No. I have not forgotten about this little corner of cyberspace. Sometimes, you see, the hubbub of everyday life just increases in volume to the point where there are just not enough hours in a day – or, for that matter, in a month – to accomplish everything one sets out to do. So it has been for two of my favorite projects; my genealogy project and, obviously, this blog have both been set aside for far too long, and it is high time to get back to both.
If there ever might be a time to resume the occasional screeds here, this certainly is it. Now, I generally avoid posting political stuff, either here or on Facebook (although those of you who follow me on FB know that this is not an absolute). There is just too much potential for things to go wrong, as I found out a few weeks back. In a nutshell: There was a news story making the rounds concerning a Republican county headquarters in North Carolina that had been set afire. I broke my self-imposed guidelines and posted my take on the story to Facebook. I felt that it was important for people whose beliefs hewed more to the left to come out and condemn this act. Those on the right would – hell, should – be outraged…but this was something that transcended things political, and it behooved those of us who may not have seen eye-to-eye with the GOP to condemn the actions of somebody who, in all likelihood, shared our political point of view, but who had completely lost touch with the concepts of respect and decency.
At any rate: I made the post, along with a brief condemnation of the act in question. And sadly, a comment was quickly posted that said – verbatim – “This is what liberals do”. When he subsequently opened a reply to my own response with the words “You libtards”, I immediately unfriended him and took the post completely down. The word “libtard” is, obviously, a portmanteau of “liberal” and “retard” – which 1) implied that I was somehow cognitively impaired based upon my general (although, please note, not total by any means) adherence to liberal principles, and 2) incorporated one of the most vile and degrading terms that one can hurl at a fellow human being (and, for the record, I will not tolerate in any way, shape or form, any attempted jokes concerning which of the two component words I am referencing here). This was a former co-worker who I have known for over a quarter of a century, who I have knocked numerous beers down with on more than one occasion, and who I sincerely considered a friend. Yes, I knew that we were worlds apart politically. God knows, I have any number of friends – both on Facebook and in real life – with whom I disagree vehemently on matters of a political nature. But when somebody crosses the line to the point of not questioning me, not calling me out, but actually degrading me for my beliefs, it causes me to reevaluate just how well I actually know the person in question…and just how much of a friend they actually consider me
Thus, I hope you understand when I pause before continuing to note that if I appear to be overly cautious in my choice of words here, it is for good reason.
I will start the second part of this post by noting – perhaps unsurprisingly – that I voted for Hillary Clinton this past Tuesday. And I did so somewhat less enthusiastically than, perhaps, I should have. Although she came across as the closest of the four most recognizable candidates to me philosophically, and certainly as the most qualified, there were any number of things about her that left me feeling somewhat less than warm and fuzzy in much the same way that Bill Clinton did back in the day. At the same time, I saw enough of Donald Trump’s words and actions on the campaign trail to make me realize that, of the two viable candidates for the Oval Office, Clinton was my only choice. In another time, I may well have abstained or voted for another candidate…but not this time.
None of that matters now, of course. The election is over, and under the rules, Trump has clearly won. And, digressing for a moment: As uncertain and, frankly, fearful as I am for the future, I completely oppose the movement to attempt to swing the Electoral College to Clinton. Hillary blew this election, and those of us who are apprehensive about a Trump presidency need to accept this.
Now, with that said: We all need to take a long look in the mirror and pause to ponder how our attitudes may have suddenly changed. There is a meme currently making the rounds that you may well have seen – four panels, with different background colors – which I refuse to share either here or on Facebook. Although it raises a valid point which I will address shortly, the caricatures contained therein – a drawing of a person rabidly opposed to Obama (quite literally in this case, as he is shown foaming at the mouth, among other highly unflattering characteristics) before suddenly undergoing a complete transformation in the last panel – very much cross a line, and I will not play along.
At the same time, absent the illustrations, the words standing alone do raise a valid point. There are any number of people who have vehemently opposed Obama over the years beyond fair and reasonable political differences, questioning the legitimacy of his presidency, the location of his birth, his religious beliefs, disavowing him as “their” president, and who raised the specter of a rigged election, calling for rejection of a Clinton win (and those were just the points raised within the cartoon). And now, suddenly, the people have spoken and we need to unite behind the new president.
And there is more; I have seen those who have made no attempt to hide their disgust and, sometimes, their hatred of Obama (or Hillary Clinton) lamenting similar posts aimed at Trump. In fairness, I absolutely must say here that this does not apply to all who opposed either one …or anything close to a majority, for that matter; if they may not be fans, at the least they frame it within the context of the loyal opposition. And I have no illusions whatsoever that there are those on the left who would behave correspondingly were the shoe on the other foot; there are those with whom I may be in agreement philosophically but who cross the line just as badly. This must be attributed in part to human nature, of course. At the same time, there is an inherent bitterness on both sides that we must move beyond…a “scorched-earth” philosophy that has utterly poisoned our national dialogue, replacing the concepts of compromise and the greater good.
Nevertheless, I hope you understand this: Unless either 1) you choose to denigrate me as my former co-worker did, or 2) your beliefs are so far over the line as to be abhorrent to any understandable human decency (think Nazis or ISIS), I have no intention of losing you as a friend – either in real life or on Facebook. It would be a very boring world, indeed, if we all thought the same; all I am asking from each of us here (and yes, I realize that I am among “us”) is to respect each other.
In closing: Speaking from the left, I do have my fears. I fear for what the future holds for those who may look, pray, or love differently than me. I fear for what Trump’s well-documented attitudes toward women may entail. I fear for what his world view will mean for us, both in the short and the long term. And, something that I have not yet seen brought up anywhere: I fear that, given complete control of our government, the Republicans will move swiftly and ruthlessly to utterly eviscerate the Democratic opposition. I am not just talking about marginalizing them within the confines of the business of government in the upcoming term, but in actual terms of destroying any chance of them regaining power via elections in the future. For those who think I am being far-fetched: It has been done in Wisconsin since the 2010 mid-term election thanks to legislative redistricting, changes to campaign finance laws, reorganization of government watchdog agencies, and numerous legislative changes. There are some things that would be done differently at a federal level, of course – most obviously, redistricting is controlled by the states – but I have seen what can be done, and I have no doubt that there are those who have taken note.
At the same time, I refuse to give up hope. I can hope that all of the rhetoric that was recorded on the campaign trail was a ruse from a businessman who refuses to show all of his cards while negotiating/campaigning. (Yes…I realize that I am actually hoping that he lied…at this point, it is the best that I can hope for.) I can hope that, like Bill Clinton, whatever his personal attitude toward women may be that he will not roll back on the gains that have been made thus far (although I have little illusion as to any further progress anytime soon). I can hope that he does, in fact, move toward the center and work as an outsider honestly bent upon shaking up a seriously broken status quo.
We will see, of course. As for now, I am still in a daze.
Enough of that for now, though. I have to get back to work on that family history. And I promise not to stay away so long next time.