The Election Changes Everything (Most of All You)

Day 5 since Election Day. The body shaking lessens, but does not stop. There are moments each day when I can put out of my mind what just happened, but not most.

I shed tears at various moments during my son’s Bar Mitzvah yesterday, but only half of them were in reverence and awe of him and the beautiful tradition. The other half of those tears flowed because I could not reconcile the standard prayers (hope, love, peace, helping the sick, stopping oppression, embracing differences) with what our country just did: elect Donald Trump as our future president of the United States.

Every parent knows that parenting means growing your child from both the inside (good food, good morals, good information) and the outside (good role models, safe home/schools/community, and healthy environment). So every parental instinct is offended at a Trump election, which has already uncorked the stopper of hatred in otherwise safe and stable neighborhoods. On Halloween a swastika was displayed in our neighborhood. Post election someone displayed a “white kids only” sign on a bathroom door in a nearby town. And I live in a state that voted for Hillary. Bigotry. It is hard to put that genie back in the bottle, and even harder when its instigator and champion was just voted into office.

Trump has also announced his desire to decrease funding for environmental regulation, which signals more difficulty to come in raising our children, and our children’s children,  in healthy environments.

As to providing good role models for our children…Trump has repeatedly and unabashedly lied, cheated, bullied, sexually harassed, and otherwise dangerously misled the American people (weakening the Obama Presidency with the racially provocative birther lie for years, calling Hillary Clinton a crook without evidence and despite a lack of indictment or lawsuit, while he has an unbelieveable amount of litigation pending against him, declaring that American elections are rigged and mainstream media biased).

Had Trump been a major league baseball player, merely one instance of these many transgressions would have caused him suspension, a fine, or perhaps cost his job. But our country just rewarded him with the presidency. Had he been Hillary Clinton we would have hung her by now in torchlight, after the public dunking to conclude the Republican-Led Witch Hunt, (coming up short, thus leading to request for emails) the state-sponsored political persecution of Hillary Clinton in which the media was complicit and on which Trump capitalized.

Some people say we should just wait and see, he might moderate his approach in office. I am here to tell you he has already changed everything!

The rules of American politics have just changed. And Americans are the losers. People have always tolerated a certain amount of factual sidestepping in politics, but they don’t like a lot of it, and they don’t appreciate bold face lies. Like when Bill Clinton said “there is no sexual relationship” (a lie to protect his own skin prompted by a non-meritorious personal lawsuit against him). Like when George W. Bush concocted and convinced us of the lie that there was evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (a lie which eroded our moral authority in the world, propelled us into a decade long war, lost thousands of American lives, caused a hundred thousand other deaths and injuries in the Muslim world thus spawning stronger enemies in the shape of ISIS/ISIL/IS, removed a check on Iranian threat to the region, and increased our national debt to levels that cripple our economic growth now and in the future).  Americans don’t like this kind of thing once we realize we have been boldly lied to. It is part of why voters did not want to support a mainstream Republican candidate or Bill Clinton’s wife (guilt by association).

In this political contest, Trump, who was by far (very far) the more egregious liar, wins the day. Trump, who was a master manipulator clothed as a whiny school boy, won the day, rather than Hillary Clinton who preserved a modicum of professional and political decency in her response to his unprecedented behavior. But it was too late. He, and the Republican army before him, had already effectively penned her in. Who would believe her when she said he was lying, since she had already been brandished the liar? Because she had been tarnished as untrustworthy, she could not talk herself out of it, could not talk her way back into our good graces. Who would have believed mainstream media when he has labeled them as liars too?

Republicans have perfected the art of the Big Lie (telling the very opposite of the truth loudly and frequently, or accusing their opponent of their own crimes in order to inoculate themselves) and it paid off Big Time. And there is a word for this: Propaganda. And it leads to a democracy who no longer has correct information to help them vote for what they intend.

The change in rules for political contests are tantamount to when the rules of warfare itself changed from organized combat to jungle warfare. Very messy. Very hard to predict harm and control consequences. And because they have proved beneficial to Trump and the Republicans for these many years now…they are not going away. They have double downed on them.

You know this intuitively, that everything changed. It is why your stomach ached on November 9. It is why you  still shake a little bit sometimes. Your mind cannot fully believe it yet, but your spirit and body knows you–and everything you stand for, everything you thought our great country stood for–were just assaulted.

You also know in your heart that it means you have to stand up and do something about it. You are no longer a mere spectator in this democracy while working hard to feed and clothe  your family.  The political issues are no longer abstract, distant, or even complex. Trump made this personal. He attacked you, your wife, your neighbors, your employees, and possibly your honored ancestors, by his hate speeches. And he was elected for it, or despite it. This is personal. And no one talks to us like that and gets aways with it. You understand?

Wishing it away is not sufficient. These people play a long game.

Today my family will sit down to form a plan, just like you might form a household evacuation plan, a natural disaster plan, a college savings plan, or plan who will take care of a sick loved one. Our plan today will start with how to respond to bigotry wherever and whenever we encounter it, whether it be school, work , government officials, or media. We will build our plans from there to include more proactive steps to change political leadership in Congress and the White House, to limit their scope of power and influence.

I invite you to tell me what your plans are. And as the days and months proceed, I will post here any ideas we all have that help us to each take steps. Each of us can only take small steps while we work hard on other things. So think of it as one small step for man, but one giant step for mankind. We can do this together. I will post something every week if not more frequently. Let’s see what we can do.

 

 

Trump’s Taxes, Clinton’s Emails, and the Real Culprit

The issues related to Donald Trump’s taxes and Hillary Clinton’s emails are real and revealing all on their own without imagining criminal intent or rule-breaking that is not otherwise evident. But in a social-political climate that fans the flames of fear, we Americans let our considerable imaginations run wild, assuming the worst. The fact of the matter is that each of them acted in a manner supported by their respective settings/businesses, and we are the real culprits for presuming more guilt than really exists instead of focusing on what the known facts actually tell us.

It is a fact that as of October 2, 2016, Donald Trump has not released his taxes.  It is not legally required that he do so, but it has become a modern-day norm since the 1970’s for presidential nominees to do so. In fact, Trump advised Mitt Romney to release his taxes in 2012We are wrong to assume that these facts reveal an attempt by Trump to cover up criminal activity or shady business deals/partners. We can however assume that Trump holds himself to a different standard than his peers; a troubling ethical question, which has been underscored by his own conduct throughout this campaign. 

Meanwhile, the New York Times asserts that Trump may not have paid taxes for many years following an alleged 1995 tax filing of potentially 900+ million dollar loss, casting doubt on Trump’s business acumen. This does not reveal anything new or surprising. Tax codes make it fairly easy and even common for extremely wealthy individuals to avoid taxes. At the end of the day these facts merely reveal that Trump is probably just who he says he is: a rich man (albeit one who has filed multiple bankruptcies). If you do not like it, then vote for tax reform that does not favor the super rich.

As to Hillary Clinton, an extensive investigation was initiated following concerns about Benghazi, which falsely presumed misdoing and cover-up due to conflicting reports of the likely attackers in the first 13 hours after the attack. Meanwhile, her use of a personal email account at the Department of State came into question and the resulting FBI report, which reviewed roughly 40,000 emails, finds no criminal activity or intent, but rather reveals that personal emails were used by staff for expediency as a matter of “business as usual” in the Department of State, dating back even to Colin Powell’s personal AOL account. Apparently this was due to antiquated systems and classifications, and the need for real-time communications to be effective in their work. 

The real and troubling issue related to Hillary Clinton and email practices in the Department of State is that she evidently did not have technical savvy and did not provide the kind of modern, visionary leadership one would hope for in that regard. Wouldn’t it have been better if, upon entering the Department of State, she used her position to question and strengthen internal security practices, rather than negotiate a comfortable method for juggling her non-classified email communications? 

People say it comes down to trust. I trust them each to be exactly who they are. The question is, which one is most likely to have learned from their past such that they can become a better leader in future? Trump makes no apology and still dances on the question of releasing his taxes. Meanwhile Clinton says, “I am sorry and would not do that again.” For this factual reason alone, “I’m with her” on this one.