The Downfall and the Fourth Estate

The stunningly stupid have formed into a sustained mob to destroy all of the pillars of our nation, including the fourth estate, the Press. I will admit, there are days I find much of our current media to be less than ethical, less than unbiased, in fact, at times extraordinarily biased. I frequently hope there would be some sign of solidarity, common sense, and reverence for what a free press means to a free society. I look for it, for just a glimmer, but these days, there is rarely even a flicker of it in the eyes of either elected officials or the common man.

Looking at the problem pragmatically is the only way to get to the root cause. The polarization and demonization of the Press have been in the works for decades. Since the days of Reagan and the rise of Cable radio and television, the US public has been inundated with partisan stations that make no bones about their affiliations. Many point to the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 by the FCC; however, the Doctrine only regulated terrestrial stations, not cable. One distinction between these, viewers had to pay for cable, whereas terrestrial stations were free. It should be noted, in 1987, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate passed the Fairness in Broadcasting Act, which would have enshrined the Fairness Doctrine in law and covered cable as well as terrestrial television and radio. Ronald Regan vetoed the Bill.

What is surprising to me, how easily those who may have started out wanting to be journalists fell into the trap of being spokespersons for one side or the other. Every day they sit in front of a camera and blather on with opinions and half-truths, feeding their audience what they want to hear and further polarizing the nation. I am reminded how far we have fallen as I listened to the names of the dead of 9/11 being read by their survivors. I am considering the difference of the nation in the days following that horrific day in 2001 and today; they are numerous and seemingly insurmountable at times.

On September 11,2001, President George Bush (R) was in Florida reading with second graders when Flight 11 hit the North Tower at 8:46am; four minutes later, his Chief of Staff Andy Carr informed him of what he then believed was a tragic accident. At 9:03am, Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. Andy Carr advises the President that America is under attack within two minutes. At 9:30am, the President gives the first of many addresses to the nation in which he says, “terrorism against our nation will not stand.”

Yet, it does stand. In fact, it flourishes, driven on by media mistruth, misdirection, and outright lies.

The story of 9/11 is important because what American’s did after was come together. We came together behind the President, who gained his office under less than ‘perfect’ circumstances. We came together to mourn. We came together across racial, faith, and political lines. Imperfectly at times, our President had to remind us of our humanity, had to personally visit a Mosque and say these too are Americans. But the fact is, we came together as Americans.

Now twenty years later, look where we are, look at what we have become. As a nation, we are incapable of fighting a pandemic. We would rather see our neighbors die than take a vaccine. We would rather put our children at risk than follow science and wear a mask. We allow, even celebrate, a media that has so polarized us that we continue to tune in rabidly despite knowing they tell half-truths and outright lies.

Those we elect to high office tell blatant lies about the election, the pandemic, and everything in between on ‘News’ shows watched by millions. Yet, both the public and the media refuse to call them out. We listen as the media on one side of the aisle call police officers, who were beaten and abused during an insurrection, actors, and liars. We laugh; we repeat the lie despite the pictures of that day. On both sides of the aisle, the media continue to give hours of air and print time to the loser of the election, rather than call him what he is and his lies what they are.

Instead of sober coverage of world and national events, we watch as every media outlet beats their own drum to stir their base further into fury. Is it any wonder we are a nation divided? Whether it is the Big Election Lie, Covid-19, Vaccines, or the end of the war in Afghanistan, there is a common thread. The media is spinning at top speed 24 hours a day to keep their audience in a constant state of rage and ignorance. Whether Left or Right, whether only a slight lean or extreme, they all have one thing in common, the news is not what is on the menu. It is the spin and how to keep the entire nation uniformed, enraged, and polarized.

Worse still, we fall for it. As a people, we draw further apart and become angrier, our fury spilling over onto family, friends, and strangers. We give no quarter, creating an entirely new cultural phenomenon to account for our need to enforce the new wokeness. On both sides of the aisle, the media works hand-in-hand with those who, without facts, demand the destruction of others based only on their hurt feelings. Someone didn’t move fast enough, someone didn’t ‘recognize’, someone didn’t do or say something. Or frankly, someone is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong opinion. It is no longer enough to mind your business and stay out of the way; your opinion must mesh perfectly. You must agree or be labeled, and the labels are many and terrible. You must abjure family, friends, lovers, and others simply for their failure to be in the right group, play on the right team, or by all that is holy, you must be … pick your poison.

The old news room

The protected Free Press is right there dragging themselves and everyone else into the mud, covering themselves in the glory of self-destruction and a nation with them. The truth is, no Right is absolute; it always comes with responsibilities. Yet, it seems in this case, the Press is unfettered and predominately left to its own devices. Enemy of the State? So it was named by the last President with few exceptions, and even those came under the glare of his ire when they failed to tow the absolute line. This takes me back to my original statement, the stunningly stupid have formed a sustained mob to destroy all of the pillars of our nation, including what was once a free press.

I am stupefied that we have fallen so low and wonder what it will take or who will rise up with intelligence, dignity and sense to begin the hard work of setting us back to a place where the fourth estate is a trusted source of information and even opinions come from a place of intellect rather than partisan vulgarity.

Dear God VII

Dear God, hello, it’s me again. I know it has been a while since I have appealed to your better angels as they say. Really though, it is getting pretty terrible and terrifying down here. It is to the point where you can’t tell the good guys from the bad anymore, and even the pacifists are thinking about self-protection in the form of rocket launchers. Does this seem extreme? Are you thinking to yourself that I am hysterical? Have you looked down here recently? I mean, really taken a close look at the state of this once shining experiment of a nation.

Just think God, these nonsensical, ignoramuses call themselves your servants. If this is the truth I would suggest you have a really bad management policy. Really, first Lucifer and now this.

Dear God, don’t get me wrong, we were never perfect. We got so many things wrong for so very long, and as they say, the chickens are coming home to roost. The problem is, even as those chickens come home, even as they call out and demand better, a big part of the nation strikes back out of fear. But I will not talk to you about chickens; I need to tell you about people, humans, and the horror being wrought by your creations and against your creations.

Dear God, I know you see us and shake your head in disappointment. I would be throwing bombs at this point, massive ugly destructive bombs. Maybe you are; it is just a huge part of our population who are too myopic to see them for what they are. I have watched for forty (40) years as everything once considered of great value has been devalued beyond recognition. All we once turned away from has been uplifted, even idolized. Those who once were considered sideshows and unworthy of our attention or time now hold high office, preach from alters, or network ‘news’ desks nightly. We demonize what is good, even our founding principles, and hold up the criminal as worthy of adulation and emulation. We reward evil while crushing kindness, compassion, and those who question are demonized for their counter thinking.

Dear God, surely you see us and wonder at our use of the free will you have gifted us. Do you turn to Michael and say, “what did I do when I gave my greatest creation free will and intellect?” Does he answer you with a shake of his head and, “I told you so!

Dear God, we are slowly dying down here. Our brethren are being murdered in the streets by police. Then insult to injury, their murders are replayed for our entertainment on what passes for the nightly news. Inattention, poverty, police violence, crime, inadequate healthcare, and a host of other socially violent acts are killing the rest as we watch. We did this. We founded this nation on a violent sin and perpetuated that iniquity through our laws and bad acts. This nation, founded on a promise, was in truth based on a lie. Maybe an unwitting lie, but nonetheless a lie, a lie that continues four hundred (400) years later. Knowing this, we compound the lie with half-truths, bigotry and jingoism. We are so intent on ignoring history and hard truths, we willingly place ourselves in prisons of ignorance and bind future generations to even further depravations.

Dear God, don’t you ever look down and simply want to smite entire swaths of this wholly corrupt and entirely ignorant nation? I know if I were sitting where you are, I would have a difficult time not throwing a few fireballs right about now. I get it, Lord, you didn’t actually write the book all these $2 preachers yell fire and damnation about from their Lear Jets and McLaren Elva’s. I know that book is the accumulation of eons of men’s ruminations of how best to engineer society to suit them. I even know, though you may be in there somewhere, it really has little to do with you and more to do with the evil men do to one another in their quest for power over each other. But really, come on, God, don’t you just want to fling one or two lightning bolts?

Dear God, one more thing, and then I will leave off for now except for my daily talks with you about all this terrible and terrifying. Can’t you please reach down and touch the hearts of those who claim alignment with you. They gather in one place much of the year; they call themselves leaders and have the power to change lives. These men and women, they are a constant boil on our national ass. They fan the flames and fail in their duty almost daily, yet claim you as their guiding light. The men and women of our political class, whether city, state, or federal; whether elected or appointed, have lost their way and failed in their duty. Too many have chosen a path that leads to our destruction, putting their own enrichment above all others.  Too many have agreed to a lie that will lead to division and ultimately greater human misery. Do you see it, God? Are you waiting for our implosion to see who is left standing?

Dear God, I know some of your misguided children keep saying we are a Christian Nation. You and I know this is a laughable claim, and we are not anywhere close to this, never have been. We both know this claim is made by those who have no clue what this means and would not want to live in the nation they claim we are. Logic has no place in discussion with these clueless illiterates. In their right hand, they scream Taliban when they see a woman in a Habib, oh my, the horror of it all. In their left hand, they cry, we are a Christian Nation; what do they think that would mean?  I would suggest, oh God, they refer to that Good Book and the six hundred laws contained within for how a Christian Nation would be ruled going forward. Someone should remind them, these cretins of ignorance, they live in a land of Freedom of and from Religion that happens to have a majority of Christians within it. However, this majority is slowly changing because of their immoral acts. The American Christian Taliban just needs a nudge, just a small one, so they can get back in their lane and leave the rest of us alone, get back to bothering you. Dear God, I am done for now. I am afraid for my nation, my friends and my family. I am constantly grateful you have kept those I love safe. I hope we live up to our potential; I pray, as always, we continue to seek reconciliation, truth, and peace. I am grateful for the gifts you grant me, and once again thank you for listening.

Dear God, IV

LindaDear God, I haven’t checked in for a while and have to point out things are getting worse down here since our last chat. I don’t think there is anyone down here that will measure up to Job, Noah, Lot, or others from ancient days, just in case you might be looking. Times were simpler, the choices perhaps more black and white. We do not seem to have heroes in our midst these days and the ones we do have are not universally lifted up as they once were. God, I don’t think this is an issue of nuance but rather just a sign of how far we have fallen.

Dear God, you and I talk every single day. These letters are to help me address the things I think shatter us as a people. They are to make a more public stand and be more vocal in my entries to you. Yes, I know much of what I say to you in my letters are broadly spoken. I try not to be too pointed in my placing blame at the feet of the humans I believe are at fault for much that is wrong today. But God, you and I both know the terrible we see is growing exponentially every single day. The violence is expanding, fires are burning hotter both in the cities and in the souls of our people. Those who claim to speak in your name are turning their backs on your word and those in the greatest need in favor of what can only be described as evil.

Dear God, it seems we have not found the bottom of the abyss yet. We keep falling, tumbling further down into the darkness. Shouldn’t there be a bottom? Are we all misidentifying what is happening right now as evil? Is this just the standard everyday ‘bad’ and evil is what is awaiting us? God, I have to tell you I don’t think we are ready for anything worse. Corruption, plagues, catastrophic storms and just plain old human meanness, this is all just taking the heart out of most of us. When you combine this with the terrible isolation, ongoing lack of work and families facing eviction, hunger, and the unrelenting deprivation of so many in our midst. I think we are on the brink of devastation and when I look around God, I see some people cheering it on as they did in Rome during the Gladiator Games. It seems we are both a failed nation and a failed people.

Dear God, what is going to happen to us? I am grateful, my family continues to be safe and secure. Most of those I love continue to be safe and secure, though some have lost jobs and are struggling to keep body and soul together. I am afraid though, afraid for all of us. I think we are all at a loss for what to do next. People we know are sick, even dying and we cannot lay them to rest or grieve them. Our friends and family are losing jobs, losing homes and we cannot help them; we are also without a sanctuary to offer in these terrible times. God, I am frightened. Not just my typical afraid, but genuinely terrified of what will happen to us as a people. I have been watching as our humanity seems to be slipping further away, our empathy and compassion disappearing from our emotional make-up. Is it just me?

Dear God, I believe there is a lesson to be learned in all this; I simply don’t know what it is. When this plague started, I laughed and said it was made for people like me. I thought to myself in the beginning, this is an Introverts paradise. When this began, I laughed each time someone asked me if I was okay in my home alone all day; of course, I was better than okay.   Then I was furloughed, and the days grew much longer with no focus and no outside human interaction. I realized many things about myself in those first long months. God, you gave me the personality I have and the strengths I have. I will be forever grateful for these gifts; without them, I would not have made it this far in life. Those strengths created a terrible wall though, I trained everyone around me that I didn’t need them, that I was good without regular interaction or communications. I have learned a powerful lesson in these six months of being truly alone, I am an Introvert, not a Hermit. Even true Introverts can suffer loneliness, and it can be spiritually crushing.

Dear God, I don’t often talk to you about me personally; I just assume you know. These days though, well, I have to ask you could you look down and just push things along. It is not my intention to add to the cacophony that must be constant for you and I know compared to the needs of others, mine are so minor.  God, I simply need work and security. I am sure I could have done better over the years; I will fall on my sword and acknowledge my failures to you; I spend so much time beating myself up I am sure you are as aware of them as I am. I hope though part of my failure was in my generosity to others, my willingness to help even when I had little myself. Now, at the end of my productive life, I simply need one final opportunity to rebuild. So, God, I know this is a selfish ask, but if you wouldn’t mind, please provide the extra push to finally be working again before I lose everything and have nowhere to go. It is truly my only ask, the rest of what I dream of for myself I will work on for myself and if you see fit to add those blessings to my end of days, I will, of course, be grateful.

Dear God, if you could, please look into our hearts and help us all see the brilliance that could be against the darkness that is. Help us to come together and begin to build together. Not rebuild but to indeed seek what is best in us and to build what is needed for us to progress as a people that understand the need to do better. God, these nearly four years has been a reckoning for many of us, one we sorely needed. For some, it has torn the scales from our eyes, and we have had to acknowledge our own weaknesses and faults. For others though, it has been a time where they have celebrated their release from social restraints and the very worst of their instincts have emerged. Today we are a nation divided by politics, culture and class. The difference between this and the last time is our leadership is driving the wedge further and encouraging the violence.

Dear God, I hope you have a plan. I and so many others are fearful of what November will bring, no matter the outcome. Every Allie is against us and every border closed to us. We are caught.

Dear God, II

tears_of_sadnessDear God, I guess you missed the part, last time we talked, about the general fuckery down here and thought you would allow us to continue without intervention just to see how far we could go. I am not at all sure we can withstand much more without a gentle reminder from you of our humanity. A gentle nudge maybe to push us back over toward a kinder and gentler way to be. Truly, things are pretty grim right now and all of us seem to be falling apart. You can see the seams tearing; you can witness us losing our compassion for one another in our race to prove the righteousness of our various causes. I fear for all of us and what we will become if the scales do not fall from our hearts and souls soon and we do not embrace each other soon in our shared humanity.

Dear God, sometimes it is the small things that touch me. Do they affect you too? I think they must and that is why you allow us to continue in our ridiculousness. There are days I skim the news and think humanity is growing more horrible, more depressing and depraved every single day then something wonderful will grab my attention. Maybe it is the story of the child who, on his own, delivers lunches to shut-in elderly people in his neighborhood. Or the story of the bus stops in Utrecht that are now bee shelters. Sometimes it is something as simple as watching cats stalk squirrels in the front yard, just knowing they are never going to catch them, it makes me laugh. These small moments remind me the darkness I feel is not complete yet, you must see we are not entirely unredeemable too, or you would have turned your back by now.2-these-bus-stop-roofs-are-now-tiny-parks-for-bees-813x457

Dear God, so many of your past heroes were imperfect from Abraham to David to Paul; each had their devils. Yet even with their imperfections, their weaknesses, they found their way to redemption and forgiveness. How can we not do the same? What is it in our psyche that prevents us from seeking out the kindness, empathy and compassion we once defined ourselves by? How is it we have allowed a minority to say, we will not be that and we have sat by impassively and permitted terrible acts of inhumanity to be carried out in our and even your name? Oh, I know we have much to make-up for, much that does not speak well of us as a nation or a people. But God, I think many of us want to turn the tide, is it too late for us?

Dear God, I am not doing as well as I thought I would be with this entire isolation in place thing going on down here. In fact, it is challenging to be alone all the time for this long. I know when you sent my soul into my body from the Chamber of Guf, you placed the need for alone into my spirit so I could recharge, create and rebuild. I understand you created a warrior within me to better overcome the challenges you would place before me. I may at times rail against you, well to be clear over the years I have protested against you, blamed you and turned my back on you. But always I return, always bend my head and still, I seek your grace.

Dear God, someone asked me the other day if I thought the reason I did not hold onto love was I chose the wrong people to love. I have not ever chosen who to love; I have loved who was placed before me and have loved them as my heart directed. Never once in my long life have I withheld love, though I have always held my secrets. I think you place in my path those who need to be loved without conditions or judgment, knowing I will give this love easily. Then, when it is time to let go, so broken spirits are less 20ab55a5576cffe1dce94c2fc4b236b0fragmented, I do this also. Leaving only my own heart in tatters and one more secret to keep. God, I am weary. I have loved enough who are broken and cannot love me in return. I have mended enough spirits and taught enough lessons in unconditional love. Maybe in these last years, we could make an even trade, perhaps you could put someone in my path who isn’t broken and might value me equally if you wouldn’t mind.

Dear God, I have to be honest with you on one final point and it is a selfish one. All my life I have worked hard, never asking for anything and never relying on anyone. I have paid my way and the way of many others. Please God, I only want to work, not be diminished in these last years of my productive life. I want to be able to do what I love, be paid fairly for that work and make contributions as I am able. I hate to beg for something so selfish. I know there are millions just like me today and as a nation, we have seen a crashing down of so much. So I know I am being selfish and self-centered when I ask you to please have mercy, let me return to work and save myself.

I know you must be inundated with prayer right now, God, likely from many you haven’t heard from in decades. I hope they are real and genuine prayer. I hope they are from prayer rooms and not pulpits. I will keep sending you these in the hope they blend into the cacophony, and some move you.

Not Social Media

Recently I have been watching social media and the disruption to our social fabric. This isn’t of course new, it is though greater, larger and more ugly. Once upon a time Facebook and others like it came along and invaded our consciousness, invaded our lives in ways no one then could have predicted back in 2004 when Facebook first hit the internet with its innocuous and simple strategy to connect us with family and friends. Today, we are not only connected, we are divided, fighting over politics and anything else. Families are falling apart, lifelong friends are participating in virtual battles reminiscent of WWF cage matches, friends and strangers alike joining in or sitting on the sidelines with popcorn to see who will be emotionally destroyed this time. There is no room for the moderate in this new virtual reality, it is all or nothing proposition in every discussion, every issue must be pro or con, no middle ground is accepted.

I find myself at odds with the world these days. I live in the grey, not black or white, not pro or con, not yeah or nay. I am not a willing participant in the battles any longer, valuing my relationships far more than the debate I once loved. The joy of the examination no longer exists as it is no longer a literate, civil or educated one. I am no longer willing to participate, not with family and friends who I have loved for most if not all of my life. Now and then something so offends me I will offer up a thought, an opinion and then almost immediately regret it. I nearly always  find myself dragged down in the muck, mired in name calling and character assignation (mine) until I bow out of the conversation, defeated by the sheer ugliness of the attacks. These always end with me wondering how my friend or family member could sit back and allow these strangers, these new friends of theirs to attack my character and intellect without mercy simply because of my disagreement with a position. I am stunned by the vitriol within the virtual world of social media. I am brought to my knees some days, but truthfully over the past ten years this has been escalating, the introduction of social media and our ability to sit behind a computer screen to communicate without repercussion has shattered previous norms. I am always hurt by the unwillingness of my friends and family to stop the attacks, I always assume it is fear that stops them. Fear of retribution or ridicule from these friends with very specific and often extreme views.

Are we all becoming more extreme?

I constantly ask myself this question. Is social media enabling extreme views to flourish?

Another thought is, are the extreme views we see today new or simply the manifestation of what has always been part of our social fabric given a new and more anonymous outlet?

If the second question is the more closely aligned with the truth and we as a nation, as a people, are showing our true and terrible colors to the world then our descent from the ‘greatest’ nation to something less than, is well deserved. If on the other hand, social media simply provides an outlet for all the worst and is not representative of us, as a people than still we fail but we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves.

Still it seems I am at odds. The problem is, I am uncertain who I am at odds with. Am I at odds with the majority, truly I hope this is not the case? Am I at odds with friends and family who I have known a significant part of my life, I don’t think this is true as most are like me reasonable, moderate and intellectually curious? Am I at odds with those who I have politically aligned with for a significant part of my life, for better than forty years in fact. Am I at odds with the majority of my gender? Who and what am I at odds with and how in the hell do I resolve these strange disparities in thinking after all these years.

Truthfully the gaps I have found between myself and those who I would normally consider my political allies have too often become great chasms as the current environment has demanded ever more worshipful adherence to a party line moving further and further toward extremes. There is no room any longer for moderation, freedom of thought or thoughtful thinking. Any challenge is considered traitorous and opens the challenger up to being pilloried in the public square. Nevertheless, I continue to challenge. I continue to ask questions. I continue to think freely rather than being led like a lemming to the edge of the cliff. I continue to seek the best answers, no matter where that answer comes from and look for how to fix problems in the best way possible for the nation, not just for those I consider allies and friends. I still believe we have a nation worth saving for all of us. Perhaps I am naïve, yet I believe all our citizens are worth saving and while some are certainly worthy of demonizing based on their horrendous behavior, they are nonetheless part of the fabric of this nation and we must find the means to deal with them within the bounds of our laws, our norms and our hopefulness in a better future.

Someone close to me is convinced this terrible we find ourselves in today began with Barrack Obama, he has his ‘facts’ to show how this is the truth, how the election of this ‘inexperienced’ Senator from Illinois was the source of all our problems.

Someone else close to me points to Donald Trump and says the terrible is laid directly at his feet and prior to him, the nation was not this bad. She can list all the points she has that makes this true and stands firmly by her ‘facts’.

Someone else I know says Bill Clinton’s presidency and the investigation into Whitewater and then later the Monica Lewinsky scandal are where the Terrible began, where the nation experienced the first great divide. Where the polarization of the body politic first happened and that we have never truly recovered.

presidentsI think we must go much further back to find the initial cracks. The first crack, when LBJ signed Civil Rights and the parties shifted. The next with Nixon and the Southern Strategy. The continuation with Reagan and Trickle Down Economics, shifting wealth from the middle to the top creating larger and larger gaps in income each decade since. Barack Obama’s election simple brought fear to the surface, fear of other and fear that what White Folks had been hearing for years was coming to fruition, they were no longer the dominate majority. With the election of Donald Trump, that fear showed its ugly underbelly, it is manifest across the nation and of course vibrant and quivering on Social Media.

So back to where I started, does social media provide or enable a disruption to our social fabric, to norms and values? Are we enabled by the anonymous nature of social media to act on our worst nature? Do we reveal in it or is it simply easier to allow are worst angels their flight wings.

If the above is true, do we have the ability to stuff the ugly and terrible back into the box or is this it, the electronic version of The Purge where friends, family and imperfect strangers attack driving those they disagree with off in virtual bloodletting frenzies.

Game Over

One hundred days, really it has only been just over one hundred days. I am not going to rail against the current President of the United States, it is not worth my time or the click-clack of my nails against the keyboard. There is too much to say, too much to rail against and many others have made it their lives work to pound their heads against that immovable object. Instead, I am going to take on the other side of the house, the other apparently immovable object….the DNC, the Progressives, the Liberals of this nation.

My first question, just what the hell is wrong with you people?

Do you think I am asking this question in a vacuum?  It is an honest question, what the hell is wrong with all of us? We are shrinking the tent, making ourselves smaller and less interesting to the common man and woman in the streets. We are in fact scaring the bejeezus out of many of the everyday people we say we represent. So I have to ask, just what the hell is wrong with all of us.

People who say they represent our interests, say they are Progressives / Liberals / Democrats are rioting in the streets of cities, tearing up businesses and personal property and we say nothing. We say not one single thing at all. Instead, we sit back and allow the Anarchists to run wild in the streets and we shrug our shoulders.

People who say they represent us, our interests are standing up in public making the most ridiculous statements, including the idea of ‘purity tests’ on seated Democratic Congress men and women and Senators in secure districts. Yes, that’s right purity tests. Let me help you on this one, we don’t all have to think exactly alike, we don’t all have to tow the line on every single issue, we are not the Tea Party or the Freedom Caucus. We are, I hope, the party that invites those who are from many walks of life and who seek to be represented by intelligent, thoughtful people who will vote their conscious and in most cases vote in support of a platform we can agree on, one that is representative of a wide range of people from many walks of life.

I need to point something out right here, we do not all vote for every Congressional Representative or Senator. The people of their district or state vote for them, in state elections. The duty of the Congressperson or Senator, even while voting on legislation that affects the entire nation is to also represent their own constituents in the best way possible. If they are doing a good job, they are representing all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them, not just the ones who scream the loudest, but all of them!

So let’s have a conversation about why we find ourselves where we are. Maybe first we should define exactly where that is, before we move on to more esoteric discussions.

  • 33 States have Republican Governors, which amounts to 60% of the population
  • 25 States Republicans have a Trifecta, where they control both Legislative Houses plus the Governor’s Mansion

This brings us to Washington, that quagmire of corruption.

  • White House, Independent Donald Trump spent his entire life as a Democrat until he decided to run for president. He picked up on the worst of the rhetoric, appealed to the lowest common denominator and hijacked the Grand Old Party.
  • Far Right Wingnut Mike Pence is his loyal lap dog, went along with him. Colluded in every scheme and made excuses for his madness. All to be one step closer to the office chair he would never have gained on his own.
  • Congress and the Senate swept in on his coattails. Where usually we would have checks and balance instead we have nothing but more complicity, more turn the other way and hope like hell you aren’t caught in the coming storm. They are falling, slowly and one by one, they are falling.
  • Supreme Court, we lost it already. Be fully aware it is gone unless something dramatic happens to bring this entire administration down to its knees SCOTUS is gone for a generation. Shame on all of us.

So how did we get here? It wasn’t in a single election. It wasn’t because we blinked in 2016. It wasn’t because White Women voted for the wrong candidate (Trump). It wasn’t because not enough people got out to vote. Stop, stop here and now with the blame game and the finger pointing. Really? It makes you look unintelligent, every single time I read some post or blog blaming everyone but the true culprits, I cringe.

Trump is President of the United States because he won the election according to our laws, according to our rules. The fact of the matter is we, every single person who calls themselves a Progressive, a Liberal or a member of the corrupt Democratic National Party put him in that office just as surely as those who voted for him.

We blinked. We didn’t fight at the state and local level when the RNC was pouring money into those elections and gerrymandering those states to ensure the future. We didn’t pay attention as we slowly bled Governors and state legislatures; as cities flipped and one by one congressional seats flipped, we ignored the signs. We thought the only important thing was the office of President so that was all we paid attention to. We allowed the DNC to unwisely pick battles, withhold much-needed money from winnable battles, losing fights we could have won had we just had a little more help from a national party with more than enough money to spend.

We didn’t complain when the DNC put up a bad candidate. Yes, I said it Hilary Clinton was a bad candidate and she ran a bad campaign. She lost because she shouldn’t have run. She had too much baggage, she may be an accomplished woman but she should have bowed out, recognized it was not her time, would never be her time. She should have given this nation a fighting chance. She put herself ahead of us. That should have been our first clue she was a bad damned candidate. Then she had the audacity to ignore entire states, believing she could afford to not campaign, to not show up.  Now? Frankly, I wish she would sit down and shut the hell up for just a little while.

Purity tests? What do you, the DNC and others exactly want to test for? Oh, yeah I know what these tests are don’t get me wrong. You all want to be certain Senators and Congress people are Left enough for you. You want everyone to be exactly aligned with some mythical party line, voting records so pure as to require sunglass to be read. But that isn’t realistic, is it? We don’t all align on every single issue, we disagree on many issues truth be told. The reality is, what we should want is a loosely built coalition of like-minded individuals who will vote in the best interests of the nation, seeking common ground with the other side when possible and demanding the best solution for our national security, economic health and civil rights and freedoms at all times. The fact of the matter is, we need strong, independent men and women who will help us frame the future. We need those who are not afraid to take on party politics when those politics are not in our best interests. We need those who will speak from the floor of Congress for the people of their district and their nation, against injustice from wherever it comes.

Frankly, we need new blood. We need to flush the two houses of Congress of all those who have made of living off of swimming in the quagmire that is Washington politics. We need to demand term limits. We need to demand those term limits extend to the Courts, including the Supreme Court. The only way we quash corruption is to take the issue into our own hands. Purity tests? Really?

I am an Independent for a reason, I could not pass a Purity Test. This is what I look like:

60% Progressive

20% Liberal (yes there is a difference)

10% Conservative (did you guess that?)

10% Libertarian

Really think about your politics. Can you honestly say you are all one thing, entirely one thing? That you cannot find common ground with your opponents, ever on any issue. We have come to an impasse in this nation and it is frightening. We, on the Left though, we are hypocrites and we need to get our house in order before next year. We need to stop our hand-wringing and whining about the last election and start figuring out how we are going to take back at least one House in Washington and some of the States. How we are going to undo some of the damage done over the past twenty years that allowed this disaster to take place. If we don’t step up our game, it is over for a very long time to come.

Whether I Like it or Not

Soapbox LogoWith a flick of the wrist, a twist or a pull we have introduced into our nation the most openly corrupt, venal and hostile administration we have ever been witness too. On 9 November 2016 many woke thinking their worst nightmare had been realized, never thinking they hadn’t seen anything yet. It was only just beginning.

Some thought, I will just wait and see.

Some thought, hurray my side won now it is my turn.

Some thought, this is the end and all I have and all I am will be lost.

Me? I am in the middle of one and three. I am a pragmatic Progressive Independent who believes in America, Americans and the US Constitution. I long for this nation to be the best it can be and recognize there is a very long way to go. I also realize many of us, most of us will disagree as to what ‘best’ looks like and therein lies one of our most fundamental problems.

What is the best we can be? As that icon of Conservatives Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address;

 ‘I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of rreaganfreeall kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.’

What few mention, these words are lifted from John Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony and despiser of all things Democratic or even having a whiff of religious tolerance. Yes, when our presidents and president’ wannabe from both sides reference that shining city, they show their ignorance of history, this is who they are quoting:

  • Massachusetts Body of Liberty, 1641, this is a special document and I urge you to pay special attention to Women’s and Children’s Liberties and Capital Laws. Scroll through all of them though since our friend Winthrop had a special love for torturing accused witches.
  • Governor John Winthrop, I urge you to read other letters and links. He was at best a piece of work.

I use this historical reference only to define a back-to-the-future moment. Our current President used the slogan “Make America Great Again” to stir a base that felt left behind. Donald J. Trump stepped into and took advantage of the maelstrom, he reaped what the DNC and the GOP had sown, and he did it gleefully. We shook our head and said, “He can’t win”, meanwhile he sucked up airtime and all the oxygen in the room, surrounding himself with sycophants and psychopaths willing to do his bidding.

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

Strip Civil Rights from those who don’t look like me, worship like me, love like me. Which includes anyone who doesn’t fall into all of the following:

guy-with-moneyCaucasian, Male, College Educated, Christian (at least in name), Heterosexual (at least publically), net worth at least +$500,000 (yes this is real, though you will be forgiven this one if you are working toward it and someone vouches for you)

Everyone else? Your value is limited too:

Labor, photo op, votes (while you still have voting rights)

President Donald J. Trump and his co-President Stephen K. Bannon are everything we should fear. Each in his own way are the antithesis of who we say we are as a nation and a people. They are the very worst of us, bundled together and running our nation by edict from the Oval Office. Surrounding them are those willing to turn a blind eye on their worst actions and blatant lies by calling it something else, Alternative Facts or someone else’s error.

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

By whose standard? Based on what criteria? When America is great again, where will you be in the pecking order?

Today, those of us on the Left are protesting everything and demanding of our representatives in Washington they should block everything. This demand is tantamount to shutting down how government functions. Do we really want to take a page from the GOP playbook? Are we really going to be guilty of the same bad behavior as our ideological opponents? What others see, ‘disrupters’, ‘anarchists’, ‘rioters’ and worse hypocrites. What they hear? “Do as I say, not as I do”. We are protesting Donald J. Trump instead of his policies, instead of his actions, instead of his corruption, instead of the specific issues though we react to the immediacy of the issue at hand we are not, in fact, doing anything more than reacting to Donald Trump. We have frankly, not moved off our disappointment at losing the election and continue to beat that drum; STOP IT!

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Am I suggesting we should not protest? Not at all. I am suggesting we should not protest every single thing, every single nominee, and every single uttered word. I am suggesting we should pick wisely our battles. I am suggesting we should stop blocking roads, blocking access to hearing out the other side, I am suggesting we should be speaking up when college students prevent free speech on campus. I am suggesting we come together, stop bitching about our majority win and use that to our advantage to win back state houses, governor mansions and Congress in the next two years. I suggest we start playing Checkers, the long game, the next census is in 2020, if we don’t have critical governor mansions in our hands by that time, we will never regain Congress, state legislatures or the Supreme Court before 2030.

The America of the future will be isolated, will be great no more, and will be dull and frightening. Stop playing Tit-for-Tat, this is not the way we win! Stop focusing on short gains and start looking toward the future we all want for our nation and the world. Sure this President is not who I would have picked, nevertheless, he won by our laws so he is who we have either for the next four years or until he does something so egregious even his own party can no longer turn a blind eye. I just remind you who is standing in the wings waiting to take the oath of office, be careful what you wish for.

inthewings

Make America Great Again? Start with our own behavior lead by example, stop following the example of the opposition.

Just for a quick giggle: By State Most Questions Asked Since Election

How Now

Soapbox LogoI am the enemy. Yes, I said it. I am the enemy. I don’t live my life with this intention. I don’t wake in the morning thinking, “what can I do today that will harm another person, create chaos or stranger danger”. Nevertheless, I am the enemy.

Why do I say I am the enemy? I will answer you in as succinct a way possible. I am the enemy because many have identified me as such. Not because I have done or said anything specifically, not because of my beliefs or my political ideology, which have not changed in 40 years. I am the enemy because of my demographics.

Appearance/Race: White

Gender: Female

Age: 59.5

Orientation: Straight

Economic Status: Middle Class (not really)

Ignorant? Yes. Foolish? Yes. Nonetheless, since waking up on 9-November-2016 many of my friends, some of my neighbors and many strangers have identified me as ENEMY.

The 2015-2016 election cycle has been harsh and ugly. It has brought out the worst in the American people. It has unleashed every single thing that is ugly in our psyche and without a backwards glance said, ‘there you go, have at it’.

In 1956 W.E.B. Dubois condemned both parties and made an argument for why he would not vote in the upcoming election between incumbent Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. This eloquent and damning indictment of American politics is as relevant today as it was then, it was published in The Nation, October 1956, read it here.

For me, the most significant statement of the entire essay is this;

I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or web-duboissay.

We have drawn a line in the sand and erected walls to our absolutes. The very things we condemn in others we adopt for ourselves and call good. We do not see our own hypocrisy, we do not acknowledge our own terrible for what it is, both Terrible and Tragic.

The problem in how we are reacting to the election of Donald J. Trump? We are looking for excuses, seeking to lay blame anywhere we can, enemy and ally alike. In doing this we looked first to the easiest target, anyone ‘not exactly like us’ which included allies and with broad brush strokes, we named Enemies. We have refused to look in the mirror, at our candidates and the past eight years and accept we have significant work to do at the grassroots; if we ever wish to regain moral authority, political power or the ability to move this nation towards better days for all citizens, we must begin inside the party of supposed progressive thought and make real change.

Having the Presidency simply isn’t enough. The past eight years should have proven this, clearly though we didn’t learn a damn thing. We lost State House after State House, we lost Governorship after Governorship, we lost the House and the Senate and we lost our standing on the World Stage. We paralyzed a Democratic President through our failure to pay attention, through our focus on the specialty and special needs rather than looking at the overall needs of the nation, listening to the voice of the nation cry out. We failed the nation and the world, not just the few but the many. Donald J. Trump may be the culmination of years of GOP talking points, fear mongering and baiting of all kinds; but, we own him as much as the GOP owns him, we own him through our inattention to the bigger picture.

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There are several examples of our inattention, or better our attention to the specialty while ignoring the larger or overarching issues. We failed to look at what is critical:

  • The real economy
  • Real American jobs
  • Fear in Middle America

We failed to pay attention to word on the street about

  • Immigration, both legal and illegal and the cost of American jobs
  • Crime and Justice in America, the real cost to America
  • Rising cost of Healthcare

We failed to address the issues that mattered to Americans, such as:

  • Growing poverty across the American landscape
  • Ongoing War and our returning veterans
  • Our International reputation

We did not listen and speak to the heart of America, we did not address their fears of a failing American Dream.

When the only answer to a question that disagrees with your point of view is the following, “You are (Pick One and Insert: White, Heterosexual, Above the Poverty Line) you are not allowed an opinion regarding this subject”, you are over the line and you have turned an ally into at best a disinterested third party. At worst, you have turned an ally into the opposition. When the only answer to dissent or disagreement is name calling or labeling, you have turned a potential ally into an enemy.

When the voice of the minority becomes larger, louder and more important than the whole we lose. This is a simple fact proven with the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we demand strict adherence to ideology without question or dissent we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we name enemy those who question or speak out, where they see potential danger or unrighteousness we lose; proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we veer so far off course, forgetting all but those representing the special interests and demanding adherence to their interests alone we scare the rest of the nation. When we name any and all who question or disagree, “Bigots, Racists, Homophobes, Xenophobes, Sexists, Misogynists….”, we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

So now we are two (2) days away from the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Not my choice for President of the United States of America. I am greatly afraid for this nation. I pray we will find a way to manage this man who will be POTUS, who does not seem to understand the gravity of the office he will hold. Who has nominated to his Cabinet men and women who adhere to positions that are destructive and against every tenet this imperfect nation is built upon.

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If we are to answer this Presidency with real solutions and ensure the least harm we must begin to heal ourselves, we must see beyond the ‘not like me’ to the common ground. If we are to find solutions, we must start with the open hand rather than the closed fist. It must start with the reminder, we are Americans first, we have common goals and all the other labels do nothing but set us back, play into someone else’s desired outcome to keep us separated and screaming rather together and talking.

I am not the enemy, though some have labeled me as such even those who once proclaimed to love me.

What the Hell America

0-9jzicdodmhkgda85I have written this, rewritten this and then written it again. My words have stopped one hundred times. My ability to place into words, written or otherwise my thoughts on the tragedy that is our current national mood, I am at a loss.

We are three weeks from the election of Donald J. Trump and his God Awful running mate Michael R. Pence. I watched, numb and mostly in stunned silence as this travesty took place. Actually, I watched for months as Trump stomped, whined, insulted, bullied and assaulted our senses without a single person truly taking him on, not the media, or the opposition, not the majority of his own party and not the public.

I watched as we all shook our heads, thought never would the GOP allow this buffoon and life-long Democrat to represent them, to take over their party or be elected POTUS. We ignored what was before us every step of the way.  We whined when he insulted entire groups, when he bullied, when he assaulted, when he got into twitter wars, when he suggested his opponent be murdered, when he suggested a foreign nation hack our systems and interfere with our election. But we didn’t demand he be taken down by the systems we have in place such as the Justice Department or the FBI.

No, we did nothing at all, we piled onto our own nominee instead…Benghazi and Email all the way.trump-pence-03

Like so many I watched as the perfect Manchurian Candidate plowed through practiced professionals, chewed up the press and sucked in the disenfranchised, left-out, angry and ignorant with the aplomb of the reality star he had been for decades. We shook our heads as he selected as his running mate the most far right homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, hate and fear mongering insider there was out there and we said not one damned word.

The DNC offered up Hillary Rodham Clinton as the anointed candidate for our acceptance. With little in the way of opposition and despite her many flaws the Left was told it was her turn now. It seemed we were to be led by dynastic houses rather than the democratic process.

We laughed and shook our heads, we polished our wit as we watched Martin O’Malley be skewered and drop out. Bernie Sanders snuck up from the true progressive left claiming ideals and ideas at odds with Mrs. Clinton and the DNC and forcing at least a conversation, carrying a true populace standard. What did we do? We impaled our own candidates, at least those with the nerve to challenge the anointed. We disregarded the corruption of the super delegate system, we disregarded the voice of challenge. We disregarded the message. We laughed as we ushered Hillary onto the stage as the pre-determined and anointed candidate of choice.

la-ed-hillary-clinton-speech-20160728-snap

One thing on Hillary, one thing only. I have never been a fan of Mrs. Clinton, however, I also believe at least 70% of what is said about her is flat out smear tactics that have stuck because it has been said often enough over the past thirty years. She is not the devil most believe her to be, in fact, she is an accomplished, knowledgeable, well-educated public servant. Is she perfect? No, but then who is. Has she made mistakes? She absolutely has, so have we all. My problem? If even 10% of what is said is true then she is corrupt, who the hell wants to elect a person to the presidency knowing they are corrupt. I know I don’t.

But it seems this nation did not care if the President Elect is corrupt, so long as they got to choose the corruption.

This nation has elected a president who wants nothing more than to enrich himself and his family. Yes, that’s right that is his primary goal. Make no mistake, this is not a man who looks at the Presidency and says to himself, “How am I going to do right by the 325 million people in the United States over the next four years.

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He isn’t concerned, he doesn’t give a shit about the lives of those people, not the ones who voted for him and certainly not the ones who didn’t vote for him. If this isn’t obvious yet, it will be.

What can we say? What can we do? I have watched as some have taken to the streets. I have listened as some of those on the streets have espoused their anger at election results in one breath while in the next admitting they did not vote. What? I have watched as one with the least to lose has challenged results in multiple states, raising money to do so, okay this is good right? Yet, where does the excess go? Who will benefit in the end?

I have watched old friends vent their fury at the outcome, draw the lines that are at once ugly and specific.

If I am White I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am a White Woman, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am White and Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame and I have no right to any opinion. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame, I have no right to any opinion, no matter how I have voted this year or in the past and no matter what I have done throughout my life to open doors or make positive change. The lines have now been drawn. Friendships are now set aside. Civil Discourse is no longer possible.

I have watched this play out time and again. I am saddened by it. I am silenced by it. I weep for friendships lost. I weep for our nation, for the fear engendered by this election, for the hate boiling over in all corners, for the normalization of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny. I weep for where we are going. I fear for all of us, mostly I fear for those who will be most harmed by what is to come.

I wonder, how do we begin to attack the hate and bigotry being normalized and enabled by this election, by this President Elect and the cabinet he is nominating? Where do we start if we are unable to even remember our own friendships and alliances? How do we even begin to undo what is done if we are only willing to fight within our house. We came out. We voted. Did alliances hold? Not always, but we have to look beyond and we have to talk rather than point our fingers. We have to reach out rather than beat down. We have to work together rather than lay blame within. We cannot afford more loss, more giving ground.

2016-election-results-1

 

 

Fallen Apart

soapboxpileTo support one thing does not mean I am against another. I want to make certain all who read my words understand this, to support one thing does not place me at odds with another thing. I can be for both, I can be in support of two seemingly different things. How you might ask, it is simple and I will tell you in as simple as terms as possible.

I am for humanity. I am for human dignity. I am for justice, fairness. I am for all of us, together as a people, as a nation finding solutions that will move us forward toward sanity and peace. I am at a loss, not just for words but my spirit is seeping away, hiding in a dark corner and refusing to seek the light any longer.

We are a people of disquiet and terrible, tragic division. We are not a single people, joined together by our desire to become stronger through our diversity and our shared history. Instead, we have sought the lowest common denominator, sought the very worst in ourselves and celebrated these most terrible and violent traits that drag prejudice and fear. Some of us protest the violent and senseless loss of life, we march and raise our voices demanding justice and change, yet the only thing that truly changes is the divide widens, the chasm of mistrust grows between us and violence increases. In our demand for recognition, our voices raised seeking justice that has not been ours in the past we say with one word, allies and friends be damned and cheer as innocent blood runs in the street.

The language of divisiveness has torn us down and apart. A mirror has been held up and we have seen ourselves, the worst of ourselves and embraced it. We have forgotten that good exists in abundance. We have chosen instead to ratchet up the hate, the vile rhetoric that will incite fear and violence on both sides of the ever widening abyss. Our leadership, whether elected or otherwise,5-signs-from-last-night-s-game-of-thrones-that-point-to-the-rise-of-daenerys-the-derange-996054 uses every opportunity to politicize death and mayhem, to feed our fear and fury. We are spiraling down the rabbit hole toward anarchy and those who would be king, they sit and rub their hands together gleefully as we fulfill their mad desire.

We watch in horror as another Black man is gunned down in the street or in his car as his child watches. We listen in horror as amateur journalists put their deaths on Facebook live, rather than offer them comfort and we justify their actions, we understand their actions because we need to know we need to see the bad acts. We forget to weep, we are immune we have seen this all before replayed over and over, these deaths simply cause our fury. Another senseless death. Another child, father, husband murdered by those sworn to serve and protect, murdered by those who will not be held accountable.

We blame the victims, searching for any misstep they might have made in their past, smearing them in public to justify their death. We tsk tsk as their death is replayed, over and over and every pundit tells us what we should think of them, depending upon what side of the chasm they speak from. We see the pain of their family, the fury of their loved ones and the demand for justice sends us to the street, more and more often with terrible results.

DALLAS, TX - JULY 11: Dallas Police Chief David Brown

We pay men and women to put on the blue, to ‘protect’ and to ‘serve’ us, the people. We demand they do so and without them Anarchy would rein in the streets. Yes, we must demand they be held to a higher, more perfect standard. We must require they be fit for the job they perform. DPC David Brown had been doing that, going against what many believed would work in Dallas, he charted a new course.  Dallas has become a model city, proving community policing and modern ideas can work in large diverse city. We cannot ever be good with the mayhem, the chaos and misery they cause in our cities, our communities. We must not turn away, thinking just so long as it isn’t at our doorstep and so long as we can justify it with a good old fashioned smear campaign of culture, people or individual we can ignore it as ‘not our problem’.

Last week seven people lost their lives senselessly to violence. We do not know all the details surrounding the deaths of Alton Stearling and Philando Castile, but we know enough. We watched in horror as they died. We have also watched in horror as their lives have been dissected and their characters smeared.

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Their deaths have led to nationwide marches, demands for justice, demands for change and unfortunately in some cases demands for the blood of police. Which was finally met on Thursday night at a peaceful #BLM demonstration, with shooting of twelve Dallas police officers, resulting in the death of five. Not just any twelve, not just any five, but in retribution specific targets were selected based on race and their wearing of the Blue.

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Dallas mourns their fallen. I mourn the fallen. I mourn with the families of Alton Stearling and Philando Castile, their loss is devastating. I mourn with the families of the fallen officers, their loss is also devastating. In truth, how can we mourn one while celebrating the other? Yes, to all of those who have said ‘good’, to the loss of those five police officers I say shame on you and truthfully ‘fuck you’. We cannot mourn one without mourning both to do otherwise is ignorance on our part and shows a lack of compassion that strips us of our humanity.

Why don’t we know by now, we are one people born of struggle, fire, blood and tragedy. We are one people, born of spiritual poverty and horrify mistakes. But one people generations removed from our beginnings yet it seems still mired in the ignorance of our ancestors, still clinging like Velcro to our history it seems we will continue to refuse to climb out. If we do not learn to reach across the divide we are doomed. So yes, I can and do support both. I can and do see both and desire reconciliation, change, justice and the creation of a better more perfect nation. This, this tragic and terrible one, it has to end. But violence, bloodshed, hate and bigotry this will not end well for any of us.

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