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I do not believe

. . . that all cops are bastards

. . . that all pharmacists want us sick

. . . that all lawyers are heartless

. . . that all Republicans are stupid

. . . that all Democrats are socialists

. . . that all conservatives are evil

. . . that all progressives are anarchists

. . . that all Blacks are criminals

. . . that all Whites are racists

. . . that all Arabs are terrorists

. . . that all Hispanics are gangsters

. . . that all men are pigs

. . . that all women are bitches

The world is greyer than this

Much, much greyer than this

On these points

And a million other ways

Thinking so

Denies

Everything

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As the last four years enter the realm of memory, one image is strong in my mind:

=================

Guardian of Forever : TIME HAS RESUMED ITS SHAPE. ALL IS AS IT WAS BEFORE. MANY SUCH JOURNEYS ARE POSSIBLE. LET ME BE YOUR GATEWAY.

Lt. Uhura : Captain, the Enterprise is up there. They’re asking if we want to beam up.

Capt. Kirk : [softly]  Let’s get the Hell out of here.

=================

Indeed, Captain.

k

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We’ve had a few tense weeks here, and not because of current events. Short version: My wife had a cancer scare, but thankfully it was only a scare.

The past eight weeks, and especially the last two weeks, were filled with appointments and waiting and procedures and more waiting and biopsies and even more waiting. As you can probably imagine, during that waiting, all that downtime when the “What if?” scenarios bounce around your head like a ping-pong ball at a championship match, we desperately needed something to occupy our brains.

My wife (the one in greatest need of distraction) found her solace in Blue Bloods. It’s a show we’ve never watched before, and she now had eleven seasons (!!) to binge on.

And binge, she did (with me at her side, for much of it).

For those unfamiliar with Blue Bloods, it follows a family of Irish Catholic police officers in New York City. Gramps (Len Cariou) is retired, Dad (Tom Selleck) is the police commissioner, and the boys (Donnie Wahlberg and Will Estes) are cops. My wife was there primarily for Tom Selleck as the gruff but gentle patriarch. For my part, I was there solely for Bridget Moynahan, who plays the daughter, an Assistant DA for the city.

The shows are simple. There’s an A plot and a B plot in each episode. The family always gets together for Sunday dinner. There is ongoing character development, but for the most part, it’s purely episodic. It’s a dependable show. Dependably good. Dependably homey. Dependably entertaining.

During one episode’s Sunday dinner scene, I turned to my wife and said, “One thing I like about this show: they’re all Republicans.”

She looked at me like I had suggested they were all rabid dogs, a look that said, “Are you crazy? That’s impossible. I like these people!”

Given recent events, this reaction can be forgiven, but I stand by my opinion. Law enforcement skews strongly toward the GOP. Catholics lean conservative. Taken with the characters’ commentary about political and social issues (e.g., stop and frisk, personal responsibility, etc.), it was clear that this family had a strong conservative viewpoint. Doing the math, it was clear to me that the characters would probably vote Republican.

This deduction, however, was not offered up as an insult. As I said, I liked that aspect of the show. As a staunch liberal, a guy whose father campaigned for Adlai Stevenson (twice!), you might think it odd that I like watching a show about a family of Republicans, but it’s not odd. Not odd at all.

Why? Because these characters are old-school GOP, like the Republicans of my youth. Conservative? Yes. Tough on crime? You bet. Fiscally tight-fisted? Damned straight. But they are also capable of compassion, of seeing the gradients between black and white, of taking into account mitigating circumstances, and (above all) the necessity to compromise. They care for people as people, seeing the world not just as cops and robbers, heroes and zeroes.

In short, they are not of the rabid Jim Jordan GOP, nor the morally relativistic Lindsey Graham GOP. The Blue Bloods family is more akin to the Eisenhower GOP.

And I miss that GOP.

I miss the GOP with whom you could actually debate, the GOP that wasn’t blind to the massive common ground between the extremes. I miss the GOP that understood that politics is ideology but governing is compromise. I miss the GOP that was willing to give something up, to negotiate in good faith, in order to advance what they saw as the greater good.

Yes, polarization exists on both sides, these days, but if there’s one party that owns the centrist, moderate ground, well, it ain’t today’s GOP. Today’s GOP has been moving off that part of the field for over a decade, and in the past four years, they ceded it completely. Today’s GOP is all about power and money and control and is nothing about governing. Today’s GOP is the party of the Big Lie, conspiracy theories, and slavering devotion to Dear Leader. And sadly, of sedition.

I know there are some exceptions to this new norm in the GOP, and I feel for them. They are grossly outnumbered by the wild-eyed cohort that has shifted the GOP so far to the right. These few, these moderate few, are trapped between the mob their party has built and the abyss that now exists between our parties’ ideologies.

I miss the GOP, and I suspect perhaps some of these politicians do, as well.

k

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It’s one thing for my rabid right-wing-nutter Uncle Earl to run about in his tin-foil hat and go on and on about stolen elections and massive fraud at the polls. It’s entirely another thing when elected officials do the same. Crazy Uncle Earl didn’t take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. Elected officials did. 

If, at this point, they do not admit that Biden won the election, then they must believe that:

  • all the federal judges and Supreme Court justices (including Republican/Trump appointees) who have dismissed the fifty-odd (and counting) lawsuits filed, are lying to us
    • and
  • all the state elections boards, secretaries of state, and governors (including Republicans) who have certified Biden’s win in their elections, are lying to us
    • and
  • the complete lack of credible evidence is irrelevant to the process of determining fact from fiction
    • and
  • thousands upon thousands of people across fifty states, people who have worked for decades in jobs and processes that, in 2016, delivered Donald Trump the presidency, have all suddenly, secretly, and without evidence of collusion or conspiratorial intent, decided to cooperate in such a way as to deny that same Donald Trump a second term, and have done so without a single credible leak, whistle-blower, email, or text (all while delivering many down-ballot offices to the GOP).

In short, they are willing to believe the fabulists who concoct stories that support their fearful wishes, rather than accept the evidence that surrounds them, to wit:

  • a majority of voters who have decried this man’s performance for years simply voted against him,
    • and
  • the explanations as to how “day of” and “mail-in” ballots differ demographically are uncomplicated, unsurprising, and totally predictable,
    • and
  • multiple recounts and investigations and audits and canvasses have consistently shown the reported results are accurate.

The behavior we’re seeing from these elected officials:

  • is a disgrace to their oath, their office, and their country
  • is a blatant accession to the current administration’s worst autocratic impulses
  • is damaging to our institutions, our democracy, and our national security
  • is emboldening an indoctrinated and violence-prone faction within our populace, encouraging this faction to act out, terrorize, and even hurt people they see as “the enemy” 

This should hang around these politicians’ necks like a dead albatross.

But I’m sure we’ll forget all about it.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

k

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In my house there are four boxes.

Four special boxes.

First, there is the God Box, a small cardboard box covered with embossed white paper. It contains the prayers my step-mother wrote to her deity during the last years of her life. It’s a difficult box to visit.

Then there is the Poem Box. It’s flat, the size of a billfold, and it contains the poems my father wrote after my stepmother died. It, too, is a difficult box, filled with despair and dark thoughts written in days’ early hours as he precessed from a broken future toward his own demise.

Recently, I received an incongruous box. A wooden half-moon with a clasp, japanned and decorated with 19th century-style chrysanthemums, it fits easily in two hands. It is from the estate of my recently deceased brother, and while it is totally not like him in style, its contents—pipes, Malian artifacts, a bracelet of broken silver—most definitely are. But, like the other boxes, visiting this one is also a sad journey.

The fourth box, though, is different. (more…)

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As I write this, we are all caught in this liminal condition, this “state between states,” as votes that have been cast continue to be counted. Regardless of which campaign is eventually judged the winner, though, there is a clear loser: America.

(more…)

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This damnable year has taught me two things, the most recent of which is.:

  • Vote shaming does not work.

A few times, now, I’ve attempted to convince non- and third-party-voters to cast a meaningful vote in this year’s election. In those posts, I have avoided anything that might be construed as bullying or “shaming.” I haven’t cast aspersions or indulged in ad hominem attacks. I haven’t in any way implied that Americans don’t have the right to disenfranchise themselves.

In discussions, I’ve striven to be firm but not belligerent, hoping persuasion would prove more effective than incivility. I’ve expressed my sincere understanding for each person’s reasons for eschewing both Dems and GOP, but have simultaneously pointed out that there are more important aspects at stake here than just one voter’s preference (or lack thereof) for a particular candidate. I’ve stressed that unity is our strength, and that e pluribus unum is even more true today, in our diverse and multicultural society, than it was in the much more homogenous 1776. I’ve argued that how we vote in this election will affect many people beyond ourselves.

And still, I’ve been accused of bullying and shaming. I’ve been told I have no right to judge. I’ve been unfriended, disinvited, and (I suspect) blocked.

Well, since my last post here on the topic, our current POTUS has moved to replace a liberal icon of the SCOTUS with an arch-conservative, has laid the groundwork for nationwide voter intimidation and nullification, and has found it impossible to utter the simple phrase, “I denounce white supremacy in all its forms.”

Despite this, I still refuse to engage in public shaming of those who have chosen to sit this one out and/or vote for a non-viable candidate.

That does not mean I won’t try to convince them, though.

Because this isn’t about me or about being “right.”

It isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about any one of us.

It’s about all of us.

It’s about my friend’s kid, who’s struggling with their gender identity and fears violence perpetrated by emboldened bigots. It’s about my neighbor whose furlough just turned into a layoff, and who’s worried that the ACA won’t be there for him and his family. It’s about my LGBTQ friends who are fearful of what the new SCOTUS will do (or undo) regarding their marriage. It’s about my friends up and down the West Coast, suffering under smoke and evacuation orders, and those on the East Coast buffeted by one hurricane after another. It’s about the parents I know, worried sick about their kids going to school during a pandemic, worried about when and if life will ever return to something reminiscent of what it was like just a year ago.

We all know friends in similar situations, fellow citizens who are negatively affected by this administration’s actions (or inactions). And we all know this election is a turning point. We can all see the two paths that lie ahead, clearly and starkly delineated. The difference before us is impossible to deny: two paths, two futures.

But which future? Which path?

This election decides, and it is our civic duty, our responsibility as citizens, to take it seriously. Sitting it out or voting for a candidate with zero chance of winning is a total abdication of that responsibility. It does not move the needle. It does not have an effect. It does not make a difference. And, judging from the strident, sometimes vitriolic, often knee-jerk responses I’ve received from third-party acolytes and non-voters, they know it, too.

But here’s the other lesson I’ve learned from 2020:

  • Things can always get worse.

And if we do not join together to fight the obvious threat, things will get worse.

Our nation, our democracy, our institutions, and our norms, need you.

k

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