Give Him a Chance?

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One of the odder and more Orwellian slips of doublethink that has happened since the election is the emergence of the “give him a chance” hypothesis: the idea that despite Donald Trump’s lurching disregard for basic human decency and morality, to say nothing of the qualities we expect our president and chief ambassador to the world to exhibit, his election somehow bestows on his critics the obligation to change their critique in substance or tone.

It’s hard to take in the absurdity of this in one go. For one thing, if the election of what multiple conservative commentators have called a “sociopath” does not permit spirited resistance in speech or writing or organization, when the hell is it ever permissible? Does the pig, all of a sudden, have to invite the wolf in for supper before making a judgement? Does the wide-eyed skydiving instructor who insists you’re better off with the Cosmic Consciousness than a parachute deserve an equal hearing?

Trump and his handlers are desperate to persuade the media and the electorate that the New Truth, whatever it ends up being, assuming it can hold its shape in the cavern of Trump’s mind for more than a few moments, is the only relevant information. Nothing he has said or done up to this point any longer has bearing on reality, and he is not responsible, in any sense, for any of it. Apparently winning the presidency in the United States is similar to a confession booth. You walk in, and by some poorly-understood method you’re cleansed of your impurities. Reality by fiat.

One of the things George Orwell frequently showcases in his explorations of the totalitarian is the awesome power of denial. The constant, compulsive need to alter reality in ways that would be comical were they not so terrifying and effective.

Trump and his loyalists are desperate to deploy this tactic. With his presidency secure, all is washed white as snow. His incomprehensible proclamations on policy were not literal, but figurative, except when they were literal. He will remain a man who “tells it like it is,” even when it isn’t. His entanglements with foreign governments are not conflicts of interest, because the president is not subject to Law. He will have no influence over his businesses because his children/constant companions will be running them for him. His self-dealing charity is not relevant, nor are the dozens of cases he’s involved with in the legal system. His cabinet is not quickly filling with fundamentalists, racists and white nationalists, contrary to the evidence. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Well, so far as we are concerned here at Swing State, the argument that one should reevaluate whether to give Trump a chance to succeed in . . . whatever it is he intends to do . . . is a complete failure. It does not even approach the level of basic rationality and applicability we would normally think of as “serious.” Everything Donald Trump has said and done or failed to do or failed to appropriately distance himself from, remains relevant. His alleged sexual assaults are relevant. His basic incompetence and pathological lying are relevant. His poor followers should be reminded of all of it at every opportunity. It is the media’s duty to continue to inform and investigate these issues and more, without concern for the administration’s childish protests.

And it’s our duty to remind our elected officials this behavior is simply not acceptable. We are weathering this person, surviving him, and the sooner his lifetime of greed and corruption and predation catch up with him, the better it is for all of us.

“…the right of the people to peaceably assemble…”

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

You may have noticed that there are a lot of anti-Trump protests, right now. Regardless of how you feel about them – whether you think they’re effective, or harmful, or distracting – Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution says that people have the right to peaceably assemble.

Now, you may immediately point to reports of violence or destruction of property during the protests, and claim that they invalidate the protests. But, they don’t. “Peaceably” assemble means exactly that. Once the protest escalates into violence, or an actual law is violated, we fully expect the police to respond, arrest the culprit, and toss them into the legal system.

However, the actions of a person, or even a group of people, within a larger group do not automatically invalidate the group’s cause. If that were the case, we could dismiss all the Catholics as rapists and pedophiles, all the white people as genocidal killers, and all the algebra teachers as people who think you’ll use this skill in real life. But, most Catholics don’t rape children, most white people haven’t given smallpox-laden blankets to Native Americans, and maybe that one math teacher just needed something to fall back on until his blogging career finally took off.

Now, even if you agree with me that they have the constitutional right to protest, you may still think that the protesters are just a bunch of crybabies who didn’t get their way in the election. Again, it’s always possible that there are a few in there. But, you might also want to consider that they’re also expressing their dissatisfaction with a president-elect who:

…appears to think and speak at grade-school level, but is mistaken for someone who “tells it like it is.”

…thinks Climate Change is a Chinese-generated hoax.

…is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan because his campaign rhetoric included banning all the people of a single, specific, religion, and deporting all illegal immigrants.

…chose as his “chief strategist and senior counselor,” Steve Bannon, who “openly embraced the ‘alt-right.’”

…who admitted to, and joked about, sexually assaulting women.

…chose a Vice-President that endorses the discredited gay “conversion therapy,” signed a bill to jail same-sex marriage license applicants, opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” served on the board of an anti-gay group (Indiana Family Institute), and has made it clear that in any conflict between religion and protection for the LGBTQ community, he will support religion. His religion…

…has given angry, white, cis, males tacit permission to do and say all the things they weren’t “allowed” to do and say because of “political correctness.”

In short, they are protesting a president that has said that they don’t matter, that people that they love don’t matter, that the way to “Make America Great Again” is to return to a time when the white man was properly revered as the king of his castle and everyone else knew their place.

They are protesting because the votes are in, and, unless a significant number of faithless Electors flip for Clinton, Donald J. Trump will become President of the United States of America, and the Republican party will essentially control the government with no real significant check on their power. While this may cause formerly passive liberals to run for office in an attempt to gradually effect change, the mid-term elections aren’t until 2018.

Meanwhile, Trump and the newly emboldened Republicans will waste no time undoing as much progress as possible. So, the only options available to average Americans who want to protect themselves, their friends, their family, their nation, to keep the new regime on its toes, to stall every backward step, is to use the constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech, free press, and to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And this isn’t just for angry liberals, either…

Republicans, remember when Trump vowed to “Drain the swamp!” of insider politics in Washington, then promptly hired lobbyists to oversee the departments that had regulated their own industries? Liberals AND Conservatives complained, and Pence fired the lobbyists.

That is why people protest.

To let our government know that that we are watching, that we are paying attention, that we will not let it operate unopposed, or let it grab us by the pussy and let it do whatever it wants just because it’s a star…

Safety Pins…

 

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A Facebook friend recently posted this meme, one of many, meant to diminish the genuine fear people felt after Donald Trump was elected President.

For those who haven’t already heard, the act of wearing a safety pin has become a symbol of solidarity with the significant population who suddenly found themselves adrift and afraid following the election –- the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Muslims, non-whites, and women. Inspired by a response to the “Brexit” situation in the UK, the pin was meant to indicate that one is an ally, someone who could be counted on to shelter and protect those who were experiencing the hateful xenophobia that followed Britain’s vote for departure from the EU. The symbol has now been adopted here in the United States.

Relative to the above meme, the suggestion is that Walter Hunt’s invention of the safety pin as well as a prototype repeating rifle causes cognitive dissonance in “liberals.” Somehow the mere relation of the two displays hypocrisy. This of course relies on the assumption that “liberals” collectively hate and fear firearms. We don’t. That “liberals” are “triggered” by that conflict. We aren’t. That we should just shut our mouths. We won’t.

But, the unintended consequence of this meme is that it shows a significant divide between the left and right. Our response to a Trump win was to wear safety pins to help people identify their allies, and to protest already escalating violence and discrimination. By contrast, Trump, at a rally in North Carolina, suggested there might be a “Second-Amendment” solution to preventing Hillary from getting “her” judges on the bench, and many of his supporters prepared for armed resistance in the event of a Hillary win.

We have to be the side that changes minds by point/counterpoint, not gunpoint.

As such, the safety pin alone is not enough. Already, criticism has arisen that it is an empty gesture, a salve for bruised egos, a way of saying, “Don’t blame me.” Whether you wear it or don’t wear it is less important than what else you do, because you cannot stop there. It is not enough for the people who need you to see you wear a symbol. You have to be a symbol.

Call your Congressional representatives, regardless of party. If they’re newly elected, congratulate them on the opportunity to serve the public. If they’re returning incumbents, congratulate them on their continued opportunity to serve the public. Remind them all that you are a real, living, breathing, human being. Tell them how Trump’s policies will affect you, how they may already affect you. Do not let them forget that the population they ostensibly represent includes you.

Donate your time and money, if you have them, to organizations that represent your interests in government. Magnify your voice by joining it with others. These organizations already exist. You just need to seek them out, check them out, and decide what issues drives you.

Read, learn, talk. Read about out our government: how it works, how it doesn’t, and how it impacts our nation. Learn everything you can to be an informed voter. Talk to people about the things you’ve learned. You don’t have to argue, and debate, just educate. If you have the time, talent, or ability, magnify your own voice by blogging, podcasting, creating video content, art, literature – anything to further spread your message. Make sure that when the mid-term election rolls around in two years, you’ve done all you can to help people make an informed decision at the polls.

Connect. You are not alone. More than half the US population that voted opposed Trump. Find those people among your friends, your family, your neighbors. Connect with them. Commiserate with them. Protect them, if necessary. But, unite.

We really are “Stronger Together.”

Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design.

They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength.”

– Edmund Burke

Need to start connecting?  You can find us here:

Twitter: @swingstate_show

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/swingstateshow/

Email: swingstateshow@gmail.com

 

The Unity Rally

Unity Rally

Hundreds gathered Saturday evening for an event that took on the character of a funeral, not a protest. There was no chanting or screaming, no vulgarity, doom-laced proclamations, or police. Citizens of Iowa convened by social media in less than three days turned into a body of strangers that filled The People’s Plaza. There was a shared sense of loss and shame bordering on despondency––the kind of feeling brought on when something you’ve cherished enough to grieve for seems frail and wounded.

The Unity Rally served as a cross-section of America. There were gay men and women, transgender, and disabled; there were people of color and foreign nationality; and yes, there were the Mountain Dew-drinking, ball cap-wearing, straight white men that make up a fair portion of our own beloved Iowa tribe.

After a rendition of Lennon’s “Blackbird,” citizens took their turns at a microphone, and spoke plainly. Many expressed their disgust, their shame, and their anger. Worse, many Iowans expressed their fear. Fear, as one father told it, at his son’s relation of what a classmate had told him: that because of the color of his skin, he would have no place in Trump’s America. He would be taken from his family and shipped somewhere beyond the Wall.

There has been a rash of racist, homophobic, and religiously-motivated incidents across the state and this nation since Tuesday. It may well be lost on the Trump voter, but it is not lost on the communities suffering a wave of intimidation, harassment, and even violence. One transgendered man, after years of struggle to leave the closet, openly considered returning to it. Many others have contemplated if their dignity is a fair trade for their safety.

It was a solemn occasion, to be sure. No one standing on the granite map of Iowa counties had any illusions: this is not the America most of us are used to. This is not what we remember. How could it be that so many citizens, minority or no, have gathered together in front of the Capitol Building for no other reason than to commiserate and contemplate the potential horror about to be inflicted on their communities as the result of a single day, a single election?

By now after five days of wave after wave of protests growing in strength, one must imagine that even Trump’s most ardent supporters have noticed a disturbance in the Force. And if not them, surely those who exercised their right in protest, never imagining it would actually inflict a Trump presidency on us, have sensed the atmosphere of foreboding fumigating from New York to L.A. to Salt Lake City, Utah. 

It is here in Des Moines, Iowa, first caucus state in the Union. Hundreds gathered together in front of the State Capitol to acknowledge it, and to reassure each other of this much: we are still here, we are fighting, and racism and bigotry will not prevail. Our democracy will not abide tyrants and demagogues, or the hatred they feast on. The resistance will be here in our own state, at every level.

Many at the Unity Rally expressed a sentiment that is quickly becoming an all-too-familiar refrain. They wondered: What more could I have done? The start of action is the recognition if inaction. And there was no more hopeful a result from the Unity Rally than this. Iowans are beginning to understand that each and every one of us is responsible for the democracy we live in.

Funerals are for the living.

What Do We Do Now?

The benefit of hindsight is that events which once seemed distant, vague, improbable, or even impossible suddenly appear as what they were––inevitable. The causes and conditions that give rise to our current environment are rarely accessible all at once. It’s only by looking back, reviewing the data, reviewing various occurrences as they happened in their immediate and historical context, that we come to understand why the world is the way it is, and why we are faced with the problems and challenges we are faced with.

On the eve of the election of the Donald J. Trump, the narrative that appeared inevitable was that of defeat followed by a long and intellectually bloody civil war within the Republican Party and the conservative movement which is responsible for his election. The polls indicated it. The political climate assured us of it. In many sectors of the media and the political establishment, the lines were already beginning to be drawn. The #NeverTrumpers and the #Deplorables, the sheep and the goats.

But then, in a single night, we collectively discovered that the narratives packaged and sold by a dithering, incompetent media––which utterly failed in its fundamental trust to inform and equip the voter for rational decision making––were hollow, empty, false. As a result, Idiocracy reigns supreme in 21st-century America.

The civil war is in fact going to occur in the Democratic Party. It will be between those who supported the establishment candidate Hillary Clinton, and the progressives who opposed her nomination, who feared that that political gravity would hamper a candidate so disliked and mistrusted, and who understood practically and logically that Senator Bernie Sanders––and only Senator Bernie Sanders––represented the progressive left’s best chance of securing a total victory. Senator Sanders stood, and stands today, for the beleaguered people of the United States, whose lives have in many cases been ruined by the greed of financiers and politicians, whose protests and suffering are naively dismissed by a wealthy, insulated political class, and who desperately needed the kind of moral clarity that Senator Sanders and his campaign provided.

Like so many, I watched the November 8 returns with shock and horror that induced physical sickness. I watched as racism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, hatred, and authoritarianism triumphed over democracy. And I can say that literally, as Secretary Clinton secured the popular vote––which in any legitimate democracy would result in her election––but nevertheless failed to be elected. The cowardly racists, Klansmen, and phony para-military militias crowed while decent people wept. The first black president of the United States, himself a towering symbol of the best America has to offer, will usher in the KKK’s candidate of choice into the White House. His legacy will be tarnished, his policies uprooted, and America will cease to be the beacon of freedom and hope we aspire to. For the time being the world will have to look elsewhere for moral and political leadership. An illegitimate criminal––on trial for fraud––will occupy the White House now.

The only thing left to decide is what the fuck are you and I going to do about it?

For myself, and by way of introducing this platform, I intend to resist the fascists and their president by every means legally and morally possible. Progressives must put aside petty squabbles and band together in one unbreakable front, and hurl ourselves and all of our passion, creativity, energy, and enthusiasm at the darkness. Only this will undo what apathy and indolence have ushered in. You do not need to pore over statistics, my friends, or sift through reams of data. You need only remember a single piece of information: nearly 50% of the American electorate DID NOT EVEN VOTE in the year 2016. It would appear that Americans are, by and large, a lazy, ignorant, and trivial people, and the first step in righting the ship is to realize that this more than anything is the cause of our ills. Who would bother blaming Gary Johnson or Jill Stein for anything while that statistical reality stands?

How do we do it?

How, exactly, do we resist?

We do what Bernie Sanders taught us to do.

We organize.

We mobilize.

We protest.

We vote.

Join us.