is the strength and courage of our convictions?  After eight years of republicans obstructing our president, not because they disagreed with his agenda, but just to promote their own party, I am wondering what it will take for the Democratic Party to unite for the causes they say they hold.  For gods' sake, they are still squabbling over who will head the party, because a black Muslim just might scare away a white middle class voter.

Instead of being critical of those who are fighting the atrocities that are raining on our democracy, it is time to show unflinching support for all of us who are attempting to fight the attack.  Instead of looking at how we word our resistance, it is time for the media to demand that the leader of the country begin to model civil discourse.

I use snark and sarcasm to release the fears I have over what is to become of me, of my children, of my country.  I am afraid that our Democratic leaders will continue to attempt to sound reasonable and willing to compromise rather than standing united -- and angry -- at this tyrannical and un-American ruler.

Americans have the right to freedom of speech; we have been taking the blows from listening to those who hate our differences and want to control or harm us.  We have heard threats to lock up our presidential candidate.  Our freedom and dignity has been under attack throughout the election season, and the winners have doubled-down.  It is time to react with anger. When our patriotism is questioned, when we are told to "get over it," when we are told how and when we should express our dissatisfaction, we need to stand tall, stand together, defend our right to speak freely, to protest, to criticize.  When we are told our words have gotten out of hand, we need to stop reacting with that liberal guilt that is so easy to manipulate.  We have a right to our rage.  We have a right to our words.  We have a right to our protest.

We still live in a democracy.  But it is precious and under attack and we have to guard it.  So, Frank Bruni, don't tell us to watch our language.  Take a look at the anger that has provoked that language, and recognize its validity. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#NotMyPresident and Here's Why

I am crazy busy trying to pack for my first march since 1969.  But I had to stop and write.  Because this is important.

I have been listening to the debate about whether to appear at the Inauguration for a few days now.  Since John Lewis took a stand, the way he took a stand last year when he led the sit-in on gun control in the House, the way he has stood up for democracy and for the American people all the way back to Selma.  And the idiot who made great deals with Russia and the FBI and the republican party tweeted attacks against him.  Nothing clever, just his usual same old names and falsehoods.

This is the guy we are supposed to show up for on Friday.

His very attack on Lewis is the reason I won't be there.  I will not respect a man who mocks, who lies, who attacks other Americans.  Minorities, women, the poor.  People who are not like me, and people like me.  A man who will do anything to get what he wants, who will do anything to get revenge for a perceived slight.  A man who spent years accusing our president of not being American, and who did it for the notoriety.

I am as disillusioned by the members of the party he joined in order to win the presidency.  They have sold out.  Sold out their beliefs, sold out our country, sold out the Americans who elected them.  They have done this because they will always follow people they believe have more power, because they believe this alliance will allow them to keep their power and their fortune.  Paul Ryan has become a pathetic shadow of Trump.  McCain is trying to be tough, but I can hear him waffling every time he is asked about the incoming "president" or about a cabinet pick.

And then there are the people who Trump has chosen to flank him, to protect him, to defend him, to give him his ideas.  Neo-nazis, plutocrats, people with more power than he has, and people with less power that will do his bidding.  Smart and mean, or stupid and mean, but always mean.  Willing to cut down anyone who gets in their way.  Trump's kind of people.

I am listening to republicans and Trump's own chosen pretend to be appalled that Americans are questioning their leader's legitimacy after he questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama.  Who are silent when Trump attacks the media.  Who will gladly give up the freedom of the press to follow a man who is as crazy and abusive as the worst third-world dictator.  I wonder how far they will go, just as I once wondered how Nazi Germany every was allowed to happen.

He was elected with a minority of votes.  He was elected by virtue of Russian intervention in our democratic process, with Putin continuing even today to feel free to comment on the validity of our government.  He has refused to be transparent about his wealth and property and his ties to foreign governments, and has refused to break any ties that would cost him fortune or power.  In fact, he has already used his presidency to increase his influence and wealth.

I can be sure that every accusation he made against Hillary Clinton is one of which he himself is guilty.

So there it is.  He is not my president because he is not democratic.  He will profit and grow his power.  He will deny us our constitutional rights, the freedom of our press, the freedom to worship as we choose, the right to protest.  When mockery doesn't work he will use force.

There is far too much at stake to stand by and let history repeat itself.  We all must take a stand.  We cannot talk in trite patriotic cliches.  This country was founded on dissent.  Our founding fathers knew that the most important principle is freedom of speech.  We have been allowing our liberty to be corroded by attacks on women's bodies, voting rights, religious freedom, and much, much more.  We have allowed the rich to buy our government while too many of us lack a living wage, decent housing and health care.  Our liberty is dependent today on whether we are afraid to disagree and dissent or whether we will stand up to the corruption that has been building for decades, and has concluded in the coronation planned for Friday.

I don't go to big events, but I will be at the march on Saturday, speaking in defense of my democracy.  I won't be at the inauguration of a despot, not there in the audience, and not in my heart.

Call it undemocratic.  I call it patriotism.

I haven't spent a lot of time composing this rant.  I surely wish I could have said it the way John Lewis said it, the way Barbara Lee said it, the way Gilda Cobb-Hunter said it, the way Luis Guitierrez said it.  But they said it for us, and for that I am thankful.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Make America Sick Again

When Paul Ryan was a teen, he fell in love with Ayn Rand.  It appealed to his narcissism, as it did mine at that age.  The difference between us is that I grew up and recognized the reality of the world around me.  Paul Ryan still obsessively believes that if you got it, you deserve it.  And if you don't, it's your own fault.

That spunky can do attitude defies the reality of living in capitalist America, where if you got it, you get more, and if you don't, it has gotten increasingly less likely that you ever will.

But Ryan is surrounded by like-minded haves, and like so many of our current members of Congress, just doesn't have any patience with the whiners and the takers who think they deserve things like housing and health care.  To that end, he is determined to prove that what we all need is tough love, forcing us to choose whether we are going to survive.  That philosophy has been echoed "bigly" by our incoming moron-in-chief, who believes he made it on his own, by virtue of his big brain and not his wealthy father and Vladimir Putin.

Republicans in the House have been chomping at the bit to get rid of Obamacare, and since they have been back in session they have shown a greater work ethic than they have for some years.  They have detailed plans on how they can do away with the Affordable Care Act, in conjunction with the Senate and the Orange-Haired Idiot, who babbled at his press conference about how the bill would be repeal and replace, at the same time, maybe within a month, maybe within a week, maybe within the hour, maybe time traveling to 2010, you get the gist.

Way back in 2009, at the end of the last era in which Americans hung their hopes on an idiot with a clever and duplicitous campaign, the state of health care was shameful.  To the point where Keith Olbermann, on MSNBC, had been highlighting and fundraising for Free Health Care Clinics.  I recall my horror that so many were uninsured that -- in America -- they waited in hours-long lines to see a doctor.  That so many diseases that could have been easily treated were left to fester, so many people made sicker and even left to die out of the greed and neglect that the wealthy and the corporate powers exercised.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard some privileged cretin (a republican member of Congress) talk about how we were just spoiled by being able to get health care whenever we needed it, because we never had to face the cost.  He told the harrowing tale of his son falling and hurting his arm, and he and his wife deciding they would just ice the injury and wait a day to see if they needed to bring him to a doctor.  What a guy.

A guy who has never had to watch a loved one get sicker, hoping that the tide will turn and they will get well without the exorbitant costs of medical care.  A guy who is pretty damned out of touch with the extent of out of pocket costs involved with health care today.  A guy who could get really fine medical care the next day if he chooses to wait to get his son looked at.

For that matter, there is a myth regarding all of us great mass of unwashed Americans that says that we demand to see a doctor whenever we feel a windchill.  That we have nothing we would love to do more than wait in a waiting room at a doctor's office or a hospital, so we can suck up medical expenses.  That it is our self-indulgence, and not the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the mismanagement of our hospitals, the fact that many of us are forced to wait until a common condition becomes an expensive medical emergency, that has caused health care costs to skyrocket.

And people like Paul Ryan have swallowed the lies and distortions in order to continue to live in the pockets of their corporate donors.

Meanwhile, as Ryan and the right wingnuts work to take away health care from millions of Americans, they continue to carry the best taxpayer funded health insurance the country has to offer.

So why not insist that members of Congress be forced to accept whatever plan they chisel out of their rigid dogmatic principles?  Of all of us, they can certainly better afford it.  It may be a challenge to their fact-free ideology, and it might be tough for them to be living in the trenches having to make some of the same decisions the rest of us live with on a daily basis.  But getting in touch with the unbearably high cost of private insurance just might convince them that the "r" word they are looking for is not "repeal" but "regulate."

If you have Obamacare, or insurance from the health care exchange, or from the Affordable Care Act, you may not know that they are all the same.  This was one of many of those sleights of hand that republicans managed to pull off, while Democrats thought getting the work done for the people would be enough.  I will assume that if you are reading my blog, you know these are all the same thing.  But there are an awful lot of people out there who do not.  And they will be tragically surprised to learn that the guys they voted for have taken away their health care.  Right now, one of our tasks is simply to spread the word that whatever they call it, they are going to lose their affordable health insurance.  Unless they speak up.  And those rate hikes that incredibly happened just before the election?  Democrats never let them know that it was a much smaller increase than we have seen before the ACA.  Ooops.

In fact, this could be a great time to let people know how much better and cheaper single payer health insurance would be.  If the Democrats would only.  Because as long as the republicans are offering "repeal and replace" the thing to do is to offer Americans a "replace" that would work.  Of course, it won't happen while the party of profit and destruction is running things, but if they heard some enthusiasm building up for a single payer plan, maybe backing off on the "repeal" wouldn't seem like such a bad idea.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How to Fight a Shitstorm

One of Trump's successful ploys is to throw so much shit at the fan that no one -- not the media, not the politicians, not we the American people -- can know where to begin to clean it up.  So if you are feeling overwhelmed, welcome to 2017.

But the worst thing we can do is ignore and avoid.  The quality of our lives will be far worse than we have seen before.  I have been refreshing myself by reading Joe Conason's biography of post-presidential Bill Clinton.  While I have been happily surprised at just how much good he has done (and again dismayed at how the right wing conspiracy has created doubt in Clinton's actions and motives), the book also is a narrative of Clinton trying to do good against the shitstorm that was the Bush presidency.  In my anger I am also finding some inspiration.

I don't do resolutions, but since the new year I have asked myself what would I like to accomplish, and answered with some actual practical goals.

First, I need to continue to educate myself.  While I was away, nothing changed, but the momentum of our enemies has grown.  I would be no happier if I did not know that right now the truly evil Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was following through on his plan to rid millions of Americans of their health care.  I need to know that Trump has continued to move on his plan to move Jared Kushner right into the White House so that he and Steve Bannon can each have one of his ears.  And I need to be aware of how the media is covering all this, as well as anytime a Democrat pops out of hiding to take a stand.

Second, I will do my best to pass on what I have learned.  Knowledge is going to be the way we arm ourselves in these days when the Trump Swamp is twisting the meaning of things like "fake news" as soon as we have grasped the fact that it exists.  We need to share what we know as quickly and widely as possible.  We need to find ways to share our knowledge with people with whom we don't normally communicate, and in a way that they are willing to hear us.

That does not mean that we should back away from the Democratic values we held during the presidential campaign.  When we try to compromise by giving up any part of what we believe, we fail.  That is what has given the right-wing power.  Rather, we need to recognize, as did Bernie, that most of us have the same concerns -- job security, health care, safety -- and we need to find ways to persuade others that we are all in this together.  That when the rich get richer, we all get poorer.  That when a woman's right to reproductive health care is taken away, men and children also suffer.  That when we attack someone because they are different, we jeopardize all our rights to pursue freedom and happiness.  So, my third goal is to persuade.

To that end, I am not going to beat on myself for not making phone calls, or going to demonstrations, or visiting my representative, or running for office.  These are really important jobs and we need lots more people to take them on.  And there are people out there who will, and some that have not yet but would do it with some information and encouragement.  Because we definitely need people to do all those things.  What I am going to do is continue to write.  I am going to blog, and post on Facebook, send letters to the editor, and learn how to more effectively use Twitter.

There is still a lot of shit hitting the fan, because Trump is a disorganized personality, and a bully, and now he has not just wealth but the power of the presidency.  He has loaded his cabinet and his staff with truly deplorable people, and his media contacts from Fox News to the National Enquirer will continue to paint false pictures of what is going on in Washington.  But we all can keep on top of this.  There may be multi-million dollar media corporations and members of Congress who can be bought with Trump's infamous combination of threats and flattery.  But if we really believe in democracy (and I do) we the people outnumber all them.  We can't change the mind of the angry or truly stupid Trump supporter, but there are a lot of them that were lulled into believing a master con artist, and they will soon recognize the con and be looking to understand what happened and looking for alternatives.  And if we do this right, progressives and Democrats will be there to offer a better choice.