I’ve Been Away but Not That Far Away

(My postings on political topics are not an invitation to debate in the comments sections. If you yell at me online, I’ll just delete the comment. If you’d like to have a conversation about any of my ideas, I’m pretty easy to find. Let’s do it in person. I’ll even buy the first cup of coffee. We’ll get along famously in person. And in return, I promise not to yell at you online, too. Deal?)

I thought I’d be posting once a week—it seemed like a pretty modest goal to uphold in reaction to the election results. A lot of people felt sparked to action and I was one of those people and yet just a few weeks in, I found myself with very little to say. Or very little to report in regards to my own action. It’s a pretty paltry effort on my part, but truthfully, anything that I might be moved to write is being written better and more eloquently in many different places, so mostly I’ve been reading. I’ve been maintaining a daily dose of news from actual news sources—Times, Globe, Post, ProPublica, etc. You can see my list of news sources in earlier posts. I’ve been slowly reading John Lewis’s memoir Walking in the Wind. I’ve decided that if I’m going to use the word fascism that I should know more about the word and its origins, so I’ve picked up a book about the origins of the classic Fascist states of Europe (Fascists by Michael Mann).

A lot of what I’ve seen the news has been about placing blame for the failures of the Democrats and/or liberals to understand their opponents. There seems to be a great deal of ink spilled about liberals just “not getting” what those conservative voters are feeling. And perhaps there is a truth to some of that writing, but I’m still not sure what it supposedly is that I’m not “getting.”

I know that man-made climate change is real. It’s not a debatable question. Science is not a liberal conspiracy. What am I not “getting” there that a good chunk conservative America would like me to see? Don’t use the old flat-earth argument. “People used to believe the world was flat…they were proved wrong. Science is bogus, yada, yada…” Yeah, that’s a myth. We’ve known the Earth is round for a long time. And if that’s not enough, it’s an apples and oranges logical fallacy. How can we bridge the gap here?

A Trump presidency can’t be Normalized. There are a lot of people writing about this. That was my stance the day after the election and it remains so now. I don’t feel it’s up to me to explain to everyone who wants to argue this topic. I have enough stuff I want to learn myself. I’m googling stuff all the time! There’s nothing normal about his transition team or the transition process and we shouldn’t allow his term to be normalized in any way. Even at the most basic levels—the nuts and bolts of running the country—his term will be a far cry from normal. He’s not a non-conformist throwing a hammer at a big-brother screen. He’s a foul-tempered narcissist with a nuclear arsenal. This, I suppose, is my elitism on parade.

Our country’s racist past and present (and most likely, it’s future)? How can that be a debatable point? Simply look at an online comments section on any article that mentions Barack or Michelle Obama. You’ll find abundant proof that racism is alive and well. It’s not up for debate. There’s real hard proof in the news everyday. Recently: Carl Paladino, Trump’s NY Campaign Co-chair, said that Michelle Obama could now “go back to being a man and living in Africa with the gorillas.” (Here’s a link to the article from a reliable news source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/nyregion/carl-paladino-trump-ally-wishes-obama-dead-and-aims-racial-insults-at-michelle-obama.html?_r=0) Of course, he said it wasn’t a racist statement, but saying an apple isn’t an apple doesn’t cause it to cease being an apple. It’s the old adage: If it walks, swims, quacks, and craps like a duck, then it’s a duck.

Women’s rights?

Immigrant rights?

Minority rights?

LGTBQ rights?

Inalienable rights?

My convictions in those areas are not debatable “feelings.” I’m not afraid of the word progressive in this regard. If understanding the electorate who pushed Trump into office means giving ground on any of those things, then I guess I won’t understand them.

The big things that I’m less sure of are anything dealing with the economy or international affairs. I simply don’t know enough to debate on those subjects. I have a lot to learn. But I trust unions over companies; small businesses over pseudo-American conglomerates; peaceful or diplomatic solutions to world problems over hawkish rhetoric and war; the rich paying their fair share of taxes; and other such things that I guess put me in the elitist camp. I still have a lot to learn.

As for action, I’m proud to be supporting my daughter’s trip to DC for the Million Woman march. She’s taking a Rally Bus down from NH for the day. I’m so proud that she wants to be involved. I love that she’s standing up for the things she believes in putting those beliefs into action. She’s a kick-ass young woman and a great power of example to me. That’s all for now.

Entering, Exiting

He stood with his sister against the wall. He’d come all this way but it hadn’t helped. Now it was dawn, hot and bright. Steam rose up from the asphalt, thick as mist. Once, their father had taken them to a place called the Flume. He couldn’t remember where it was. It was a long hike up a cold trail and they couldn’t see more than twenty or thirty feet in any direction. The sound of water came from all around: rushing, streaming, pouring, dripping, plopping. They walked up through the center of a canyon to a place where a giant rock was supposed to have once rested in between the two opposing walls. One day, their father told them, a storm came that brought so much water down the canyon that the boulder—as big as three school buses end to end—had been washed away. He’d said it with an air of awe, whispered it so that they had to lean in close to him, like he was telling them about the birth of a god. They never found the boulder, their father said. Some people think it broke up into a thousand smaller stones, but I think it fell into a different canyon all together and is waiting for someone to rediscover it. When their father was little, his own father had taken him to the site of the St. Francis Dam disaster. They climbed the walls of the San Francisquito Canyon searching for pieces of concrete left after twelve billion gallons of water broke free and raced to the ocean. Some witnesses described the water as a wall, but while he was climbing through the canyon, it had been impossible to imagine anything so tall, so quick, and so deadly. The air that day had been dry and the landscape baked a deep golden brown. Think of all the stone and brick and mud and straw and wood and pitch and steal and mortar and gypsum and horsehair plaster that have been used in service of the wall. And inside: the lathe, the insulation, the bones, the dust, the dead insects curled into their exoskeleton, the acorns, the artifacts, the newspapers and spoons and shoes and jewelry and toys. The joint compound, the primer, the paint, the pictures, the frames, the photos, the black-light posters, the tapestries, the windows. The doors! Think of all the doors! He’d gone through how many doorways in his life? Fifty doorways each day? A hundred? How many steps? He loved his sister, certainly, that’s why he was here. He had cried for her, worked for her freedom. And yet still they are doomed. He considered each doorway. The men had not even offered his sister or himself a final request. Would he have asked for a cigarette? He’d not smoked in fifteen years. Their hands were behind their backs, pressed into the wall. He longed to hold his sister’s hand. He thought about entering and exiting. His sister’s breathing was calm. Like her, he had declined a blindfold. Whatever came, they’d see it coming.