12 reasons why our political situation isn’t as hopeless as you think.

plant

It’s an uphill battle trying to remain upbeat and positive when your country is being decimated by a group of amoral thugs who seem to have limitless power and money to do whatever they want, especially when no one seems to be able or willing to stop them.    It’s even harder to be positive when you are going to be personally affected by their cruel policies, which have the potential to destroy your life or the lives of your loved ones.

Yes, the situation is bad.   It would be dangerous and foolish to deny that.   But as the old cliche goes, there is always a silver lining to every dark cloud, and in the midst of all the evil, there are reasons to feel hopeful that good will triumph and we may emerge from this  stronger than we have ever been.

Here are 12 reasons why it’s okay to feel hopeful.

1.  Robert Mueller knows what he is doing and who he is dealing with.   In spite of GOP efforts to stop or discredit him, Mueller knows ways to throw a monkey wrench into their efforts, and is tenaciously pursuing justice for us all.  Even if the unthinkable should happen and Trump is able to somehow stop Mueller, I can tell you right now that people aren’t going to just lie down and accept it.    I guarantee half of the country will be storming Washington, jamming the phone lines, and showing up in huge numbers to protest against it.   Besides that, firing Mueller now would leave no doubt of his guilt.  It would be a huge problem for Trump, as it was for Nixon.   I realize it’s not 1974 and government is alot more broken than it was then, but I have to believe that it will still work as it’s supposed to, even if it’s not doing it well.

2.  There are a lot more people who oppose Trump and his administration than there are supporters. And that number is increasing.

3.  Trump’s base is eroding, albeit slowly.  Pew just reported that Trump’s approval rating just sunk to 32%.  That’s the lowest it’s ever been.    Hitler’s approval rating was always much higher, even at the height of his power.

4.  George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, and most likely others too, have flipped and are giving Mueller vital inside information that will hasten justice and eventually end this nightmare.

5.  Despite GOP efforts to undermine the free press and honest investigative journalism,  it’s stronger than ever.   Readership of newspapers that stay as close to truthful reporting as they can like The New York Times  and Washington Post have seen record numbers of subscriptions this year and are still rising.   At the same time, Fox News, once the most popular cable news channel, has sunk to third place, behind MSNBC and CNN.  Rachel Maddow’s show is the most popular news show on television.  As long as the free press remains relatively intact, we will not descend into full fascism or totalitarianism.

6.  There is strength in numbers.   There are a lot more of us than there are of them.   Together, we can do a lot of damage. Snowflakes, while fragile and weak on their own, are formidable when they coalesce to form a blizzard.

7.  The Republican Party is self-destructing.  While the Democratic Party may not be in good shape either,  people are leaving the GOP in droves, even people who have voted Republican all their lives.  Among progressives, while there is bickering between Never-Hillary democratic socialists and establishment Democrats, the divisions within various factions of the GOP are much deeper and less likely to mend themselves.

8.  People are more motivated to vote than they have been in decades (conservatives have always voted, so those numbers will not increase).   Don’t forget the recent blue sweep across many states last month, even a red state like Virginia.  Democrat Doug Jones may very well win Alabama, even though that state is deep red and extremely conservative.   He and Moore have been polling very close.   If a state like Alabama can turn blue, that’s a very good sign for us all.

9.  The country is rediscovering its soul and realizing what we have lost under four decades of increasingly right-wing policies.   Trump is both the end result of this and the shadow we have refused to face or denied.   Now we are compelled to face the truth and make necessary changes.   Most of America is finally starting to care about issues that have been increasingly discredited or demonized by Republicans and ignored or dismissed by Democrats.    We are waking up to what’s really important.  In a sense, Trump is actually doing the country a huge service, as long as we do our part and don’t give up and keep resisting.

10.  TIME just gave its Person of the Year award to the women of #MeToo.  Sexual abuse is being exposed and addressed at all levels in a way it never has been before.

11.  History is being made.   If you’re familiar with generational/turning theory, every 80 years or so, the country enters into a Crisis period (the last three were the American Revolution, The Civil War, and The Great Depression/WWII.)  in which America reinvents itself.   America has always come out of these crisis periods stronger and better than it was before.   I have to believe this time is no exception.   This won’t last forever.

12. Related to #10, the Millennial Generation (people born 1982 – 2004) is the most politically progressive generation in modern history.   They can’t be stopped, because there are so many more of them than Gen-X and even Baby Boomers, who are starting to die off.  Most Millennials are politically aware and aren’t allergic to the “s” word.   They realize, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, that capitalism works best when seasoned with a good helping of European-style democratic socialism, as it was from the late 1930s to the early 1970s when we had policies that actually benefited We the People and not just the corporations and the wealthy.   Millennials realize that trickle-up economics (recognizing that jobs are created and the economy thrives when the “little people” are living better), works better than trickle down economics, which has never worked for most Americans.   This is the generation that is beginning to have its effects felt in government and politics and is only going to keep increasing.

Advertisements

The Bernie vs . Hillary wars must stop.

hillarybernie800

Just replace Cruz with Trump in this cartoon.  Stop it. Please!

 

Joy Ann Reid of MSNBC was just talking about the way divisiveness among liberals is keeping us from coming together to fight the Trump administration and take back Congress and the Senate.

She is right.   I’ve seen way too much animosity and hatred between groups of liberals on social media and the comments sections of political articles.

I’ve seen some Bernie Sanders purists who hate the DNC and Hillary Clinton even more than they hate the GOP.  I’ve seen them embrace and spread crackpot conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton that seem  indistinguishable from fake news coming from the alt-right.   Indeed, many of these anti-establishment liberals even voted for Trump as a vote against Clinton (all that mattered to them is he’s anti-establishment too and wants to tear everything down).

I’ve also seen some Clinton supporters bash and vilify people who supported Sanders, blaming their failure to vote last November (or god forbid, even vote for Trump) for Trump winning the election (even though the Electoral College, Russian collusion, fake ads, voter suppression, rich oligarchs, and Fox News probably had a lot more to do with his win than a few disgruntled Hillary-haters).  They have their own crackpot conspiracy theories about Sanders, which I won’t bother repeating here.

Neither group listens to the other point of view or tries to find common ground.    They act no different than Trump’s base, who refuse to listen to reason or facts.

Liberals (and even centrists and never-Trump conservatives) must stop the infighting immediately.    Our democracy is in grave danger and our planet may be on the chopping block too, if there is nuclear war.     I don’t care who you supported or voted for last November — both Bernie and Hillary lost the election.   It matters not one iota now.   The divisiveness among us is undermining our ability to fight back against the real enemy which is the one holding all the cards right now.

We can all agree that things are really bad and Trump is a clear and present danger.    We can all agree this travesty of a presidency must end before something really terrible happens.    So it makes me scratch my head whenever I see people hating on each other over whether Bernie or Hillary was the better candidate.  This is about America’s future — not American Idol!

So please stop it now.  Let’s come together and find common ground, which I suspect there’s a lot more of than our differences.

 

It’s time to stop blaming Trump supporters.

ct-conservatives-liberals-culture-war-perspec--001

Credit: Chicago Tribune

I consider myself progressive politically, but I have a bone to pick with some people on the left.    Unlike the modern GOP and their wealthy backers,  we’re supposed to care about the “little people” — the poor, disenfranchised and otherwise vulnerable.   Understandably, we are angered by the millions of working class red state voters who will be hurt by Trump’s draconian policies and cruel budget but voted for him anyway, because we will all suffer as a result of their ignorance too.      Those of us who aren’t swayed by Fox News and right-wing radio and are able to think critically have a hard time understanding why so many poor and working class whites would vote against their own interests and doggedly continue to support a man who is dead set on taking away the little they have.

I understand the anger.   It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around their ignorance — maybe even their willful ignorance.  But I’m seeing so many comments lately from people who consider themselves progressive, yet who not only blame working class Trump voters for the mess we’re in, but who seem to take pleasure in the prospect of seeing them suffer as a result of their folly.   They say things like, “They deserve to lose their healthcare for voting for a monster,” or “let them taste their own medicine,” or “I’ll laugh in their faces when they lose their healthcare and food stamps.”

It’s natural to be angry and even feel a bit of schadenfreude (even though we’re being hit too), but this attitude seems as heartless as the cruel budget and healthcare bill the GOP has unleashed.    How far a leap is it from “she made her bed, now she should lie in it” to the far-right refrain “if she had made better life choices, she wouldn’t be poor, sick, etc.”    Not much, if you ask me.

The country is deeply divided.  Things that were unthinkable in the past have become our new normal.   Mudslinging, namecalling, and even violence abounds on all sides.  This isn’t a left vs. right, GOP vs. Democrat issue.  It’s an all out war and it’s not normal.  Trump supporters hate “libruls” as much as they hate Muslim immigrants and Black Lives Matter — maybe more so.   They are encouraged at Trump rallies to physically attack and intimidate those who oppose them.   Reporters, in particular, are fair game.   But it’s not just on the Republican side we are seeing aggression and hatred.   Democrats who voted for Hillary hate hardcore Bernie supporters (“Berniebots”) who they blame for helping Trump win by refusing to vote for Hillary.   In turn, Hillary-hating Bernie supporters (in some cases they hate her even more than they hate Trump) blame the neoliberal “corporate shills” of the DNC who foisted such a terrible candidate on the nation.  Some even voted for Trump as a vote against Hillary.    I have seen them talk about violent revolution, even homegrown militias to overthrow the government.   Both the far left and traditional liberal Democrats blame working class Trump voters for what’s coming to them, even reveling in the prospect of seeing them suffer or even die when it happens.

huffpo-trump-die-009-01-800x416

This isn’t an uncommon sentiment on the left.

Like the far right who blame the poor and immigrants for all the nation’s ills, when it’s really social Darwinist policies that target the vulnerable and reward the super-wealthy that are to blame (and create even more poverty in doing so),  some people on the left are just as guilty of blaming the victim.   I’m annoyed and tired of far left ideologues who say, “they made their bed, let them lie in it.”   No one deserves to suffer because they made a mistake — even if they still stick by their mistake.

Granted, some Trump supporters are racist, homophobic, intolerant, full of hate, and admire authoritarian leaders and a “strongman” approach to governing.  Some of them really are terrible people.   But not all of them are.  Most are just ignorant.  They’re not bad people and might even be kind and caring toward others in their daily lives, but they know no better.  Their minds can’t be changed because they have been lied to all their lives and their only point of reference is Fox News and whatever their churches and equally uninformed neighbors and families tell them.  Many lack the education and critical thinking skills to realize they have been misled and lied to.

In Trump, working class red state voters saw an anti-establishment,  colorful character who refused to be politically correct and who shared their their anger at the “liberal corporate elite” — well heeled granola crunching opera-attending types who drive foreign SUVs and seem to care more about Mexicans, Muslims, and blacks more than they care about them, and who look down their noses at their way of life and lack of education.     They heard Trump’s promises of  “healthcare for everybody” and “the Mexicans will pay for the wall” and “we are going to eradicate terror once and for all” and saw someone who would make their lives safer and more prosperous.  Finally, someone who seemed to care more about the white working class (and appealed to their religiosity even though Trump himself doesn’t seem to care much about God) than about immigrants, abortion rights,  and urban gays.

Trump is a swindler and a conman who promised them an easier life and assured them they would not be forgotten.  He played right into their fear and paranoia, and their anger at the corporate elite, who they understandably saw as the enemy.   Without the critical thinking skills or education to know better, how were they supposed to know they were being lied to?  It’s human nature to resolve cognitive dissonance by making excuses for an abuser who blatantly lies to you and is now targeting you.    It’s easier to say, “he doesn’t really mean it” or blame the “fake news” than to say “I was wrong,” especially when you were never trained to think critically about anything or were raised in a subculture that encourages or even celebrates authoritarianism.   Call it willful ignorance if you want, but it’s still ignorance.   As Jesus said in Luke 23: 34, “forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

It’s not fair to place all the blame on the shoulders of ignorant Trump supporters because there were other factors at play in his winning the election.  These voters are a minority of Americans.   Trump did not win the popular vote, just the electoral college vote, but that’s the one that determines the outcome of our national elections.    We had the same problem in the 2000 election of George W. Bush, who also did not win the popular vote.    The electoral college is obsolete, even destructive, and needs to go.   Are Trump supporters to blame for an outdated and unfair system of counting votes?  No, they are not.

poorly_educated

Another factor — and it’s the one most in the news right now — is Russia’s infiltration into the election.   The far right media loves to target all the stories about Russian interference as fake news,  but there’s just too much evidence for anyone with a working brain to not see that Russia had a lot to do with why Trump won.   Are Trump supporters to blame for Russian interference?  No, of course they aren’t.

There’s also the propaganda pushed by right wing media outlets like Fox News.   People who don’t have much money who pay for cable usually will pick the most basic cable package.   Unfortunately, these bare bones packages often don’t include progressive or even centrist news channels.   So the only news they have access to, besides the local news (which is often conservative) is Fox News, which is included in every basic cable package.   Fox’s selling point is “fair and balanced” and Fox News watchers see (now fallen) pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as one of them.    Both O’Reilly and Hannity (as well as Rush Limbaugh from right wing radio) have a blue collar image and seem able to relate to their concerns and lifestyles better than a Rhodes scholar like Rachel Maddow ever could.    Is it working class Trump supporters’ fault that they are never exposed to the facts or more progressive viewpoints?  Is it their fault the left makes no effort to relate to their concerns, and seems to care more about immigrants and people of color (who they see as the enemy) more than them?    Is it their fault that well to do liberals very often blame them for their lot and look down on them as much or even more than Republicans do?  No, it isn’t.

Finally, there are the churches, especially the evangelical or fundamentalist variety so common in red states, especially the South. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention, which is notorious for mixing far right politics into religion, goes as far as warning their parishioners they will displease God if they do not support Trump.   These churches use talking points such as abortion or homosexuality, knowing their followers will vote based on these issues, regardless of where the candidate stands on other issues.  Because they cannot think critically or see the bigger picture, they can’t see that the “pro-life” candidate may actually not be pro-life at all, just pro-birth.   People who can think critically can see how out of touch and easily swayed they are, but to a less-educated person who has been programmed all their lives to believe whatever their pastor tells them and is accustomed to appeals to their primitive emotions rather than their intellect, can we really blame them for supporting he candidate their pastor tells them is “opening the door to Christ’s kingdom?”  Is it their fault they have been brainwashed into believing if they vote for anyone other than Donald Trump, they will make God mad and go to hell?   Again, no, it really isn’t.

It’s time to stop blaming poor and working class Trump supporters and start placing the blame on the real problem:  our broken political system where neither of the major parties addresses the needs and concerns of the average American and thus led to the rise of someone like Trump.