I’m crying …..

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As I write this, I am watching the inauguration. So many emotions washing over me – relief, pride, joy, and hope. Here are my thoughts as the USA experiences this day.

Relief

 

Donald Trump and the cult he empowered were (and remain) a danger to the very foundation of this country. The USA teetered on the brink of neo-Nazi fascism. I am so sorry for anyone who does not have the historical background or intellectual independence to see the similarities between Trumpism and what happened in Germany and Italy in the early 20th century.  Imaging and creating nonexistent dangers (The Jews caused us to lose the war! Communists are everywhere among us! Mexico is sending rapists and murderers to our country!) are simply tactics used by a demagogue to acquire power for their own gain. My dear wife Michelle, with her vast knowledge of human behavior and psychological make-up has repeatedly remarked on the dangers of narcissistic psychopaths. Hitler was certainly one. One of his admirers is Donald Trump. Fortunately for the USA, Trump exists in a different time and place and lacks the personal discipline that Hitler had.

The Trump cult hates diversity, equal opportunity, and anything that allows someone “different” into their private club. The Declaration of Independence and US constitution were meant to engender the opposite.

Amendment 14, Article One of the Constitution:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Declaration of Indepedence states

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

The USA has always been the place that led the way to democratic ways, tolerance, hope in the individual’s ability to improve oneself, and the right to achieve what one has earned. Our place as the leader of those things in the world has been shaken and, perhaps, irretrievably, lost. Maybe that’s a good thing because we can now begin to act as a partner nation with others rather than the country that tells others how to live.  Time will tell. 

Pride

I was overcome with tears at numerous times watching the institutions of this country continuing as leaders across the political spectrum came together to support the inauguration of the 46th president.  All kudos to Mike Pence, G. W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, and others who came to support, not necessarily Biden, but the peaceful transfer of power.

Joy

 

We survived four years of chaos (“Elect a clown, expect a circus”).  I am joyful at the election of someone who understands history, democracy, and the workings of our government. His cabinet picks – yes, everything can be nitpicked – are overwhelmingly qualified, unlike a Secretary of Education who disdained public education or a Secretary of Urban Development who was a medical doctor. Our natural resources might again be protected against commercial interests. Etc., etc. Joy in the restoration of balance.

 

Hope

 

I remain an optimist despite all the terrible things that have happened this past year and in the past four years. I live in a place where rich white people control public offices and policy. But I believe that the time for a minority-controlled government is slowing coming to an end.  I hope for a future where people of color do not fear law enforcement. Where poor people can find support to improve their lives. Where human beings cease to eliminate other forms of life on this planet.

Looking forward to the next four years.

Trying to heal…

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Michelle recently shared with me some Facebook posts and comments from former students and friends that reinforced my instincts to stay away from social media. I am saddened by the closed mindedness and lack of ability to objectively assess information from various sources and seek truth.  A recent poll suggests that there is at least one thing upon which a majority of US citizens agree. Unfortunately, it is not something about which we can be proud:

Republicans and Democrats agree — the country is falling apart.

Worse yet, we are beginning to see what I have long foreseen: The 20th century was the age of the USA as a major power in the world, but as we go further into the 21st century the rest of the world has both caught up to our vision of democracy and become weary of the American penchant for chaos. Countries – both democratic and non-democratic – have filled the power vacuum left by our infighting:

The world is watching in shock and anticipation.

I am not certain of how to proceed, feeling as if I am watching a train wreck occur in slow motion. I do not even know who sees these posts and, if they do, how much it means to them. I recall speaking to a student (a leader of the young Republicans in South Dakota) about climate change and she dismissed the possibility based on the theology of the GOP. My comment to her was, “I hope for your sake that you are right, because I’ll be dead before the really bad stuff happens.”  I worry about these things for my children and yours:

  1. The USA has a record budget deficit created NOT when democrat presidents and congress were in charge but by GOP actions (wars and tax cuts). That bill will come due eventually. Who will pay for it? Not the uber-rich, but you or your children.
  2. The USA is no longer considered a trustworthy ally by any other country because of our penchant to have 180 degree course changes every 4-8 years. That makes us increasingly isolated on the global stage. Just as moderates in our domestic scene are distrusted by both sides, so is the USA now seen by all other countries.
  3. Climate change will create ever-increasing pressures on the rich nations. I won’t even debate the fact that climate change is real. If you don’t believe it, you are living in a confirmation bias world. California will turn into a desert. Coastlines will go underwater. OK, that doesn’t affect South Dakota or Ohio, right?  Wrong! Unless we decide to dissolve the United States, we’re all in this together.
  4. And while we’re on that topic, what responsibility do we – regardless of what your monthly bills are – the richest people on this planet, have to those in, say, Africa, whose countries are turning into wastelands because of OUR carbon emissions?

What a downer of a post!

I have a great life, a great life partner, no reason to be depressed.  I am living my dream life and can simply ignore all of the above, because it is likely none of it will affect me. But to ignore it is to behave like those who embrace the status quo because it it comfortable. Are we OK with comfortable?

This was always going to be the result

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In 2015, I began writing about the dangers of Donald Trump, quoting from William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and citing the dangerous similarities between Hitler’s early political days and Trump’s.  I was dismayed then and continued to be dismayed as I witnessed former students, friends, and relatives ignore the obvious warning signs and vote Republican just because they *had* to vote Republican. Frankly, Trump doesn’t deserve the credit for yesterday. He is an arrogant, self-centered, megalomaniac who doesn’t care about the USA, its citizens (over 300,000 dead), or anything other than himself. Those who voted for him are to blame for this.  I do not have the eloquence that others do and so I simply share some articles here for those who have the intestinal fortitude to read them.

This is what DC looked like when Black Lives Matters protestors came to town.

The most important week since November?

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The holidays, while quiet socially, still left us behind in many things like this blog. I did manage to finish the last (and most complicated) motet for the Isaac project planned by Markus Utz. Michelle has mostly recovered from pneumonia, but is worried that her voice may never be the same, as it retains a raspy nature. I worked extra hours at the store. And we discovered that we have a public dog park near us that allows us to let Loki run with other dogs and take long hikes on leash and so I have been doing that every day I do not work – consuming 2 hours.

Meanwhile, I have monitored the political scene as I always have. I recall posting on Facebook in 2015 warning about Trump’s neo-Nazi proclivities. What he has done since November is nothing short of attempting to overthrow the Constitution of the United States. Anyone who voted for this dangerous individual has to put themselves into the same camp as those who supported Hitler in the early 1930s.

I have not the ability like others to write with eloquence about the Georgia run-offs or the Congressional meeting on Wednesday, but I found this article on Mother Jones to express much of what I feel. Mike Pence represents the epitome of the hypocrites who have supported Trump and this article speaks volumes about him and those like him:

Cry About It, Mike Pence

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll quote some of it, hopefully not out of context.

Mike Pence is in distress. According to the New York Times, the vice president faces a personal and professional dilemma heading into Wednesday’s pro forma counting of the Electoral College vote in the Senate: "One person close to Mr. Pence described Wednesday’s duties as gut-wrenching, saying that he would need to balance the president’s misguided beliefs about government with his own years of preaching deference to the Constitution." “Gut-wrenching?” Oh my God, you poor thing. Is Mike Pence going to be okay? Does he need some Tylenol? A hot bath?

The vice president’s task here is easy: opening envelopes certifying the winner of an election in which one candidate won 74 more electoral votes and 7 million more popular votes than the other. It is an astonishingly straightforward task, like looking at the scoreboard and trying to determine if Alabama beat Notre Dame. There’s nothing especially unusual about this year’s election results, other than the fact that lots of people are pretending there is because the results made them sad.

.... because Trump is both stupid and deeply cynical, he has tried to overturn the election results in a slapstick but persistent fashion—sometimes by trying to stop the counting of votes and sometimes by imploring others to “find” votes and sometimes by trying to throw out whole batches of already-counted votes because they were not cast for him.

Again, anyone who voted for Trump the first time might be excused for believing in his mythic lies about himself – lies that are now obviously undone; the self-made man, the businessman with an ability to manage huge operations successfully. Anyone with any moral compass and a modicum of sense must now see him as a narcissistic megalomaniac whose only focus is himself. Thank God, some GOP personages (besides Mitt Romney) have finally found the personal integrity to say publicly that the emperor has no clothes. Shame on the sycophants and hypocrites that have not.

I hope both democrats in Georgia win. It will take a concerted effort and years to begin to undo the damage that Trump has done to our nation’s reputation, the climate, and simple social decency; and to begin to rebuild faith in our political system. I have stated before that I am a former registered Republican and only registered as Democrat when it became apparent to me that the GOP did not give a rat’s ass about running the country, only about winning the next election so they could maintain the status quo.

I remain a fiscal conservative while advocating for the disenfranchised, recognizing that demographics change, and embracing the diversity and cultural richness that makes the United States unique. The rich white folks need to share. Allow others into the country club.

Peace.