Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016--This Is Depressing

In response to one of my blogs, Dr. S, a good friend who is also the best audiologist on the east coast, issued this warning. All in capital letters--


He went on to tell me about his ongoing frustrations with the outcome of the election. How we should not spend too much time beating ourselves up about not doing enough to forestall the outcome or struggle too hard to "understand" Trump voters. We have fallen into times where things are seen in extremes of black and white and right and wrong. He advocated calling Trump supporters out for being racist, sexist, and even worse.

I responded--
We do live on the 14th floor and have a terrace with a low railing so, heeding your warning (thank you) I read this in a room without a window or exterior door. The same place we go to when there's a tornado warning.    
I do get your point.  
It likely is a dangerous time even if Trump is a closet moderate and will find ways to wiggle out of some of his most outrageous positions. Dangerous in my mind since he is wicking out the worst in some people. 
I leave his "some people" for him to deal with. (Speak about reaping the whirlwind.) But I also have been trying to urge the rest of us to recognize that even people who voted for Trump also represent just "some people." 
I can't think of what to say to those who are as you describe them. They are out there and probably not up for grabs. I mean politically. 
So I've chosen to try to find a few ways to be optimistic and to spend most of my time trying not to get crazy while chiding the people with whom I affiliate--mainly progressives--to get up off the mat (or pot), stop feeling powerless and defeated, and get back in the game. But this time being sure to keep it up, not just do some marching for a few days and some annual check writing and then revert to the too frequent--talking, writing, fulminating.  
There's a war going on for the soul of America and too many on our side are not, I feel, behaving accordingly. Including, in my view, taking the full measure of who's on the other side. I see them as a bit more diverse than I am hearing many of my friends describe.  
To me what makes them dangerous is not that they are identifiable alt-right people (many obviously are) but people with genuine frustrations that deserve attention. People who, for example, have been lied to and manipulated by both parties, are working 2-3 jobs and still falling behind, whose kids have $50K or more in college loan debt, and who fear their children will not have good lives or a chance to live the American Dream. 
So I've been reading Kevin Phillips again (mainly American Theocracy) and the new Thomas Frank book (Listen, Liberal). For me they've figured out a lot of what's been gathering the past 30-40 years. And can serve to help explain what we might do to take back our America. 
I'm getting beat up by some friends for my efforts to urge them and myself to get more sustainably activated, but activated with as deep and nuanced an understanding about what happened as possible, to take note of the antecedents in recent and earlier American history, and also to take a hard, critical look at ourselves since I feel it essential right now not just to understand the Trump people. We need to look within. No more jerking ourselves around thinking that because we have the right views that that's enough.  
Clearly it isn't.  
We lost in very disturbing ways (look at all the swing states Trump won--Pennsylvania to me is most disturbing), look at how shallow the Dem's political bench is, look at the PC responses (see what's going on with the American flag at highly-selective Hampshire college as just one recent example), try to hear the pleas behind some of the right-wing bombast.  
Most important, I have been trying to say, it's essential to be honest about what one believes and how, among other things, one may have been a passive beneficiary of some of the right's regressive policies. How, I confess, I have benefited by the Bush tax cuts and am thereby contributing to the inequality I say I abhor. 
I've been trying to do that and am not entirely happy with what I have been discovering about myself. Another example--I find myself more Islamophobic than I'm comfortable admitting. Sadly, I could go on.
But now I'm ranting when I should be thinking about what to do with still-left-over turkey. 
Hang in there. It could get worse. Likely will. So we need to do some struggling. Including among ourselves. Maybe, starting there. 
Cozy up with a six-pack and watch some football. 
Beyond that, keep off rooftop balconies.
His response--
On occasion, especially during moments of weakness, I have found it easier to see things in black and white.  Two beers, a good night sleep, and I am again seeing the gray.   
I was really feeling like it was the end of the world, between the anti-Semitic picks and now the Secretary of Education . . .  
I realize now it’s going to be OK, eventually.  The New Yorker article, “Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency” by David Remnick also helped.  Liked, “I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world.”  
I’ll keep talking and sending checks to the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center.
At Hampshire College

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