This weekend, I was part of an email exchange in my state Democratic Party. Aaaaand…it never fails. Somebody started bitching that someone wasn’t attending enough meetings. Someone else called the complainer disrespectful, and off we went. The initial topic of the email thread–trying to make meeting information more accessible on the party website–got completely lost, and wasn’t addressed again until much later.

On that same day, I attended training to be an election observer in my county. Our trainer’s warning could not have been more stark. For the first time ever, he told us, he believed that intentional disruptions to the election process were likely. Disruptions like intimidation of voters, protests in front of election offices, even rioting. We received safety instructions for what to do if we were threatened by violent MAGAs during our shift.

(By the way, if you have a chance to volunteer to be an election observer in your local area, do it! It’s more important than ever.)

It’s a cliche to say that working with Democrats is a bit like herding cats…but it’s a cliche because it’s true. Our meetings always take way longer than expected, because we don’t just bicker about the issues we’re voting on, we bicker endlessly about what the voting process should be. Our party is full of lively and big personalities, which is part of what makes it so much fun. And no, we don’t fall in line easily.

That is all well and good, but it’s also true that we really are in a battle for our democracy. For the first time since I arrived in this country, I’m genuinely worried that our election system will not survive the next couple of cycles–that we will see political violence, that MAGA candidates will refuse to concede, and state legislatures will overturn election results.

So we can’t afford the petty in-fighting. Yes, people on our own side will disagree with us, and yes, people can be difficult to work with. That is not relevant right now. We need to set that aside and focus on what matters–supporting our candidates and making sure they’re elected, putting our message out there, and getting out the vote, while simultaneously keeping an eye out for any voter suppression shenanigans.

The extreme right-wing is organizing and preparing for its assault on our institutions and our republic. Will we be able to unite and oppose this assault, or will we continue hurling finger-wagging emails at each other?

Eyes on the prize, Democrats!

In case anyone is wondering why, in a time of inflation, endless mass shootings and baby formula shortages, the January 6th commission still matters?

It matters because this could happen again. A precedent was set in 2020 that the candidate who loses an election does not need to accept the results, and a peaceful transfer of power doesn’t need to take place. The candidate can simply say he still won, and send a bunch of his angry supporters into the Capitol, threatening to hang the legislators they think should vote differently.

This time the attempt to assassinate legislators and execute a coup was stopped–thank goodness. But what if it’s tried again the next election, and the one after that?

I grew up in an authoritarian regime, in which elections still took place, but the results didn’t matter. The candidates were selected ahead of time. I would really hate to see the United States turn into that kind of place. There need to be consequences for the Jan 6th insurrection.

Support your local democracy workers!  This is an essential mission in times like these.

I spent some time this week listening to congressional hearings about the infamous Cyber Ninjas election audit in Arizona.  There was a lot of crazy involved in the audit situation…but one of the most painful things, for me, was hearing the Arizona election officials talking about the death threats and intimidation they’ve received from their fellow Americans.  Jack Sellers, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, talked about Sheriff’s department vehicles being parked in front of his house all night due to specific threats directed at him.  Keep in mind that this man is a Republican, but he is being punished anyway for not going along with Trump’s Big Lie.

This same pattern is playing out in many places across the country.  In red states, Republican legislators and election officers who dare to uphold the results of the 2020 presidential race are being harassed and pressured to leave office.  And school board members are resigning because of the vicious attacks they are receiving over mask mandates.  We hear a lot about the squabbling in Congress, but there is a different battle taking place all over the nation. The Trumpist right wing has turned its assault on democracy local.

This strategy works to their advantage on multiple levels.  Number one, it pushes people unwilling to kowtow to Trump out of these jobs, and replaces them with loyal followers who will toe the line.  In the future, the actual vote counts in an election might not matter, if state legislatures and officers are happy to overturn the results.  Number two, it creates a chilling effect which keeps responsible community members from running for these positions.  Who wants to deal with this much stress and fear for doing hard work which is either low-paid or voluntary?

As a volunteer for our county Democratic party, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of our local school board members.  These are regular, everyday Moms, former teachers, immigrants who live and work in our community.  They are not people with a Secret Service detail.  They cannot and should not have to deal with constant threats to their safety.  Fortunately, in the area where I live–as far as I can tell–the situation is not that dire, but many others are not so lucky.

So what can we do?  As always, just throwing up our hands and getting angry about terrible Youtube videos is not the answer.  I’m forever on my soapbox about how we need to be involved in local politics, but this is especially true now.

If you have the courage, time and resources, running for or volunteering for one of these positions is a beautiful thing.  The right is currently working on getting its very special Trump-approved candidates to fill these slots.  We need good, sane people to push back on this.

That is not realistic for everyone, however.  For those of us who cannot run, we need to find ways to show support for our local helpers of democracy.  One way is to show up to meetings.  Often, the majority of the community actually supports things like mask mandates, but the minority which opposes them is loud and aggressive about it–and they are the ones who show up and speak out (or scream out, more accurately).

Another way is to show support on social media.  This may seem like a small thing, but again, if you visit the social media accounts of your school district or city council or state legislators, you will often find that the comments are dominated by a flood of trolling and negativity–even for someone who just a few days ago may have won the community’s vote!  If they are doing something you agree with, leave a thank you note of support.  If we let the trolls take over, it gives the false impression that the community is opposed to popular policies.

And of course, around election time, support the campaigns of those who are trying to do the right thing.  Donate if you can, volunteer if you are able to.

It’s not glamorous and it’s not going to get national media coverage, but it’s actions like this, putting in the work day after day, election after election, that will save our democracy.

To the democracy workers–thank you for what you do.  We’ve got your back.

When the 2016 election results were announced, I was devastated. I was angry and sad. Trump wasn’t just anathema to everything I believed in–he seemed like a danger to everything I loved about America.

But I never once allowed myself to believe fantasies about Hillary getting reinstated halfway through the term, or conspiracy theories about the election results getting overturned. Not only because overturning the results of a legitimate election would be wrong, but because this just…was not…reality. And I knew that allowing myself to believe in fairy tales would only bring me pain and suffering in the end, when they turned out not to be true.

So instead I worked my butt off to promote my ideas and values on the local and state level, and volunteered as much as I could during the midterms and presidential election. It was sometimes discouraging and hard, but it was the only way to really make a difference and move things forward.

It’s rough–I know!–but the only thing to do when you’ve lost an election is to work to get the vote out and persuade voters that your ideas are the ones that will help them. Anybody telling you about a quick and easy solution is trying to sell you something. And threatening violence is truly the lazy person’s way out. “We can’t have our way, so we’ll have to shoot you.” Guess what: that only makes things worse, and more complicated. And it does not bring other people over to your side.

Please, don’t buy what the Russian bots are selling you. It will only make your life, and all of our lives, more difficult.

Because I’m actually patriotic.

Like, in a real way.

Unlike fake “patriots,” I don’t pretend America is perfect and that one should never be allowed to criticize it. I understand that there is a dark side to American history. But I love and appreciate all that is most exciting and creative and dynamic about America–the diversity of cultures and religious traditions and political ideas and cuisines which make their home here. I love jazz and hip-hop and salsa, and how those sounds weave their way in and out of the fabric of the nation. Pizza, burritos, falafels, pierogi–yes, please! I’m a big fan of our new Vice-President, the child of Jamaican and South Asian immigrants–and a big fan of my new Muslim county commissioner, Nafisa Fai, who’s got Somali refugee roots. Pre-pandemic, one of my favorite things in the world was a noisy Portland street full of guitar-playing buskers, anarchist protesters and crazy end-times cult members trying to convert me. America wouldn’t be America without them.

But the people who call themselves “patriots”–people like Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity–truth is, they don’t really like America. Not most of it, anyway. They hate cities. They don’t like immigrants, with a few (white-skinned) exceptions. They disdain large parts of American culture–all the music and movies and TV shows created by those coastal “libtards.” Lately, even sports has been in their crosshairs, seeing as so much of it is played by African-American athletes who will not remain conveniently silent about the racism they experience on a regular basis.

They love America only in the most narrow and most unimaginative way–as defined by one race, one religion, one culture, and controlled by one gender. And this from the people who love to talk about freedom….

The white man who drives a big truck, goes to church and listens to country is part of America, too. But the “patriot” movement wants him to become the definition of America. One shade of color instead of the entire rainbow.

But here is the true punchline of this joke…

The wealthy who lead and inspire this movement don’t even respect this middle American white male they mythologize. As far as they are concerned, he can remain poor, employed for a low wage, unable to obtain health care or a secure retirement. They don’t care if he’s able to keep the heat on when extreme weather comes through. They only care about him as long as he can be manipulated into voting for laws that allow them to retain as much of their wealth as possible.

So are they really patriotic? Do they like their fellow Americans?

I’ve got my doubts. And I will not be joining the Patriot Party anytime soon.

If you’re feeling depressed and scared right now (and I am), there are actions we can all take. I know that posting about this on social media mostly feels like preaching to the choir.

From a friend of a friend of a friend, here’s a list of Republican senators who are either running vulnerable races or hate Trump. They can be called and pressured to hold off on nominating a new Supreme Court Justice:

Lisa Murkowski: (202) 224-6665 (Hates Trump)

Martha McSally: (202) 224-2235 (Vulnerable)

Cory Gardner: (202) 224-5941 (Vulnerable)

Mitt Romney: (202) 224-5251 (Hates Trump)

Susan Colling: (202) 224-2523 (Is going to lose anyway – so should hate Trump)

Talking about or to Mitch McConnell is also a waste of time. Remember, he has no honesty or integrity, so trying to reason with him about rules and principles is pointless. You might as well be trying to convince a slime mold that these things are important.

However, working to make sure that he’s no longer Senate majority leader is a great use of our time! Some good Senate races to donate to: Mark Kelly in AZ, Jaime Harrison in SC, John Hickenlooper in CO, Sara Gideon in Maine, Amy McGrath in KY (Mitch’s opponent!) Mark Kelly and Sara Gideon, in particular, are running ahead of their opponents in the polls–so these are seats we can flip!!

And of course, vote Joe Biden in November…volunteer to get out the vote…you know the drill.

Good luck, everyone!! RBG may be gone, but her legacy does not have to die.

All kinds of thoughts pop into our heads when we’re awake at 3 am.  Lately, I’ve been waking up at 3 am a lot.  Maybe it’s the pandemic.  Maybe my body is hinting at me that I shouldn’t be having that beer right before bed….but that’s a different story.

A few nights ago, a particularly disturbing thought came to me and wouldn’t let me get back to sleep for a long time.  In the light of day, it seems insane.  I hope it’s insane.  But I need to get it out of my system.

So, we all know that Donald Trump has a…shall we say…chummy relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin.  What if it becomes clear to Trump that he’s about to lose the election…or he does lose the election in November…and he decides to make a deal with Putin to stage some kind of terrorist attack in America?

It’s already obvious from his response to the COVID pandemic that Trump would not be too concerned about a large loss of life of his fellow Americans…especially if those Americans lived in one of those blue cities that don’t like him.  In fact, he would be thrilled if this happened in a place like Seattle, or Chicago, or maybe San Francisco, where Nancy Pelosi is from.  He is that petty of a man.  I don’t even think he would try to hide his joy.

And in the meantime–this would give him the perfect excuse to postpone the election, or postpone the upcoming transition of power.  You know he would jump on that opportunity.  It would be a national security emergency, after all!  And he will keep America safe, like nobody else!

Another advantage of working with Putin is that Trump could get around the Pentagon.  Our military has its own problems, but at this point he has pissed off enough generals and soldiers with his name-calling and his stupidity that I don’t think they would let this kind of coup slide.  If he made a deal with a foreign leader, though, they would never need to know what was going on.

And, of course, Vladimir would be more than happy to do anything that weakens and injures America.  And how hilarious would it be if the country’s own President invited him to do it?  I can hear all the Russian bots LOL’ing about it now…

Feel free to tell me I’m completely bonkers.  In fact, I hope that you will.  I hope I’m wrong.  I hope I’m crazy.  Please talk me off this ledge, because this is making sense to me, and I’m kind of scared thinking about it.

And let me note that this is what Trump’s presidency has done to me.  I hate conspiracy theories.  I hate conspiracy theory spouting people.  But I have turned into a conspiracy theorist myself, because I cannot trust this President.  I do not believe for one second that he has this country’s well-being in mind.  He only cares about his own ego and about being a celebrity, and he doesn’t care what he destroys as long as he can use that destruction to feed his insecure spirit, even if only for a brief moment.

So, let’s hope for a return to sanity in this country very soon…before my mind goes completely.  And…please tell me I’m crazy.

I’m beginning to think that Tucker Carlson’s main function in the world has become to tell white conservatives scary bedtime stories about black and brown people.

His storytelling first got my attention a couple years ago, when he was railing about immigration and demographic shifts in America, claiming this was “more change than human beings are designed to digest.”

More recently, this is the guy who envisioned a frightening dystopia ruled by BLM mobs:

Imagine if the Diversity Inclusion Department at Brown University had the power to arrest you. Imagine if the Black Lives Matter rioters had weapons and immunity from prosecution. That’s what they’re talking about. Partisan law enforcement and partisan law enforcement, incidentally, is hardly without precedent. In fact, it’s the rule in the third world. This is an attempt to bring it here.

…This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will. Anyone who has ever been subjected to the rage of the mob knows the feeling.

I have to admit, I’m really not that scared of the Diversity Inclusion Department at Brown University.  But if you don’t buy that threat, how about those “violent young men”?

Well, violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them. You will not want to live here when that happens.

Tucker doesn’t specify what color these young men are, but he doesn’t have to.  If these were young white men with guns, Fox News would be calling them “patriots.”

Tucker got into some massive trouble, and lost some sponsors, over those comments.  But you’ve got to give it to him, he knows what his schtick is and what his audience expects from him, and he’s not giving that up.

So here is his latest, now about Joe Biden’s VP pick, Kamala Harris:

Consider this tape in which she explains how the federal government should respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Again, whatever you think of Affirmative Action, it’s likely you never imagined Affirmative Action would be applied to life-saving medical treatment. But Kamala Harris thinks it should be.

So we make decisions about where the resources should go to keep people from dying on the basis of skin color. So only people of a certain color get the vaccine, for example. That’s what she’s arguing. Now, this is a lot of things. It’s immoral. It’s unconstitutional, obviously. But above all it is definitely not moderate.

Now, mind you, in the interview Tucker mentions, Kamala was talking about the fact that communities of color were disproportionately affected by COVID, and that some of our resources should focus on helping those communities. She did not suggest that only people of color should get the COVID vaccine.  Well…of course she didn’t, because that would be insane and not something a serious person says.

But it is Tucker Carlson’s job to sell his Fox audience scary stories about what will happen when that brown-skinned woman with the weird name gets to be the Vice President…so that’s what he does.  Expect to see a lot more of this as we get closer to November, unfortunately.

Coincidentally, one of my neighbors has a dog named Tucker.  He is a round-bellied little creature which yips pointlessly all day at cats and squirrels and other animals that are not afraid of him and completely ignore him.

I would like to think the other Tucker has just about as much effect and influence.

 

 

2020 has just started and I am already crazy busy.  Part of my time is spent volunteering for my local Democratic party and various climate organizations, but a large chunk of time is going to my fave candidate in the 2020 Dem primaries, Elizabeth Warren.

(And did I mention that I also have a full-time job and a marriage to maintain?  Ha!)

There are many reasons why I like Elizabeth.  My top two issues in this election are getting universal health care established in America, as well as doing something about the climate crisis.  Elizabeth has great plans for both of those issues.  In fact, she has highly detailed plans for just about every problem one can think of on her website.  It’s one of the things I love about her, although I also realize that being wonky can be the kiss of death when it comes to the American public.  Sadly, our culture likes one-liners and simple slogans, not complex thoughts about our complex world.  Too bad for us.

If you’re serious about getting single payer health care in America, the two candidates you are left with are Elizabeth and Bernie.  I considered both of them for a while.  In the end, I went with Elizabeth because she seems like she would be better at working with others to get things done.  Also…I just have to say that my experience with the Bernie movement has been extremely negative, both in 2016 and now as a Warren supporter.  I have friends who are die-hard Bernie supporters and are also wonderful people, but especially online, Bernie supporters can be some of the worst trolls you can run into, short of actual Trumpsters.  The Warren campaign and volunteer family is an extremely supportive and positive place.  I recently took a break from using Facebook and have mostly been hanging out on the All In For Warren site, and it has been great.  No name calling, no bashing of other candidates.  Bernie and Liz are close enough policy-wise that the animosity seems really counterproductive.  It feels like the supporters of the two progressive candidates should have each other’s backs in this process, but of course that is not the case.  If Liz leaves the race, Bernie would be my logical number two choice, but while I could happily support the candidate himself, I’m kind of dreading joining his movement.

And yes, the fact that Elizabeth is a woman does matter to me.  I still have not given up on what is possibly a delusional pipe dream of getting a female President.  I have my doubts about seeing one in my lifetime, but I will certainly keep fighting for it as long as I am alive.

So where I have been spending a lot of my time is in the Warren campaign’s e-mail inbox, as part of her team of correspondence volunteers.  Now there’s a volunteer job which truly fits my introvert personality.  The amusing part of working for Elizabeth Warren is that you get to see both “I hate you because you’re a disgusting Commie who wants to force government health care on us” and “I hate you because you are not a true progressive” opinions.  It’s quite a ride.  There’s also lots of excitement and encouragement, and lots of moving stories from people dealing with the daily battle of trying to survive in this country.

All in all, totally worth giving up some of my evenings and Saturday mornings for.  And things are only going to get busier!  Cheers all, and talk to you again soon.

 

 

 

 

I’m sure I’ve ranted about this already in the past, but it happened again last week.  I think it must’ve been the impeachment hearings.  A Republican dimwit said something like “The American people wanted Donald Trump to be President…the American people don’t want impeachment…”

No, you dolt, not the American people.  It was SOME American people that wanted Trump to be President.  SOME Americans don’t like the idea of impeachment…other Americans are fervently hoping and wishing for it.

To be fair, this happens on the left too.  I will frequently hear optimistic commentary claiming that the American working class supports progressive policies–and I so, so wish that were true.  But many in the working class are against ideas like single payer healthcare and increased taxation on the wealthy, even though this essentially means they’re going against their own interests.  Saying that the American people support Bernie is just as unrealistic as saying that the American people support Trump.

The point is, the phrase “The American people want x” is useless, because there is no such thing as a united American people at the moment.  No matter which side you’re coming from, about half the country will oppose you.  And not just oppose you in a reasonable, thoughtful kind of way–but more like oppose you in a hair-on-fire, I-want-you-to-die kind of way.  Right now, slightly more than half the country hates Trump. (I’m part of that half, and I do think there are good reasons to dislike him.) If a Dem gets elected President (which I really, really hope happens, and have already started working for), slightly less than half the country will be actively rooting against them, and hoping for them to fail.  I don’t know what kind of saint could perform the miracle of making that division go away.  Jesus would get crucified all over again for being a socialist, so it wouldn’t be Him.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why that phrasing gets used so much.  Politicians want to create the impression that all or the vast majority of Americans support whatever idea they’re trying to promote.  And since when do politicians care if what they’re saying is actually true?  There are also non-politician citizens who badly want to believe that it’s only a small crazy fringe which disagrees with them…after all, their views just make so much sense, right?  But it’s extra disingenuous to be saying this at such an extremely polarized time in our history.

I know it doesn’t sound nearly as impressive to say “Well, about half the people are behind me on this…and large sections of the country don’t like what I’m doing.”  And it could be deadly to one’s political career.  So, we will have to continue to put up with political leaders speaking for “the American people” in their entirety, even though all of us who are in touch with reality know this to be a lie.  We are not one American people, and will not be for a long time.

At least, not until the next time somebody attacks us.  Because nothing binds a people together and puts an end to internal strife like finding a common enemy.  So, on that fine day when we find someone we can hate more than we hate each other, we will be able to once again say “The American people are completely in favor of destroying…”