Our Liberal Creed

Recently someone asked me, derisively, what we liberals even believe in. Last night over drinks, my sister and I answered that question:

  • We believe most people have good intentions, no matter what country they were born in.
  • We believe in bootstraps. We also believe no one pulls them up on their own.
  • We believe in faith—in gods, in trees, in the sun…whatever floats your boat.
  • We believe in the scientific method.
  • We believe intelligence is a good thing. We view this as formal education + street smarts + a good amount of reading the newspaper.
  • We believe in the fundamental importance of journalists to a republic.
  • We believe conspiracy theories are conspiracy theories.
  • We believe family tradition is good for stuff like Christmas pajamas, cookie recipes, and Sunday night dinners, but born-and-raised gets you only so far. At some point, you have to step away and decide what you believe on your own.
  • We believe in hard work.
  • We believe “the common man” is all of us, whether you are a white rancher in Montana or a black nurse in Baltimore.
  • We believe Real America includes the coasts.
  • We believe in the dignity of the presidency.
  • We believe people deserve second chances. But not many.
  • We believe in the gray areas.
  • We believe in the 2nd amendment. We also believe no private citizen needs a military-grade weapon and that people who buy guns should be vetted, just like teachers, politicians, and babysitters.
  • We believe in hunting. By this, we do not mean: trapping, using dogs to corner an animal, using a guide to lead you to an animal on a reserve so you can shoot it and hang its head on your wall, sitting in a blind waiting for an animal to cross your path while you drink beer, or anything else that is not hunting.
  • We believe people who work 40 hours a week should be able to feed their children, support an ailing parent, pay their bills, and have something left for popcorn and a movie. If not, then the minimum living wage should be raised.
  • We believe government can’t solve all our problems but it should also be judged by how well it treats its weakest members.
  • We believe sick people should have the medicine that will help them get better, chosen by their doctor based on need and not the insurance companies based on cost.
  • We believe in quality childcare and support for new parents. This includes paid maternity leave that is on par with the rest of the civilized world.
  • We believe college graduates should be able to afford groceries and their student loan bill.
  • We believe the world isn’t always fair, but you change what you can.
  • We believe in helping others. We don’t care if the beggar on the street is lazy or an addict. He is on the street and we are not.
  • We believe in renewable energy. We could power up this whole country using the sun. And it’s just sitting there, free.
  • We believe in the entire Shakespeare quote: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow…thou canst not then be false to any man.” And when you get to the top of the ladder, whatever ladder you’ve climbed, lend a hand to the person below.
  • We believe in contraception and teaching people how to use it. We would love to believe our children will remain abstinent until 25 but that’s not the real world.
  • We believe women should have the choice whether or not they want to become a mother, and whether or not it is safe for them to do so.
  • We believe in life, including the hundreds of thousands of U.S. children waiting to be adopted.
  • We believe love is an emotion that should be celebrated no matter who is doing the loving.
  • We believe in freedom of speech but we also believe that comes with the responsibility to not be an idiot. Or a racist.
  • We believe political correctness is synonymous with kindness.
  • We believe we are connected, irrevocably, to the natural world. As the most intelligent creatures at the top of the food chain, we have a duty to Manage. This. Shit.
  • We believe jails should contain violent offenders and the people-with-more who screw people-with-less on purpose. Everyone else needs either traffic school, rehab, mental health care, or a living wage.
  • We believe our Irish immigrant ancestors, who were spit upon and denied jobs (“No Irish Need Apply”), were just as American as we are today, seven generations later.
  • Finally, we believe in the words of Benjamin Franklin, who, upon exiting the Constitutional Convention, told gathered citizens that the founding fathers had just created a republic, “if you can keep it.” Being an American citizen is a privilege and a responsibility. Don’t complain; do something. Don’t ignore the news; read it. Don’t stay home; vote. Honor America. Keep it.

The Emotional Roller Coaster at Trumpland

Some of you will read this because you want to hate everything I have to say. Some of you will read this because you want to love what I say. Some (a small fraction, unfortunately) will read this because you are curious and want to understand a different point of view.

Some will just be wondering why I write at all. (Who the hell is she?) Boy, I hear you. This compulsion to write has been with me since third grade and I have a very close love/hate relationship with it. Mostly love, rarely hate, often annoyance. My sister smokes (still!) and for me writing is kind of like that, without the disgusting smell.

In the near future, I hope to write about my conversations with others—including those who don’t agree with me, because that’s important. I’m not a “I’ll stay in my corner and you stay in yours” type of person. But this post is not about them.

On election night, I wrote on Facebook: “America gets through things. We congratulate the other side and move on.” Don’t get me wrong; I was devastated. But I’m also pragmatic.

Frankly, I feel like what I’ve gotten from Trump in return is a big “F*** You.”

To recap:

Stephen Bannon: runs an online news site that has little to do with journalism and, as Bannon himself said, serves as the platform for the alt-right movement (read: white supremacy plus a lot of phobias about people who don’t look like them). Trump appointed him chief strategist. He’s the guy who will be leading Trump’s vision on foreign and domestic policy. There’s been some justifying going on (He’s well-educated! Trump appointed mainstream Priebus, too! He’ll unite the Republican party!) All of that, simply put, is bullshit.

Sen. Jeff Sessions: His middle name is Beauregard. Names don’t usually mean much, but I think that adds a nice touch for a man who was deemed too racist to serve as a low-level federal judge. Trump nominated Sen. Sessions for Attorney General, the country’s chief law enforcer. Has his heart changed? I’m not the one to say. I can look only at his record, and that doesn’t look promising: he’s called the Voting Rights Act of 1965—you know, the one that allowed blacks to vote without being taxed or beaten—“intrusive.” Last spring, he said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He voted against a bill that prohibits bringing children to animal fights. He voted against the Violence Against Women Act—that last one is tricky. There were some provisions in the bill that were arguably ineffective.

Senate majority is needed to confirm, so call your senators if you’re so inclined.

Alex Jones: Trump loves nothing if not media attention, and this radio host was a big supporter. Described as a sort of fringe show but with millions of followers, it was important enough that Trump appeared on it during his campaign. And it was important enough that, according to Jones, Trump called him after he won the presidency to thank him for his support. The problem is that Alex Jones thinks, among other extraordinarily ridiculous things, that the mass shooting of children at Sandy Hook Elementary is a conspiracy and a hoax. I’ll just leave it at that.

Twitter: You read a lot about his tweets in the media. How he goes on these tweet storms of anger and acts like a two-year-old. But reading about it is different from reading it first-hand. Let me tell you, it’s cringe-worthy. Reading Trump’s tweets is like watching an episode of The Office. Supremely uncomfortable.

I literally just went on* and here are the three at the top of his feed:

  • The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior
  • The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!
  • Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!

This is our president-elect. And I’m hiding in the corner. But I’m not laughing. I encourage you to go on his Twitter page and see how you feel.

He also regularly re-tweets (sends posts from other people to his own followers, for those reading who might not be sure what a re-tweet is, ie. my dad) fake news that is verifiably inaccurate and takes credit for things he didn’t do. This week’s example: he tweeted he “worked hard” to keep a Ford plant in Kentucky, and that the Ford chairman had just called him to tell him the good news. The problem? The plant never planned to leave.

News flies fast, especially in Trumpland. Fake news and factpinions fly even faster. Who doesn’t like a bright and shiny meme? I know I do. The problem is memes, while appealing to emotional truth, too often don’t tell the actual truth. You know that one with the map of the U.S. showing red and blue voting patterns? Much of the country is awash in red, signifying Republican voters. The problem is it confuses geography with population. America is not land mass; America is people. The miles upon miles of uninhabited land out West don’t vote; people do. A map of voting by district is actually quite colorful.

Truth is complicated, and we have to be willing to find it.

Hate crimes:

This week, I read in my personal Facebook feed about women having their hijabs yanked off their heads; a “No Ni**ers” sign in L.A.; a swastika and “Trump” spray-painted on the wall at a neighborhood park; devil horns and beard markered onto the face of a black boy on a poster outside a store along with the name “Trump”; “Trump That Bitch” bumper stickers and Confederate flags; a swastika scratched into a car driven by “brown people with head scarves” in the parking lot at a Costco; a man in a Milwaukee coffee shop in a white hooded coat embroidered with a noose; and others I can’t even remember. Again, this was in my personal feed (including a few from a larger group I belong to), as opposed to my news feed, which included many more.

If you think these things aren’t happening or don’t matter then you aren’t paying attention.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been keeping track of hate crimes since 1971, collected 701 reports of hate crimes in the seven days after Trump’s election. They are not all verified and the number will drop off, but it is still highly worth noting. Most were anti-immigrant and FORTY PERCENT happened in K-12 or college educational settings.

And our president-elect is tweeting about the cast of Hamilton.

I get that these people do not represent all Trump voters; just as I understand a small group of Trump protesters who smashed windows and burned things do not represent all Trump protesters. But Trump fostered this hate, he ran on it, and now, as president-elect, he has a duty to quell it.

A bully ran a hateful campaign, a bully won, a bully is adding racists to his inner circle. A bully thinks words don’t matter. “It’s just words, folks,” he said, in response to the world finding out he said he could grab p***y whenever he wanted.

So yeah, I’m worried. I think words matter. Of course they do. That’s why good people say, “Do you wanna have sex?” instead of “Shut up and take off your pants.”

And yeah, I’m emotional. My love of country is fierce and I won’t just give it up to a misogynistic, racist bully with thin skin who cares more about his reputation than serving the people. I thought his obsession with his own reputation would actually help those of us who didn’t vote for him, since we’re the majority. Nope. Not so far.

I don’t want this crap to ever be normal. It already is for too many people. I don’t like the road we’re heading down.

Clinton lost four states by a combined total of about 100K votes. I and millions of others will be watching.

Yeah, we’ll calm down. We’ll still get our children ready for school, but we’ll remind them more often to be kind, especially to the victims of bullies.

We’ll still go to the grocery store for milk, but we’ll make a point to smile at those who don’t look like us.

We’ll still post pictures of our dogs on Facebook, but we’ll also post facts and spread truth.

We’ll still call our friends to chat about Fixer Upper, but we’ll also call our senators.

And we’ll still gather to eat, drink, and be merry, but we’ll also gather to organize. We’ll volunteer, we’ll write, we’ll donate.

We progressives might not always agree and we might not yet know how to work with the nation’s top bully, but you can be sure as shit we know how to organize.

*I wrote this at 6am Sunday morning. I’m scared to check Twitter again.