Post-Election Messages to our School Kids

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Pretty much the only place I have been able to string words together this past week is on Twitter. But my son’s public elementary school community gathered together on the weekend to write messages of love, hope, and inspiration to our students and staff. His school has a high percentage of students of color and kids on reduced and free lunch. They have been expressing fear to our school social worked since last spring that “Donald Trump is going to make all the Black and Brown people leave if he’s president.”

We are busy working hard year-round, advocating for these kids both in his school and in the many other St. Paul schools, which have the same demographics, but that’s behind the scenes, and it involves meeting after meeting, emails, hand-written correspondence, relationship-building, creating strategy, lots of ground work, and did I mention meetings?  We wanted something that will greet them when they arrive at school, so they know that they are safe and they are loved.

Possible Book Review? Oh, Please…

I’m finally starting to drag myself out of the muck of this past week, and slogging through email is a big part of that. Imagine my thoughts when I ran across this from a bookstore:

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Excellent. That’s just what I need this morning. Two rich, white guys telling me the value of saying, “Please.”

“Please, can I have equal pay?”

“Please, can I feel safe in my own county?”

“Please, can you stop lying?”

I suppose I should not judge a book by its cover, just like I am supposed to only be respectful toward everything and anything right now, but I don’t feel like coughing up twelve dollars for something that will most likely just put me even farther over my rage quota. Maybe I’ll see it at the library and bring it home in a brown paper bag.

P.S. An “Instant Classic?” Ugh.

American Voters: The Establishment Claws

Establishment. Establishment. Establishment.

Word has lost all meaning.

I should have been happy when seemingly millions of previously alienated people felt energized to get involved in politics. I should have been happy that these people were rallying around many ideas with which I agree. I should have been happy that income inequality was being talked about center stage.

It’s not how I felt.

If you were suddenly excited about American presidential politics for the first time because you felt motivated by Bernie Sanders, that’s truly marvelous. He said things that needed to be said, and things that probably only he, as an old white guy, could say. The message got out there, and it pushed the conversation to the left exactly like I hoped it would.

But it wasn’t necessary to denigrate those of us who have been active and involved since before we could vote. It’s not necessary to tell us we’re not “true progressives” if we even consider Hillary Clinton. That we are just mindless political drones or “sheeple.”

I support Hillary Clinton, which now apparently makes me “Establishment,” which is also apparently bad, and therefore invalidates my opinions. If caucusing for Jesse Jackson in 1987-8, voting in almost every election since then, volunteering on political campaigns, being a delegate, voting in primaries and special elections, caucusing every presidential year (except this one… sob), serving on senate district committees, and being an election judge makes me “Establishment,” then sign me up.

I’m Establishment, and you could be too if you ever chose to get involved. And the Establishment might be different.

There will always be an Establishment. Americans shape that establishment through making choices, voting for candidates whose views they support, getting involved in local party platform creation. Or, by sitting at home on Election Day bitching about the Establishment.

The problems Senator Sanders is talking about are real and they are important. I truly believe that nothing—NOTHING—will change in American politics until we have real and radical campaign finance reform. The issue isn’t term limits, which only serve to keep experience and knowledge out of office. I’m talking true limitations on fund raising, funding sources, spending, and duration as well as accountability and oversight into claims being made, plus, and very importantly, rational redistricting. Oh and restoring voting rights. Followed by voter education.

And guess what? Senator Sanders, as president, would be able to accomplish precisely none of that. Neither could Secretary Clinton. Because, as president, they don’t get to make the laws. And because people couldn’t be bothered to vote in 2010 and 2014, the people who do make the laws are in the majority right wing demagogues.

The last eight years have proven that even the most intelligent, balanced, nuanced leader cannot make real change when voters send him blinkered idiots hell-bent on obstruction. If people don’t get out there and vote blue down ticket, nationally and locally, we will remain stuck with a broken House and an obstructionist Senate. If Bernie supporters slink back into their BAH ESTABLISHMENT holes and refuse to vote on November 8 or worse, vote GOP because “it’s all fixed” or at least Trump’s a dude, or it would be “entertaining” to have him be president, then the Establishment will continue to devolve, and you better hope your sanctimony will protect you.

 

That one time a presidential candidate triggered almost half of America

“The Election” isn’t stressing me out. Donald Trump and his 43% are stressing me out. It’s what that kind of out in the open, unexamined hatred means for the rest of us, no matter who wins on November 8, 2016.

When Pussygate dropped in early October, I skimmed the article in which he reveled in his celebrity shield for sexual assault, bragging that he could Access Hollywood anytime he wanted. I rolled my eyes and shrugged. It wasn’t surprising that he said those things. Less surprising that he believes them. Not at all shocking that he does them.

So I was a little surprised when this was the comment that blew up. It seemed like the kitty cat epithet for a woman’s lady parts was a bridge too far for some pearl clutching public men. I got the feeling it was not the description of sexual assault that jarred them as much as the language used.

The fact that I initially shrugged this off says something about how women are used to being treated on a regular basis and how much this kind of behavior has been normalized. We heard all the same garbage excuses we always hear: “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk” and “this is just how me talk when there are no women around.”

If this is how men talk when when there are no women around, and that’s OK with men, then men suck. (For the record, I don’t think that’s true.)

I suppose it makes sense that men would talk about sexually assaulting women when women aren’t around to hear them because just about the only time women talk about being sexually assaulted, it’s when men aren’t around to hear them.

But after Pussygate, women started talking openly and in large numbers about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment, and I read these stories thinking how lucky I was not to have gone through what so many women have.

Then I remembered the time at a local bar when a guy sat down at the only spare seat at a four top, interrupting three women having a nice evening, and said, “Any of you fucking cunts got a rubber?”

I remembered the time working at the renaissance festival when the brother of the booth owner spent an entire weekend making lewd sexual comments to me and getting his dick out.

I remembered the award I received once at a team dinner, the “Stick up her butt” award, because I had the nerve to be upset about a job reassignment.

I remembered the nickname I was given that same summer: “Ball busting little pussy.” This was shortened to “BBLP,” which stuck for years. I went along with it and laughed because I didn’t want to appear “uncool.”

I remembered making a safety map in my Intro to Women’s’ Studies course showing pay phones and open establishments for my walk home, in case I was feeling threatened.

I think about the fact that I always park in the same place at different establishments, not just because I’ll always be able to find my car but because I will be familiar with the route, and that will keep me safer.

I remember when we used to go to the same bar every week, and we always hoped for parking on the street nearby because the lot was across a few streets and under a bridge, and we called it “The Rape Lot.” Because it’s funnier if it’s true.

I think about the pressure of always being subject to the gaze, feeling like you don’t own yourself, like you exist for consumption. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t felt it. For the past few months, the language used by the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America and his supporters has been pressing down on a large percentage of Americans, bringing up bad experiences: experiences of violence, harassment, abuse, and the general self consciousness of feeling wrong, bad, not enough, less than. Of being the property of society, not a collaborating agent. It has turned the gaze into a growl, and it’s menacing.

That growl won’t go away on November 9, 2016, even if we wake up to a world where a woman is the President-elect of the United States.

That is what is stressing me out. What do we do, starting November 9th, no matter what happens on November 8th?

American Voters: Conscientious Objection

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Yes, sanctimonious white leftie progressive, all the world of social media has been breathlessly anticipating your announcement that after months of hand wringing and soul searching, you are going to hold your nose and vote for the conniving scheming swamp monster that is Shillary Clinton because her opponent is too much of a meanie. Your self-centered selfless sacrifice should be commended, and your willingness to compromise your beliefs for the rest of us is admirable.

The public agonies you have been enduring on social media have not been overlooked.

We watched in anticipation as you pored over the Democratic Platform, looking to see yourself mirrored back to you. We made popcorn and marveled at how you were the one person who hasn’t been influenced by decades of negative sexist commentary about Hillary Clinton, and therefore could see her clearly. We startled in surprise when you began all your posts with “Wake up sheeple!” astonished at all we didn’t know before you shared that meme.

We watched you become politically activated, perhaps for the first time, by Bernie Sanders, and then we saw you turn on anyone or anything that endorsed his opponent no matter their progressive credentials. We watched you bray that the primaries were rigged any time your candidate lost.

“I vote my conscience,” you continued to say.

That’s excellent. So do I.

Here’s my conscience: “I’m worried that if Trump is president, he’ll make all the brown people leave.” -3rd, 4th, and 5th grade children to my son’s elementary school social worker, starting last spring. That’s my conscience, and it repeats one thing in my head, over and over again: common good common good common good common good common good common good…

The conscience you speak of? That’s really your ego, and you are confusing the two. If your conscience is only small enough to include you and your special snowflake feelings, I am sad for you.

You think the DNC and the two-party system is corrupt. You are entitled to that opinion. So get involved. Either get involved in the many parties we have or start your own. Maybe then you will learn about collaboration, process, strategy, and what it takes to run an organization. You just better hope no one hacks your email.

You don’t like the way things are. You are entitled to that opinion. But if you didn’t vote in all those pesky little elections that happen every single year; if you didn’t research your ballot and vote school board, city council, state reps, and all the other races on the ticket, you are part of the problem. You can’t only vote in sexy elections and expect change.

Your vote, while private, is a public matter affecting the country as a whole, not just your tiny world. Voting is not about making yourself feel good, it’s about what’s best for everyone. When you wring your hands about voting for a dedicated, tried-and-true, public servant over a narcissistic, sexist, racist, megalomaniacal bully, or say you are going to cast a “protest vote,” I hear: “My vote is an individual event, and my privilege bubble will protect me from societal consequences.”

I hear: “I liked Bernie, but I’m voting for his political opposite because the other one’s a chick.”

I hear: “My  ideological purity is more important than other people’s actual lives.”

Some sources:
Ethicists say voting with your heart without a care about the consequences is actually immoral

There’s no such thing as a protest vote

The folly of the protest vote