Thursday, December 22, 2016

Outgrowing our Pants

I must preface this post by telling you that I am an old radical from the 60s.  I marched, protested, was gassed, bailed out friends who were arrested, and more. I attended a hotbed college in the heart of Washington DC.  I had friends in the Weathermen.  I knew Black Panthers.  I was against the draft and the war in Vietnam.  I was for civil rights. I was a feminist in the Mad Men days.

We once fought about the peace sign.
Some called it a broken cross and
disrespectful to Christians.  
I will also tell you that after the 60s I became a wife and mother. I got a job.  I got a divorce. I was a single mother raising two daughters.  I belonged to churches, baked cookies, and attended school plays. In short, I lived a more or less regular life. I was still a feminist.

Now, I am old. I spent my professional career observing and writing about things.  I cannot seem to stop.  So, this is what I observe now.

The election of trump (lower case intentional) is destined to bring out the best and the worst in us.  I’m not talking here about how he has lined his cabinet with white nationalists (aka racists) or how the repugs in Congress seem blind to the danger this man poses to our country.  No.  I am talking about the women who oppose all this.

A couple weeks before the election, a friend added me to Pantsuit Nation, a FaceBook group started to encourage women to show solidarity on election day by wearing pantsuits – a nod to our candidate. What fun! I thought.  After the election results, I was pleased to see this group morph quickly into one that mobilized to preserve women’s rights.  Still, I knew what was coming.

And here it is.  FaceBook is exploding with rival factions within the many groups that are either subgroups of Pantsuit Nation or splinter groups.  I knew this would happen.  It always does.  It’s not just with groups of women, it is with all groups.  It is the very reason that up until the election I have resisted joining any group.  I gave up church long ago (those split, too, BTW).  I don’t even do book clubs.  Essentially, I hate the whole group thing.  I am at heart an individualist, independent to my core.  I struggled as a student and as a parent of students to conform to the educational groups.  I was lousy at the whole religion thing.  Even my radical college split because some people were judged not radical enough.
I say all this to share my perspective.  This shit happens. It almost makes no difference if it is about a book deal or difference in philosophy. If it is not treason or a felony, I'm too old to waste my limited energy swatting at flies while I battle the dragon. Even that statement is inflammatory, I know. Do what you will with it. I saw this coming and joined anyway.  And this time, I’m staying.  I belong to a number of these groups.  I will never agree with all of them, especially not all the time.  But I will work my ass off and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone, man or woman, black or white, willing to go up against the rising tide of American fascism.  There will be pettiness.  There will be backbiting.  There will be self-serving and breast-beating.

I don’t care. There.  I said it.  You can look down your well-powdered, middleclass, white nose at my poverty and ask why I didn’t save more.  You can point your black chin at me and accuse me of enjoying my white privilege. You can pray for me or condemn me to hell for being an atheist. I don’t care. I am not out to change anyone or seek anyone’s approval.  I am here simply to work. You don’t have to agree with me at every point and I don’t have to share your exact viewpoint.  But we do have to work together, or if not together, at least against our common enemy, instead of against each other. 

The fact is, I like the energy and passion I see. I haven’t seen this for decades. Once I sat in smoky rooms debating such philosophy and strategy. Passion is bound to spill over into hurt and anger a bit.  Be passionate!  If you are sick of people not talking frankly about race, by all means, talk about race. Force the issue.  If you see someone taking advantage of our movement, speak up.  Just please, keep your focus on the reason we are here.  We stand to lose our reproductive rights, our voting rights, our civil rights. These are the very rights for which we fought in the 50s and 60s and 70s.  We want to block alignment with those behind the atrocities in Aleppo and at Standing Rock.  We want to be on the right side of history and not lose sight of the goal while working out the details.

This isn’t about pantsuits, or safety pins, or which group is pure.
 This is about our lives, our children’s and grandchildren’s lives.  This is about the preservation of our country.  This is about moving forward, not back.  So, bicker all you like. I'm no one's apologist and I’m not going anywhere.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Case for the Electoral College Stopping Trump

United States Constitution: Article 2, Section 1:
“Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress: but no senator or representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.”
In their wisdom, our Founding Fathers eschewed a full democracy for a democratic republic form of government.  In their minds, the tyranny of the majority was as much a danger to our young country as was a monarchy.  Also in their minds was the fear that slaves might impact the vote. So, they devised the Electoral College, a system by which a few men from each state could reflect – or override – the popular vote, state by state. The system intentionally gave more power to some areas of the country. In the country’s entire history, it has never once used its power to set aside the selection of a candidate for president. 

These are the reasons it should do so now.

The Electoral College is not a rubber stamp.  It was given its own deliberative and voting powers. The reason newscasters can predict the outcome of an election within hours of the polls closing is simple calculations, based on the needed 270 votes and where they are located. It must be kept in mind that the Electoral College has not yet cast their votes. There is a provision in the Constitution that allows for what is called “a faithless elector.”  Electors may, by law, vote against the selection their state has made. Obviously, this was not encouraged, nor expected, but it was precisely allowed. 

The current President-elect is a uniquely unqualified candidate.  Not only does he not have the experience to govern, he does not have the temperament to deal effectively with either world leaders or his own people.  Even his self-proclaimed business acumen is suspect due to his lack of transparency and multiple bankruptcies.  His cabinet appointments have shown either his inability to run the government or his desire to dismantle it.  His petulant attitude toward criticism of any sort makes him a danger to those he would rule.  At best, he is a thin-skinned, inept authoritarian who will use the office for his personal benefit.  At worse, he is a puppet and will do irreparable harm to the country.

The President-elect’s ties to Russia are chilling.  There is no nuance, no diplomacy in his approach to this long-time adversary of the United States.  Instead, he has appointed a Secretary of State who is so close to the Kremlin that he has received a medal from Putin’s own hand.  Worse, US intelligence agencies have found actual proof that Russia actively interfered with the election, likely on Trump’s behalf.  As Trump has not released his tax returns, there is no way to see connections there, but this lack of transparency itself is also worrisome. Clearly what we see is not all we are getting.

Even setting Russia aside, the President-elect’s approach to foreign policy is clumsy, juvenile, and potential damaging, not just to the US, but to the world. His reluctance to sit still long enough for a daily intelligence briefing is troubling but his attitude that he does not need them because he is so “smart” is the kind of hubris that causes war.  Challenging foreign powers on Twitter is even more inappropriate than the social media bullying for which he is so well known.  This is not a man who should be anywhere near the nuclear codes.

Finally, there is the popular vote.  Yes, other Presidents have taken office not having won the popular vote.  However, never has one lost the popular vote so spectacularly as has Trump.  With a divide of nearly three million votes, it is clear that the American people do not want this man as President.  Whether it is his hubris, his sexism, his racism, his petulance, or his lack of qualifications, the people have spoken. His election so far has been based on economic anger and the lies he told to inflame it. That he will do nothing to alleviate the pain of those who voted for him, and will, in fact, increase economic hardship by enabling the dismantling of health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and more, makes Trump a fraud. 

The Electoral College was made for exactly this situation.  We have an assumed President-elect whose election was influenced by an enemy nation, who failed by millions of votes to win the hearts and minds of the American people, yet who claims a mandate; who has shown an unwillingness to do the actual work of the Presidency, and in fact, intends to maintain both his business and television empires concurrent with his term; who has acted inappropriately not only personally, but also on the foreign stage before even having the authority to do so; and who has shown either ignorance of, or clear disdain for our Constitution.

If the Electoral College does not use its legal power to keep this man from the highest office, it has abdicated its responsibilities and shown itself to be ineffective and archaic.  If, however, it rises to the occasion, it will cement its place in our government and prove the wisdom of its founders.  Such action will, of course, require courage, but it will also go down in history as a peaceful act that may well save the most powerful nation the world has ever seen from its own demise. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

It’s been a month.  The shock of the election has worn off.  The terrible reality is sinking in.

We have elected a man who does not know what he is doing.  He, in turn, has appointed ghastly advisors and cabinet members: unabashed racists, rabid war mongers, unqualified cronies.  In his arrogance, he has refused daily security briefings.  His conflicts of interest have already begun to undermine our national stability and his bull-in-a-China-shop efforts at foreign policy may well break the world.

His cries that the election was rigged – despite his selection –  has not stopped him from trying to prevent a recount in crucial states.  There is evidence that Russia did, in fact, intervene in the election process - as he requested.  He is petulant, whiny, and without grace.

Perhaps the most frightening prospect of his presidency is the fate of truth.  His surrogates have declared it irrelevant, and he certainly has ignored it, preferring an expeditious lie over facts at every turn.

Truth matters.  Truth does not have a liberal bias, as claimed by the righteous right.  It has no bias at all.  It is simply the truth. That the Constitution is the law of the land is the truth.  That it clearly states a separation of church and state is the truth.  That it explicitly provides for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press is simply fact. That none of this matters to the incoming administration is also fact.
Why it matters not to those who voted for him is beyond comprehension.  Don’t talk to me about the economically disenchanted middle-class angry white voter.  I lost my job in the Bush Recession and never recovered. I lost my salary, my healthcare, my savings, and my retirement, but I did not lose my mind!  Vague promises that invite personal interpretation will never make America great.  A consistent policy, based on our laws and rooted in the truth, is what has made America great. 

If we can get rid of this mistake we can, indeed, be great again.