This Is Our Moment: Giving Breath to the Government of, by, and for the People

Our problem is that we don’t believe it, or don’t want to believe it. It’s too incredible. We know it intellectually. We can see it and feel it. Every time DT’s face appears on the tv screen or we hear his voice we have a stress response. We feel our stomachs fall to the floor or we shout out curses involuntarily.

 

Or we hear numbers of new COVID-19 deaths or of states experiencing spikes of illness or disenfranchising voters or of the incredible concentration of wealth in the hands of the .1%. Or we hear the name of a brown or black person murdered by police and we get angry. We demonstrate. We make phone calls. Or we wonder⎼ what can we do?

 

Or we hear about a plot by white militias to kidnap, maybe murder, Gretchen Whitmer, a sitting Democratic Governor, attack police and incite a civil war. And what we don’t hear from the President and his party is outrage. Instead, DT tweets attacks on the threatened Governor. He supports the terrorists. Even though one of the terrorists called him a tyrant, it was DT who augmented and manipulated the extreme division in this country that helped incite their actions. And we wonder⎼ how can this be? It is too incredible. We have moved to a state called shock.

 

Democracy is a government of, by, and for the people, and must be about maintaining a quality of relationship amongst all its members. We must recognize the need for a diversity of viewpoints and the rights of others, and all can, must take part.

 

But politics, like any competition, can become, like Mao Zedong said, war without bloodshed. Right now, one group is trying to divide the nation into two exclusive and conflicting sides. One group is trying to remove the restraints on violence, not only to frighten both sides but to stroke the flames of frustration, fear, and enmity into murdering democracy itself. They are trying to set the constitution in flames. They are not trying to win an election but to eliminate them.

 

They are trying to make us feel that ‘order’, and the ‘rule of law’ are impossible, mere dreams, and the words are meaningless sounds, by calling themselves the law and order party or their leader, the “law and order President”.  They are the enemies of the rule of law. For them, ‘order’ or ‘rule of law’ is twisted to mean rule by one side, one person, only. For them, the only time there will be peace is when all opposition is terminated, all diversity of viewpoint has ceased. …

 

To read the whole post, go to the Good Men Project.

 

 

Amidst Anger, Fear, and Outrage there is Hope

Maybe I’m crazy. Amidst the anger, fear and outrage I feel right now, there is hope.

 

I am white and I support Black Lives Matter. I support speaking out for justice and against the abuses of governmental power. I support not only the righteous anger but the compassion for others expressed by these demonstrations. Rev. Al Sharpton spoke about the collective pain in the African American community. There is too much pain in our nation right now and the only medicine for it is justice.

 

A man, an African American man named George Floyd, was murdered by police. His video-taped cry “I can’t breathe” eerily echoed the same words spoken by Eric Garner in NYC in 2014 before he, too, was killed by police. And in Tacoma Washington, the Medical Examiner just ruled that Manuel Ellis was killed on March 3 by police. He, too, called out “I can’t breathe” before dying.

 

George Floyd was murdered last week, just about two months after another African-American, Breonna Taylor, was shot by police in her own home, and three months after Ahmaud Arbery was shot. It took three months before the murderers of Mr. Arbery were arrested.

 

All across the country protests began against this latest murder, largely peaceful protests, calling for justice. But then reports and videos of violence followed the demonstrations. Curfews were instigated, national guard activated. Chaos seemed to ensue in several cities.

 

This was frightening. Then photos were taken and shared, and peaceful Black protestors called out white instigators of that violence. It seemed these disrupters were mostly either thieves taking advantage of the protests to rip off businesses or white nationalists trying to discredit the demonstrations or instigate further violence. And one white man, a supporter of DT, drove a tractor-trailer into a huge crowd of protestors, evoking the image of a deadly attack by a terrorist driving a truck into a crowd of people in Nice, France, in 2016.

 

I feel outrage not only against the murder but that peaceful demonstrations could be twisted to serve the purposes of white nationalists and others, who represent the very deep social forces in this nation that have perpetrated violence against African-Americans and others in this country for years, since the beginning of this nation.

 

And in the background, DT fuels the flames, incites violence by his MAGA supporters, calls the African-American protestors “thugs.” Threatens to send in the military. But the armed white nationalists, who protest against the orders of Democratic Governors to stay home to keep themselves and others safe⎼ they, of course, are “good people.”

 

He is using the protests to create a new crisis and distract us from the ongoing pandemic of racism and COVID-19, which is still killing thousands. But I think⎼ or hope⎼ he has made a mistake. In the past, DT has worked to instill, in his supporters, hate of African Americans, Latinos and other people of color, Muslims, Jews, Democrats, and others, and instill fear in anyone who opposes him. (He even re-tweeted a video of a supporter saying, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”) What he’s done this time is turn his opponent’s frustration over continuing injustice into a conviction that the only viable choice they or we have is taking action.

 

And while the demonstrations are continuing, people are dying due to the coronavirus. Over 106,000 people have died. This virus has been made more lethal by the malignant mismanagement of the crisis by the DT government. The GOP have exploited the pandemic instead of responsibly facing it. Some have profited financially, not just for themselves but their mega-rich donors. According to Common Dreams, 41 million people have lost jobs while American billionaires grew $500 billion richer. They have readily sacrificed people to suit their own purposes, and African-Americans have disproportionately been the victims.

 

This all must end.

 

The police officer who killed George Floyd was charged this Wednesday with second degree murder. The others who stood by and aided and abetted in that crime have also been arrested. These arrests and the prosecutions that will follow, as well as changes in the operation of the police in Minneapolis, will be a tremendous first step. They are largely the result of people speaking up and taking to the streets. It is one step at a time. Changing the nation as a whole ⎼ that will hopefully follow.

 

In Minneapolis, there is at least a Democratic Mayor who has shown understanding of the history of racism this murder has exposed (although the president of the police union has not). The nation has a very different leader. For any deeper changes, DT must go.

 

So, why hope? Because we need hope to act. Because more than half of the people of this nation are sick of these injustices and are saying so. People are sick of one murder after another⎼ and sick of coronavirus deaths. Of the stupidity, injustice, and malevolence. Of the racism institutionalized into a political, economic and social system that is at the center of the malignancy that is splitting open this nation. Justice for this murder might lead to justice for other murders and abuses of government power. And then the rule of law and the civil rights protected in the constitution will be protected in the streets, the courts, and the Congress.

 

And inside the anger there are tears. When everyone took a knee at a demonstration  yesterday protesting the death of George Floyd, the sadness over his death, over so many lives taken, suddenly hit me, hit everyone. But instead of crying I write this.

 

Only voices united in opposition can reveal and expel that malignancy and create the social and legal situation where a guilty verdict against police is possible. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the Lincoln Memorial about “the real promises of democracy.” He said, “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” He spoke of his hope. His dream. It is illustrative of this moment that DT has stationed troops at the Lincoln Memorial to drive away the hope and the dream. He won’t succeed.

 

So, after the fear, anger, and outrage⎼ and the sadness⎼ the hope shyly follows.

 

*This post has been syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

*The photo is from Gary Bercow.

Cutting the Jugular Vein of Democracy

Do you feel the news cycle is speeding up or things are getting even worse since the impeachment trial? I thought the world was in trouble ever since DT was elected. But since the Senate abdicated its role in holding the President accountable for his actions, DT’s tweets and actions have spiraled out of control. Or maybe his aim is clearer. He has gone directly toward the jugular vein of democracy and has cut it.

 

Even Bill Barr, his legal fixer, spoke out saying enough is enough. Whether it was real or more likely political theatre, he said that DT’s tweets attacking the justice department, attacking actual judicial proceedings, was making his job impossible and undermine the legal system.

 

The context for Barr’s comments was DT’s direct and obvious intervention in the sentencing of Roger Stone, his “friend” and supporter who knows where so much dirt is buried. DT even attacked the judge and a juror in the case, illustrating what his lawyers, as well as GOP Senators (other than Mitt Romney), proclaimed: DT thinks he can do whatever he wants, thus destroying the concept of a fair trial. As the New York Times, Adam Schiff and others pointed out, if he is the law then there is no rule of law, and the constitutional separation of powers is dead.

 

After Barr warned him to stop his tweets, DT went on to say that he had the power to interfere in the Stone Case, or any case. And Barr’s move to make sure any investigation of the President must go through him, just cements DT’s control over the DOJ and judiciary and destroys the constitutional balance of powers.

 

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, DT is interfering in cases and pardoning criminals in order to make clear: if you violate the law on my behalf, you get a free pass. If you oppose me, as his firing of Ambassador Sondland, and Colonel Vindman and his attacks on Adam Schiff illustrate, you will pay a severe price.

 

And it is not just DT and those close to him who are speeding up their attacks on democracy, but Russia and some corporate media outlets. Last week, as reported by the New York Times, former acting director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire had officials from his agency brief the House Intelligence Committee that Russia was interfering right now in the 2020 election to aid DT’s re-election campaign. This led to DT angrily berating Maguire and replacing him with Richard Grenell, someone with no experience in intelligence but who is a DT loyalist….

 

To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

It’s So Easy to Lose Our Heads: The Need to Secure and Advance Democracy

It is so easy to lose our heads. To get angry or depressed or want to run and hide. Or blame someone ⎼ that’s always been a strategy to clutch at. Blame this person or that group. Blame Muslims, if you’re a supporter of T, or blame Congresswomen of color or just women. Or just people of color. Or just journalists. Or people who actually examine the news and think critically about it. Or scientists⎼ that’s a clever strategy. Blame the people who actually study our universe and invent things and keep our technology and healthcare, etc. advancing.

 

Or blame the Democratic Party and DNC. But wait. Some of my FB friends do that, too. Fellow progressives, liberals and lefties. Afterall, the DNC has certainly been despicable at times in the past. Some even claim the Democrats are no better than the Grand Old Party, the party which is no longer republican, but despotic or dictatorial, or the party of denial, denial of global warming, of the facts in the Ukrainian scandal, of facts, period. The GOP will deny global warming, but the Democrats just won’t act, they say.

 

This equation of the two parties distorts the reality and undermines our ability to act effectively. Just compare the efforts of the GOP, for example, to undermine voting and women’s rights and public education while protecting foreign interference in our elections and increasing the wealth of the wealthiest Americans, with the record of legislation passed by the House since the election of 2018.

 

We know the costs to ourselves and others of the blame game. When we look inside ourselves, we can see and feel it. It is the deadliest game out there in terms of creating suffering and delusion. To blame like this we build a wall between ourselves and the rest of humanity and the rest of the world, between what we see and feel and what we won’t. And we use emotions like fear and hate for the construction materials. The more we use fear and hate, the more we crave it.

 

We should support Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg or Joe Biden or any of the other Democrats for President. Support whomever we feel will do the best job at building a truly democratic nation, creating a sane environmental and energy policy, providing good, affordable health care for all ⎼ and will support an equitable and meaningful public education system. But support them in a way that doesn’t undermine the other Democratic candidates in the general election if our favorite is not chosen.

 

Above all, we must keep in mind that without defeating T and his supporters, all that we hold dear might literally be destroyed. We can’t allow ourselves to lose our head or hope. Getting a little depressed might be common sense but we can’t let it go further than that. It’s just not an option we can afford. We must all put in time not only for getting T impeached, but for winning the Presidency and the Senate, getting out the vote and educating people about what’s at stake.

 

And we can’t allow ourselves to destroy possible alliances with would-be allies in the effort to unseat T and his followers. No matter how much I want Elizabeth or Bernie or Pete or Cory, I don’t want T.

 

We, those of us who truly value and want to strengthen democracy in this country, need someone in the White House who will listen to us, the people, not just rich white men. Who will give us a chance at saving our environment and thinking clearly about the problems we face, and who care about the other people and species that live in this world with us.

 

Many of the old Democratic politicians were bought out by corporate interests. But this is a different time. And this is a different party. Even if Democrats weren’t focused enough in the past on global warming, gun violence, etc. we have a chance with them, right now, that we will never have with T’s GOP. We must use this chance. Maybe we can also make the Democratic Party the party of democrats.

When Someone Tries to Shut You Up, Look into What They’re Hiding: When Monitoring Unlawful Behavior is Spying, and Exposing Treason is Called Treason

On May 13, Attorney General William Barr announced he was beginning an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. He appointed John Durham, a federal prosecutor in Connecticut to handle the investigation. Barr, in his testimony to Congress, used the word “spying” to describe a counterintelligence investigation into the contacts between Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to T, and Russians. Are actions to monitor Russian contacts with political operatives of the President now to be called “spying” by this administration? And attempts to stop such invasive actions and protect our electoral process and constitution to be called “treason”? In March, T did just that and accused the FBI and Democrats of treason.

 

This is Newspeak, where monitoring unlawful behavior is spying and exposing treason is treason.

 

Barr’s move was in response to continued pressure from the President, pressure that looks like more obstruction of justice. The counterintelligence operation into Carter Page’s behavior was actually begun during the 2016 election (October 21, 2016) after being approved by a FISA court consisting not of Democrats but of four Republican appointed judges. And the investigation was continued by the Trump appointed DOJ.

 

In 2017, this pressure by T led to GOP Congressman Devin Nunes releasing a redacted version of the highly classified FISA warrant, something rarely, if ever, done. Nunes’ had falsely claimed that the warrant was based on the Steele Dossier. However, the FBI’s interest in Page predated their knowledge of the Dossier. Page was being monitored because he was associated with two actual Russian spies who were trying to recruit him.

 

In other words, the President ordered the DOJ (and a GOP Congressman) to do his bidding and attack those he perceived as his enemies and the Attorney General (and Congressman) complied with his wishes.

 

This wasn’t the only time T tried to get the DOJ to act as his personal attack squad to shut down or shut up anything or anyone who gets in his way. Remember that he tried to pressure former Attorney General Sessions to investigate Hillary Clinton, for example, and tried to pressure former FBI Director James Comey to shut down the FBI investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

 

Barr, as many have pointed out, has thus been acting as the attorney for the President, not the Attorney General of the United States. Barr told the American public the President was exonerated from any charge of obstructing justice when, in fact, the Mueller Report clearly stated T was not exonerated. Barr said the President did not conspire with Russia to attack the 2016 election despite the fact the Mueller Report detailed clear attempts by the President, or his campaign and advisers, to meet with Russians to release information to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign, establish back channel avenues of communication, and hide economic ties to Russia. His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, gave the Russians essential polling data that might have helped them in their social media attacks.

 

T also asked the DOJ to investigate the investigators who worked for Mueller on the Russia probe. In the past, he also told Nancy Pelosi to “be careful.” I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future he tries to pressure Barr to start an investigation into her or other Democrats.

 

Trump has gone after Congresswoman Ilham Omar on Twitter several times. He posted a video on Twitter that visually linked the Congresswoman to the 9/11 arracks. Since that video, the threats on the Congresswoman have greatly increased.

 

Previously sealed documents included in the Mueller Report were released last week that paint a clear picture of how T acts towards those who thwart him. The documents show that after Trump’s National Security Adviser Mike Flynn decided to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller, T’s lawyers appear to have threatened Flynn and also dangle a pardon.

 

This action attempted to obstruct justice by interfering in the Russia probe. According to page 6 of the document, Flynn “informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voice recording of one such communication.”

 

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, the actions of T, as recorded in the documents, sound more like a leader of a criminal enterprise threatening people than a US President. Is this history of threatening people one of the reasons the GOP in Congress obey T so consistently?

 

In response to an article on T that someone posted on FB, I urged people not only to share articles and express their fear and anger but to call Congress and take other actions. A man wrote in reply that if he called, it would do nothing. I replied, “Of course not. One call can do nothing.” Two calls, maybe a little. Ten thousand calls? Several each week? How about calls from the 53% of the population of this country who have opposed T since before November 2016? He has never had the support of even half, never a majority of this country. What would a million calls, a hundred million calls do?

 

How about if people, besides making phone calls, also took other actions? Imagine people wearing signs saying, “No more” or “Bring down the would-be dictator.” How about people on street corners, in their cars, or outside the offices of GOP Senators carrying signs saying, “No more attacks on children.” “No more attacks on the press.” “No more gun violence.” “No more destroying our schools.” “No more destroying our environment.” “No more normalizing hate in the White House.” Let’s normalize love. Normalize compassion instead.

 

Whatever actions, big and small, we can do, let’s do them. The object isn’t that one phone call or one protest bring down a would-be dictator and hate machine. It is that our collective voice and actions speak for and model an entirely different language than what we hear spoken in the White House today. It is that we learn how to speak a language of freedom, compassion and democratic action by acting in ways that advance democracy. And then, maybe slowly but exponentially, that language will become the new language of this nation and the speakers of hate will be de-throned.

 

*Update: Things have been getting even worse. Last night, Thursday, the President gave the Attorney General enormous powers, including releasing classified information. He ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr’s investigation into the counterintelligence operation which led to the Mueller Probe. The purpose, this seems, is to keep T safe from Congressional investigations into him.

 

**This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

Facing the Nightmare: The Threat that is Trump

On Wednesday, February 27, to conclude his testimony to Congress, Michael Cohen said: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power…” Cohen’s revelations of Trump as possibly threatening the government, the constitution and rule of law with violence, affirms what many of us have suspected ever since he was elected, but it is frightening to see our fears stated so bluntly by someone who knows Trump so well.

 

Cohen is not the first to speak of this threat. Roger Stone warned America in 2017 of “insurrection” if Trump is impeached. Politico reported that Stone said, “Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.” This is probably another example of Stone’s political theatre. But, in case anyone still holds the illusion that Trump and most of his supporters value democracy or our constitution, think again. They will do anything they can to intimidate and confuse us.

 

This is, of course, part of the nightmare that is Trump. In 2018, he warned of violence if the GOP lost the midterm elections. When he said this, there was no proof of any planned violence by anyone. So, was he just stressing the stakes for his supporters, saying his opponents will “overturn everything” if the GOP lose Congress? Or was this an attempt to intimidate or to warn Democrats of what he was capable of doing?

 

Was he, as an article by Jonathan Chait in the Intelligencer wrote in November 2018, “tantalizing his supporters with the prospect of bloodshed”? He has often threatened and tried to dehumanize or encourage violence against those who oppose him, labeling them, us, as the “resistance mob” or the “radical resistance.”  …

 

If we want any chance of a future with a substantive choice at the ballot box, or elections without threats of violence, our first priority must not be to support whomever will promise our most dreamed of policies. We must support the candidate who is most likely to defeat Trump and what he stands for.

 

To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

Is It Possible to Cross the Divide? Protecting Ourselves from the Malware of Hate

Is it possible to reach across the enormous political divide that we now experience in this country? And if so, how?

 

The holidays are a perfect time to ask this question. People want and need hope, that people of different viewpoints can at least listen to each other and a divided nation can be healed.

 

One reason for the divide is the divider-in-chief, Mr. T. A president carries enormous political and archetypal power. I wrote a piece a few months ago about how he infects all of us in ways that mirror an attack of malware on a computer. Except malware bytes do not protect us from him. Both those who agree and those who disagree with him are infected. We might feel a wrongness at the center, and wary, that our level of trust has been assaulted. Many of us feel tremendous anger; many are anxious and worried. And, of course, there are good, rational reasons to be worried.

 

Programs to reach across the divide have been created and shown results. When people become familiar, on a basic, human level, with those they are supposed to hate, the walls come tumbling down.

 

Two friends enlightened me about an NPR Here & Now program. It told the story of how a group of people in Massachusetts reached out across the political divide to a coal-country town in Kentucky, and a meeting was planned. Much preparation preceded the meeting, skype, emails and phone calls. The people in Kentucky had to find out that they would be heard and accepted. They feared the people from the northeast would be angry at them for voting for T. Both groups thought they would be stereotyped by the other group….

**To read the entire post, please click on this link to the Good Men Project, which published it.

Democracy, In Some Ways, Is Like A Love Relationship

There was a time just a few years ago when people in the US felt the world was relatively set and would continue largely as it was. People found meaning in their careers, not through political action. It was easy to be complacent. If you had a home, enough to eat, owned a TV and watched it,  and were absorbed by social and other digital media, it was easy to think any apparent crisis was just that—apparent, not real, more like a commercial interrupting the important stuff.

 

I read an article yesterday in the Intelligencer by Rachel Bashien, Zak Cheney-Rice, Amelia Schonbek and Emma Whitford entitled: “12 Young People on Why They Probably Won’t Vote.” These young people were clearly responding not only to the reality developing when they were growing up but to the election of T. “2016 was such a disillusioning experience.” They were disheartened by the election results. They saw their ideals shot down. And now many of them have trouble motivating themselves to take action. Only an inspirational leader could motivate them to act, but the Democrats are just not inspirational.

 

Other sources say our young adults are more likely to vote then in previous years. According to MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle and Ali Velshi, an NBC News poll of GenForward Millenials found that 31% are planning to vote, 26% probably will vote. That doesn’t sound very good, but it’s up from 19% in 2014.

 

Let’s examine the implications of the way of thinking spelled out in the article. They, we, didn’t get what we wanted, so why act now? We failed once; why try again? It would be better, more fun, to go back to TV, entertainment, and to social media and forget about the world outside our imagination.

 

This way of thinking robs us of power. It places the responsibility for what happens inside us on something or someone external to us. I wrote a blog just a month ago about how people in a love relationship can attribute their own feelings of love to the loved one, and thus make themselves feel powerless. Or they think, when they feel anger, the person they are angry at will suffer from their anger. They therefore let their belief blind them to the reality of how they suffer from their own anger.

 

Likewise, instead of learning how to participate more effectively in politics, we let ourselves feel powerless about effectively influencing the political reality. We mistakenly think we need someone else to inspire us, and that we ourselves are not strong enough to do so. …

 

So, on Tuesday, let us vote. Let us vote not just to win (and we must do everything we can that is humane and effective so we do win), but also to learn how to be even more humane and effective next time.

 

**To read the entire post, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

The Aim of T and the GOP Is Not To Win An Election, But End Elections; Not To Foster Democracy, But End It.

A democracy is a government where the ultimate power belongs to the people of the nation (demos is Greek for people). It is the will of the people that should guide decisions. The views and lives of the great majority of people, their education, livelihood, health and security must be valued. Since the will of the people is paramount and must guide decision-making, relationships amongst the people must be carefully fostered. Compassion must be fostered.

 

Yet, what is the reality of T’s GOP? Kevin Baker, in a recent article in the New Republic, describes what almost everyone who pays attention has observed: our politics has become open warfare, with the aim being not to serve the people but to make sure the other party never again comes to power. It is to seize power and keep it, by any means. That includes lying and distorting the truth, attacking the institutions that keep us safe, undermining voting, civil and legal rights, enormous corruption, and even colluding with the dictator of a foreign and hostile government.

 

Our government was deliberately structured to prevent a return to power of a monarchy or one-man rule. Three branches of government were established by the constitution in order to have checks on power. Today, we have a one party government; one party controls all three branches of the government. Since the party is led and controlled by one individual, we have a government controlled largely by one individual.

 

A government of a small group is an oligarchy. A government by a class is an aristocracy. A government by one legally prescribed hereditary ruler is a monarchy. A government wherein one person takes power and/or eliminates his or her opposition is a tyranny. A kleptocracy is a government of corrupt rulers who use their power to exploit the people and the nation’s resources in order to extend and keep their own personal wealth and power. Which kind of government do we have now?

 

A democracy requires that laws rule and must protect the people as a whole, not serve the interests of any one person or small group of persons. Yet, T asks the department of justice to protect and serve him, not the law. He tries to undermine investigations by his own DOJ and attacks the FBI.

 

According to a great body of evidence, T and several people from his campaign and administration, including his own son, son-in-law, campaign manager, etc. colluded with a foreign dictator to undermine US elections. And he has largely refused to protect our own election infrastructure.

 

A democracy needs the participation of the people. Yet the GOP undermines voting rights. T encourages hate instead of compassion, calls immigrants whores, criminals, and animals. He rips children from their parents as a deterrent for immigration. He divides the nation and whips up hatred against these fellow humans, despite the fact that immigrants, even undocumented immigrants, are less likely to commit a crime than those citizens born in this country.

 

He not only whips up hatred against immigrants, but against anyone who opposes him, even from his own party. He viciously attacked, in the past and even just recently, John McCain. He insulted and/or or threatened Senator Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake, and others for going against his wishes. Certainly, he attacks Democrats and the press almost daily.

 

To make political decisions that actually solve problems and improve the well-being of the people, a democracy needs educated people. It needs to support and promote the dissemination of scientific discoveries and information. This administration attacks education, both in public K-12 schools and universities, and has blocked access to scientific data.

 

This administration shows a profound disregard, even contempt, for health care for a great number of citizens, and has consistently advanced policies that most Americans oppose, creating pressures that cause insurance rates to rise and undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

 

It has attacked supports for the poor, like Medicaid, and programs that all Americans contribute to as insurance for when they are older or retired, like Medicare and Social Security—and they do this in order to protect tax cuts to the super rich who don’t need more wealth.

 

When a very small group of people get a large percentage of the nation’s wealth and income, a democracy of, by and for the people becomes impossible. According to the Congressional Budget Office, between 1979 and 2007, the income for the top 1% in the US has grown by 275%. Since last year’s GOP tax cut, income inequality is growing even more. Instead of one person one vote, and freedom of speech for all, we have one person’s voice drowning out millions of other voices.

 

Hate destabilizes a nation. When we hate, we feel hated in return. We then strike out. Anger boils up with the least provocation. Increasing numbers of us experience a deep sense of dread or anxiety. The number of children suffering from anxiety has been greatly increasing. Increasing numbers of people can’t tolerate hearing the news.

 

We have to be careful not to become what we oppose. One of the worst results of this administration is that too many have begun to doubt the efficacy and strength of kindness. There is so much to be angry about that we can forget the deleterious effects of anger. We mistake actually listening to others for weakness.

 

The aim of this administration might be to end democracy, but they haven’t succeeded, yet. And we can’t let them. Anyone who wants a real democracy, who has compassion for other humans and believes in the rule of laws, not rule by a few powerful individuals, must do what we can to make opposing the policies of this administration a normal part of our day. Must make activities to keep us sane and compassionate part of our day. This is our only viable option if we wish to uphold our humanity.

In Today’s World, Reading Books and Caring for Others are Acts of Defiance

One of the biggest threats of this administration is to your sense of who you are as a human being. It is difficult to believe in mutual love and caring when faced with the actions and words of Roy Moore or Steve Bannon, or compassion when faced with the actions and words of Paul Ryan, or beauty when faced with Mitch McConnell. It is difficult to believe courage is possible when many Republicans, who once criticized the president’s racism or spoke out for health care for children, now support his agenda and this tax bill. It is difficult to believe learning, clear thinking, and scientific research is possible when faced with Betsy DeVos or Mr. T. In today’s world, reading books on topics such as (but not limited to) science, philosophy, anthropology, history or poetry is an act of defiance.

 

So, as a new year draws close, dedicate yourself to rebel not only against the abuses of this administration, but for the possibilities of human nature this administration seeks to squash. Seek to understand the actions of people like Mnuchin, Pruit, Sessions, and Flynn, but also Elizabeth Warren, Doug Jones, and the courage of women who spoke out against abuse by Moore, Mr. T, and others.

 

Rebel not only out of understanding how destructive this administration is to our health care, environment, democracy, and national security—but for love, compassion, and a desire for beauty.

 

When you come home from work tired, tired of long hours of work. Or you return from a protest or from completing phone calls to congress and you feel you have lost the sense of what hope is, read Rubin Alves’ poem Tomorrow’s Child. Or if you need to quiet the noise inside and aren’t able to meditate, or walk along a seashore, read Pablo Neruda on Keeping Quiet. Or you don’t know if you should take a chance on your dreams, read about what happens to a Dream Deferred, by Langston Hughes.

 

When you feel taking action or even listening to the news is too difficult, or “When despair for the world grows in me,” read Wendell Berry’s The Peace of Wild Things. Or when you feel you are catching the illness of fear and selfishness, or that you have no power, read about the power of Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye— “…it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.”

 

When you feel alone in the struggle even though most Americans, most people in the world, agree with you, read The Low Road by Marge Piercy:

“…it starts when you care

to act, it starts when you do

it again after they said no,

it starts when you say We

and know who you mean, and each

day you mean one more.”

 

And, along with Mary Oliver and her poem What I Have Learned So Far, “Be ignited, or be gone.”

 

Do not forget that love is a possibility in every life. (I don’t know about psychopaths.) We all share more than we differ. But for some, love is a possession and a wall. They hold tightly onto the few as if to possess them, and wall away all others. And in doing so, they wall away themselves. But for many, love is a second skin. It is a boundary allowing you to feel life, to feel yourself, more intensely, and to contact, open to others, more securely.

 

Yes, do what you can to find the power in yourself not only to take action and rebel against injustice and ignorance, but to make joy, kindness, education and care for others the central point of what life and even politics is about. This is the greatest gift you can give anyone, including your self, in this or any season.