If we think Thanksgiving is going to be bad this year with pro-Trump family members — still butt-sore from the electoral scorching they just took — forced to eat outside because they STILL refuse to wear a damned mask, just wait till we get to Christmas. But there’s hope now that divided families can talk to each other over egg nog and yule logs and Christmas gifts. We’re recommending this great new series of helpful how-to guides. When you give them, it says to your still recalcitrant family member or friend — “All is not forgiven, but, here — let me help you finish the work you started”.
Let’s say you’re Kellyanne Conway’s daughter Claudia. What do you get for the mom who has zero skills as a parent, no empathy, and no maternal instincts but plenty of money to pay therapy bills? You get them “Hey, Nitwit: Here’s How NOT To Screw Up Your Kids”.
Got friends in the news media? This “Hey, Nitwit!” guide’s the perfect gift since most members of America’s news media HAVE NO sense of context. They think both sides do it. If you can’t get your news media friends to read the book, consider dropping it on their heads repeatedly. They might actually get through to them…
Got friends running for office? Here’s their Christmas gift. “Shoving one’s racism down everyone’s throat” is what Republicans actually do whenever they legislate anything. Also available: “Here’s How NOT To Shove Your BIGOTRY Down Everyone’s Throat” and “Here’s How NOT To Shove Your Misogyny Down Everyone’s Throat”. Your Republican “friends” will probably want all three!
Finally, here’s the guide none of your nitwit friends actually need. But give it to them anyway.
Donald Trump is a racist. That’s not hyperbole, it’s a stone cold fact. He’s a bigot, too. And a misogynist. He’s corrupt to his bone marrow. And a traitor. Not a word of that is opinion. There are receipts — copious receipts — most of them Trump’s own words or deeds. Quick note to America’s news media: 1) Trump’s been telling you what a corrupt, racist, misogynist, bigoted traitor he is from the get-go; for Pete’s sake, BELIEVE HIM and, 2) stop taking the idea of a “smoking gun” so literally. Just because YOU’VE never heard Trump say out loud “Nobody’s a bigger racist than me!” doesn’t mean he’s not one.
Whether Trump or anyone is a racist or not isn’t up to them. Stop asking if they are — they’re the wrong person to ask!
Quiz a five year old who just stole a cookie if they’re guilty — even as they hold the purloined biscuit — minus a bite — in their hand and they’ll probably say “No, I didn’t!”. The question should have been rhetorical. Same goes for the car thief who tells you your car is his — as he sits inside your car in your driveway. He’s a thief because he’s stealing from you. Your experience of the incident and point of view are entirely valid. His saying it never happened — or that you gave him the car — are not.
See how that works? Ask the thief if he’s a thief and he’ll likely say no. Ask a racist if they’re racist — unless they’re a Proud Boy — they’ll vehemently deny that they’ve ever harbored a racist thought. Hmmmmmm, our news media would say to themselves now, if they say they’re not a racist, maybe we should believe them…
Racism, fortunately, is easier to discern than car thievery. We don’t have to root around in the glove compartment to see whose name is on the vehicle’s registration. The victim of racism IS the registration. THEY are the proof that racism exists and they carry that proof around with them inside their heads.
The moment a victim of racism points a J’Accuse! finger at someone, they must answer for (at the very least) the perception that they’re racist. Why would someone think that of them? Denying it outright? It just proves the point: you absolutely ARE a racist.
Beauty’s not up to the beautiful to identify. What do they know anyway? Anyone that obsessed with their own appearance has screwy priorities and shouldn’t be trusted to begin with. And anyway, beauty’s subjective. It’s as “I know it when I see it” as a thing can be.
Racism runs deeper. “I know it when I feel it” more closely reflects the experience. You’re being judged because of who you are or what you look like. You’ll be convicted and punished based on the same evidence. Bigotry and misogyny work that way, too. I’ve been told more than once by a well-meaning Christian that they were going to pray for me. Let’s be real: when a Christian says that to you, it’s because they honestly believe their imaginary friend runs everything. That’s why they’re better than you. They’re “connected” (like a mafioso), you’re not.
It’s not a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of “when”: a Great Moral Reckoning is coming — and the entire Republican Party is going to hate it.
Remember back to election night 2016? Remember how the evening began to feel — especially when it became apparent that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin were landing in the Trump column? It didn’t feel like we’d “lost”. It felt distinctly like something was “taken”. It wasn’t our expectations that were dashed — it was our sense of fairness. The Comey Letter plus Russian disinformation — landing as they did WHILE EARLY VOTING WAS HAPPENING — had a profound effect on the election’s outcome.
In the end, of course, the Comey Letter was bullshit. The investigation wasn’t being re-opened; the files in question were all old. Several “rogue agents” in the FBI’s NYC bureau — all fans of the Breitbart published book Clinton Cash — had dragged their heels for months, refusing to examine the files on Anthony Weiner’s computer. They deliberately waited until October — just so they could get the news media buzzing again about “her emails”. Of course, that was after a whole campaign season filled with cynicism, lies and the news media insisting that both sides were “doing it”.
No, both sides were not committing treason to win the election.
America has been due a Great Moral Reckoning since its inception. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. There are no compromises between the two. It’s a tug of war where only one side can win. Up until today, Slavery has continued to pin “All men are created equal” to the mat. That is finally changing.
The Electoral College is a vestige of slavery. It’s been a long time since a Republican became president because he won the popular vote. They now rely on the Electoral College to keep them — a minority — in power. They rely on a relic of slavery to keep slavery alive.
The Republicans have always portrayed themselves as the “moral party” — pointing to their piety as proof. Their piety is horse shit. So’s their “morality”.
The irony? The “moral party” — especially its religious wing — are the ones who most fear a Great Moral Reckoning. That’s because they’ll have the most to lose from it.
America must finally confront the racism that we built into our democracy. We have to own it. Slavery is, above all, stolen labor. That’s the whole point of having a slave: they work for you for free. You may have to house them and clothe them and feed them — so they’ll be able to work for you whenever you need them — but you don’t have to house, clothe or feed them well. The point is you’re not paying them — and that means you’re saving a fortune entirely at their expense.
Stolen labor is theft. It undermines not just the people whose labor is being stolen but all labor — because when it goes unpunished (as it almost always does), it encourages more stolen labor. I shouldn’t have to say this: stolen labor is immoral. To benefit from stolen labor is immoral. To profit from it — even more immoral.
Once we’ve owned our thievery, we can begin to fix the future. We can change our emphasis from making the rich richer to raising all boats. Real morality flows from equality. What’s moral is what’s most equal and what benefits the most people without harming anyone.
America’s women — especially Black women — are already driving us away from corruption and toward the “come to Jesus” moment we desperately need. When this is all done and dusted, America will owe its Black women more than a “thank you”. We’ll owe Black men, too. But Black women will have been made to bear the additional burden of sexism. We’ll owe Black women our deep, abiding, permanent respect — which we owed them all along.
Despite this country treating Black women callously in every way, Black women have kept the flame of American democratic principles alive. Though they’ve never benefited from the level playing field promised in our foundational documents — Life, Liberty, The Pursuit Of Happiness — they’ve demonstrated via their tenacity how the rest of us should feel about our democracy. Black women got it a long, long time ago. So did Black men of course. America’s founding ideals are worth fighting and dying for.
Note: while it’s understandable we might have to fight outside forces from time to time to protect our democratic principles, we should NEVER have to fight inside forces.
While one side perpetually plays the moral indignation card, it’s the other side that perpetually feels actual moral indignation — because of the first side’s relentless immorality. Our news media fails to see it because they’re convinced “both sides do it” while, in point of fact, both sides don’t.
Both sides don’t suppress the other side’s voters, for example. Both sides don’t commit treason in order to win elections. Both sides don’t relentlessly obstruct oversight or election security. One side does this — and for specific (political) reasons. How, I wonder, will our news media explain itself when we come to the understanding that, no, Donald Trump did not “win” election in 2016, he STOLE the election. Cheating to win does not equal winning. It can NEVER equal winning.
That’s something our news media will have to learn the hard way — via its own Great Moral Reckoning.
I’ve made a bet that I won’t be around to collect on. But, if I could be? I would collect: history will credit Black women with saving America from itself.
I feel proud to my core that Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s VP pick. I would have felt pretty close to equally proud with any of his other Black female choices — talk about a deep, brilliant bench — but I feel especial warmth toward Kamala. She’s one of my senators. She was my attorney general. I’ve already voted for her on multiple occasions. And I think Kamala will be an amazing campaigner — a vibrant, exciting contrast to every pasty, old white man in the GOP.
Those pasty, old white men in the GOP are very much our problem. For the moment, they have seized control of the machinery of our government. We didn’t give that control to them, they stole it with the 2016 election with massive assistance from their Russian friends. We’re only just catching up to the fact, our investigations into what the hell happened having been hampered nearly to death. Those pasty, old white men have made a cynical but calculated risk in the face of (what is to them) imminent demographic catastrophe — the end of white rule in America.
The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers, etc) made Mitch McConnell their point man. Recognizing that — without profound cheating — the executive branch was out of their control and that — without profound cheating — the House of Representatives was out of their control, the RW money sought to seize control of the government via the Senate and the Judicial branch. Using the Senate, the RW has indeed seized control of the judiciary. Mitch McConnell’s proudest achievement — his own words — denying Barack Obama Merrick Garland.
Considering as We The People voted for Barack Obama — and his SCOTUS choices — Mitch McConnell was denying US of our choice — Merrick Garland. Mitch screwed us. Rather, Mitch McConnell’s backers — the RW money — screwed us by denying us the judicial choice that we voted for. And then — with the cheated win (which means it’s not really a win) of Donald Trump, the screwing continued as all those hardcore RW judges — representing a minority position in our politics — have now been installed for life.
What, we have to ask, is the RW money’s game here? What do they think they’re paying for? What do they want their money to buy? Simple: permanent minority rule minus the rule of law. The rule of law, of course, can’t co-exist with what the Republicans are doing. But then, they’ve lived outside the rule of law for a long time now. Our problem is, we let them. We bent the rule of law for all those privileged white men; the rule of law doesn’t bend. What we really did was fail to apply it equally.
We failed to apply the rule of law equally to rich white men and anyone of color but especially Black women.
And yet… they have been the keepers of America’s flame. They have kept our core principles alive in their hearts even as we did everything in our power to destroy them. They have borne the brunt of our cruelty and hypocrisy, of our sanctimony and parsimony.
And yet… they have not lost faith in our principles. Rather, they have seen SALVATION in them. They have always understood that if America could ever live up to its ideals then they would be its beneficiaries. As would everyone else.
Black women have always known: their salvation will be our salvation.
They’ve always known that “All men are created equal” is horse shit in a country where slavery exists. It’s horse shit when “all men” is meant literally.
The cost of keeping our ideals alive is the surrender of political power. White men are 30% of the population but control 62% of the political power. That’s 32% they must give up — it doesn’t belong to them. Our ideals say a big chunk of that power is obligated to women.
I believe in American Exceptionalism. It ain’t old white men and their dirty money, it’s diversity. Our diversity is what makes us exceptional. Our diversity brings a whole panoply of skill sets from the whole panoply of the world’s cultures. Where else does that happen but America? A huge part of that diversity is the diversity of women.
Considering the skill sets of most of those women? White men should surrender every bit of their political power for a while. It will take a while for America’s women to undo the considerable damage America’s men have wrought — trying to keep power for themselves.
Consider all the ways America has kept Black women from achieving every bit of greatness within them? Consider what we might already have achieved if we’d let women “drive” instead of letting the men drive around lost. Consider the obstacles to learning and health care and child care we legislated into their path.
For the life of me, I can’t fathom why? What kind of threat do they pose — except for the loss of political power? Looking at the Black women Joe Biden had to choose between? Every single one of them would have brought more to the table then the entire Trump White House combined. If America’s men won’t pull to the side of the road and switch drivers, America’s women will have to kick us from the car while we’re flying down the highway. They’ll have no choice because of the cliff we’re zooming toward.
I hope that when Wynta-Amor — the young lady in the photo above — is ready, she runs for political office. I have a feeling justice will be hard wired into her thinking.
It sucks waking up every day, feeling exactly what former first lady Michelle Obama described yesterday in her podcast — a persistent mild depression. I’d quibble with the word “mild” but then I’m a quibbler by nature.
This would never have happened to a white family. Listen to the sound of those terrified children and then look to the WHITE COPS (a female included). Wonder what could be going through their minds. Wonder at the inhumanity.
Think about the trauma that will haunt all of them forever.
I sure hope the people in that van can sue the Aurora, CO Police Department. They’re going to need the money to pay for their therapy. And, it seems, the only way to drain racism from a police department is to, first, drain it of money. At least the money that supports the racism inside a police department.
It gets extra disgusting when you consider that the people inside the van are paying the tax dollars that resulted in them lying on the pavement, terrified for their lives. They paid for that. They will pay for it the rest of their lives.
This has been going on FOREVER. Black people have been saying it. Racists have an excuse. They’re the cause. What about the rest of us white people? Why have we put up with it?
Down deep? Most of us didn’t believe it. Not so much because it strained credulity but because it was too monstrous for our tender, white minds to process. We couldn’t imagine it. Our imaginations failed.
Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia has also revealed a failure of imagination — on the part of most Americans but, worst of all, on the part of our news media. Plenty of them STILL can’t imagine that Donald Trump has any sort of “unseemly” relationship with Vlad Putin. They still wonder aloud why Trump is always so beholden to Putin.
If they scratched their heads any harder, they’d create permanent divots in their skulls.
The truth about Donald Trump has always sat there in clear view. FFS — the first concerted oppo research carried out against Trump established that. Paul Singer, the money behind the Washington Free Beacon (a conservative news organization awarded for its journalism by the extremely conservative Heritage Foundation) hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. Fusion was a research company run by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Thomas Catan. For the record — no one here is a raving socialist.
Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017 for ten hours. Back then, the House was run by Republicans who were trying to undermine all investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign and its strange relationship with Russia. Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did after getting the oppo research gig was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of Trump-related anything (newspapers, magazine articles, TV interviews, radio interviews, books). They scoured the internet, shopped at Amazon, visited actual bookstores and even the public library.
What they found — in publicly available material, in other words, information ANYONE could find — convinced them that Donald Trump could well be an international criminal who’d used his bankrupted Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. If that was the case, they understood, then Trump was completely compromised. To do the dirty work inside Russia, Fusion sub-contracted the work to Orbis, a London-based private intelligence firm run by Christopher Steele — former head of MI6’s Russia desk.
That’s why the Steele Dossier exists. It’s Steele’s raw intel. Let me repeat: it’s RAW INTEL. If you don’t understand the difference between raw intel and news reporting, you should put down the raw intel. It will confuse you.
In the shadow world of spies, one can’t rely on a “smoking gun”. One has to rely on context — the most complete picture one can form so as to discern real objects from fog. The Steele Dossier paints a picture that has remained mostly accurate about Trump and the many ways Russia has compromised him.
And yet, our news media STILL describes this document as fake.
Because Donald Trump and the Republicans describe the dossier as fake. Of course, they have to — they’re all compromised toghether. Hell, the Republicans knew Trump was in bed with Russia during their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wasn’t shocked by that news. He was so un-shocked in fact that 1) he didn’t call the FBI and 2) he swore the whole room to secrecy. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
We don’t know what secrets Trump has shared directly with Vladimir Putin — his chief handler — because Trump has never let Americans in on the meetings. The Russians always seem to know what went down though. How much imagination does it take to connect dots here?
Look at these two photos of Donald Trump and Vlad Putin. How much imagination does it take to extrapolate what these photos are shouting at us?
Donald Trump violated the Constitution the moment he took an oath to uphold and protect it. We knew it as he did it — and yet did nothing. Failure of imagination — to act but also to recognize what the ripple effects of our failure would be. Our imaginations failed to tell us that there would even be ripple effects.
Yet, here we are.
Racism is failure of imagination. Extreme religiosity is failure of imagination. Of course it is — you’re letting an imaginary creature or creatures do all your thinking for you. Misogyny is failure of imagination. So’s bigotry and fear of LGBTQ people and intolerance and ignorance of any stripe. It’s all failure of imagination.
Fortunately, failure of imagination is fixable. All one has to do is step outside the box you’re living in, take off your normalcy bias blinders and open your damned eyes.
LOOK at what is instead of assuming you know what is. Actually LISTEN to people and what they need. Imagine solutions that aren’t earthbound. Yes, we can’t make the impossible possible. But we have to be willing to challenge the impossible. Better yet, let’s give our imaginations a chance.
We may find that what we thought was impossible isn’t.
If I steal your car, I’ve stolen something you bought using money you made from the sweat of your brow. If I enslave you, I cut out the middle man as it were. I don’t have to steal your car to get what was yours, I steal your labor directly. It’s more efficient. More ruthless.
In America, slavery belonged to the south where it worked the fields mostly. Picking cotton and cutting sugar cane were labor intensive work back before machinery showed up. If a plantation owner had to pay for labor (never mind a fair wage for that labor), their profits would have been wafer thin if they’d had any at all. The whole point of slavery is you get the work done — and you make your money — without having to worry about the cost of labor. Sure, sure — you still have to feed and house that labor but, since they’re slaves anyway, it’s not like you have to make their food or housing decent.
Since slaves aren’t technically human to the slaver (even calling slaves three-fifths of a regular white person was an over-statement to them made solely to cut the Electoral College deal), he can not only steal their labor but every other facet of their lives too. The slaver can see the slave’s children like calves or lambs to be separated from their parents and sold off individually.
If I steal your labor, I steal a big part of you — of who you are and why you’re here. You may think your purpose in life is to live happily. I think your purpose is to pick my cotton and keep the mint juleps flowing — for free. If I win that fight and force you to work for me, for nothing, you will have no way even to earn your way to freedom. I will know that you will be my slave forever.
Ironically, when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794, they thought the gin’s ability to comb cotton seeds from cotton bolls would reduce the need for slavery. The opposite happened. While a slave “could pick the seeds out of 10 pounds of cotton in a day. The cotton gin could process 100 pounds in the same time.” The white guys running things planted more cotton. Rather, they had their slaves plant more cotton.
America has always lived with an impossibility at its core — the idea that “all men are created equal” except the ones who are slaves. Not only did we not actually believe that all men were created equal, we did not believe their work was equal either. We’ve always believed that white peoples’ work was worth more than black peoples’ work — even if it was the same damned work.
Once I steal your productivity, your happiness is easy to pick off and destroy. It’s stolen labor that makes slavery “slavery”.
The downside to this technology — in the episode — was that the skill set couldn’t be in two places at once. If it was being implanted into someone else, it’s because it no longer existed in its original host. In the episode, the character “Mad” Joe Dell’s legendary jazz chops could be removed from Joe Dell and given to someone who’d bought them — from the company that took them from Joe Dell.
Joe Dell (and most of his family), thought Joe was moving into a retirement community. There was no explanation for his rapid decline into total dementia — and then his death. But Joe hadn’t actually died. He’d been warehoused — until every last drop of his jazz chops could be squeezed from him.
The episode ended happily. Joe’s teenaged grandson Ronnie catches on to the monstrous scam being pulled and gets his grandfather back — legendary jazz chops mostly complete. So, here’s my storyteller’s sighed “What if…?”
What if we could transplant John Lewis’ legendary humanity, his empathy and humility into the heads of every single Republican?
But the “skill set” we’re talking about isn’t like jazz talent. It doesn’t require all the micro-skills being a jazz legend demands. All this skill set requires is that we care about other people at least as much as we care about ourselves. Ya know — “Do unto others” and all that.
What if we could get Republicans to “Do unto others” like it was a super power? Or a normal human capacity…
Imagine if Mitch McConnell forgot how to be a cynical treason turtle and, instead, cared about America and every human living within its borders.
Imagine if Bill Barr put down his perverse Dominionism and, instead took up Jesus’ message.
Imagine if Mike Pence’s sanctimony suddenly morphed into love of something other than Donald Trump’s ass.
Imagine if every single Republican who thought Jesus wanted them to be rich vs decent suddenly realized, “NO! HE WANTS US TO BE DECENT!”
We won’t bother imagining any scenario where Donald Trump suddenly acquires humanity. Mary Trump’s book spelled it out clearly and emphatically: Trump has no capacity for humanity and probably never did. He’s a sociopath just like his daddy. Indecency is hard-wired into Trump’s corrupt DNA.
But, if everyone else suddenly acquired John Lewis’ innate decency — if every Republican who’s enabled Trump (in other words, every Republican who still proudly calls themselves “Republican”) — then we wouldn’t have a problem with Trump. Our collective decency would not tolerate his presence.
He’d be gone already and no longer a clear & present danger.
I know — that’s why stories are stories and reality is reality.
Courage is a mysterious thing. You can’t buy it. If you have it, you can’t save it till you need it. You have to rely on the fact that your courage will be there — and that there will be enough of it — at the moment you really, really need it.
Maybe, as with John Lewis, you’re born with it. Or, maybe as John Lewis taught, it’s something can cultivate in yourself.
John Lewis died last night. He taught us so much — and had so much more still to impart. Even when he spurred us to action, he did it in a way that understood both what he was really asking of us and how we might best understand what we were really doing.
“My philosophy is very simple. When you see something that is not right. Not fair. Not just. Say something. Do something. Get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble.” –
Representative John Lewis
Say something. Do something. Get in trouble.
Good trouble is the moral imperative to fight what’s wrong. Necessary trouble is the act of engagement — of putting your ass (or your head — as John Lewis did) on the line. If a thing is necessary, it takes away any moral equivocating. You have to do it. It’s necessary (not just “good”).
The day John Lewis’ skull got fractured by Alabama State Police, he knew from previous experience that things could get violent. Deadly even. But the necessity of changing America overrode everything. It demanded Necessary Trouble.
It’s our obligation to carry John Lewis’ hopes for America forward. The Black Lives Matter protests aren’t the culmination of necessary trouble, they’re the process of necessary trouble producing its desired outcome. In a way, it’s like a glacier carving out a mountain as it flows downward. It’s a long, long grind.
America’s latent racism has become blatant. That cannot stand. We owe it to ourselves to make America live up to its ideals — if only for the first time.
That’s white people I’m talking about. Black people, brown people, native people, Asian people — any people not strictly White – they’ve always lived up to America’s ideals because they actually believe in them. They actually believe that all people are created equal before the law.
White people need to own a hard, painful truth about ourselves: we tolerated racism because we benefited from racism.
That can’t be.
We must confront it head on — in an act of necessary trouble.
America’s dirtiest secret is out: we have never lived up to the ideals on which our country was founded. In part, that’s because the European men who founded America couldn’t themselves live up to the ideals. Some compromises should never be made. After all, how can you compromise with evil? What’s the outcome — semi-evil?
We “compromised” with slavery. But slavery never compromised with us. Evil never does.
Another compromise at the start — women were not granted equal rights. I guess the founders were being literal by “All MEN are created equal”.
Getting great ideas to the finish line in one piece is tough. And, democracy, as we’ve learned, has a lot of “sausage-making” to it. That’s compromise for you. And that’s making compromises with ideas that deserve to be compromised with. They’re not evil like, say, slavery.
We’ve now come face to face with our most original sin — the racism that compromises all men being created equal. Equal people cannot own each other.
But it’s not just racism that’s bedeviled us. Greed has had a go at us too. Greed and racism rut like demonic weasels. Here in America it’s produced a value system that’s completely ass backwards. We pay social influencers a ton while paying teachers so little that some have to take second jobs to pay their bills.
We think a high school “education” is so essential that we automatically pay for it. But try to add four more years — where we begin to refine those minds so as to make them genuinely useful? Suddenly it’s “socialism”. I guess it’s just a coincidence that — to pay for that part of our childrens’ educations — we’ve set up a whole for-profit business of lending kids money to pay for those educations. Corporate socialism is okey-dokey, as always. That’s greed talking.
Blue sky here. We don’t need to sledgehammer our system, we need to re-focus it — away from “me” and toward “we”.
That means we need to completely and forever disabuse ourselves of the notion that any one person can fix anything by themselves. To fix anything — or raise a child — it DOES take a village. And that village needs to be well-funded and well-organized. We want everyone to be the best and most individual “they” that they can be. But never, ever at the expense of the “we”. No “me” can ever have more weight before the law than any other “me” or the whole collection of “me’s” that produce “we”.
We need to win every argument with me. If we start from there, it’s almost assured that we’ll get it right because our focus and framing will be correct. Part of my blue sky here takes into consideration the fact that more and more women (and women of color) are pouring into American politics. If there’s any salvation to be had — that’s where it will come from. It would not be a terrible thing if just about every white male got out of politics for an election cycle or two.
We would do the following things: we would value education and educators over just about anyone and anything.
We would value health CARE over health INSURANCE (they are not the same thing).
We would teach our young people not how to memorize (so as to pass tests) but how to think analytically. We’d teach them how to write and express themselves articulately. We would teach them how to communicate — both directly and honestly. We would teach them to be respectful of everyone.
We would teach them how America works and that freedom is not “free” — it comes with huge responsibilities and obligations. Voting, for example.
We would give every single child the same benefits and advantages, the same access to health care and opportunity. We need to be almost maniacal about this — getting every kid the same chances. America has a remarkable brain trust that no other nation has because no other country is the product of every other country on earth creating it, in essence.
America isn’t a perfect melting pot. Parts of the pot never get the same heat as other parts do. And the different elements don’t melt together into a homogenized end product of indeterminate origin. America and Americans are a hybrid. Nothing like us has ever existed before.
That really should be our goal — to recognize 1) that America IS exceptional though 2) not for the reasons we’ve told ourselves but 3) now that we understand what makes us exceptional, we intend to do everything we can to nurture every last drop of our exceptionalism.
The trick to living “bullshit-free” is you start with yourself. Forget anyone else’s bullshit till you’ve dealt with your own. Trust me — once you’ve started an honest, deep dive into every one of the truths, half-truths and total lies you tell yourself every day? You won’t have time to even think about anyone else’s crap.
America has lived a lie since its founding. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. They can’t live in the same hemisphere never mind the same zip code.
Europe took Christianity and turned it from “doing unto others” into a Holy Roman Weapon that was going to “save you” even as it murdered you — a very neat trick. As Jared Diamond points out in his excellent book “Guns, Germs & Steel”, Europeans are bullies who dominated everyone they touched not because of any genomic superiority but because where they lived provided them certain important advantages when they encountered other people. For one, their continent and its access to trade routes to Asia gave them both raw native materials (like iron) and access to foreign raw materials (like silk).
Europeans and their active trading gave them something else — collective immunity to diseases like smallpox.
European culture has contributed lots of nice things to world culture — some lovely architecture, sculpture and painting. Terrific music. Great food. A fair amount of noteworthy literature and philosophical thinking. They also contributed more bullying than anyone else.
European bullying, in fact, outweighs everything else Europe contributed to the world by a factor of a million. Europeans needed slaves to do the back-breaking work of planting and harvesting cotton and sugar cane (which is especially labor-intensive). The whole basis for slavery, don’t forget, was relatively free labor. You don’t have to pay a slave a salary but you do have to house and feed him — albeit just enough to do the work you need him to do so you can steal it from him.
Remember — America did not begin its life as any sort of level playing field though it aspired to be one. The problem — its idea of a level playing field (“all men are created equal”) was contradicted by the devil’s bargain it made by allowing slavery to continue. America’s current Independence Day makes a mockery of the very ideals it insists it’s celebrating. We are only as free as the least free among us.
America wasn’t free until every slave stopped being a slave — especially those who didn’t know they’d been freed and were no longer in bondage. But, even the end of slavery didn’t end slavery. Though it stopped existing as a legitimate business or “institution” with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1862), the last slave didn’t learn they were free until June 1865. Juneteenth should be America’s Independence Day — that’s the first day we even pretended that “all men” were “created equal”.
Even when we gave blacks legal standing, we couldn’t help thieving from them. How many of those 40 acres plus mule ended up in white hands instead of black? How much of “Black Wall Street” was returned to the successful black businesspeople and entrepreneurs who were murdered, burnt out or sent fleeing during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921?
White people have a shitload to answer for — not that they’ll ever get around to it. They’re so busy, ya know…
The good news is the African American women have had our backs the whole time. If there was a way to award a group of people for constancy, integrity, loyalty and grit in the face of relentless cruelty, African American women would be perennial first place finishers. Despite hundreds of years of unspeakable abuse, they remain by and large America’s most fiercely loyal subscribers. They believe in our ideals more than we do.
But that, apparently, has started to change. What even black leaders acknowledge is a sign that something very real has changed — the majority of protesters there demanding institutional change in the face of systemic racism are white people. The white majority has finally realized that they can’t possibly be as free as they want to be until black and brown people have exactly the same opportunities, benefits and privileges.
Black women especially have always known about the responsibilities that come with freedom. They’ve been reliably civic-minded from the first instant they were emancipated. Because they knew what it was to be slaves and did not want to live like that ever again.
And they did not want their children or any of their children to taste slavery again.
Racism isn’t an add-on to slavery, it’s slavery’s justification. Ask just about any Trumpanista if they’d be down with bringing slavery back, you KNOW they’d say “yeah — bring it back!”
Trump’s shrinking poll numbers reflect the last few quasi-racist rats abandoning the SS GOP Racist. All that’s left now are the hard core racists. We’re roughly down to the 29% of Americans who still approved of Richard Nixon on the day he resigned because of Watergate. Let’s stop trying to redeem these people. They don’t want redemption, they want to hate.
A majority of voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. We know it was at least 3 million voters more but, if we extrapolate the number of possible suppressed votes and voters — HRC’s victory (in terms of who wanted her vs who wanted Trump — regardless of their ability to realize their vote) would likely have been far, far bigger if every voter got to vote and every vote got counted.
There’s a reason Donald Trump & the GOP fear vote-by-mail like a black person moving into their neighborhood. In their mind, “there it goes”. Trump has said the “keep it silent” out loud: when more Americans vote, they vote Democratic which means if all Americans voted, Republicans would likely lose every election going forward.
The reason is that Americans are now woke. Only someone who wants to live in the past would vote for Republicans. People who now demand that America FINALLY live up to its own damned ideals have taken over the conversation and it’s about damned time.
If only the news media would get woke along with us. They, too, are living a lie — that “both sides do it” (whatever the hell “it” is).
America already feels the cleansing power of the light. We need to shine it on Republican corruption like it was an ultraviolet light destroying virus particles.
We The People do not fear the truth. We know now what it will free us from.