Tag Archives: donald trump presidency

A Beach Story


The scene: a beach at the height of vacation season. Surf music sallies forth from a jauntily tipped stereo. In the near distance, a volleyball game played by tanned and toned collegiate types. Farther down the beach, a handful of pasty kids slathered in sunscreen splash around in tide pools. Eventually, our focus tightens on a young girl of vaguely foreign lineage building a sand castle. It isn’t much, but she’s quite proud of it. She sticks a flag on the highest tower.

A shadow falls over her castle — a big one. She turns. The sun is eclipsed by a bulbous figure with flyaway coppery hair. She has to shield her eyes to look at him, and this was clearly his purpose. He sneers, chomps the last too-big bite of an over-condimented hot dog, and tosses the wrapper in the sand. Then he plasters a smarmy grin across his chops.

Bulbous: That’s a really, really nice sand castle. Just the best.

Vaguely-Foreign Girl: Um, thanks.

Bulbous: I mean it. I really mean it. I really want you to know that I support you, okay? Building this great sand castle? It’s what we need. Very good people. Sensational.

VFG: O…kay?

Bulbous: It would really be a shame if something happened to it. Such a shame. Terrible.

VFG: (a look of concern growing.) What?

It’s unclear if Bulbous actually hears her or not.

Bulbous: Here are the facts, okay? Are you listening? Here it is: In an hour or so, I’m going to come back here and kick this castle over.

VFG: Why would you do that?

Bulbous: Listen. We’re making the beaches great again. I’m not doing it now. Nobody’s kicking over your castle now. But, okay, in a little while, right? An hour. I’ll be back. With the kicking.

VFG: But I worked really hard on this. I’m not hurting anybody.

Bulbous: I get it. I get it. And these guys over here? (He gestures without looking behind him.) They’re going to build you a better one. The best. Believe me. It’s up to them.

She looks. The guys in question seem to be engaged with the sand in every way except building castles, or in fact building anything. Rather, they are shouting at each other, throwing sand, crying; making a whole lot of noise and accomplishing nothing. There is not a grown-up in sight.

VFG: Them? They don’t look very capable.

Bulbous: They’re with me. Well, kind of. Well, maybe. I’m not sure. We’ll see.

VFG: That one is dumping sand in the other one’s shorts.

Bulbous: Yeah, I’m not too sure about him.

VFG: And … that one’s eating the sand.

Bulbous: Him either.

VFG: And that one? The one pouring sand into his own eyes? He looks like a turtle.

Bulbous: The important thing is, it’s up to them.

VFG: It’s just that they’ve been there all morning.

Bulbous: Uh-huh.

VFG: And they haven’t built any other sand castles.

Bulbous: (quickly losing interest) Uh-huh.

VFG: And they haven’t shown any interest in building any sand castles. In fact — I don’t even know what they’re doing over there.

Bulbous: Right, right.

VFG: So … what makes you think they’re going to build one, for me, in the next hour? I mean, I don’t even know them. And I’m pretty sure they’re playing over there so they can pretend I don’t exist.

Bulbous: Believe me.

VFG: Believe you, what?

Bulbous: Believe me.

They stare at each other for a moment. It’s tense. But then, suddenly, Bulbous seems to forget about her entirely.

Bulbous: Well, I’ve got to go meet with some of the beach authorities and see about putting a tax on all this sunshine.

VFG: This is cruel. What did I ever do to you? Do you just hate me?

Bulbous turns to her and smiles, and behind his eyes is the confidence of a man who knows he will get away with any lie he chooses to tell.

Bulbous: I love everybody. Nobody loves everybody more than me. Now get the hell off my beach.

*********************

It bears saying again: the people who voted for this guy and aren’t working to stop him from all his evil — today it happens to be throwing out of the country people who have committed no crime and have no ties at all to whatever country he might send them to (sorry — not throwing them out today, throwing them out six months from now) — those people are complicit in all of this.

 

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Faithless


We’ve got a few hours left to wake up from this nightmare.

It’s a long shot, to be sure, but it’s the last shot for folks like me who still can’t quite believe that the Orange One is about to be our president. But is it such a long shot? All we need is for thirty or so people to come to their senses and realize that the American experiment is more important than the system that makes Trump the president.

The faithless elector. I didn’t realize quite how perfect that term was. Because it would take something like faith for the electors to vote for Trump given the circumstances.

He lost the popular vote by over three million.

He’s shown that he will endeavor to keep his family as close to his politics as possible.

He’s already pissing in the punch bowl of international affairs, before he’s even taken the office.

He’s naming a laundry list of offensive, unbelievable idiots to his cabinet (a racist, sexist idiot for chief of staff? a woman who’s never taught for secy of education? a man who “lived in the projects” for HUD?).

To say nothing of all the horrible, wickedly either negligent or downright evil things that somehow didn’t bring him down before the election (Trump U? Grab them by the pussy? “I like soldiers that don’t get caught?”).

I know, I know. Democrats have done nothing but moan and complain since the election, but consider for a moment if the shoe were on the other foot. Consider that Trump had amassed three million more votes than Clinton, but we were preparing for a Hillary presidency instead of a Trump one. There would be riots, both ideological and literal. There would be nothing but shut down the government talk, and rigged system talk, and burn the electoral college talk.

Notice that (most) democrats aren’t calling for that. Most of us have shut up, taken our medicine, and accepted that Trump won the election by the rules in place.

But he has also shown that he is uniquely undeserving of the office, and undeserving of the people who have awarded it to him. So we need faithless electors.

Consider:

Faith is believing something in spite of a lack of evidence, and this may come as a shock, but I don’t have that kind of faith.

It would take something like faith to believe that he will somehow turn all this around and become the president that we deserve.

It would take something like faith to believe that the people he’s surrounding himself with (the best people, believe me) can somehow control him.

It would take something like faith to believe that he’s actually going to deliver on any of his campaign promises that were the cornerstone of his rabid support (the Wall? Locking her up? Draining the swamp? Nope, nope, and nope — and again, this is all dead in the water before he’s even taken office).

Like I said, I don’t have that kind of faith. And I find it hard to believe that anybody looking at the world as it is, simply, truly, and honestly, does either.

I don’t even expect them to vote for Clinton. (I’m using up all my living-in-a-fantasy-world currency in even entertaining the possibility that the electors won’t go for him.)

I just want them to do the right thing, speak for the people, and send the message that this man is not what America stands for. He doesn’t deserve to speak for us.

Now, back to non-Trump, non-wallowing-in-denial programming.

 


The Weekly Re-Motivator: Turning Away


So this week has been … well, it’s been something, hasn’t it? One of the weirdest and perhaps most depressing weeks in recent memory.

But I can’t wallow in the pain, the uncertainty, the massive, all-consuming doubt that the imminent Trump presidency carries with it. Maybe it’s my unbridled optimism. Maybe it’s the fact that I have faith (how? where did this faith come from? I hate everything, after all) that, though it will certainly be bad, it won’t be that bad. Maybe it’s that I can’t stand being in a pain- and griping- and complaining-spiral.

Trump’s presidency will either be a total cock-up, or it won’t. And I know people are protesting in the streets, and I know the petitions are swirling and people are social-media-sharing that there are still things we can do to stop it, but … sorry, I don’t have that much faith. The electoral college is not going to negate itself just because the country has heartburn. Trump isn’t going to resign because he sees the protests and all the #notmypresident-ing. (By the way, you won’t catch me saying such ridiculousness. For better or worse, Trump is our president. That doesn’t mean I endorse him, but it does mean we get to hold his feet to the fire. We have to be good skeptics, as I said the morning after, and that means giving him a chance — even a short one — to not be a total scumbag as the leader of our great nation.)

We have to get on with our lives.

And yeah, I know, I speak this from a place of privilege. I know that I have the benefit of being allowed to get on with my life, as a middle-class white dude. And a part of me is more than frustrated with myself on that account. You can’t just move on like that, I hear myself insisting. Others can’t move on; that’s why this is so important.

But he’s only one man, and our country is bigger than one man.

I just … I can’t stay here, in this state of mind where the election of the orange nitwit is front of mind every day, for too many hours in the day. I’ve lost too much productivity and too much mental energy down that black hole (and a black hole it is; it sure as hell doesn’t give anything back for everything I’ve poured into it over the past several months).

He’s the president-elect, now, and in January, he’ll be the president proper. I think that sucks. I think it’s an embarrassment. I think we (and by “we” I mean basically the entire USA, even those of us who voted against him — because we couldn’t stop it) have made ourselves something of a joke on the world stage.

But I’ve got books to write. I’ve got students to teach. I’ve got kids to raise up into something resembling decent human beings. And miles and miles to run.

I’ll keep wearing my safety pin for solidarity, as long as that’s a thing. I’ll stay informed and vote in the 2018 elections, and I sure as hell urge everybody out there to do the same. And I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on our new president as he creeps toward office.

But — and I realize I’ve said this before, but now that the election is over, it feels more final — I’m not going to be posting about it as much around here. It’s tiresome to me, and I’m sure it’s tiresome to my readers. This is supposed to be a blarg about writing and running and parenting and other lighthearted sharknado like that, for fargo’s sake.

I’m not going to be thinking about it all the time. I’m not going to waste my mental energy worrying about a thing that’s out of my control.

I’m going to co-opt a bit of religious wisdom (without the religion) in the form of the Serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

You don’t even have to believe in god to see the wisdom in that. Any good meditationalist (is that even a word?) will tell you that serenity comes from within.

For me, at least, it’s time to turn away from Trump and the noxious cloud that surrounds everything about him. It’s time to turn inward.

It’s time to get back to work.

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.


This Shouldn’t Happen


Just a short addendum, and then I’m going to shut down the part of my brain that thinks about these things (or try to, at any rate).

I had students in my class today in tears over the results of yesterday’s elections. Young people (girls, with some major identity issues to begin with) who are terrified about the future of the country. Petrified that they’ll lose their rights, or that friends will lose their rights. Sickened that the nation has essentially endorsed a man who … well. Who represents some of the worst that American males have on offer.

Now, these are teenage girls, I’ll grant. It isn’t like hyperbole and overemotionality aren’t the standard operating procedure. I wouldn’t have anticipated a reaction like that, but it’s not hard to understand it, either. Most of them can’t even vote, but that’s hardly insulation against the all-consuming house fire that this campaign season has been. But it’s exceedingly difficult to picture the same reaction swinging in the other direction; that is, young boys (or, okay, girls) crying over a Trump defeat.

And I can peddle platitudes, and I can share my optimism (such as it is) and I can acknowledge their fears (many of which I share). But words kind of feel empty when the future generation is looking at you with tears in their eyes, asking in despair how this could happen.

And the fact is, this shouldn’t happen. A disagreement in ideology is one thing. A healthy thing. Uncertainty about the future is normal in a time like this. But fear — real, visceral fear for the future, or even for their safety — that shouldn’t happen.

Then I come home, and I see protests springing up in major cities across the nation (and it turns out, one is scheduled for my neck of the woods tomorrow). And I think, holy shark. This shouldn’t happen.

Trump came out with a pretty positive message in his acceptance. Clinton came out with a similar message, as did Obama. Move forward. Work together. Heal. Unite. This is all good, but for a lot of people out there, the message clearly rings hollow.

This shouldn’t happen.

…I don’t have any answers tonight. I just know this shouldn’t happen.


On a Trump Victory (welp, that happened)


I guess this is what the Brexit felt like.

Image result for dumbledore welp

What else is there to do for a guy like me on a morning like this, but go for a run under the early morning stars and try to write some things down?

Unfortunately, of course, the stars don’t have any answers for the questions I’m asking today — what went wrong? how could this happen? what the hell do we do now? — in fact, the stars themselves are hidden behind a smoky veil of clouds, like they don’t want to think about it either.

But we have to think about it. We have to deal with the reality that’s been plopped on our plate like a pile of cafeteria mystery meat.

So what do we do?

Well, for one, we can’t rise to the bait. We non-Trumpers are going to face a fair bit of heckling and bragging, and we’re going to have to weather that. Fair’s fair, after all, and we bragged for months that this was impossible. Well, it happened. Let’s not cry about it. Let’s swallow what’s left of our pride and move on.

That means, for better or worse, letting go of Hillary. She needs to retire in the country, or to a mountainside, or to her own private island. I know a lot of us were pretty excited about the prospect of her presidency. But an enormous portion of the country (a majority, as it turns out) were not so jazzed. Even many of her supporters were less than enthusiastic about her as a candidate. Is that fair? Is it justified? Hard to say. The Republican hate machine has been working against the Clintons for decades, and the slime is all over everything. Yes, we’re due for a woman president. But it’s clearly not going to be this woman. Let her go. Give somebody else a shot.

And we’re not going to do ourselves any favors demonizing Trump more than we’ve done. That case has been made, it’s been heard, and it’s been dismissed. The fact that he’s a misogynist, a bully, and a political opportunist has been established, and it turns out, people don’t care.

Nor will it help, either, to bash his supporters. At the end of the day, they are people with hopes and dreams and fears and thoughts about the state of the world we live in, and they made their voices loud and clear. This is their right, regardless of what you might think of what they have to say. The man managed to galvanize his support in a way that Hillary simply couldn’t — helped along in no small part by the case the GOP has been making against her, again, for decades. What the race came down to, I think, is that his supporters felt a lot more strongly about putting him in office and keeping Hillary out than Hillary’s people did, and that’s why they turned out when it mattered. But at this point, it doesn’t much matter how he got there. What matters is that he is there.

So all that’s left is for those of us on the other side to be good skeptics. Republicans are going to find out whether they actually want what they’ve bought and paid for in Trump very, very fast. The rest of us have to watch this thing as it develops and be willing to be proved wrong on some of the horrible things we said about Trump. For instance: is he actually going to attempt to build the wall he promised? Is he actually going to shut down all Muslim ingress to the country? Is he actually going to try to reverse gay marriage? I suspect that he won’t. Pragmatism will dictate that, now that he’s in power, he will have to stay within certain lanes, and there are some things that just can’t be done.

That doesn’t mean I think he’s going to pull a perfect about-face on the things he’s said. But let’s not forget that he famously said in 2008 that, if he ever ran, he’d do so as a Republican. Not because of his ideology, but because of the voters.

I still believe, 100% and unwavering until I see some good evidence to the contrary, that Trump is in this thing for Trump.

Maybe that means that, now that he has it, he’ll put his feet up on the desk and delegate the actual ruling to people who actually know what they’re talking about. Yes, in the meantime, those will be Republicans, but we can only deal with so much heartburn first thing in the morning.

I reassured my wife this morning by pointing out that realistically, I don’t think much changes for us. We’re heteronormative white folks, after all. (And I feel a little bit dirty and shortsighted, pointing that out, but we can’t change our stripes.) But there is a fight to be had if (and more likely, when) Trump and co. come for the rights of people with less privilege.

And it’s a fight that we have to be ready for.

We won’t help ourselves out by being ridiculously hyperbolic, though there will certainly be a lot of that in the coming weeks. We haven’t lost our country. This is not the end of freedom. The atmosphere hasn’t turned into chlorine gas overnight, the bastions of democracy aren’t burning.

The sun still rose this morning.

We just have to stay vigilant. It’s up to Republicans to hold Trump’s feet to the fire and make sure he behaves himself in office.

And it’s up to the rest of us to regroup, figure out what went wrong, and fix it for the next time around.

 


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