Tuesday, November 15, 2016

But What Can We Do? Do What You Can!

Hi Everybody.  Listen, regular readers know that I comment once in a blue moon about my liberal beliefs. I usually regret doing so-not because I get a lot of flack but because this blog is mainly about retirement, a rich retirement on a fixed income to be precise. Sometimes I fee a greater need, as now. For the record, feel free to comment no matter your beliefs, assuming you can do so without being insulting. I am well aware that some friends, even blogging friends differ on this subject, and I am truly interested in your  perspective over the long term.  Just be kind in the process.

Last week, I got a lot of emails outside the comments. Most of those emails were along the lines of "give him a chance, he's not really that bad", or "we have the constitution and checks and balances for situations like this", or, again "stop whining".  For what it is worth, I actually considered those perspectives for a few days.

Aaaaaand then, our president elect chose the head of the alt-right as his personal advisor. A fellow who has said publicly that "women who use birth control are less attractive", that his organization is really in favor of white supremacy and more. All in print, folks. Please understand that appointments like this leave me both not confident about his ability to lead, and even less confident that he is willing to rule for "all of us". I believe that the man is completely lost, trying to decide which Trump he is, and right now the worst parts are showing.  We need good leadership all around. My problem is that I am not seeing that, and what I am seeing except for one brief word in an interview, has been no attempt to control the hate that has spewed in his name, from defacing black churches onward.  In fact, not only have I seen no denials of violence from him, I have seen it from no Republican leader. So that's my perspective at this very moment.  Again, he's who we've got. But it's our job to make sure that he serves us all-every day.
 
So the question becomes, what can I (we, us) do?  While I am not an expert, I am going to suggest that we all need to be vigilant. We are looking at turning back the clocks, at least on social issues and equality. While I'm pretty sure in the long run the President will be on the wrong side of history, discrimination is a slippery slope in the meantime and easy to ignore if it does not affect us directly. And for the record, I know Republicans who voted for Mr Trump as an up yours response who are also wondering what to do. I also know many Republicans who think that Trump is really a moderate and this is all fear mongering. If that turns out to be true, I will be the absolute first to apologize. So.  These suggestions are not just for the liberals among us but for all those who SAY that they care about everyone, and want to make our country great again.

First of all, I have to say, we all need to talk to each other.  We have become SO much an us and them society. Making a cake for a gay couple means suing someone out of business, or turning a basic disagreement into "religious freedom".  Which of course really means worshiping as you choose, on your own and nothing else, Constitutionally. People who are pro-choice are baby killers whether they would have an abortion or not. The list is much longer. If you are fortunate to have folks who have different perspectives that you can have calm conversations with, please do so. The primary ill with our country has nothing to do with the economy or taxes or immigration in my perspective, it is rather our us vs them society.

Secondly, since I realize that most of my fellow bloggers and readers are of the middle aged white guy (or gal) persuasion, I would say this:  We all need to recognize our white privilege for exactly what it is. I am not saying deny or be ashamed, but do recognize your experiences. Recognize that while you may have been dirt poor, this is still true. Yes, many of our parents suffered discrimination if they immigrated in the early years. Some suffered worse indignities during the war. There were sects and divisions.  But that is not what white privilege is about.

For those unsure about the definition, this is the best essay I have ever seen on white privilege, and how to identify it. If you were ever unsure, I doubt you will be after reading this.

For me, white privilege means that for white heterosexual males, life will go on as it always does, with little adjustments here and there. White women have some privilege, but we are looking at losing a variety of basic rights, from birth control onward. And the rest of the world? Almost every other group in the country  may well experience a different result, a much worse result,  if what we have seen so far is any indication. The question is, are you okay with that?
 
If not, my next suggestion is simply not to be silent. It can be really easy to walk by when we see someone harassed or threatened.  We can tell ourselves it's impolite to say anything when our host spews something hateful about Muslims, especially when we don't have any individuals in our lives.  I would suggest that there are in fact both tactful and necessary ways to make ourselves heard on the important issues. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying include politics in all social activities. I have a knitting group for people of all persuasions and we simply don't talk politics. I am saying that when your supposedly nice neighbor says something that is hateful or incorrect, you find an easy way of saying, "I'm sorry I just can't agree with that"

Third, think about one cause that relates to individual rights, and find one way to stand up for it.  Believe in access to birth control for everyone, even though the pro choice issue doesn't affect you personally?  Simply join a list or Facebook page and keep current so you know what you care about. I care about immigrants, the rights of all genders and while I hope that no woman ever has to make some of my early life choices, I will preserve the right of anyone to make that choice. My energies may be a drop in the bucket, but many energies together is another thing.

Write to your representatives. They do listen, and it does work if done in the correct way (without swearing and ranting). In fact, were I in Texas I would still be voting for my republican congressman because of how he helped me with a personal issue. I may have to write about that story at some point.

If you are insulated (as many of us frankly are) from those populations who are endangered, consider changing that. Find ways to meet people who are radically different from yourself.  I have been blessed to have Muslim friends (my daughter's lifelong best friend) and coworkers, and I have both gays and transgendered folks in my family. If I did not have that, I suspect my perspective would be different. The challenge is to treat people equally even when you don't have that perspective. To put it a different way, Dick Cheney changed his views about gays because he has a gay child. Equality should not depend on personal perspective.

I realize that this would seem to be the opposite of my first suggestion, especially since I enjoy a variety of friends from all walks of life and political views. But, you may need to consider who you hang out with, a least for awhile, depending on your own well being.  When I go to that knitting group, we have plenty to talk about and politics does not come up. However, some of my other social contacts react differently, and I am finding that they and I disagree (in a large way) on almost every topic.  For now, my solution is to come to an agreement of "no politics", but in the long run I have also been evaluating non-family relationships, I have to say.  My sanity requires it.

Last but not least, vote, vote again. Make sure your family votes. Less than twenty five percent of people in the country voted for Mr. Trump. Forty percent of people or more did not vote at all, and many people were denied their voting rights. So vote, and make sure everyone you see and know also votes-even if they disagree with you.

This list was just a few of the things that I plan to do. Your response and what works for you may be entirely different. I have to believe though, that the worse thing any of us can do is go back to our corners, write and vent and come out swinging four years from now. Because honestly, that may be too late.

26 comments:

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  3. Your bog, your rules. I think your suggestions are good and productive ones. I found my self unable to vote for either major candidate. Neither represented me and my views. I plan to be vigilant about defending slurs and belittlement of minorities, religions, etc. And since I am the praying type, I will pray for our country and that our new president takes him time and carefully considers his words at all times.

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    1. Maggie thank you for reminding me about prayer,

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  4. The donald's campaign and election have promoted violence and hatred. I'm scared for my country, for my friends and family who are not white christians, for women, for,well, all of us. I grew up in the same era you did,Barb, and I can't believe what I am seeing, this turning backward of the clock of human decency.I will stand up for those who are oppressed or threatened.Hey, that might even be ME.. my health insurance may be up for grabs! And after that, in 2 years, I was planning on Medicare.. maybe not!!!?? I won't give in to hatred or insults, but I also will not stand back and be silent and give implicit approval to a man I think is not fit to be our leader. Sad sad times in America. #notmypresident

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    1. Madeline, I would love to give this man a chance. Mainly because Ithink that we DO perhaps need a non-politician in our corner, and I thnk that Hilary would have been a greater hawk. my problem is that words matter and even though HE may not really have meant all those things he said, he should have realized...

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  5. I'm not sure I agree with your draconian assessment of Trump and his crowd ... well, I allow for the possibility that you could be right, I just don't think you are, which means I agree that we should all be vigilant. And you said it about white privilege, which I'm reminded about every time I go to our community college and see what many poor disadvantaged people have to deal with just to try to get an education.

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    1. Hi Tom. I would actually love for you to be correct. And in fact I know that the man is pro gay rights for example and even transgendered rights. But unfortunately I believe he is being led by the far right. What I hope actually, is that Paul Ryan can provide some direction and some common sense-in the long run.

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  6. I am vigilant no matter who is in office.
    I think the media has way overblown most of Trump's issues- but that is yet to be seen for sure. At this point I feel that the people who are spreading the majority of hate and fear are the people who are anti the person that the other half of the country just voted in to lead us.
    I think the Democratic party blew it. I would never have voted for someone just because she was my sex. Didn't vote for Palin either. I voted for change in 2008. I voted for change in 2016.
    I vote for those whom I feel will represent my feelings on trade, defense (including NOT being in wars), and health care. I don't think the federal government belongs in education or birth control/abortion.
    Our immigration system has to be fixed- I am tired of employers treating the undocumented poorly. Just fix it! There is hardly a country on the earth that an outsider can walk into and just stay- no work permit, no visa.
    The tax system...what a mess. The banks...crazy.
    I differ may with you on how these things should be treated, but that is part of living in a great republic. The other side was voted in- into all the parts of government not just the Presidency. If they are not good- work to vote them out. At least give them a chance.
    At least help "your side" to stop calling "me"- and Mr Trump- hateful names. It is beneath all of you.
    Thank you for the civil discourse. ~Janette (you asked:) )

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    1. Janette, thank you for responding. I appreciate that we are all different. From my perspective the hate and fear is coming from two places, first the alright (have you actually read up on the man??) and secondly from those young white men who believed trump literally. In other words he may not have meant what he said, but those radical white kids sure did believe him. Its not Democrats who are hunting black citizens or defaming black churches in trump's name. Nor is it democrats who are strangling muslim women trying to tear of a hijab. So while I hope you are right, I would believe it a whole lot more if someone would stay stop more than once, and more than one person. I personally know many Hispanic, Muslim and black friends who are terrified and looking at rearranging their lives. They did not come at that easily, and for no reason. I think Trump will succeed with good advisors. I'm just not sure he has chosen the right ones.

      Thanks, Barb

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    2. "I think Trump will succeed with good advisors. I'm just not sure he has chosen the right ones" and that is the point of giving someone a chance. Neither of us have any idea of how this man will govern. I would have chosen Bernie in a heartbeat- but not Hillary. The days of the status quo are well gone for me.
      Have I read about "this man", yes. Am I holding my breathe and trying not to listen to the pundits who want me to be hysterical, yes. Sometimes it is all about waiting and seeing what actually happens next.
      As for the hate crimes...
      My nephew could not go to work for a few days because of riots- not protests- riots. A man got pulled out of his car and beaten- with the "Trump voter" repeated over and over. A girl was beaten up in high school over being a Trump supporter. It was a white man (paid for by the DNC) who called a black man a N in front of his kids at a rally. I also know my elderly neighbor had his Trump sign written over the top of "hater". Do you think he is comfortable? Remember that it was a Trump office that was fire bombed....
      There is plenty of hate on all sides.
      Hate is stopped when good people stop throwing around names and start working on how to fix it.
      Hysteria fixes nothing. It actually feeds fear. But you know that.

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    3. Hi Janette. I unfortunately am getting a fairly good idea on how he will rule, so we will probably have to disagree. He has given both Steve Bannon (who also thinks there are too many Asian CEOs in the valley), and biggest Islamaphobe I mean the biggest I know of to be his other advisor. He wants to overturn Roe V Wade and force all muslim citizen (not just immigrants and yes, he has said this multiple times) to "register". While I could be surprised, I see no good advisors as of now, and instead a serious turning back of the clocks on rights. I would suggest that waiting until the proverbial hammer hits is foolish-hence my immediate joining of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Action starts now for me, not in January. But I do realize that is me. People don't become fearful for no reason they are fearful of what they have heard for the last year or so. I'm afraid, frankly.

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  7. Regarding your statement - "In other words, recognize that white privilege means that for those of us who are white and heterosexual, life will go on as it always has." I'm very concerned that this isn't necessarily true. Women's issues and health issues may be in danger even if the women are white and heterosexual. I haven't always voted for the candidate who won since I voted in my first presidential election in 1964 but I don't remember being this scared after an election.

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    1. This is a fair point and one I forgot to mention (I personally am past reporductive age but Ihave a daughter who has had to make difficult decisions.

      I think that's what Trump supporters are missing. We are protesting because we are fearful and right now we, and young people especially (since they overwhelmingly did NOT vote for him) are concerned. My trans nephew protests literally every day and I cannot blame him.

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  8. Love it! My daughters and now myself are headed for DC for the million women march although I hear the name is changing. We want to support women!

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    1. Good for you. My body cant take it anymore, lol

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    2. I am going to the march also. It is now called the Women's March on Washington. I will do every and any thing I can to resist him and his vile ways.

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  9. Excellant blog post. You speak for me and what I can't put into words as well as you. Thank you, Barbara!!

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  10. This election was clearly one of a kind. I did not care for either candidates. I was sure Clinton would win until the bitter end. We have a local radio station that discussed the election. What I was hearing was was blue collar Democrats and many women in full support of Trump. These actually were not haters, from what I heard. The majority said they voted for Obama twice. It basically came down to jobs and the economy. I believe they're naive if they believe he's bringing back manufacturing jobs. We live in a very diverse area. When it came to the immigration topic the people they were saying they wanted out are the know drug pushers in the neighborhoods. Not only have deaths from drugs gone through the roof in the last couple of years there's a horrific sex slave industry going on. A judge I know is working trying to get something done for pimps from Central America and the Middle East out. The women get arrested the men come in pay the fine in cash and take them right back out to the streets. This isn't just a Republican or Democrat problem. I worked for years in social services. The corruption is overwhelming. We live in a PC society. We no longer use buzz words with the intent not to offend people. I feel the term White Privilage needs to change to something that comes off less accusatory. On a local level I do my best to be respectful, kind and donate to the church we drive to attend that is in the poorest section of the city. Through our donation the neighborhood children attend a wonderful safe school and gain a terrific education. I will admit I'm not happy our health insurance increased $1,000 a month. We aren't rich people. We live in a two bedroom home and I drive a 14 year old car. And no one here cares about who's gay. We've hosted a large gay parade here without and one making any kind of trouble or complaint.

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    1. For what it is worth I do not think that all trump supporters are haters, obviously. My point is that they elected him knowing that he was one, or purported to be, and now you have piles of folks committing hate crime in his name-most of who are disaffected young men. My perspective is that words count, and when he said those words he knew what would happen.

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  11. Sorry I'm going on and on. I did want to add I was never a Trump supporter. Also, I don't believe Clinton didn't get the election because she's a woman. If people are chalking it up to that they're really missing the point. I notice it's women that come live a very nice lifestyle that are of that opinion. Ironically, repeating a famous line.....it's the economy stupid.

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  12. I want to preserve our free and independent press. I don't want to wake up in four years to find the only newspaper left is the National Enquirer! I'm trying to reconfigure my budget to add a digital subscription the New York Times which seems to be under particular attack from the new administration.
    I'm also looking at propublica.org which was recommended by John Oliver on his latest show. It is an independent, non-profit newsroom that specializes in investigative reporting. They won Pulitzers in 2010 and 2011. I never heard of them before so I think I will read their feed for a few weeks and see what I think.
    Joan in Michigan

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    1. Havent watched that last episode yet, but I will check them out.

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  13. Someone recently said (and I wish I could remember who), if you are privileged, then equality feels like oppression. What troubles me is that women and minorities in our country have worked under the same economic conditions for generations, from the founding of our country, that the newly-labeled WWC (white working class) are experiencing, and that are being harped on, but until it began to affect white people it was not a concern. When I hear people say Americans are suffering, they really mean white Americans. Blacks, latinos, Asians and other minorities have been suffering under these economic conditions for ages, and it was no big deal.

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  14. It's plain and simple to me.The donald is showing us his agenda in the men he is choosing for his cabinet.Could his intentions be any more clear? And those who voted for him "in spite of" his hate-mongering and divisive behavior have given this to America.I am still stunned. Our clock has been turned back in history, and I believe he is a dangerous man to have in our White House. "Give him a chance?" Well, those who voted for him despite his despicable behavior and his racism, misogyny, and xenophobia (that's a LOT to overlook!!!!!!) have already done that . I would not be in that group.

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  15. Barbara, thank you so much for expressing your views. I am totally in agreement. I believe each and every one of us needs to be vigilant and speak out. And, Madeline Kaslan, I agree with you 100 percent. Nearly two weeks later, I remain stunned. I also believe the Electoral College needs to be "shut down." After all, Secretary Clinton is currently more than 1.7 million votes ahead of the president-elect in the popular vote. That doesn't feel like democracy to me. I am fortunate to have Senator Elizabeth Warren as an elected official in my state. She will undoubtedly do her best to "monitor" him.

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