Category Archives: Politics

The Art of Debate

The Art of Debate
By Anna Hopper

For most of my life
I’ve walked around blind
Never watching the news
Kept an open mind

One day I was informed
“You sound like a liberal”
I felt rather scorned
The subject was literal

I took a step back
And replied, “okay”
I love the blacks
And respect the gays

Perhaps the left wing
Has a vacant seat
But what shall I bring
I refuse kissing feet

So very unworthy
To judge another
When my hands are dirty
Dear sister, brother

But I’ve come to see
Accusations weren’t true
You don’t know me
As I don’t know you

Not defined by race
Class or career
We all deserve grace
Redneck or queer

I’m tired of the hate
And our pride being burned
The art of debate
Is yet to be learned

There will be a lot of debate over the next several weeks. Tonight begins the first in a series of presidential debates. They’re always unpredictable. There will also be debates over the Supreme Court nomination hearings. The politics in America will get nastier and nastier as we draw closer to the election, and I don’t expect it will end with election night. We have a hard fight ahead of us on all fronts. In the debate tonight and the ones in the future, I hope Biden crushes Trump, but I’d be stupid not to worry a little about the debates. If you think you know what will happen in the coming presidential debates, think again. Even the best debaters have stumbled during debates in the national spotlight.

The first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960, when the two candidates squared off in the first televised presidential debate, is a good example. Most commentators expected Richard Nixon to win the debate handily. Not only did he have eight years of experience as vice president, but he also had a reputation as a skilled debater. But when the camera came on and began to broadcast, Nixon came across as pale and weak. John F. Kennedy appeared cool, tanned, and in command. Nixon, unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup. While Nixon fared better in the second and third debates, and on October 21, when the candidates met to discuss foreign affairs in their fourth and final debate, Nixon’s one-point polling edge before the first debate turned into a three-point lead for Kennedy after the debate. JFK went on to win the election by a hair.

In 2000, observers expected Vice President Al Gore, a capable debater, to wipe the floor with Texas Governor George W. Bush, who was not then and is still not known for his eloquence. But that’s not what happened. In their first debate, Gore sighed, huffed and puffed, and left a poor impression. It was an impression that was lampooned on Saturday Night Live, and it stuck with him throughout the race. His pre-debate lead was wiped out. After all three debates, it was Bush who emerged the winner of the election, but not without controversy (see Gore v. Bush).

Debates, however, are lost, not won. That was apparent in 1976 when President Ford intimated that Eastern Europe was not under Soviet domination. It was a big blunder that played into the negative stereotype of Ford as dimwitted. Jimmy Carter didn’t win that debate, Gerald Ford lost it — and with it the election. Self-inflicted injuries are the worst kind. Americans like debates. They offer voters a chance to see candidates side-by-side. They motivate supporters and serve as tiebreakers for undecided voters. Debates can make voters more comfortable with candidates and lessen doubts. The smartest debaters use them to identify with the nation’s political temperament.

Debates have big audiences with enormous media buildups. They work best for candidates who use them to clarify the choice that voters are about to make. They offer valuable opportunities to sharpen messages and sort out issues that have become jumbled in the fog of campaign warfare. That’s why the question Reagan posed at the end of his debate with Carter—“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”—was so effective. It’s a question everyone needs to consider in this election. There are many unknowns when going into a debate, and one thing is for certain, Trump is full of surprises. He will lie about anything and say anything to get a positive reaction from his base, which they will believe because he has them believing anything they disagree with is fake news. However, in debates, surprise can kill––putting the target, and sometimes the aggressor, at risk. 

As the underdog in the polls, Trump has less to lose. He needs to change the dynamics of the race. He will likely position himself as the only defense against a takeover by the radical left and portray Biden as a left-wing zealot, which Biden is decidedly not. Viewers will be watching this debate to see what happens. For supporters of Trump, it will be an opportunity to reinforce cult-like devotion; for his opponents, it will be an opportunity to reinforce deepening revulsion. For the percentage of the electorate that is undecided or not happy with either candidate, it could be an opportunity for them to actually make a choice. 

There is little doubt that Trump will be nasty in his remarks and try to bully Biden. Biden needs to stand firm. Trump’s usual dirty political tactics could open himself up for tough counterattacks, especially if Biden goes after Trump on the coronavirus and healthcare and emphasizes the Trump administration’s uncaring and reckless policies. Biden will need to hammer Trump on his and the Republican strategy of ramming a conservative judge through the Supreme Court confirmation process before they lose the election. Biden needs to focus on the hypocrisy of the Republicans. The revelations about Trump not paying taxes for a decade will surely be a topic that is discussed, and Biden has a chance to show the American people that Trump is a liar, a cheater, and a fraud. 

Anything goes in this election. And in the debate tonight, anything can happen. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Trump has a lot to answer for, and if Biden stays calm, hits back hard and effectively, and doesn’t falter or stumble, Biden will most likely come out on top in this debate. There is a lot of opportunities to make Trump look small, weak, and petulant. There is little that Trump can claim the higher ground on, and therefore, he will hit below the belt and show his lousy temperament, which will not sway his cult followers who love that about him, but it could sway the undecided against him if Biden plays his cards right. Biden needs to remember what Michelle Obama always says, “When they go low, we go high.” There is no doubt that Trump will go low, but Biden needs to stay above that and come across as a strong defender of democracy.

Remember the Beatitudes

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
 For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
 For they shall be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek,
 For they shall inherit the [a]earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
 For they shall be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
 For they shall obtain mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
 For they shall see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
 For they shall be called sons of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
 For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

—Matthew 5:1-12 (NKJV)

Kurt Vonnegut, an atheist and a humanist, is not someone I usually look to for religious views. He never showed disdain for those who sought the comfort of religion but instead acknowledged church associations as a type of extended family. Vonnegut proclaimed he was a “Christ-worshipping agnostic” and sometimes called himself a “Christ-loving atheist.” Vonnegut was an admirer of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, particularly the Beatitudes, and incorporated it into his principles. In his 2005 essay collection, A Man Without a Country, Vonnegut wrote:

“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. “Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”

Vonnegut has a very valid point. In 2003, Roy Moore, then Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice (for the first time), installed a 5,280-pound granite block monument (that broke the floor) of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in the dead of night (done without the consent or knowledge of the eight associate justices and later caused him to be removed from office for the first of two times). Moore never mentioned the Beatitudes, the basis of Christ’s message, but instead focused on the Ten Commandments. Moore’s actions over the years clearly show that he does not follow the Beatitudes. He prefers media attention to faith. As Governor Kay Ivey’s spokeswoman said last week when asked about Moore filing a lawsuit against Ivey over the mask mandate in Alabama, “It appears this is another attempt to garner some press attention.” Moore is known more for his hate and outrageous statements and actions than for his devout Christianity, which he apparently does not possess.

The United States would be a better place if Christians followed the message of Jesus and did not pick and choose only from the sections of the Bible they want to follow and ignore those they deem inconvenient. Just as Trump supporters pick and choose what they want to believe about him and his policies, the conservative Christian Right picks and chooses what they want to follow of the Bible. Trump is doing the same thing with the Constitution. I have no idea where Trump gets inspiration and comfort, but I don’t believe it is the Bible, or he would be a very different person. He seems to lack all morals, and he is too erratic to have a foundation for his ever-changing belief.

In contrast, when Joe Biden seeks inspiration and comfort, he turns to his faith. His speeches are woven with references to God and biblical language. When Biden spoke to the faith-based anti-poverty group the Poor People’s Campaign, he described the United States under President Trump as a “nation in the wilderness.” Biden told the group, “All of you remind me of how Scripture describes a calling born out of the wilderness. A calling to serve, not to be served. A calling toward justice, healing, hope — not hate. To speak the good news and followed by some good deeds. It’s not just enough to speak the good news, but good deeds.”

This wasn’t a one-off religious reference; this is how Biden routinely speaks. He launched his candidacy by referring to his campaign as a “battle for the soul of the nation.” It was the central theme of his primary run and remains a core belief of his campaign. If elected, Biden would become only the second Catholic president in American history. It’s not a detail he highlights, but people who know him well say his Catholic faith is central to how he sees the world.

Biden carries a rosary in his pocket and attends Mass every Sunday, while Trump plays golf. Trump supporters dismiss Biden’s faith even though he is described by all who know him as a deeply devout person of faith. Ironically, even though we have a president who has shown no sign of being a Christian, especially a deeply devout one, Biden will likely lose the states in the Bible Belt. Biden has framed this election as a clear moral contrast between Trump and himself, but many of Trump’s supporters see Biden as amoral only because he is a Democrat. However, Biden is running perhaps the most overtly devout Democratic presidential campaign since Jimmy Carter in 1976. 

During Holy Week this past spring, the campaign released a video in which Biden spoke about faith seeing best in the dark, juxtaposed with images of the coronavirus pandemic. And when he delivered a eulogy for George Floyd and called for racial justice, he spoke of growing up with a Catholic social doctrine that taught him “faith without works is dead.”

Biden’s faith informs his values, and, in turn, his values shape his politics. Biden focuses on faith, rather than religious doctrine; he prays with voters, rather than proselytizes. And yet for some religious conservatives, all of that pales in comparison to the single issue of abortion. Trump has tried to portray Biden as a heathen. Last month the president attacked the Democratic nominee for being a man “against God.” And more broadly, Trump and his supporters have made religion a cultural issue, painting Democrats as the party against religious freedom. The struggle for Trump in defining Biden as a godless man is that Biden’s faith has been in public view for decades.

To heal the United States, we need a president that believes in the tenets of the Beatitudes. We need someone who believes “faith without works is dead.” James 2:14-17 says:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

For four years, Trump has relentlessly pursued an economic agenda that rewards wealth over work and favors multinational corporations over small businesses. But middle-class Americans have been largely left out. Trump has not only refused to deliver for struggling working families; he is now pushing for another misguided tax giveaway for America’s wealthiest families. That’s the fundamental difference between Trump and Biden — Trump is focused on further enriching billionaires like himself, while Biden wakes up every day asking how he can help the middle and lower classes in America.

Biden cares about the weakest among us, those who are in the most danger. It is a moral failing and a national shame when children are separated from their parents and locked away in overcrowded detention centers, where the government seeks to keep them there indefinitely. It’s shameful when President Trump uses family separation as a weapon against desperate mothers, fathers, and children seeking safety and a better life. It’s disgraceful when children die while in custody due to a lack of adequate care. Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants. Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” This is a recurring theme for the ancient Hebrews. They were told to remember their treatment/enslavement by the Egyptians and not do the same for foreigners in their territory. 

Unless your ancestors were native to these shores, or forcibly enslaved and brought here as part of our original sin as a nation, most Americans can trace their family history back to a choice–a choice to leave behind everything that was familiar in search of new opportunities and a new life. Biden understands that is an irrefutable source of our strength, like the original, though unofficial, motto of the United States says, “E pluribus unum”—out of many, one. Generations of immigrants have come to this country with little more than the clothes on their backs, the hope in their hearts, and a desire to claim their piece of the American Dream. It’s why we have been continuously able to renew ourselves, grow better and stronger as a nation, and meet new challenges. Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future. Biden will assure that we never turn our backs on who we are or what makes us uniquely and proudly American. The United States deserves an immigration policy that reflects our highest values as a nation. 

The challenges we face will not be solved by a constitutionally dubious “national emergency” to build a wall, separate families, or deny asylum to people fleeing persecution and violence. Addressing the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at our border, bringing our nation together, reasserting our core values, and reforming our immigration system will require real leadership and real solutions. As Deuteronomy 10:18-19 says, “He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” As the Hebrews were strangers in Egypt, so were all of us once strangers on this continent. We need someone who will fight for the justice deserved by the foreigners among us today.

Matthew 14:14 says, “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.”  Jesus was the Great Physician. He was a healer and cared for people’s health, both physically and spiritually. In Luke 10:9, Jesus commands his disciples, “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” We currently have an administration that is attempting to take away millions of Americans’ healthcare as they attack the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I won’t pretend that the ACA is perfect. It needs reforms, especially in healthcare costs and the control insurance companies have over treatments doctors prescribe to patients. However, we know that there are parts of the ACA that are vitally important. As president, Biden will protect the Affordable Care Act from these continued attacks. He opposes every effort to get rid of this historic law, including Republicans’ efforts and efforts by Democrats. Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate.

For Biden, this is personal. He believes that every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can access affordable, quality health care. He knows that no one in this country should have to lay in bed as I do at night staring at the ceiling wondering, “How am I going to pay for the treatment I so desperately need?” Biden knows there is no peace of mind if you cannot afford the care you need because of a pre-existing condition because you’ve reached a point where your health insurer says “no more,” or because you have to decide between putting food on the table and going to the doctor or filling a prescription. 

In Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus says, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” We must help feed the poor among us. Eating well should be a right, not a privilege. We need a government that will help make nutritional and healthy foods affordable to all Americans. Biden believes Americans should have the ability to have secure housing and live in a safe community. Housing should be a right, not a privilege. Tens of millions of Americans spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing – leaving them with nowhere near enough money left over to meet other needs, from groceries to prescription drugs. Americans need someone who cares and who will help make the United States better for all.

Finally, Biden believes that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity and live without fear no matter who they are or who they love. During the Obama-Biden Administration, the United States made historic strides toward LGBTQ+ equality—from the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to Biden’s historic declaration in support of marriage equality on Meet the Press in 2012 to the unprecedented advancement of protections for LGBTQ+ Americans at the federal level. But this fight’s not over. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have given hate against LGBTQ+ individuals safe harbor and rolled back critical protections for the LGBTQ+ community. By blocking the ability of transgender individuals to openly serve their country, denying LGBTQ+ people access to critical health care, proposing policies allowing federally funded homeless shelters to turn away transgender people and federally funded adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples, and failing to address the epidemic of violence against transgender people—particularly transgender women of color—the Trump-Pence Administration has led a systematic effort to undo the progress President Obama and Vice President Biden made. With Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, the Religious Right is gloating over the possibility of taking away all of the gains made in LGBTQ+ rights. Brian Brown, a co-founder of the hate group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), said in an email that the Supreme Court nomination would “pave the way for the restoration of marriage to our laws and scrapping the illegitimate, anti-constitutional imposition of same-sex ‘marriage’ on the nation.” He went on to say:

It will mean that religious liberty will be restored to its rightful place as a foundational constitutional right, and that the fake “rights” that are constantly demanded by the left – including special rules for homosexuals and the so-called transgendered – will no longer see the light of day.

We need protection of our rights, not someone who will work hard to destroy our freedoms. Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett will be a disaster for our rights. Barrett is also a profoundly conservative thinker. Barrett makes clear that in matters of constitutional interpretation, she would not hesitate to overturn decisions with which she disagrees. On Barrett’s chopping block could be the right of same-sex couples to marry; the existence of affirmative action programs at colleges and universities; the constitutional protections against discrimination based on gender that Ginsburg made the center of her career; the Affordable Care Act, which she has publicly criticized; and environmental protections and other regulatory efforts enacted as part of the congressional power to oversee interstate commerce. Our rights as LGBTQ+ individuals depend on electing Biden as president.

Biden wants to bring about a better United States. Trump has worked for four years to divide this country and tear it down. Trump has ignored the duties of the president and has ignored the fundamental values of democracy and freedom. Biden will answer the call to be the kind of leader the United States needs in a president. He will be guided by his faith to take care of all Americans and bring greater equality to all. He will not use religion to oppress us. He will value democracy and freedom as he has for the past 50 years of service to this nation. We need a man who has faith. We need a man who has morals. We need a man who believes in the tenets of the Beatitudes. We need Joe Biden as president. Remember the Beatitudes in all you do, that includes when you vote in November.

Dirty Politics

Three times a week, I receive the History News Network (HNN) newsletter. HNN is a platform for historians at George Washington University writing about current events. I spend part of every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday reading a variety of articles, essays, and opinion pieces published by them. Some of the material is really fascinating. I often get blog post ideas from these readings. 

One of these ideas came from an essay by historian George C. Herring. Herring is Alumni Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Kentucky (UK). A native of Blacksburg, Va., he received a bachelor’s degree from Roanoke College after service in the U.S. Navy. He earned both a master’s and a doctorate in History from the University of Virginia. He joined the UK faculty in 1969, and taught classes at all levels from introductory survey courses in U.S. history to graduate seminars. A leading authority on U.S. foreign relations, he is the former editor of Diplomatic History, and a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. He authored America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 among other books.

I cannot do justice to the words of Herring. He says what I have believed for over four years now. In essence, he describes how Donald Trump is destroying the very fabric of American democracy. While dirty politics is nothing new, Donald Trump has taken it to new (and childish) heights. He, and many of his followers, enjoy being bullies and making fun of others just for a laugh. I hope you will read what Herring has to say in his essay.

Dirty Politics, Then and Now

by George Herring

Donald Trump has brought to American politics and to the presidency a uniquely personal, combative, and mean-spirited style, honed in the cutthroat worlds of high-end real estate, finance, and show business, that relies on personal insults and denigration of foes. In the realm of dirty politics, virtually by default, he has been allowed to rewrite the rules of the game—to the enormous detriment of our country.       

To be sure, personal attacks, mudslinging, and name calling date to the beginning of this republic. “JEFFERSON—AND NO GOD,” nervous Federalists screamed in 1800 in a vain effort to thwart election of the allegedly infidel, pro-French Virginian. Andrew Jackson’s rivals had the temerity to besmirch his beloved wife, Rachel. The twin issues of slavery and secession made the election of 1860 especially ugly. Abraham Lincoln’s enemies depicted him as a “horrid looking wretch,” assaulted him with vicious racist attacks, and claimed that he favored miscegenation.  

Sometimes the mudslinging took on a lighter tone. In 1884, Democrat Grover Cleveland was rumored to have fathered a child out of wedlock, inspiring the ditty “Ma, ma, where’s my pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.” At times, it has been downright silly. In 1944, Republicans charged that Franklin Roosevelt had wasted millions of taxpayer dollars by sending a U.S. Navy vessel back across the Pacific to rescue his dog Fala, who, allegedly, had been left on a remote island. Today’s politicians thus follow a time-honored tradition.

But there is also something new in the volume of the attacks, who is purveying them, and how they are purveyed.  The internet gives a platform to political hacks, private citizens, extremist groups, conspiracy theorists, and even foreign governments—think Russia and Iran—to spread misinformation and outright lies with little or no test for truthfulness. This has exponentially increased the amount of personal smears and rendered them more nasty.

More important is the role of the mud-slinger-in-chief. In years past, presidents have generally turned a blind eye to the antics of their zealous underlings. They have left to others the job of responding to attacks. Surprisingly, perhaps, Jackson defended his wife’s honor with words rather than dueling pistols. In another exception, FDR turned the tables on his opponents with a brilliantly sarcastic riposte pronouncing that Fala was a Scotty and his “Scotch soul” would never condone such a waste of money. “Roosevelt’s dog got Dewey’s goat” was the verdict on this incident.   

Trump is the ringmaster of today’s supercharged political circus. The role comes naturally to him. It is a part of his persona and his modus operandi. He is a master of innuendo and hyperbole. He is not troubled by moral or ethical standards, and has no more than a passing acquaintance with the truth. He delights in churning up chaos and seeks to exploit it to his advantage. He early latched on to Twitter, and he spews out with seeming impunity so many tweets that opponents are hard pressed to know how or whether to respond. Mud-slinging seems to be the one part of the job that he truly enjoys. One must grudgingly concede that he has a certain gift for it.

He ventured into dirty politics before he ran for office by taking up the notorious “birther” theory that Barack Obama was not eligible for the office he already held. In 2016, presidential candidate Trump dreamed up belittling nicknames for his primary opponents: “Low Energy Jeb” (Bush); “Little Marco” (Rubio); “Lyin’ Ted” (Cruz). He hawked the preposterous insinuation that Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination. In the campaign itself, he labeled his opponent “Crooked Hillary” for her alleged misuse of government emails and led the chant “Lock Her Up.” His slurs can be blatantly racist and sexist: “Pocahontas” for Senator Elizabeth Warren, for example, and the unspeakably crude remarks directed at presidential debate anchor Megyn Kelly after she dared challenge him.   

Seeking reelection, he has picked up where he left off, shifting the low energy moniker to “Sleepy Joe” and “Slow Joe” Biden and questioning his opponent’s mental acuity. Childishly, he insulted Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris by knowingly mispronouncing her first name. He launched a half-baked birther theory for her as well and piled on with a barrage of misogynist slurs: “phony Kamala,” “nasty,” “angry,” “madwoman.” The Trump family low–so far–has been the “like” (later removed) that son Eric attached to a tweet calling Harris a “whorendous pick.” Older son Don Jr.’s labeling of Biden as the “Loch Ness monster of the swamp” ranks a distant second. Junior has also hinted that Biden may be a pedophile.

It could be argued, of course, that Trump is simply being honest, that he is merely bringing into the open stuff that usually remains behind the scenes. But that is too easy. What the president of the United States says makes a difference. He demeans himself, if that matters. He demeans the office of the presidency, one of the most prestigious positions in the world. He demeans this nation in the eyes of its own citizens and the world. Actions have consequences, and Trump’s tirades can incite his followers and provoke his opponents to act similarly, revving up the already rampant divisiveness in this country, sparking hatred and violence, and even causing death, as with the killing of two people by a teenage Trump enthusiast in Kenosha, WI. “The unthinkable has become normal,” Senator Bernie Sanders has rightly noted.  

Shamelessly, the Republicans either won’t or can’t rein in their president. The only way to get rid of his toxic influence is to vote him out.

Because politics can leave a bad taste in your mouth, here is some eye candy as a palate cleanser.

Fear and Loathing in Washington

George Stephanopoulos said, “But away from the rituals of Washington, alongside the elation of [Donald] Trump supporters, there is deep anxiety, anger, and fear.” There is a lot of fear associated with the coming presidential election. Opponents of Donald Trump fear that if he is elected again, the United States will cease to exist as we know it. Trump will continue to sew anxiety, anger, and fear in his supporters and bring an end to this nation as we know it. His disregard for the rule of law will continue unabated if he wins and Republicans remain in control of the Senate. All norms associated with American democracy will cease to exist if we continue to be governed by a self-centered, egomaniacal tyrant wannabe. For the Republican Party, the only thing they care about is the continued accumulation of wealth and power.

If you watched any part of the Republican National Convention (RNC), you were probably struck by the expressions of fear that permeated the proceedings—namely, the fear that any failure to re-elect Donald Trump would result in the collapse of the American experiment if not the dissolution of civilization itself. Words to that effect were spoken many times; Trump himself, accepting the nomination said, “This election will decide whether we SAVE the American Dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to DEMOLISH our cherished destiny.” (The capitalization is original to the transcript.) Throughout the RNC, speakers argued that Trump would restore “law and order” and make America a safer country than Biden. Republicans focused more on what they call a bleak future under Democrats rather than on the record of Trump’s actions over the past four years because the record for Trump is so disastrous. There is nothing to praise, no matter how much they lie. 

There is no doubt Donald Trump plays on the fears of his audience.  He is a professional and highly-accomplished fearmonger who uses vicious and incendiary rhetoric in a pitiful attempt to generate support for his pathetic campaign. Trump will shy away from no outrageous claim to stoke the fires of terror in his followers. He majors in drama, paranoia, and conspiracy theories. He divides the world into “good guys” and “bad guys” and wants everyone to know that he alone can protect us from the “bad guys.” Trump is an egotistical, pompous, arrogant man who lacks subtlety and blurts out mistaken ideas. He is insulting, vindictive, and angry. Trump and his supporters use fear as a deliberate strategy to get religious but ignorant people to stand with the Republican Party, to get them on their mailing lists, and to motivate them to open their bank accounts and support that fear. Evangelicals and other conservatives support Trump because they want to be on the inside wielding power no matter the cost.

Democrats are struggling with their own fears. Following the Democratic National Convention’s underlying theme of unity over division, Joe Biden’s acceptance speech called on Americans to consider the gravity of this election, which he painted as one of the most consequential in history. Biden began his speech saying:

Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light, and they will find a way. Give people light. Those are words for our time. The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division. Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not of the darkness.

If we look at the last four years, there is so much the Republican Party should be ashamed to admit happened under their watch. There are just too many items to list, but here are some of the reasons Trump is uniquely incapable of managing crises:

  • His White House is always in a state of chaos.
  • He thrives on conflict.
  • He values loyalty over competence.
  • He distrusts expertise and experts.
  • He can’t tell the truth; everything must always be “great” or “tremendous.”
  • His relentless need to attack opponents renders him unable to unify the country.
  • His lack of empathy for problems not personally affecting him.
  • His penchant for conspiracy theorizing.
  • His relentless and pathetic need for compliments and affirmation.
  • His top priority is never what’s happening to the country, but instead how it makes him look; how will it affect his reelection chances.

When Trump was running for president in 2016, many warned if he were elected, he would cause disaster (some even said nuclear war), but there was another group, perhaps even larger, who said, “Sure, he’s kind of a joke, but why not give him a shot? What’s the worst that could happen?” Now we’re finding out the worst that could happen, and he still has at least four more months in office. Some might believe Republicans are right to spread fear, but I argue they aren’t it just causes instability. The same people might ask: but what about the terror of the unknown such as the fear of the economy collapsing, the lawlessness running wild, the pandemic, devastating hurricanes, rampant wildfires, other disasters on a biblical scale? Well, now we know. At the 2016 RNC, Trump proclaimed, “Nobody knows the system better than me which is why I alone can fix it.” Now, Trump finds himself in what Biden called in his DNC speech, “one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced.”  Biden pointed out we are facing: “Four historic crises. All at the same time. A perfect storm. The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The most compelling call for racial justice since the ’60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change.”This doesn’t even consider the problems the United States has faced over the last three and a half years, but Trump has failed to answer the call for leadership. 

Arthur Eddington, the English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician, once said, “The pursuit of truth in science transcends national boundaries. It takes us beyond hatred and anger and fear. It is the best of us.” This is only true if you believe in science, which the Republicans seem to disregard. Conservatives throughout history have always held science in suspicion. They simply can’t deal with hard facts and truths. They prefer to use hatred, anger, and fear to get people to follow their agenda. Trump and his supporters have denied the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have denied the evidence that supports the use of masks to protect others. They have denied climate change as it ravages our planet. They refuse to face the cold hard facts of science. Instead, they bring forth the worse in humanity: willful ignorance. The Ukrainian-born author and poet, Vironika Tugaleva, said, “Peace and love are just as contagious as anger and fear. Your mindset affects the people around you and perpetually changes the world. The question is what kind of world are you creating?” When we go to vote in November, we should ask ourselves what kind of world are we creating? What kind of world are we voting for? Is it a world filled with light, love, hope, and unity, or is it a world of darkness, hatred, anger, fear, and division?

Biden summed up his DNC speech by quoting Irish poet Seamus Heaney: “History says don’t hope on this side of the grave, but then once-in-a-lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme.” Biden concluded the speech saying:

This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme. With passion and purpose, let us begin — you and I together, one nation, under God — united in our love for America and united in our love for each other. For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. Light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission.” May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here, tonight, as love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of the nation.  And this is a battle we will win, and we will do it together.  I promise you.

Will the United States vote for unity and harmony? I hope so. Or, will Americans vote for darkness, hatred, anger, fear, and division? I pray they don’t. I pray we can heal this nation. I pray we can work to end the racial strife that exists. I pray we can put an end to the homophobia that permeates this country. 

As Albert Einstein said, “Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools.” Thankfully, most Americans are not fools. Currently, the majority, nearly 53 percent, of Americans disapprove of Donald Trump. Dorothy Thompson, the “First Lady of American Journalism,” was expelled from Nazi Germany in 1934 because they considered her offensive for speaking the truth. She said, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” I want to end with another quote by Thompson who described Hitler in the following terms: “He is formless, almost faceless, a man whose countenance is a caricature, a man whose framework seems cartilaginous, without bones. He is inconsequent and voluble, ill poised, and insecure. He is the very prototype of the little man.” If you didn’t know this quote was from 1934 about Adolf Hitler, who does it sound like she is describing? A 2017 ABC News/Washington Post poll asked respondents: “What ONE WORD best describes your impression of Trump? Just the one word that best describes him.” Some of the most common words that respondents gave were incompetent, arrogant, idiot, egotistical, ignorant, racist, asshole, and narcissistic. The words Trump opponents use to describe him now have become much more colorful and graphic in nature, but the same sentiments are still there. We have a court jester instead of a president, and on election day, he needs to hear his own words loud and clear, “You’re Fired!”

Losers and Suckers

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Weedon E. Osborne
United States Navy (Dental Corps)

By now, I think we’ve all heard the president’s disparaging remarks about veterans. In an article in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that numerous witnesses heard Trump make excuses for not visiting the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in 2018. Trump was to visit there on November 10, 2018 to mark the armistice’s 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. This coincided with the 243rd birthday of the Marine Corps. One of Trump’s excuses was the rainy weather might mess up his hair, his fucking hair. It looks like shit on the best of days, and he’s worried what a little rain might do to it! Officially, he said, “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. All of the other world leaders drove there, but Trump couldn’t be bothered, saying, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

While many of you might not know about the importance of the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, most of you know I’m a World War I historian. I want to tell you why that cemetery is significant. It is located 53.5 miles outside of Paris (roughly an hour-long drive) and contains the headstones of 2,289 soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) mostly from the Battle of Belleau Wood, and the larger campaign in the Marne Valley. One of those “losers” was Lt. Weedon Osborne of Chicago, a Medal of Honor recipient. His citation for the medal reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the Fifth Regiment, United States Marines, in actual conflict with the enemy and under fire during the advance on Bouresche, France on June 6 1918. In the hottest of the fighting when the Marines made their famous advance on Bouresche at the southern edge of Belleau Wood, Lieutenant (j.g.) Osborne threw himself zealously into the work of rescuing the wounded. Extremely courageous in the performance of this perilous task, he was killed while carrying a wounded officer to a place of safety. By his exceptional fortitude, inspiring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty, Lieutenant (j.g.) Osborne reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. 

Osborne was obviously no “loser.”  He had “exceptional fortitude, inspiring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty,” which Donald Trump does not. He selflessly sought to aid the wounded during the Battle of Belleau Wood, and was killed while carrying an injured officer to safety on June 6, 1918.

Alongside the Battles of Fallujah, Khe Sanh, Chosin, and Iwo Jima, the Battle of Belleau Wood occupies a hallowed place in U.S. Marine Corps lore and history. Every U.S. Marine knows the famous quotes from the Marines fighting in the 1918 battle: “Retreat, hell we just got here!” by Capt. Lloyd Williams who received three Silver Star citations and a Purple Heart, and “C’mon you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever?” by Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daley one of only nineteen men to have received the Medal of Honor twice.

The battlefield of Belleau Wood lays about five miles west of the town of Château-Thierry the site of another AEF battle. Looking at the strategic context in early 1918, Belleau Wood was only a small piece of a major campaign that saw the American forces help French and British armies stem the onslaught of the massive German Spring Offensive. On March 21, the Germans launched their attack along the Western Front in France. This was made possible because a peace treaty with the new Russian Bolshevik government had freed up German units deployed on the Eastern Front. The German leadership hoped the influx of 50 divisions could overwhelm the Allied forces in France bringing the war to an end before millions of American reinforcements could cross the Atlantic. The Spring Offensive nearly reached Paris coming close enough to shell the city. The loss of Paris would have likely resulted in a German victory in WWI. However, while the German offensive made significant gains in the first few weeks of the battle, they began to falter by May during the Aisne Offensive. The German assault was weakened because American units like the 2nd Division and its 4th Marine Brigade joined the fray to stop the Germans at the Battle of Belleau Wood. 

After three weeks of intense combat, a report announced the 4th Marine Brigade’s success with the message, “Belleau Wood now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.” The French government renamed it Bois de la Brigade de Marine to honor the incredible sacrifices and fierce struggles there and awarded members of the 4th Marine Brigade the French Croix de Guerre. Although a victory for the Americans, the Battle of Belleau Wood exacted a heavy toll on the 4th Marine Brigade. Of its complement of 9,500 men, the brigade suffered 1,000 killed in action, and 4,000 wounded, gassed, or missing equaling a 55 percent casualty rate. 

General Pershing, commander of the AEF said, “The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle.” Pershing also said, “the Battle of Belleau Wood was for the U.S. the biggest battle since Appomattox and the most considerable engagement American troops had ever had with a foreign enemy.” The battle had been brutal. “It has been a living hell,” Lt. Clifton B. Cates, 24, a future Marine Corps commandant wrote to his mother. “We were shelled all night with shrapnel and gas shells. [….] It was mustard gas and a lot of the men were burned.” It was a battle that changed the Marine Corps. “For all intents and purposes, the old warriors of the U.S. Marine Corps were virtually wiped out,” wrote historian, George B. Clark.

In a separate conversation on the 2018 trip, Trump referred to the 1,811 soldiers and Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed. Trump also asked aides, “Who were the good guys in this war?” He couldn’t understand why the United States would intervene on the side of the Allies. While I realize the U.S. entry into WWI is complicated and controversial, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points stated the principles for peace that were to be used for negotiations to end World War I, and are a good starter for understanding the entry of the United States into the Great War. The ideas expressed by Wilson’s Fourteen Points included free trade, open diplomacy, national self-determination, and the League of Nations; ideas which remain as relevant today as they were a century ago. Wilson transformed the primary objective of American foreign policy from isolation to internationalism. 

Trump could learn a lot from Wilson, whose vision of a world made safe and prosperous by the collective action of all nations, is a cornerstone of U.S. diplomacy. Instead of looking to Wilson for his positive attributes, Trump is more closely aligned with Wilson’s negative characteristics. Wilson tolerated no dissent during the war, and authorized serious violations of Americans’ civil liberties in his quest for victory. Playing to his base, Trump has incessantly targeted the most vulnerable. His anti-immigrant measures began with the Muslim ban. He has separated families, detained individuals who posed no threat to others or risk of flight, sought to deny asylum because they were directly contrary to the statute, and attempted to rescind protected status for the Dreamers. 

Sadly, Wilson’s zest for humanitarian justice did not extend to African-Americans. He supported segregation in government departments and did little to stop the waves of anti-black violence and race riots that swept over the land during his administration particularly in the years after the war. In the present day, Trump praised white supremacists in Charlottesville as “very fine people” and referred to African countries as “shitholes.” His Justice Department sought to back off from consent decrees requiring police to treat their citizens with equal respect and dignity. And he has done nothing to help ease the current racial tensions in the United States instead fanning the flames of his conservative base by disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement.

For those who might not believe the allegations in The Atlantic article, look at the statements he’s made about military personnel in interviews and speeches. He has no respect for anyone who might do something selfless because he cannot fathom doing something that would not benefit him personally.  To quote The Atlantic article:

“He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” one of Kelly’s friends, a retired four-star general, told me. “He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.” Kelly’s friend went on to say, “Trump can’t imagine anyone else’s pain.”

Retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis shared The Atlantic article on Twitter and described the military’s cemeteries as “sacred shrines to those who have given everything.” Stavardis suggested the lack of denials by John Kelly and retired Marine General Jim Mattis, Trump’s former Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary respectively were notable. Senior and former military leaders have struggled with how to respond to a report that Trump referred to U.S. service members killed in combat as “losers,” as the president attacked the allegations as “fake news.” The only thing fake here is Trump’s patriotism.

Trump lacks empathy when he lashes out at critics. Instead, he reaches for petty insults. His contempt for service and heroism extends to events throughout history. Trump finds the notion of military service challenging to understand, and volunteering to serve especially incomprehensible. Remember, the president has never served in the military but claims his attendance at New York Military Academy was an equivalent to military service. He also made the idiotic statement comparing his efforts to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases to the Vietnam War saying it constituted his “personal Vietnam.”

And if you still think he’s not lying when he denies the allegations in The Atlantic article, he can’t even tell the simple truth about the 2018 trip. Trump told reporters over the weekend he “called home” to Melania at the time and told her how upset he was for not being able to visit the cemetery. Trump claimed, “I spoke to my wife and I said, I hate this. I came here to go to that ceremony. And to the one the following day which I did go to. I feel terribly. And that was the end of it.” The truth about this is he couldn’t have “called home” because Melania was on the same trip and was scheduled to attend the cemetery visit with him!

And what did Trump do instead of visiting the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery? He spent hours on that Saturday afternoon holed up watching television inside the U.S. ambassador’s residence. Later that night, Trump and Melania had dinner with French President Emanuel Macron. He could watch TV and have a fancy dinner, but he could not be bothered to visit a cemetery for soldiers who died in one of the United States’ most significant battles in World War I. He is a total disgrace. He needs to be voted out of office along with all of those who have supported him, because, without the Senate’s support, he would not still be our president. 

While I find Trump’s remarks and lack of empathy for our military men and women deplorable, I find it even more upsetting that Fox News and his rabid base do not believe The Atlantic article could contain any truth. Saturday, my mother called. I think you know by now she is a loyal Trump supporter. After asking me if I had called her because she had three phone calls she couldn’t answer and doesn’t know how to use Caller ID, she began to tell me, “I just told your sister that we need to pray that Donald Trump is reelected.” To which I, in turn, brought up the allegations in The Atlanticarticle. Her response was, “You don’t believe that mess, do you?” I told her, “Why wouldn’t I believe it? Considering what he has said in the past about veterans, and especially since he called John McCain a loser.” His base doesn’t care what he does as long as he is part of the Republican Party. 

My mother is not the only one to claim The Atlantic article is fake news. Saturday evening, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro called the claims “absurd,” and Greg Gutfeld, another Fox News host, called the Atlantic’s story “a hoax” and “a scam” that was “created in a lab.” However, Fox News seems to be divided on whether the claims are valid. Fox’s national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, confirmed the allegations. Conor Powell, a former Fox News foreign correspondent, backed up Griffin’s report saying, “Jennifer is a straight shooter and always pursues reporting with the goal of uncovering the truth.” Anchor Neil Cavuto then endorsed Griffin’s work. “Jennifer, you are a very good reporter,” he told her. Then, addressing his audience, he said, “She’s pretty scrupulous when it comes to making sure all the I’s are dotted, all the t’s are crossed.” Senior Political Analyst for Fox News, Brit Hume tweeted, “This is bullshit. Jen plays it straight and always has.” Hume’s tweet was in response to a tweet by Steve Milloy, a Fox News contributor, who claimed Griffin was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe, just maybe, some Fox News enthusiasts and Trump supporters will see the light and realize the article was not a hoax.

Let’s vote for someone who cares about our veterans. Someone who is the father of a veteran. Vote for Biden on November 3, 2020. 

P.S. I felt this post was more important and timely than my usual Tuesday poetry post. The poetry post will be postponed until tomorrow.

Soulless Minions of Trump

In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there is one brief mention of a group that has always stuck in my head: the Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy. I don’t know why it is, but the term Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy just gets stuck in my head. It’s only mentioned once in all of Star Trek history and usually goes mostly unnoticed. If the group ever “existed” in the Star Trek universe, it is only mentioned once in the episode “In the Cards” by a mad scientist named Doctor Elias Giger. Giger blamed his colleague Dr. Bathkin’s untimely death in a shuttlecraft on the “soulless minions of orthodoxy.” While Giger never explained who the group is, some fans have theorized that the “minions of orthodoxy” are those within the Federation’s scientific establishment who are unwilling to accept any challenge to their perceptions of what represents good science and bad science. 

In a way, we are fighting against our own political Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy composed of conservative politicians and the Republican Party’s religious right. The definition of conservative is, in essence, orthodoxy. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Orthodoxy as “of, relating to, or constituting any of various conservative religious or political groups.” The first established use of the term conservative in a political context originated in 1818 with François-René de Chateaubriand during the period of Bourbon Restoration that sought to roll back the policies of the French Revolution. Historically associated with right-wing politics, the term has since been used to describe a wide range of views. There is no single set of policies regarded as conservative because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time. 

Conservatism in the United States has evolved to advocate American traditions (good or bad), Christian values (mostly those perverted by evangelicals and fundamentalists), pro-business policies, opposition to trade unions, strong national defense, free trade, anti-communism, pro-individualism, and American exceptionalism. In the last few decades, the Republican Party has engaged in battles championed by the religious right over abortion, euthanasia, contraception, pornography, gambling, obscenity, state-sanctioned prayer in public schools, textbook contents (concerning creationism), LGBTQ+ rights, and sexual education. Adding in their aversion to scientific evidence (such as climate change or public health), voting rights, and intelligence, you get the present-day Republican Party. When they chose Donald Trump as their leader, they became a party opposed to the truth and reason. Last week’s Republican National Convention was a tale of a resurgent economy, a deadly virus defeated, and a benevolent and wise President who was a champion of Black Americans, and women, and a guardian of constitutional values. Yet, none of it was true, but Trump supporters will believe it because Trump and Fox News tell them. 

Recently, Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for POLITICO, who is described as “the most skilled political reporters of his generation,” wrote about the Republican Party’s meltdown. Alberta wrote that:

Earlier this month, while speaking via Zoom to a promising group of politically inclined high school students, I was met with an abrupt line of inquiry. “I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand,” said one young man, his pitch a blend of curiosity and exasperation. “What do Republicans believe? What does it mean to be a Republican?”

However, there was a problem when Alberta tried to answer the question. He didn’t know what today’s Republicans believe. In recent years, the GOP core beliefs of limited government, free enterprise, moral integrity, fiscal restraint, and global leadership have gone from adaptable to disposable. The lack of vision became even more apparent when last week’s Republican National Convention, which not only nominates a presidential ticket but also writes the party’s platform, chose not to write a platform this year. In good old Trump fashion, the RNC decided to copy and paste the one form 2016. Why was this the case? Simply, it’s because the Republican Party, as we knew it, no longer exists. It has become a cult of personality, wholly centered on Donald Trump. It has become the Party of Trump. The whim of Trump now defines policies and beliefs. Republican leaders in Congress have turned into puppets whose strings are tightly controlled by Trump, who runs the government in a manner more akin to a mafia boss than a president.

Every four years, political parties hold presidential nominating conventions which give occasion to assess the party’s ideas, its principles, and its vision for governing. That is what the party platform is designed to do. Recent iterations of the Republican ideology have been easy to define. Ronald Reagan’s party wanted to end communism and destroy the bureaucratic red tape of big government. George W. Bush’s party aimed to project compassion and fortitude, educating poor Americans, and treating AIDS-stricken Africans, while simultaneously confronting the advance of Islamic terrorism. However flawed the policies, however unsuccessful their execution, a tone was set from the top-down. They stood for something clearly defined, even if the party members did not always practice the platform.

If you consider the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, each is about ideas. Political parties were supposed to be about ideas. It can now be said that Donald Trump’s party is the very definition of a cult of personality. It stands for no particular ideal; it possesses no organizing principle. It represents no detailed vision for governing. Instead, the lack of a platform is now characterized by a lazy, identity-based populism that draws from the lowest common denominator. The Republican Party of Trump is all about firing up his base. It is a political wave of anger. Just look at that crazy speech by Kimberly Guilfoyle last week at the RNC. It has also become a party that shrugs responsibility for its actions or lack of actions. In the words of Trump: “It is what it is” and “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Kellyanne Conway was recently asked about the link between a 17-year-old charged with homicide after two people were killed and another seriously wounded by gunfire amid a night of rioting in Kenosha, WI, and a Trump rally in Des Moines, IA. Kyle Rittenhouse, the suspect in the shootings, has a social media presence filled with him posing pictures of himself with weapons, posting “Blue Lives Matter,” and supporting Trump. Footage from the Des Moines rally on January 30 shows Rittenhouse feet away from the president, in the front row, to the left of the podium. He posted a TikTok video from the event. The ties to Trump’s rhetoric are clear and even backed up by Trump acolyte Tucker Carlson who said on his show, “How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” However, when Conway was asked about any link, she stated the White House is “not responsible for the private conduct of people who go to rallies.”

The incident raises the question of the extent to which the inflammatory approach the president has taken towards racial tension and violence has influenced the actions of impressionable individuals at a volatile moment. While at one time even Republicans denounced white nationalist extremists and fringe right-wing militia groups, the president now praises them because they support him. One of Trump’s most dangerous supporters might be the conspiracy theorists of QAnon. The group was once a fringe phenomenon that most people could safely ignore. But in recent months, it has gone mainstream. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks have been flooded with QAnon-related false information about Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter protests, and the 2020 election. QAnon supporters have also been trying to attach themselves to other activist causes, such as the anti-vaccine and anti-child-trafficking movements, to expand their ranks. These people are frightening to me as they believe a set of internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Donald Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring. The beliefs only get scarier from there. See the New York Times article on “What is QAnon?” if you want to read some genuinely chilling stuff. During a White House news conference supposedly about the coronavirus, Trump recently said that he had “heard these are people that love our country.” He continued by saying, “So, I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me,” which appears to be enough to validate the group’s beliefs in his eyes.

The most significant problem with most Trump supporters is either willful ignorance or a total disregard for the rule of law. Willful ignorance is nothing new and has afflicted humankind for centuries. We all prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar, and many crave conformity. Some of us strive for the differences that make us a diverse nation of E. Pluribus Unum. The problem that the Republican Party is currently facing is that it cannot fix a problem they refuse to acknowledge publicly. The Lincoln Project has been very outspoken and critical of the Trump administration and has vowed to hold accountable those who violate their oaths to the Constitution and put others before Americans. But is The Lincoln Project enough to halt the insanity of the Republican Party led by Trump?

We often surround ourselves with people who think like us and share our ideals and values, so most Trump supporters only watch Fox News and refuse to watch any other news source. They do not want to hear something contrary to what they want to believe and do not want to listen to evidence that challenges what they desire to be true. In this, I am a little hypocritical because I refuse to watch Fox News. I get so angry at the lies and propaganda they espouse, so I also refused to watch the RNC last week. However, I attempt to remain objective and occasionally see commentators on CNN or MSNBC that I think become a little too hyperbolic in their commentaries, but when they report on facts, they are facts not lies and that’s the difference.

Republicans, and Trump supporters, especially, want to protect their sheltered experiences, white bread relationships, and backward ideas, values, and beliefs. They found in Trump an angry man who voiced their fears of change and allowed him to construct a world around them that makes his supporters feel safe and blinded them to valuable information, facts, and behaviors that should alarm any American. People in the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have stayed silent when they should have spoken out or questioned Trump’s actions for fear of being criticized, rebuked, tweeted about derogatorily by Trump. Some like former chief of staff at Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, Miles Taylor, have spoken out against Trump’s dangers. Still, there are too many who are either too afraid of the president or enjoy the privileges of being in the Trump administration. Trump’s minions have overlooked threats and dangers to justice, health, and national security that should have otherwise been obvious. They have blocked out the uncomfortable realities of the profiteering and lawlessness within the Trump administration to save themselves from the hard evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

There will come a day of reckoning for the Republican Party. I hope that day will be November 3, 2020, when Democrats retake the White House and the Senate while retaining the House of Representatives. Then we can work to reclaim the judiciary. If this happens, there will be another day of reckoning in the future when historians look back on the Trump administration and the Senate under Mitch McConnell. They will be judged, and they will be found lacking. Let’s look at a few statistics that the Republican Party won’t admit are true. The United States makes up 4.25 percent of the world’s population, yet we have 24 percent of the world’s COVID-19 cases and 22 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Yet, to hear Republicans tell it, we are doing the best of any country in the world. It simply isn’t true. Cities are rioting all over the country over racial injustice, and all Trump can do is blame it on Democratic controlled city governments, which is also untrue. Furthermore, in January 2017 when Trump took office, the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. The latest unemployment rate statistics has it at 10.2 percent. In January 2017, the GDP was $19.49 trillion. Today, the GDP is $19.41 trillion. Yet, we have the best economy according to Trump. Again, it simply isn’t true. 

While the economic numbers are largely due to the pandemic, they clearly show how badly the Trump administration has handled the situation. The Democrat controlled House of Representatives approved a $3 trillion relief package back in May. Senate Republicans and administration officials waited until the end of July to unveil a $1 trillion proposal that went nowhere because the Trump administration refused to negotiate. The administration dramatically stopped negations saying the House Democrats refused to negotiate, when they had already made numerous concessions. This was done all so that Trump could magnanimously sign four executive orders and memorandums that accomplished very little. One would give a tax holiday for workers, but they would be still required to pay those taxes in April. Another allocated FEMA relief funds to pay an extra $300 in unemployment benefits, but only for those who listed their job loss as being caused by the pandemic. A third would set a moratorium on evections, but only on a few mortgages held by the federal government. The last one is probably the only one that will deliver the results. It will continue to pause loan payments and interest on federally held student loans through the end of 2020.

It is my hope that the Republican Party will lose so badly in the 2020 election that they reassess their priorities and disavow Trump for nearly destroying the Party. More likely, the Republicans will double down on their rhetoric and claim, without any evidence, because there won’t be any, that there were massive election fraud and ballot tampering. At that point, their loyal followers, those soulless minions of Trump, will believe them. If that happens, we have to be careful, because just as the Freedom Caucus is worse than the Tea Party, the next Republican leader could be worse than Trump. Political parties seem to try to move to the extreme, not moderation when they need reform. We can only hope that if that happens, enough people will remember the horrors of the Trump years and finally begin to moderate the Party.

The ideology, whether you agreed with it or not, of the Republican Party, has been replaced with Trumpism, a cult of personality, and his followers have become soulless minions of orthodoxy believing that Trump will restore a time before liberals began to make America a better place to live and achieve the American Dream. I’m not sure if that means before 1933 when FDR became president and ushered in the New Deal or some fantasy of American conservatives analogous to the Confederacy and its Lost Cause. Regardless of political party affiliation, Americans need to wake up and realize that another four years of Trump leadership will mean the end of American democracy. Republicans need to wake up and realize that four more years of Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s demise. Republicans could turn on Donald Trump and reestablish some semblance of the Grand Old Party, but I only see that happening if Trump loses in November. Still, suppose they continue with Donald Trump’s cult of personality. In that case, the party will implode and become Republican in name only and nothing more than a group of Soulless Minions of Trump. While the death of the Republican Party’s hate-filled ideology wouldn’t bother me, the replacement with an ideology based on anger, lies, and hatred is not what America needs. If the Republican Party continues, it needs to moderate and become a party of compassion, not something I believe will happen. 

What might be the hardest for America is when the next generation asks their parents and grandparents why they supported Donald Trump. When that day comes, I suspect there will be a lot of Americans who will rewrite their own history and say they never supported Donald Trump. Some will claim it wasn’t as bad as historians claim. There will be those who will still be Trump enthusiasts and revisionists. Still, I suspect the majority will deny they were ever a party to the destructive administration of Donald Trump.

Chris Evans

I’m sure most of you out there know who Chris Evans is. He’s best known as Captain America, and he’s also one of the hottest of the guys named Chris in Hollywood. You know the ones I’m talking about. Chris Pine, Chris O’Donnell, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pratt are the most famous, but then there are the lesser-known guys named Chris: Chris Lowell, Chris Klein, Chris Carmack, and I’ll even throw in Chris Colfer, even though he’s not necessarily my type. Of these guys, Chris O’Donnell will always have a special place in my fantasies because he played Buddy Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes:

However, Evans, Pine, and Hemsworth always make parts of me stir when I see them on the screen. Just look at this picture of Chris Pine from Wonder Woman:

Or Chris Hemsworth at the beach:

Evans is a staunch supporter of LGBTQ equality and the Democratic Party. In 2012, Evans affirmed his support for same-sex marriage, stating: “It’s insane that civil rights are being denied people in this day and age. It’s embarrassing, and it’s heartbreaking. It goes without saying that I’m completely in support of gay marriage. In ten years, we’ll be ashamed that this was an issue.” In August 2016, Evans supported Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s continued enforcement of the state’s ban on assault weapons. Evans endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and has been critical of President Donald Trump. After Alabama enacted the Human Life Protection Act in May 2019, which imposes a near-total ban on abortions in the state, Evans wrote on Twitter that the bill was “absolutely unbelievable” and continued by writing, “If you’re not worried about Roe v. Wade, you’re not paying attention.” 

Evans has gotten some negative media attention in the past several months for a picture taken of him, but I think it’s because people spoke before they knew the story, which is often a problem. As I said, Evans is an outspoken Democrat but has held back on some of his political criticisms, even of Donald Trump, since he began his political project A Starting Point in July 2020, which aims to “create a bipartisan channel of communication and connectivity between Americans and their elected officials with the goal of creating a more informed electorate.” In starting this organization, he’s been interacting with politicians on both sides of the aisle, which led to a photo with Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his daughter that had some on Twitter fuming back in February.

Celebrities always seem to get in trouble from either the left or the right for their political opinions. Some celebrities in the past I refuse to watch anymore because of their extreme right-wing views, but I am not going to do like Republicans often do and claim that they should just be celebrities and not have an opinion. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but stars have to weigh the option of whether or not they will lose fans because of their views. The fact that Evans, who is an outspoken liberal, had his picture taken with Cruz has garnered backlash is a tad ridiculous.

On “The Daily Show” on Tuesday, host Trevor Noah brought up the photo and the backlash, asking how Evans balances being Captain America for people even when he disagrees. Evans explained, “In that circumstance, it was a child. I’ll always take a picture with a kid.” He continued: “But in general, just even sitting down with certain politicians ― there are certain people on the extremes of both parties who, there’s no wiggle room for that. And again, what I would argue is, look, if this person wasn’t in power, if this person wasn’t writing bills that affected your life, fine, we can shun them. You know what I mean? We can scream louder than them. But we can’t pretend they don’t have some sort of say, some sort of impact.” Evans made the argument, “Because I think the other way just becomes cyclical, and everyone spirals and no one listens, and I don’t think you move the ball down the field as effectively as you would if you say: OK, let’s just, you know … out-talk me,” he said. Elsewhere in the segment, Evans explained he would still express his political beliefs when called to do so. Still, the framework of A Starting Point is all about presenting the issues and letting people form their own opinions. 

I have to agree with Evans. American politics has become so polarized that there is little dissension in the ranks Republicans or Democrats. Both parties are likely to get blasted by opponents for reaching across the aisle and trying to compromise. Look at the Senate right now. Very little coming out the House is even taken up in the Senate because the House is controlled by the Democrats. We need civil discourse in politics, but many Republicans, especially Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, have made that impossible. In his 1796 Farewell Address, George Washington warned against the dangers of political parties stating, ” However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reigns of government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” Nobody followed Washington’s advice. Washington also spoke of foreign policy warning, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.” That warning has often been used by American politicians, often to the detriment of the world.

And if you don’t know, Evans is the brother of openly gay actor, Scott Evans. Scott is best known for playing the role of police officer Oliver Fish on the ABC daytime soap opera One Life to Live. I became a fan when I was living with my parents and writing my dissertation. I would take an hour for lunch and watch Scott on One Life to Live because Oliver Fish became involved in a romantic relationship with another man named Kyle Lewis. I continued to watch until the storyline was dropped, and both Scott and the actor playing Kyle Lewis were let go in 2010. One day, the writers just stopped writing the characters into the script. ABC’s only explanation was that the storyline “did not have the appeal we hoped it would.” Upon Oliver’s departure from the show on Monday, April 12, and Kyle’s exit on Friday, April 16, One Life to Live hit new lows in total viewers, and two years later, the soap opera was canceled.

Why Are People So Driven by Hate?

The post title is a rhetorical question, because I don’t have an answer for it, nor do I understand people so filled with hate. In Texas near the border with Mexico, Roma High School has put teacher Taylor Lifka on leave after a Republican politician posted a screenshot of her virtual classroom, including a rainbow and a “Black Lives Matter” sign. The school said Ms. Lifka was put on leave for displaying so-called political and divisive speech in her virtual classroom.

Marian Knowlton, a Republican running for the Texas House in District 3, wrote on Facebook last Friday. ““This is from a public school in one of the counties in House District 31! Our education system has been radicalizing our children for years, and it continues to do so, from elementary through higher education. This is not an isolated occurrence, it is a national pattern. A concerted effort to teach children what to think, not how to think. Leftist indoctrination. Parents, I urge you to take a look at your child’s classroom, virtual or onsite.” Knowlton said that one of the posters has “a photo of radical protesters (one of whom looks like an ANTIFA member).” Knowlton continued, “In addition, this teacher asks which pronoun they prefer!”

In the screenshot she posted, a poster says, “Diverse, Inclusive, Accepting, Welcoming Safe Space for Everyone” in rainbow colors. One sign simply says, “Black Lives Matter,” which Knowlton said is a message supporting a “radical Marxist movement.” Another says in Spanish, “Friend, your struggle is my struggle.”

The screenshot also includes instructions from the teacher telling students to put their names and pronouns in the group chat.

By Tuesday, the district said that the teacher in question was put on leave. “After reviewing the complaints, the District is working closely with the teacher to find a resolution that will ensure all parties involved reach an outcome that best benefits the expectations of our parents and needs of our students,” the statement said. Even though the school forced the teacher to be on leave, the Roma Independent School District claims that “The teacher is not being reprimanded in any way for her work or decisions.”

The South Texas Equality Project (STEP) has started a petition to get Lifka taken off leave, which currently has 17,500 signatures. “Please sign this petition to let the school district know that inclusivity and acceptance are not taboo ideas that deserve censorship; that high school students can and should be allowed to discuss the realities of the world instead of being sheltered inside a sanitized bubble; and that by reprimanding the teacher for trying to create a safe space for her students, the school is not being neutral, but is actively taking a stance that is antithetical to justice,” the petition says.

“In our current times, we are still in that struggle for that need for equality,” a representative of STEP told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, adding that Lifka did not ask them to create the petition. Knowlton’s Facebook page was made private after this story got media attention.

Lifka was a member of Teach For America’s 2017 corps but is no longer with the organization. On her classroom’s homepage on the Roma High School website, Lifka wrote that she had fallen in love with Roma after her two years teaching there for TFA, prompting her to stay. “The beauty of Roma exists in the vibrant border culture and the tight-knit community that supports and honors one another through both the celebrations and the challenges of life,” she wrote.

Joseph Cloward, a former teacher at the district, said he worked with Lifka for a year and described her as committed and competent. Cloward says news of Lifka being put on paid leave prompted him to send a letter to Roma ISD Monday expressing concern. “I think what I was asking for is for the district to be really, really clear about whether or not it intends to be a safe and inclusive space for all students, particularly for Black students, for female students, for LGBT students,” he said. “I think all that’s come across right now is that teachers that are supportive of those students will be punished if they are outspoken in their support of those students, and I think that’s the wrong message for the district to be sending.” Cloward continued, “I don’t think that the messages in the pictures on social media are ones that have to be explicitly political in a partisan sense, they seem to be pretty typical ways to let students know that they are in a space where they will be welcomed and should feel safe regardless of their race or gender or sexual orientation.”

Knowlton said the content did represent a political position, noting that she had been accused of racism and homophobia for posting the screenshot. “If this is about inclusivity, why don’t we see anything about Judeao-Christian values on it, why don’t we see anything about the Bible on it, why don’t we see the other side?” she said Tuesday. “We only see one point of view on here, and I didn’t mention that at all, but that’s where the thread started to go.” Knowlton said she got the screenshot from a concerned educator and shared it to raise awareness on what’s happening in Texas classrooms. “I think that parents need to know what their children are looking at, what they’re hearing in the classroom,” she said. Knowlton said she didn’t realize what the consequences of her post would be, and it seems that she has no problems with Lifka’s removal.

AN UPDATE: Taylor Lifka has been reinstated to her job. 

statement from the district said Lifka was put on paid administrative leave on Sunday after the district received concerns from community members and parents.

“It is the practice of Roma ISD to diligently review all parent concerns. In this case, the timing in which information was received by the District (over the weekend) made it necessary for the District to place Ms. Lifka on leave until we could fully and responsibly review this matter,” the statement read. “This action was not intended to reflect any form of punishment or admonishment towards Ms. Lifka but was purely driven by a need to review the circumstances and come to a sound resolution for all persons involved. Out of concern for Ms. Lifka, Roma ISD wishes to state again that she has not been reprimanded in any way concerning this matter. The District appreciates the importance of advancing sensitivity regarding equality and inclusivity.”

The statement repeatedly and emphatically pledged Roma ISD’s commitment to anti-discrimination and inclusivity, saying Lifka was taken off leave Tuesday and informed she would be allowed the choice to keep the graphic background for her virtual classroom as proposed so long as it “does not come to overly disrupt or detract from the educational process or the learning environment.”

“Roma ISD regrets that this matter has become a point of controversy. It was never the intention of the District to indicate anything less than full support for the concepts of equality and student safety,” Roma ISD Superintendent Carlos Guzman wrote in the statement. “As educators and community members, Roma ISD has an obligation to carefully listen to parent concerns and respond to them, taking into consideration the rights of employees and students. As a school district, we must create a safe environment for our teachers and students that fosters and respects everyone’s beliefs in a manner that does not discriminate or disrupt the learning environment. I want to affirm that our District is filled with caring and committed educators that give 100 percent of themselves every day to the education and development of our students.”

They Hate Their Country

“[Insert name of Democrat] hates America” is a trope constantly thrown around by Republicans and their pundits. While many Democrats do have concerns about the direction of the United States, I don’t think any of them hate their country. It is likely also that Republicans don’t hate the United States, but they do seem to hate all the “others” that make up American society whether they be Black, Asian, Hispanic, Gay, Women, etc. The Democratic party is one of inclusion; the Republican Party is one of exclusion. Democrats generally have positive ideology; Republicans have consistently negative ideology. The Democratic Party tells you what they stand for while the Republican Party only tells you what they are against. Republicans shroud this ideology in their allegations that Democrats are unpatriotic and hate America.

A prime example is what Tucker Carlson said about Tammy Duckworth during the opening monologue of his July 6, 2020 show: 

“Most people just ignore her. But when Duckworth does speak in public, you’re reminded what a deeply silly and unimpressive person she is.” He then added, “It’s long been considered out of bounds to question a person’s patriotism. It’s a very strong charge, and we try not ever to make it. But in the face of all of this, the conclusion can’t be avoided. These people actually hate America. There’s no longer a question about that.”

Duckworth responded on Twitter that night: “Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?” If you don’t know Duckworth’s story, on November 12, 2004, Captain Duckworth was flying a Black Hawk to her base in Iraq, roughly 50 miles north of Baghdad, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, taking down Duckworth and three of her crew members. All survived, but the fiery crash left Duckworth a double amputee and later the recipient of a Purple Heart. Since then, Duckworth has gone on to an impressive career, first serving in the House of Representatives after being elected from her Illinois district in 2012, and then moving up to the U.S. Senate four years later winning the seat once held by Barack Obama.

Carlson’s claim, like much of what he says, that calling a person unpatriotic is “It’s a very strong charge, and we try not ever to make it,” is completely untrue. Trump and his minions use that tired expression all the time. It’s also not new. Republicans have spent the past half-century portraying themselves as more patriotic, more committed to national security than Democrats. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 (the only presidential election out of the past seven in which the Republican won the popular vote) all depended in part on posing as the candidate more prepared to confront menacing foreigners. Trump’s ongoing feud with four freshmen Democratic lawmakers, commonly referred to as “the Squad,” is a prime example as he has accused Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) of hating America. “I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country. They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!” he tweeted.

Republican claims that their opponents hate America seems to have increased over the last four years, and really started gaining steam when Barack Obama became President. Obama faced constant accusations of being too deferential to foreign rulers, of being unpatriotic, and even of not being a real American. Republicans, particularly Trump, even tried to question Kamala Harris’ citizenship. I shouldn’t even have to say this, but the Fourteenth Amendment states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” Harris was born in in Oakland, California, clearly making her a natural born citizen. The stupidity of people is truly astounding at times, because we all know some of Trump’s supporters will believe she’s not a citizen because her parents were immigrants.

Republicans love to call their opponents unpatriotic, but now we have a president who really is unpatriotic to the point of betraying American values and interests. We don’t know the full extent of Donald Trump’s malfeasance, though more and more of it is coming out especially with the recent bipartisan Senate report from the Senate Intelligence Committee that provided the most comprehensive and thorough examination to date of how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and how the Trump campaign welcomed the foreign adversary’s help. It revealed new information about contacts between Russian officials and associates of President Donald Trump during and after the campaign. What we have learned about Trump’s treasonous behavior would have had Republicans howling about treason if a Democrat had committed these acts.

The irony is that in the past few years this paranoid fantasy in which a major U.S. political party is de facto allied with an international movement hostile to American values has become true. But the party in question is the Republican Party which under Trump has effectively become part of a cross-national coalition of authoritarian white nationalists. Republicans were never the patriots they pretended to be, but at this point, they’ve pretty much crossed the line into being foreign agents. They tout they are the party of law and order, yet, they allow chaos by those who support them. Asked by a reporter about QAnon, a conspiracy group labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat by the FBI, Trump said this:

“Well, I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate. But I don’t know much about the movement. I have heard that it is gaining in popularity and from what I hear it’s — these are people that — they watch the streets of Portland — when they watch what happened in New York City in just the last six or seven months, but this was starting even four years ago when I came here. Almost four years, can you believe it?

“These are people that don’t like seeing what’s going on in places like Portland, and places like Chicago, and New York and other cities and states. And I’ve heard these are people that love our country and they just don’t like seeing it.”

For Trump, patriotism is only based on whether you like him. If you don’t, then he claims you are unpatriotic. Trump tries to crush any dissention of himself. No matter how evil, nasty, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, etc. someone is, as long as they like and support him, then they must be good people who love their country.  It’s so disgusting, it makes you want to cry.

In Joe Biden’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last week, he said: 

“But while I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did. That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.”

Later in the speech he talked about the failures of Trump: 

“Our current President has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He has failed to protect us; he has failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable. As president, I will make you this promise: I will protect America. I will defend us from every attack. Seen. And unseen. Always. Without exception. Every time.”

Biden is appealing to those who want to save democracy. He is appealing to compassion. He is appealing to intelligence and reason. We cannot allow the failures of Trump to continue to destroy our country for another four years. I don’t think the democratic institutions of our great republic can survive if people re-elect Donald Trump. Trump has consistently attempted to chip away at the very core of our democracy: free and fair elections. He must be defeated! 

Nearly a year ago when Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives was moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry, she quoted Thomas Paine. Reflecting the historic gravity of the moment, she repeated a line she had used before:

“Getting back to our founders, in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, ‘The times have found us.’ The times found them to fight for and establish our democracy. The times have found us today.” 

The times have continued to find us and beg us to save the Republic. We need Joe Biden to save/restore the Republic and usher in a new era of compassion, equality, and renewed health. I hope on January 20, 2021, we can quote the opening lines of Paine’s 1783 pamphlet, The American Crisis, “These are times that tried men’s souls, and they are over.”

Needed to Share

I rarely do random posts, but I was checking my Twitter feed and came across this, and I had to share. Brayden Harrington’s speech at the DNC Convention on Thursday night was a very emotional moment, and this is a video of the moment that Joe Biden first met this kid. I don’t care what you may think of Biden, but this is a major contrast to anything I have ever seen from a President, especially the one currently in the White House. The time and compassion Biden took is astounding. The fact that Biden regularly gives kids who stutter his personal phone number is one of the most beautiful things I know. I have a post I’ve written for next week that discusses my own speech impediment, and because of having a similar issue, this really resonated with me on a deeper level. Tears streamed down my eyes as I watched Brayden’s speech, and again tears rolled down my eyes when I saw this video.

I can’t say enough how badly we need compassion and empathy in the White House. It is so important that we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on November 3, 2020.