Tragic Nations

Soapbox LogoThe United States of America might be a classic tragedy if we saw it from a historical perspective. The American people would either be victims or villains, no middle ground this time around. Full disclosure, I have always been in the middle, always an Independent who thought both sides had valid points of view and legitimate ideas. In the forty-five years I have been registered to vote, I have missed two Presidential elections. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates over the years at both a national and local level. I have voted in person and by absentee ballot. This year is the first year I believe every single vote matters. We are voting for the very soul of America; one outcome means the end of our nation as we understand it, the other the potential for something better.

There have been other great nations that have risen and fallen throughout human history; two come to mind as I watch the tragedy this past three-year debacle;

The once-great Roman Empire was brought low by the rise of Christianity, political corruption, monetary devaluation and economic problems, water and food shortages and Imperial incompetence.

The jewel of Asia from 1299 to 1922, The Ottoman Empire was a bastion of religious tolerance, economic stability, arts and architecture. The empire was dismantled by infighting, political intrigue,  conspiracy, and European trade competition, WWI’s final devastating blow.

The tragedy is that those who would lead us are wholly disinterested in history and make no connection to the similarities. I could weave a tapestry with the parallels, the threads of catastrophic human error, ineffectivenesssinglemask and ultimately ego in each. It can’t be just me that sees a trend. Unless we force a change, it will be too late. We will simply be a footnote in history.

We come now to why I have looked at other lost empires and why I think of tragedy when I think of our nation. Truthfully, I believe there is much to learn from history and there is only one word that fully encompasses the state of our nation today, tragic. We started with hopes, grand dreams and obviously many nightmarish problems that would eventually tear us apart. We started with men who wrote the future yet ignored they were building upon the backs of enslaved and disenfranchised people. Today many rise up, they march in the streets and demand justice for the terrible and the terror of not just current indignity, but all that has led to this moment in time. Are they correct in their fury? I have no answer; I am not them and do not have their lived experiences. What I know is we have collectively enabled the roots to rot, we have encouraged the worst of us to rise to the top and have failed to prune the branches to allow the freedom and opportunity to shine equally across all within our diverse nation.  We have continued to deny the truth of our beginnings and maybe hoped someone else would come along and fix our collective problem.

I often think I might be a masochist; I can frequently be found spending more time than I should talking to people across all political alignments. I say I might be a masochist because, at this moment in time, it is difficult to have civil conversations with those who feel so strongly about a subject they are willing to go to war. Yes, I said it and it wasn’t hyperbole or rhetoric; there are those on both sides of the aisle ready to go to war over ideology or, in some cases, insults to their candidate. Frankly, it is sometimes terrifying to engage in conversations, even if it is nothing more than a question of why; nevermind a discussion of differences.

As we draw closer to election day and with many states having kicked-off early voting, the stakes grow ever higher for both sides.  Thus far, record turnouts indicate a tidal wave is building, one that will potentially sweep from high to low through the Administration, Senate and even statehouses and other elected offices. The nation is tired and may perhaps be rising up in a tangible way to demand a real opportunity to right terrible wrongs and potentially avoid a tragic outcome.

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There is still a long road ahead of us, much work to be done, and no guarantees of this election’s outcome. Once before we were fooled into complacency. That complacency was the end of a long game played by the GOP; Donald Trump is the personification of everything that brought down the Roman and Ottoman Empires in one ignorant, egotistical, narcissistic, bloviating package. Mitch McConnell, the real power behind the throne, has seen his dream of a packed federal court system come to fruition under this Administration.

The Trump machine of 2016 convinced enough angry White folk in key states he was one of them. Despite his golden penthouse, his utter disdain for their poverty and their lack of education, their Christianity or their middleclass morals; he hated the same people they hated and acted like they acted, bullied the weak and made fun of those who could not or would not fight back. Over time, he continued to do the same and 38% of those same voters stuck with him, going so far as declaring themselves ready to start a civil war if he failed to win re-election. It didn’t matter what he said or did; there was always an excuse. When I say I speak to those on the other side, some are friends of decades and some are family. Oddly, they will tell me excuse anything, any act, any statement; direct quotes are “Left-Wing Lies” because their news stations are not reporting them. One of my recent favorites was from a New York Times interview, asked what his policy would be should he win:

But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing. Donald J Trump

If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will. My friends on the Right think this is the best policy; just keep doing what you have been doing; good job.

We have all the makings of a failed nation. No country is ever perfect and we surely have a long ways to go to make right what is wrong today. There is much that must be addressed with clear eyes and a willingness to come to the table prepared to listen first and then begin the real work of fixing what is broken. We all have to acknowledge there is no possible way to fix the a-frame-of-trusthistorical evils this nation was built upon, no reparations that can repair all the harm done. The only real fix is one of progress and future remediation. As a nation, we can address the evil of ‘isims’ in only one way, by making them anathema to all but the very lowest in society, those who have no place and must be rejected.

When we begin to stand up and say no to traitors flags on public buildings and at political rallies as signs of heritage and not for what they are, signs of racist intimidation, then we move our country forward. When we stand up to bullies in our courthouses, our town squares, our media and our highest offices, then we can move our nation forward. Only when we stand up and demand those we elect to our highest office serve us rather than themselves will we move our country forward rather than backward.

Now is the time, do we progress or regress? Do they win, or do we prove we are the people who will save the promise of the United States of America.

Vote because your life depends upon it.

Notorious

The Kaddish Prayer

May His great name be exalted and sanctified. In the world which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever, and to all eternity!

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.

May the prayers and supplications of all Israel be accepted by their Father who is in Heaven; And say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.
May He who makes peace in His high places grant peace upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.

Justice Bader Ginsberg: March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020

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Ruth Bader Ginsberg spent her life giving, as a fighter for our rights, as a mother and wife, as a Judge and finally as a Justice on the Supreme Court. She was our shining light, our hero and an asset to our nation. With her passing, we are left with nothing but gratitude. May her memory be a blessing.

We lost a titan, an American Treasure. When the news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing rolled across my screen on that Friday night, my first thought was, please let this be not true. Then, as it became clear she had finally found her rest, I contemplated the tragedy for her family, the courts and us, the nation she so loved. I considered what it would mean in the coming days and wondered how long after she was laid to rest it would take before the battle for her coveted seat would commence.

I scrolled social media and news for reactions, allowing this loss to sink in. I was heartened and dismayed in equal measure. I was stunned, though I should not have been, when without twenty-four passing, without letting her body cool or her family and friends to process her loss, Mitch McConnell announced to the nation he would fill her seat on the highest court before the next election cycle. To say I and many others were dumbfounded would be an understatement, to find more proof of how far we have fallen saddened and angered me. I was engulfed by fury, just as so many others were at this proof we were not only living with bipartisanship but something on the verge of far worse.

So now we come to the battle for her seat, the battle for the heart and soul of our nation’s future. The President decided to throw all decorum aside and have a party in the Rose Garden. He invited close ‘friends’ and associates and family to attend his introduction of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to replace Justice Ginsberg. As is the norm at gatherings hosted rose-garden1-gty-ml-201002_1601659831186_hpMain_2_16x9_992by this President, masks were optional and social distancing was not observed. While it may not be factual, the Rose Garden event is suspected of being the epicenter of an ever-broadening circle of COVID-19 infections beginning with the President, though currently, the blame is being placed elsewhere. The one clear thing, ignoring even basic safety protocols, has caused a tsunami of infection throughout the upper echelon of the GOP and those closest to the President.

What else do we know?

We know there are several attendees to the Rose Garden party who have tested positive. We know several people within the Presidents inner circle who were not in attendance have also tested positive. We also know, this man has a complete lack of empathy and an utter lack of concern for any other person but himself and thus continues to put other people at risk. Finally, we know the President continued to move around the country, without precautions and without telling others who may come into contact with him for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after his first positive test result. Donald J. Trump is a regular Typhoid Mary of the twenty-first century; what should we call him? COVID Potus has a nice ring, but maybe too pompous. Well, something to think about when we have more time to consider the total body count to lay at his feet.

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In the meantime, we have just under thirty (30) days before the election. The current President is pumped up on steroids and telling us to not fear the reaper. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are driving hard to approve Amy Coney Barrett through the Senate Judicial Committee and onto a full Senate floor vote before November 3. The problem with this? Two members of the Judicial Committee are down with Coronavirus thanks to COVID POTUS and his Garden Party, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina). Added to this, Mitch McConnell has delayed the full Senate’s return until October 19, although vowing to move ahead with Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings despite having three senators out with Coronavirus.

For Mitch, there is nothing more vital than stacking the court, nothing.  On this subject, Mitch McConnell and the President are 100% aligned. Stacking the court may mean their future if the vote isn’t a landslide to remove them on November 3, they will use SCOTUS to declare themselves winners. Neither of them can afford anything less than a stacked court.  This nation’s future depends on a landslide to remove them both from power and save us from future disaster.

In the coming days, so close to the election of a lifetime, there will be many battles to fight. We will see masks come off and we will see the true nature of those who would be kings and kingmakers. Our friends may become angrier, and our neighborhoods more dangerous as we navigate this terrible time in our history. Now is the time where every vote counts. We have to remember no matter the obstacles placed before us, we must not rely on any other person but ourselves to cast the vote that matters. We might lose battles between now and November 3, including the battle for the open SCOTUS seat. We should not be silent; we should not be discouraged.

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Go Vote. Vote early, if possible. Vote in person, if possible. Do whatever you have to do, but Vote as if your life and the lives of your family and friends depend on it.

Partisan Pandemic

Ladies and gentlemen, what we have is a partisan pandemic. Yes, indeed we have sunk Soapbox Logoso low, so far we are no longer Americans, rising together to defeat the enemy that is this terrible virus. Instead, we remain firmly in our corners, pointing fingers, blaming the other side, and even laughing as our fellow Americans sicken and die so long as it is not us but them. Our Commander in Chief feeds this partisanship, demanding the Governors’ play nice’ or he won’t assist in this time of great need, downplaying the crisis despite what we hear from those who see it first-hand.

Just the top of the list as of Friday, 27 March 2020:

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Many of our medical professionals tell us the numbers of confirmed would be far higher if testing were readily available, but as of today, it is not. What does that say about the greatest nation in the world?

How afraid should we be?  Very afraid, in my opinion. We have a Commander in Chief who is incapable of command, unqualified to lead under the best of circumstances. In these circumstances, his ego, his narcissism, and his myopic view of the world have led us to the point we are today.  This man, who demands personal loyalty ahead of the nation, who requires praise before the truth would see tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands die to gain re-election to an office he has proven time and again he is unfit to fill. Worse, the sycophants surrounding him continue to promote his lies and feed the unwitting and willing public to believe all is well in La-La Land, even while their family and friends die around them.

Make America Great Again, sure, let’s do that. My question, by whose measurement and exactly when are we looking in history for that “Again”? I am not saying we have ever been ‘Great’ for all of our citizens; admittedly, we have not been. But every single decade detroit-segregation-1942saw us make improvements. Some were huge and established a standard for generations to strive toward. Others were small, barely felt by most, and yet they moved us forward incrementally. Of course, we also had enormous missteps, terrible acts of brutality against entire people, against classes of people; humans can sink low when fear and greed rise and take over. Even worse, when either of these base emotions was stoked by religious or national outrage, we acted in concert to exact retribution or maintain our unearned preeminence.

So now we come with our ringmaster, our television game show host whose claim to fame is the infamous words, “You’re Fired.” He stands at the podium every day claiming knowledge he doesn’t have, attacking Governors who disagree, misstating facts and giving himself high marks for his handling of a pandemic; meanwhile, Americans die, and our health systems are overburdened. Medical providers being forced to make plans for who will receive treatment and who will receive end of life comfort.

This is Trump’s Great Again America.

Meanwhile, with his ego flying high, he continues to give himself the benefit of the doubt while he publically shreds Governors who dare to question his performance. He has denied aid; he has questioned their veracity; he has ordered his VP to not speak to those who do not praise him. In his own words:

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“I think they should be appreciative. Because you know what? When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps [of Engineers], they’re not appreciative to FEMA. It’s not right.”

President Donald J. Trump, 27 March 2020 Press Briefing

On the President’s Hit List recently? Jay Inslee of Washington and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, both Democrats and both facing crises in their states. Cuomo of New York goes on and off the list depending on the day, sometimes thanking the President for his assistance and other times offending his sense of majesty and expectation of admiration. This President is quick to lash out at those who do not bend the knee. This President demands obeisance before he will do his job, not more than his job, not above and beyond the call of duty, none of that; just his damn job as President of the United States of America, Red and Blue and all the colors in between.

We are in crisis. Every single day our numbers rise, of sick and dying citizens of this land. Every single day rather than bringing us together the President tears us further dividednationapart. With only one exception, never has this nation been so divided by politics during a crisis. With only one exception, the Civil War has this nation faced a disaster of this magnitude without coming together, solving problems together and seeing each other as kindred spirits and fellow citizens. Today, we are further apart than ever with the tearing of the fabric spearheaded by the man at the top. Witness his actions of Friday when signing the most recent bi-partisan Bill to support America, not one Democrat was invited to that signing, though without them that Bill would not have been on the Resolute Desk for his signature.

The Partisan Pandemic hit the United States with force and is shredding this nation so that we will be unrecognizable if we do not stand up and stop the madness. If we, as a people don’t see ourselves for who we are and begin to take back our nation from the madman and his sycophants, we will lose ourselves forever. His ruthless pursuit of power at any cost will be the end of America, forever. When this Pandemic ends and it will, we will be something entirely different and he will be in charge without even the light reins that have held him back till now.

Is this the America you want?

 

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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