July 21, 2016

[Or is that poli-tyrant? Fair question.]

Final night of the RNC tonight…the grand finale…the candidate will speak. And yeah, I’ll watch. Part of me is revolted, traumatized even, at what has gone down so far, not only at the RNC, but during this campaign, and that part of me can not stomach another second. A bigger part of me believes it’s important to listen to opinions that are very different than my own, which, I have to say, is quite an exercise in open-heartedness and open-mindedness. Another part, a very rational part, knows it’s all show–smoke, mirrors–the best in mind-bending manipulation, and that part doesn’t want to  waste its time on a well-crafted, prime-time, made-for-TV-Internet-Social Media event. Hell, I could write their entire script, we all could; we know exactly what they are going to do and say (uh, except when we don’t, which has been hugely entertaining.)

Watch, don’t watch; listen, dismiss. Conflict abounds. Internal wrestle-mania.

Here’s the thing.. or one of the many things: This is Peter’s first election. I’m seeing a lot of this through his experience. I’m embarrassed for us. But here we are.

There is this footage making the rounds on the interwebs… it’s a debate between Reagan and Bush, Sr, in whatever primary that was, way back when, discoursing civilly on a very modest, very non-glitzy stage, on topics of the day. Both making a  compelling and reasoned case for immigration. Each speaks eloquently about the value of immigrants and compassionately about policies to support them. And each listens to and respects the other.

Peter does not know this kind of debate. All he knows is the rank and reckless style of campaigning today, where people yell at each other on the debate stage, engage in tactically negative campaigns, blame, humiliate and call each other ridiculous names, and where people look to Twitter, late night comedy shows, YouTube and the Young Turks for news, reaction and analysis.

But, he’s 18, man, and very, very engaged; very knowledgeable about the issues. He’s been following the candidates and their campaigns since it all started well over a year ago. He’s on it.

And it’s his first. I want him to care, in whatever generation-appropriate form that takes. Therefore, I cannot give up on the damn thing, even though I want to. (For the record, I’m done with politics, done with this current, ugly version of America, ready to move out of the country–see earlier blog post about moving to remote mountain cottage and listening only to folk music).

(And Peter, you know this blog is for you, and maybe, hopefully, one day you’ll read all this stuff, and if you do, please know I’m really proud of your enthusiasm for this election. I’m impressed by your analytical muscle, your instincts, your ability to parse truth from radical, political fiction. I have been loving 1) watching you bent over your computer absorbing facts and analyses; 2) hearing your take on all of this over dinner, or your summoning us over to watch something that Cenk Uygur has to say; 3) your calling us on our assumptions, and your readiness to forge your own political path.)

So anyway, anyway, anyway…

I have to keep my head up and in the game, gotta keep an open mind. (Ugh.)  Not easy, because, man, I can’t stand this never ending election, my remaining choices, and can no longer stomach the political process. It’s hard on my soul.

But……..   I’m watching the convention and here are some things I KNOW.

I can listen to [some] republican party leaders–say Mike Pence, whom I heard for the first time last night–and hear passion, conviction, and a commitment to an ideology. There is some, but not much, I can agree with. And though I personally believe the republican ideology ranges from a simple disagreement on principle, to tired, to unkind, to amoral, to downright dangerous, I get that it resonates with a hefty percentage of people, and so be it. I don’t mind being in disagreement. I’m okay that some people follow their heart and come to a completely different conclusion about how things should be done than I do. Mike Pence made his case, strongly, I thought. I could see how some people could swing that way.  I thought he represented the party with some intelligence and dignity. I could see the power of his conviction and was moved by both his passion and his leadership qualities.  I listened and was challenged to define my own positions. That, to me, was stimulating (and gratifying). (It also made me cry for Bernie Sanders… a man of true character, humanity and passion.)

But Trump. He is flat out a deal breaker for me. I do not believe he is driven by any deep, core governing and policy principles. I do believe he’s honed his business skills (and some questionable practices) over the years, and is driven to amass success and wealth, and does believe he can apply those business skills and practices to running the country/world. But more than that, I believe he cares about only one thing: rising to the highest pinnacle on planet earth. He wants to be president of the United States because that is the best, the mightiest that is available to him, the zenith, the most powerful rein of control that exists, and he wants it. He’s just pathologically competitive, which everyone who knows him confirms, and he has the resources and position to go after the brassiest ring. His ego absolutely trumps all. Others far more expert in matters of the psyche can explain this far better than me. But all of us have known this guy in our lives, and probably dislike him immensely. He’s just a small, boorish, self-obsessed man, the guy who needs the young trophy wife, the guy who needs to put his name in gold letters on a building higher than all others, or on a plane, or a bottle of nail polish. He’s the guy who needs to make an entrance, to have people clamber to take his picture, to be knelt before. He’s a tabloid article and a reality show, a man who thrives on attention. Period. I don’t believe he has any interest in the job, per se, just the power and trappings of the title President of the United States.

To me, he has not a single solitary quality I value in a leader. He’s brash, impulsive, petulant, vindictive. He seems utterly uninterested in listening to others. He lacks any sense of open-mindedness, he lacks humility. Not a shred of empathy. Out of the gate, he’s nobody I could ever vote for, or trust. Not a model of behavior for any of the kids I care about. Not the person I would want representing my country. None of it.

To me, his campaign’s been humiliating. It’s been a catastrophic slo-mo car crash ever since he slowly descended on that escalator to make his announcement a year ago.  It’s all been horrific, every single word that has come out of his mouth has been nails on a chalkboard. It’s been a year of shaking my head at his preposterous words and wondering how he’s gotten to this point.

So that I know.

I never believe anything anyone says. Melania says she wrote her own speech (right). Until she said she didn’t (of course she didn’t). Handlers and Christie and Gingrich said it was no big deal that so much of her speech was lifted from Michelle’s speech from 2008 (how is that not a big deal? It’d sure as hell be a big deal if Hillary did it, lord knows.). We all knew it was out of Melania’s hands anyway, so I’m not eager to blame her, but I’m disgusted that nobody takes responsibility. Plagiarism is a minor thing, apparently; they’re tired of hearing about it, offended it’s diverting attention away from their pep rally, want to focus on the real issues of the day. Trump’s 475,302,485,926 court cases … inconsequential. Trump won’t hand over his tax returns. But Crooked Hillary…

Then, there are the kids. I watched Donald, Jr one night, and Eric another. Eric I thought delivered a pretty heartfelt tribute to his dad. I found it calculated, but moving. I mean, people in charge of branding know the kids are there to deliver messages of trust and devotion. I agree with something Mike Pence said: often the proof of a good person can be found in the goodness of his kids. Of course I don’t know the Trump kids so can’t comment, but I heard genuine warmth in Eric’s comment.  So there’s that, FWIW.

Donald Jr’s speech, on the other hand, was smug and lecturing. He went on an anti-academia rant that I found ridiculous. The irony of calling educated people out of touch with the common man… puhlease...this from an entitled, filthy rich son of a billionaire who lives and breathes privilege. So out of touch is he, he actually said something like, “my siblings and I are the only children of billionaires who are as comfortable driving tractors as we are our cars,” and also said his dad was so dedicated to his granddaughter, he taught her how to swing a golf club. Okay…  How does that sound to you, kids in the projects? No, nothing out of touch here… move along.

And his children, as they call them, are his key advisors. WHAT IS THAT? How are these insulated, billionaire kids standing center stage advising their political outsider father on matters of governing an economically divided nation?  For example.

And one more thing about the Trump children:

I know I’m sickened by that photo that’s been circulating on the internet of two of the Trump boys–Eric and Donald, Jr–holding a dead leopard while on a safari in Africa. There’s another photo of a huge, dead elephant on the ground beside Donald, Jr, who’s holding its severed tail. And yet another of Eric squatting next to another dead large, exotic animal. The idea of killing animals for sport enrages and nauseates me. The arrogance of the two entitled billionaire brothers callously paying for the rights to hunt down and kill defenseless animals is disgusting.  For me, a conversation ender. After that, nothing you ever say about the sanctity of life, or the value of people, society, humanity, the hard working middle class–none of it–will ever ring true. You kill animals for SPORT. Sorry.

I also know I’m horrified by the behavior of many leaders in the republican party and at this convention who, with their words and actions, have brutalized and terrorized the opposition, namely Hillary.  I’ll keep an eye on the dems and hopefully be willing to call them on their sh**t, too, but people, you need to call off the dogs. This is not constructive, entertaining, effective. I find it polarizing and divisive. And incredibly sad and dehumanizing. Enough.

Regarding the hate for the Clintons and Hillary. I get some of the criticism, and share some of the mistrust and disenchantment. I don’t want to try and use this space to discuss/refute the numerous issues Reps have with her. But it’s the viciousness of the attacks I’m sick of. Relentless, uncivil, and far over the line.  It shouldn’t be a fine line between calling a person’s action into question and calling for their death by firing squad. C’mon Christie, chants of lock her up? The interactive public lynching you orchestrated in your convention speech? Guilty of what, exactly? You’re a lawyer, dude… after countless investigations, they conclude there was questionable judgment, but nothing illegal, so what’s the charge? What the reps are doing to Hillary is unethical, irresponsible and misogynous. New lows. This kind of attack is demeaning and ultimately we’re all suffering for it.  It’s beneath the dignity of grown people who aspire to be in charge of our country, to lead and inspire a diverse nation, and to represent us on a world stage.

So yeah, I know I’ve lost all respect for the republican party. Get it together people. I know that if all you’re going to do is shout ugly rhetoric and point fingers and never give credit where credit is due, and make defeating the president at every turn the centerpiece of your congressional strategy, there is nothing to talk about. And when your convention is all about demonizing Hillary, but you aren’t putting up any solutions of your own and you can’t rally your people… it’s hard to take you seriously.

WAAHHHHH. Please stop the political hysteria. Stop the dangerous, fear-based rhetoric. Talk to us like smart adults.

Can’t stop the rant, can’t stop the rant. Can’t stop…

I am overwhelmed with disaffectedness. Not a happy citizen. Our congress, this party, this entire election campaign. This is not our best selves. I have deeply respected the Obama administration and will never get over the wall he ran into at the hands of congress (ha, the other wall we’ve been fighting). He’s a human being, compassionate, smart, nuanced, measured, reasoned. And I’m not naive…a political animal. You need that to mobilize the engine of government. It’s so. I forgive him.

I’d love to see skilled, inspiring leadership; intellectual depth; solid, progressive core values; strong ethics; a unfailing sense of humanity; genuine kindness; in combination with real political effectiveness, working for everyone’s benefit.

Is that too much to ask?