Tag Archives: politics

Barbara Kingsolver on Our Post Election World

UPDATE: I’ve excerpted the end of her article; click the links to read the entire peice.

I’m relying on the words of beloved author Barbara Kingsolver’s words about what’s happened to our country and  where we go from here.  From the Guardian 11/23/16

If we’re artists, writers, critics, publishers, directors or producers of film or television, we reckon honestly with our role in shaping the American psyche. We ask ourselves why so many people just couldn’t see a 69-year-old woman in our nation’s leading role, and why they might choose instead a hero who dispatches opponents with glib cruelty. We consider the alternatives. We join the time-honored tradition of artists resisting government oppression through our work.

If we’re journalists, we push back against every door that closes on freedom of information. We educate our public about objectivity, why it matters, and what it’s like to work under a president who aggressively threatens news outlets and reporters.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-9-49-01-amIf we’re consumers of art, literature, film, TV and news, we think about what’s true, and what we need. We reward those who are taking risks to provide it.

If we’re teachers we explicitly help children of all kinds feel safe in our classrooms under a bullying season that’s already opened in my town and probably yours. Language used by a president may enter this conversation. We say wrong is wrong.

If we’re scientists we escalate our conversation about the dangers of suppressing science education and denying climate change. We shed our cautious traditions and explain what people should know. Why southern counties are burning now and Florida’s coastal cities are flooding, unspared by any vote-count for denial.

If we’re women suffering from sexual assault or body image disorders, or if we’re their friends, partners or therapists, we acknowledge that the predatory persona of men like Trump is genuinely traumatizing. That revulsion and rage are necessary responses.

If our Facebook friends post racial or sexist slurs or celebrate assaults on our rights, we don’t just delete them. We tell them why.

If we’re getting up in the morning, we bring our whole selves to work. We talk with co-workers and clients, including Trump supporters, about our common frustrations when we lose our safety nets, see friends deported, lose our clean air and water, and all the harm to follow. We connect cause and effect. This government will blame everyone but itself.

We refuse to disappear.

We keep our commitments to fairness in front of the legislators who oppose us, lock arms with the ones who are with us, and in the words of Congressman John Lewis, prepare to get ourselves in some good trouble. Every soul willing to do that is part of our team, starting with the massive crowd that shows up in DC in January to show the new president what we stand for, and what we won’t.

There’s safety in numbers, but only if we count ourselves out loud.

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Finding the Right Words… Part 1

Dear Readers,

Since the election on November 8 I have started and bailed on 4 posts, unable to wrap my head/thoughts/words around the election of the 45th president. I’m going to do my best to weave those aborted essays into something coherent, so I can move on. Here’s Part 1. The verse is from a poem by William E. Stafford

How I Became a Liberal

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

Alas, I am one of those out-of-touch ‘elites’ who, despite my rust-belt roots and my current bank balance, delights in a healthy planet, education, real science, and a sensitivity to and celebration of other cultures. How did I become so solidly Blue?

1968presidential-electionMaybe it’s because,of this:  in 7th grade Civics our teacher used the presidential election to get 35 moody 13 year olds excited about politics. We had to join a campaign team – either Republican Richard Nixon or Democrat Hubert Humphrey.

I was born into a family that voted Republican. We were part of Detroit’s white flight to the suburbs, landing in a WASP suburb famous for redlining. Black folk were domestic workers and I never met any Jews until I went to college.
In that very white, very Republican Michigan suburb, every kid in the class wanted to work for Nixon. That’s who our parents talked about as the good guy. I got stuck on the Humphrey team. As our classroom campaigns rolled along we became engrossed in the real Presidential race. I worked hard to get Hubert elected, most of it falling on deaf ears. I remember my disappointment when he lost.

This was also formative: Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In was a revelation. Here were people that felt my tribe. Before long I was itching to join anti war protests and fighting with my dad.  He threatened to vote for segregation candidate George Wallace that year.

Seriously?

This American Life commissioned some musical theater songs inspired by this unbearable election ordeal, and here’s one of three (listen to the other two HERE.)

This is the refrain, in the voice of President Obama.

Angry?

Am I angry?
You ask me if I’m angry?

And I’m at a loss for words.

After all we’ve done,
every battle hard won,
every hair gone gray,
in the name of this place,
in a history paved
with incredible mistakes –
I pledge my allegiance
to these united, divided states

Seriously.

 

An Amazing Country

I spent Election Day volunteering in Virginia, after voting in Maryland around 8:30 am. It was a cheerful crowd of neighbors, many of them friends. Our election judge told us that folks began to line up as early as 4:30 am for a 7:00 am opening. I see so much passion about voting this time around, I can’t wait to see the numbers on voter turnout.

After checking in at the Alexandria Headquarters I was sent on a few errands before a bus with fourteen people from DC arrived. My job was to follow them to  a nearby neighborhood field office and then take a few teams of two out for Get Out The Vote canvassing.  The field office was in a spacious home where every room was filled with busy staff, family and volunteers. After a thorough briefing on GOTV canvassing, we were treated to lunch, split into teams and sent out to knock on doors.

It was a bright and lovely day for the job. We were canvassing in an outer suburb, crowded with newish town homes. For a few hours we went door-to-door in pairs, hoping to talk to folks, but leaving a sticky reminder note if no one answered. Young parents, seniors and a few other adults were home, and most had already voted.  Spirits were high. But there were a few folks that I know went to vote because we came along to encourage them.

I didn’t put all the details together until we were heading back to the field office. Our DC volunteers were homeless men, and many of them veterans. All day we were talking to people of diverse persuasions. There were seniors and disabled volunteers on the phones. An entire family with a big house welcomed people without homes, and we all worked together. This didn’t just look like America, it was America.

I am so proud of my country, and it is an amazing feeling.