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.