Tag Archives: Trump

Long View — 2016

Confessions lead to perspective.

Confession 1: I did not vote for Barack Obama.  Try not to be shocked.  And yet, a month after his first election I wrote an upbeat essay with a generally positive outlook for the United States and its new president. Remembering 1968; Honoring 2008

I recall very well watching his inauguration, in the living room of our friends, the Kroesens, in Amsterdam. I beamed with pride for my country.  I was happy that they saw me glowing. Happy that the world saw our country aglow. We were in the spotlight, and in a good way for a change.

We were showing the world how it’s done.  No, not the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural parties, celebrations, balls and lime-light performers.  Toss in an eloquent speech.  That’s all just puffery. Rather, I was proud of how we had an election that nearly amounted to a revolution; yet the transition was smooth and peaceful.

An inaugural swearing in is a historical event.  Obama’s even more so. People of all shades and political persuasions were invited to — and attended — the inauguration. Politically and culturally they were diverse; as citizens they were united. It’s hard to believe now, but President Obama enjoyed very favorable ratings among Conservative and Republicans in his first days as president, per Gallup. How quickly things changed.

Confession 2: I did not vote for Donald  Trump.  Try not to be shocked.[1] Combined with confession 1, and the fact I vote in every election (but only once), this puts me in a very, very tiny minority. Nearly alone, I’m pretty sure, and with a very special perspective. It’s like I’m perched on high, on city hall’s mezzanine veranda, looking out over a vast and busy city square with its throngs of people: many going about their business in the market, yet many, many others worked up and fussing about in emotional tizzies. The more they talk with each other, the deeper their dithering tizzies become.  From this perspective I find it difficult, if not impossible, to be upbeat.

We are as divided as we’ve ever been.  Scores of politicians, personalities and pontificating people find it necessary to not only reject the incoming president, but to make it a point to protest and not participate.

I ascribe much of our deep political divisions to the behavior of our last two presidents, particularly #44 [2], and to the apparent total inability of either major party to come up with a likeable and “clean” candidate.

Yes, Trump speaks, acts and tweets divisively.  Even childishly.  I cannot condone that.  Reacting in kind does nothing to unite us.

I know scads and scads of people who supported and voted for Mrs Clinton.  Since I’ve not voted for a presidential winner in nearly three decades, I should be able to understand how  they feel.  Yet I don’t. I feel miles and miles away — a universe away. I’ve never experienced such depth and breadth of disdain for a president-elect in my entire adult life. This doesn’t bode well. Can’t people at least wait until he’s president, and in the meanwhile celebrate our American democracy, with its bloodless changing of the guard?

I also know quite a few Trump supporters. Not one is racist, homophobic, stupid, unthoughtful, hateful or a Troglodyte.  They seemed to me to go about their citizens’ duty with a sort  of  grim determination, like a detective investigating a grisly crime.  “I’m not happy about it, and it’s dirty work — but is has to be done.”

Quite a few left-leaning luminaries will be attending Mr Trump’s inauguration.  I applaud them.

Begin with the Clintons.  Together again.

Jimmy Carter.

And of course, Barack Obama.

And the 200 or so Democratic Senators and Congressmen who will attend.  Good for them all.  This is not their day to grandstand.  It is America’s day.

If we cannot stand united to honor our democratic functions, then we have little chance of uniting when destiny calls upon us to deliver our very best in her hours of greatest need.


Joe Girard (c) 2017

[1] I almost wear this as a badge of honor.  I vote for losers.

[2] Almost immediately after the 2009 inauguration, President Obama took to belittling, lecturing and (legislatively) ignoring Republicans.  With both houses, he lectured: “Elections have consequences.”  And “We won, you lost.”  And finally, “Eat your peas.”

This demeaning behavior was the cake. The thick icing was a nearly perpetual state of campaigning, and passing of legislation without so much as consulting the other side of  the aisle, nor soliciting a vote of support.  Message: you’re not needed here.

Election 2016

Here it is election eve, November 2016.

For the most part, I’ve bit my tongue — and muzzled my keyboard — with regard to politics this election season. And I promise to go easy now that I’ve loosened my leash a little bit. I’ve certainly had a lot go through my mind. I’ve often felt like sharing it here. But this election season has been so terribly awful and disappointing that I decided to exercise considerable restraint rather than subject anyone to even more abuse.

What follows is brief, and based mostly on a short email that I sent to my good friend Kevin, who in turn included it in his daily Good News Today newsletter.  I wish it had more good news, but sometimes the truth is not all good.

This is regarding election choices and exercising your right to the franchise.  And the fact that many of us, Kevin included, dared to share their decisions and the reasons for them.

There are obviously going to be differences of opinion. It is a difficult year for many of us.  Recent exchanges of banter and bickering have spawned several thoughts in my busy little head. Mostly, I try to not be critical of people’s selections and thinking.  Voting is a personal choice and I realize we are all of us individuals.  And that means “different.”  But there are some cases where I can’t help myself, I grow critical and judgmental — although I try to keep these thoughts to myself and would not squelch such people even if I could.  There are two such cases.

One is voting for someone because of what they have between their legs, even if it is only one of many criteria. That’s sexist and shallow. Intelligent votes are based on what’s between their ears and their resume’.

The second is when people attack a candidate they don’t prefer on non-policy grounds (e.g. Trump is a sexist pig who can’t string two simple sentences together; Clinton is a lying criminal who got rich without ever producing anything of value that Joe-or-Jane average US citizen can relate to). This second type of opinion that causes me to be judgmental only applies when it is pretty obvious that the argument is made by someone who almost certainly would have voted for the other candidate anyhow.

I cannot help but see such attackers as draped in their own self-made mantle of sanctimony while sitting on their imaginary throne of self righteousness. “News” provider people who do this are even worse. (e.g. Sean Hannity, Don Lemon). I’m not proud that I do this judging. Maybe it’s my own form of sanctimony and self-righteousness.

99% of the attacks on Trump (and there are many good reasons for them) that you see and hear are from people who would have voted Democrat anyhow.  And vice versa. Probably 100%.   I wear myself out with restraint when I read or hear someone criticize a candidate that they wouldn’t vote for even if that person were a saint.

So, finally, at long, long last, this will soon be over.  This squabbling over candidates only increases the chance that we as a nation will continue to grow ever more fragmented and distrustful of one another — a Grand Canyon growing between us.  Neither Mrs C or Mr T have demonstrated an ability to unite us; let’s not make it worse by doing the work for them, and tearing ourselves apart.

It’s okay to praise a candidate. Even the other side once in a while.  It’s okay to respect others’ voices.

When it’s all over, Clinton or Trump in the White House makes no difference to your happiness, your health, your human dignity and your relationship with others.  They can’t make you happy, successful, pleasant, magnanimous, rich or generous.  You have to own all that yourself.

So, no matter what happens tomorrow, November 8, go out there everyday and make it a point to not just be nice to people who voted differently than you. Take time to listen when they dare to share their points of view, their logic and their passions. If they “attack” your candidate, this is a great opportunity.  “Yes, I can see that.  Of course. But what if it weren’t Trump or Clinton?  What if they were a truly decent human?  How would you vote then? What is important to you?” Listening is the most important quality. If you haven’t really learned anything, then you probably weren’t genuinely listening.

Really try.  Otherwise this election will just drive us farther and farther from each other.

Wishing you peace.

Joe Girard (c) 2016