The Country Takes a U-Turn

Four years ago, I remember the pits of despair at the election of Trump. Having friends who had worked on some of Trump’s projects, I knew what kind of man he was. I was afraid for the country. I was disappointed in my fellow citizens. That day, I was driving up to South Dakota, so had nine hours alone in my car to grieve and ruminate on how best to deal with what I knew was coming. I hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t.

But I do know the anger and despair so many Trump supporters are feeling today. Four years ago I didn’t believe there was any way enough people would fall for his con, or that he could possibly be elected. I trusted the polls. I trusted my fellow citizens. It’s part of why it was all so painful. So I get it. His supporters trusted Trump. They trusted him when he said the only way he could lose was if the Democrats cheated. His supporters surrounded themselves only with those that believe the same things and avoided anyone and anything that said anything different. They’ve believed everything he’s said for years. So to learn that he was wrong about this, is a gut punch. I saw their posts pre-election. They were 100% sure they were going to win. Been there, done that.

There are charges of fraud. If you have proof, then tell the proper authorities and let’s sort that out. I want a fair vote. I have no problem with a recount in Georgia or any other state where it’s necessary, because I want the count to be right, even if that means my candidate might lose the state. But that’s not good enough for his supporters. They only want in-person voting… so my friend who has a compromised immune system and rarely is able to go out in public, because she lives in South Dakota, where their complete lack of leadership has the virus raging out of control… she shouldn’t be allowed to have a voice? You’ve already taken away her freedom of movement, now she doesn’t get a vote?

And if you then say, “okay, she can vote by mail,” then what about me? I work with people who would likely die if they contracted the disease. I even have risk factors for getting a bad case msyelf. Should I be allowed to vote by mail? Yes? Okay, then we’re right back where we started. Each state did what they thought was best for their people, and they did it within their laws.

Trump fought to keep states from counting their mail in ballots early, counting on the anger and frustration his people would feel when they first saw him pull ahead with in-person voting, then day by day falling behind when the early voters’ ballots were counted. Those ballots were predominantly cast by Biden supporters because Trump told his people not to use mail-in ballots.

The fact that you weren’t prepared for the red-mirage, doesn’t mean you get to ask for a re-do and only count the ballots that went your way. Those votes were cast legally by the laws of each state, and if not, they have processes in place to catch those ballots. They are legally cast ballots and are valid. The only real way to commit fraud on the level required to alter the vote, is to reprogram the vote counting machines, and yet that’s not where we’re focused. Mail in voting has been done for over a hundred years, and is not the issue, regardless of what lies Trump spews.

The next few months are a bit scary. I see people posturing on social media, saying they’ve got the guns, and they’re going to war. Really? Have you thought it through? I mean really thought it through. Think about all the people you love. Your kids. Your parents, siblings, cousins, best friends, neighbors. Now pick a handful of them. Think about how much you love them. Now imagine lowering them into the ground and never seeing them again. Imagine your wife or husband being killed by a sniper as they went to buy groceries. Imagine your teenage son, who thought he would prove to you how tough he was, dead in the back of a pickup truck. Imagine going to bed at night, not sure if you’ll wake up, because your neighbors, who you once had barbecues with, might come over and kill you and your family in your sleep. Imagine never knowing if when you get in your car, there might be a car bomb strapped underneath. That’s civil war. People on your side die too. That’s what you are salivating for? Really?

I know the despair. I know the pain. When we were faced with a similar reality four years ago, when we were in despair, we held a march and we began to mobilize voter registration and a get-out-the-vote movements that lasted for the last four years. More people voted for Joe Biden than have ever voted for any president, so it clearly worked. If you don’t like the results, then get more people who think like you do, to vote. That’s how democracy works. That’s the American way. Ignoring the votes you don’t like is the authoritarian way.

When Obama was elected, I was so naive and looked forward to being a year into his term, knowing all those screaming that he was a Muslim, a communist, and a socialist, would see that he was none of those things and we could move forward together. I hadn’t factored in the disinformation machine that is Fox News.

This time I’m not naive. I no longer hope that a year into Biden’s term, the Trump supporters will come to realize that he’s not going to turn this country socialist. He’s not a communist. He’s not a pedophile. There are people who will continue to trust the latest conspiracy theory, even though the last 100 conspiracy theories they bought into, were proved not to be true. There are those who will never come around. But for those who begin to shake off all the lies they have heard in the last few years, we can move forward together, and hopefully the rest won’t go too far off the deep end while we make progress.

There was a joke going around the internet before the election. It went something like this:

There was a long line of people in line to vote early. Someone driving by slowed down, rolled down the window, and yelled, “How long have you been waiting?” And someone in line yelled, “Four years!.”

It’s been a long four years full of a great deal of pain for many, many people. Covid-19 is raging, and didn’t go away just because the election is over… yet another conspiracy theory proved wrong. We are going to suffer a great many more deaths before it gets better. It is going to take extraordinary effort by all of us to get it under control so we can get the economy and our lives back to normal. Our relationships with our allies are in tatters and trust is a difficult thing to rebuild. Authoritarian leaders around the world have been emboldened by our lack of leadership, and we’ll have to rebuild our reputation in order to deal with that. We need to rebuild our state department and intelligence agencies. Police and justice reform need to be tackled, and race relations repaired and strengthened. Our economy is struggling, with the poorest people suffering during this pandemic. It will take some incredibly remarkable policy and cooperation to end that suffering. We need to resolve our immigration and border problems. Climate change is causing disasters like we’ve never seen before.

I don’t envy Joe Biden and the mess he’s inherited, but I am grateful he stepped up and took on the task. I’m grateful we have leadership that believes in science, doctors, and facts. I’m grateful a man of morality and empathy is now leading our nation. I’m sorry if that upsets you. I wish it didn’t, because we have no desire to make conservatives cry.

Those of you willing to help, let’s get to work!

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The Best and Worst of Times

How many times have I heard the first line of A Tale of Two Cities? I always thought I knew what it meant, but now I feel it in my bones.

For those of us who see the big picture, the last few months have been difficult. It’s been like watching a slow motion train wreck. We see the tracks are laid straight towards a mountainside, and yet everyone on the train is celebrating because they think they’re finally going somewhere. We screamed. We hollered. We jumped up and down and waved our hands, trying to stop the train before it slams into the wall, and for that we were ignored and ridiculed.

The right had to make up garbage to fear about Obama – He’s a secret Muslim from Kenya who is going to bring sharia law to the US, take our guns, create death panels to kill our parents, and build FEMA camps to put all his enemies in. Despite us being the creative types, liberals didn’t have to imagine any fears of 45. He laid out his vision for this country, which included taking away people’s health care with no idea how to replace it, banning people for the accident of their place of birth and religion, and if not banning them, then making them register so that when the country needs to deal with them, they know just where to find them. He at one point wanted to punish women who have faced a difficult decision about a pregnancy, and made the choice HE thinks is wrong, because we women should all be subjected to what HE thinks. He thinks the environment is only there to be raped and profited from by big business. And he wants to turn us into a nation with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a country that only thinks of itself and doesn’t care if we destroy other economies as long as we WIN! He has vowed to bring back torture, a policy that has never provided any actionable intelligence, but has created many, many enemies and endangered our troops. And as a cherry on top of the cake, he thinks nuclear weapons should be used if we have them.

He is a walking, talking, dystopian nightmare.

The damage these policies will do is immense and doesn’t take into account the damage that will be done by the policies of those pulling his strings. Those around him have learned it’s easy to control little donny… praise him and he’ll think you’re brilliant and listen to all your ideas. Criticize him and you’re going to be ridiculed, abused, and discarded. So, you want to privatize programs Americans have paid in to, and deserve to draw from… Paul Ryan just whispers sweet nothings in his ear, and voila… they’re working on plans to do away with the social safety net, despite 45’s promise to leave it alone. Easy peasy. He’s a puppet whose strings are pulled so easily.

We are becoming isolated in the world. Allies are not sharing intelligence. Trade deals are evaporating and becoming more difficult. If he continues on this path, we could face sanctions. Let’s hope it doesn’t go far enough that some other country decides we need regime change.

The despair is palpable among those who still believe in the promise of America – that all men (and women) are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not just those who look alike, think alike, love alike, and pray alike. All! Instead we’ve watched him dismantle the policies that protect our people and the environment. There are Nazis in the White House forming policy. I’ve tried to reach out for common understanding with the other side and the response seems to be, “We won, you lost. We’re right, you’re wrong. We don’t care about understanding.” So much for uniting the country. 45 is beginning to appear mentally unstable, and we’ve given that man the nuclear codes. I’ve heard silver-haired Americans say, “I’ve never been scared for my country like this before” and they lived through WWII. It feels like the worst of times.

Yet, despite this, it also the best of times. The Women’s March kicked it off. There is power in connection. There is power in unity. There is power in love. We who marched were drawn by the connection, unity, and love, then left completely empowered. We found our voice together. We found our purpose together. The sniping by the right couldn’t even take a dent out of it, probably because their criticisms were so off-base, and also because it was easy to see a tinge of exclusion and jealousy in their words. It’s okay. They enjoy their somewhat equal status because women like us marched for them, also with the criticism of conservative women of the time. Their granddaughters will thank us.

And our show of resistance led to the defiance of National Park employees, as well as other federal employees. Watching the rebellion grow was inspiring! It gave me hope like nothing else. The tyrant can sit in his high tower and issue all the decrees he wants, but if nobody follows them, he is nothing but a silly gas bag.

His most odious act so far, choosing to refuse the entry of refugees and others on National Holocaust Remembrance Day (but only from Muslim countries where he doesn’t do business) felt like a directive coming straight from Bannon and the alt-right(Nazis). It felt like a gut punch. And then we, the people, mobilized. The connections we’ve made allowed protests to spontaneously break out across the country in airport after airport. Americans of every color, size, and religious belief, stood side by side in defense of Iraqi translators, visiting relatives, and refugees who had spent two years being vetted, and were finally on the verge of safety.  The ACLU became our voice in the courts and stopped that atrocity for now.

The worst of times have woken us up to rediscover our connection to each other. It’s hammered in the lesson that democracy is not a spectator sport. We can’t just sit back and let politicians handle things. Without any leadership, we are bypassing the parties and finding each other and our power. We are talking. We are formulating plans. We are on the move. We are united. We are one. It is the best of times.

At our march, one speaker acknowledged that we were able to march that day because we stood on the shoulders of those who came before us. We called out their names in remembrance of their sacrifices. Standing there, I realized it was my turn to provide a place for future generations of women to stand. Our shoulders are needed. We have some very dark days ahead. The struggle is hardly won, but we know we will win because as MLK said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it inevitably bends toward justice. There will be losses and casualties ahead, yet I see hope. And rebellions are built on hope.

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