United We Stand … Divided We ???

Sean Spicer … remember him?  The first to claim that Trump’s less-than-stellar inauguration had drawn bigger crowds than Obama’s in 2009, he soon tired of being forced to tell so many lies on behalf of Trump that he resigned his position as White House Press Secretary and returned to private life.  So, what’s he doing now, you ask?  Why, he’s Dancing with the Stars, of course!DWTSThat’s right, folks, Sean is going to be paid between $125,000 and $295,000, depending on how long he remains on the show … as compared to the $180,000 per annum he earned as Trump’s mouthpiece.  Now, the show’s host, Tom Bergeron, is not at all pleased with Sean’s gig, and put out the following statement:Bergeron-statementNew York television critic James Poniewozik also sees it as a bad … really bad idea …

“To treat Spicer, and his reason for notoriety, as a harmless joke is to whitewash the harm of what he did, which was to say things so absurdly false that he invited his political side to join him in denying their own eyeballs, to encourage people to believe that facts don’t matter if they hurt your team.”

But Sean sees it differently.  He claims his appearance(s) on DWTS will “bring the country together” …

Sean Spicer Visits "Extra"

“My overall hope is that at the end of this season that Tom looks at this and says, bringing people together of very diverse backgrounds, whether it’s in politics or other areas, and allowing them to show America how we can engage in a really respectful and civil way, is actually a way to help bring the country together as opposed to bring it apart.”

Which brings me to my topic of the day: the divisiveness in this nation.

In any nation at any time, there will be conflicts, issues that divide the pro-business right and the pro-humanitarian left.  It has always been so, and that isn’t going to change, probably ever.  Most often, this is a healthy thing, leads to the best possible solution, a meeting of the minds.  But, today that divisiveness, which I have often enough referred to as ‘the great divide’, is at the highest level since the end of the Civil War in 1865.  Having a highly controversial political figure on an entertainment show is not going to change that.  And make no mistake, Sean Spicer is still lying for Donald Trump, as a senior advisor and spokesman for a pro-Trump super Political Action Committee (PAC) called America First.great-divideToday, there is no middle ground … the right has gone to the extreme right, and the left has moved further left than ever before.  There is no room for moderates, no tolerance for bipartisan lawmaking, and very little civil discourse taking place.  You’re either with us, or you’re ‘agin us’. Social media is a large part of the culprit here … sites like Facebook and Twitter could be venues for respectful, meaningful dialog, searching for answers to better understand ‘the other side’, but instead people have turned these sites into a venue for spewing hate and ugly reactions.

While I fully support the 1st Amendment right to free speech, there are times that unfettered freedom of speech does far more harm than good.  Conservatives and liberals, right and left, will never completely see eye-to-eye, will always be ideologically divided, but the state of affairs we see today cannot endure.

On June 16, 1858, President Abraham Lincoln gave an address after accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination as that state’s US senator.  An excerpt from that speech is apt today …

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

The situation was different then, the ideology different, but in some ways not so different after all.  Then, as now, there were some who believed that people with darker skin had less value.  That, certainly, is one of our issues today, but others are more complex.  Today, we fight over whether there is more value in large corporations having nearly-unlimited profit margins, or in protecting our environment and rescuing all life on earth.  Today, we fight over whether it is the role of government to assist those who cannot, whether temporarily or permanently, meet their own financial needs, or whether those people should simply be left to die.

Today, we fight over whether health care is a right for everyone, or a privilege for only the few.  Today, we fight over whether or not every Tom, Dick and Harry should have access to guns that were meant for one purpose only:  to kill.  Today, we fight over whether LGBTQ people are to be afforded the same civil rights as the rest of society, or whether they should be looked down on and treated as ‘sub-human’.  And today, despite the mandate for a separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, we fight over whether one specific religion has the right to impose their beliefs, their will, on all in this secular nation.

The above are only a few of the issues dividing this nation, but they are highly-charged, emotional issues, and they are leading us down a path that can only end in disaster.  Shortly after Lincoln’s speech, we ended up in a Civil War.  In that war, there was a line of demarcation – there can be none this time, for on any given street in this country, you will find people on both ends of the spectrum.  In the Civil War, the north wore blue and the south wore grey … in this war, everybody looks essentially the same.  The civil war divided families, brother fought brother.  This ‘war’ has already divided families, destroyed decades-long friendships, and led to bloodshed.

Sadly, the people who we have elected to govern this nation, are only widening the divide.  It is in their power to bring the two sides together, to ‘reach across the aisle’ and set an example for the people of this nation.  It is their responsibility and duty to do just that, but they have chosen to shirk those duties, to help widen the gap, to breed even more hatred and division across the nation.  Unless things at the top change drastically, this is not going to end well, my friends.  Sean Spicer is not an ambassador for good will, but rather is as much a part of the dividing wedge as any.  Watching him tap dance and likely end up on his arse is not the cure for what ails this nation.

I offer no solutions, for if I were that smart, I would be sitting in the Oval Office, or have an office on Capitol Hill.  I only know that we must do something soon, else the United States will be torn asunder, and likely end up in tatters.  All I ask is that you … think about it.

Filosofa Reflects …

The majority of the people in the United States have no president.  Only about 40% of the people in the U.S. are represented by a president.  Now, I do not make this statement lightly, nor with the intention of being offensive.  I am merely stating a fact.  I am not registered with either party, but consider myself an independent, although I am considering changing that status in the near future.  I have lived through 12 full presidencies, from Harry S. Truman through Barack H. Obama … 6 were republicans, 6 were democrats.  Although I sometimes disagreed with the policies or certain decisions of those men, I still respected them and considered them as presidents. Every one of them, I felt, was doing the best he could to represent the people of this nation … ALL the people of this nation, not just those who praised them.

Today, however, is different.  Donald Trump is the president in name only for the majority – about 60% – of the people in this country but does not represent them.  He does not listen to us, but only to the people who show up at his campaign rallies wearing red hats and chanting “Lock her up”.  Those of us who do not like his bigotry, his racism, his incitement to violence, his name-calling and ignominious bluster, he calls ‘treasonous’.  He threatens our elected representatives in Congress.  He tells lies that his own supporters enjoy hearing, but that the rest of us know to be falsehoods.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been another president so entrenched in partisanship that he completely ignored the needs of the majority, pandering only to the minority.  We, the majority, need representation also.  Who is there to speak for us?  Who is there to represent our values of diversity, peace, humanitarianism?  Who is there to say that no, we do not want to lock children in cages just because they are from another place?  It is truly a sad day in the history of this nation, a nation no better and no worse than any other, when most of the people are without a voice.

People in Trump’s camp mock the saying “Not my president”, but it isn’t just a saying, it is the reality.  Donald Trump does not bother with the pretense. He is speaking to his people, not the people. He has become, or so it often seems, the president of the United Base of America.

I have long believed that old adage, “United we stand, divided we fall”, and yet Trump seeks to divide, relishes the division that, while not of his making, he has encouraged and enhanced with his divide-and-conquer politics.  Perhaps we are coming upon a time where this nation must become many instead of just one, for we are now so far apart in ideology that I cannot see a united nation in the future.  On the right, there are the nationalists, tribalists, who prefer a nation sans immigrants, a nation where it’s basically “every man for himself” rather than a nation where all people are equal.

I see a nation where those in Trump’s camp care more about their guns than their own children.  I see a nation where ‘hate’ is becoming the norm.  I see a nation where violence is seething just under the surface, waiting for a single spark to set it off.  I see a nation where for far too many, acceptance of others is based on skin colour, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.  I see a nation where profits are valued more highly than humans.  I see a nation where for some, there is no care for the future, but it’s “live for today, and to hell with tomorrow”.

I don’t like the nation I see.  We need a president.  We need a president who governs, not rules – there is a difference.  We need … nay, we must have a president who is not above the law. We need a president where every single person matters, not just those who support him, not just those whose skin is white, not just Christians, and even not just citizens, but everybody.  We need a president who understands the word ‘respect’. People matter.

I want change in this country.  I want us to heal the rifts, and that cannot, will not happen as long as Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office spouting hate and encouraging bigotry, tribalism and violence.  We need to focus more on what we have in common than those issues that divide us.  We need to talk to each other, not at each other.  We need to meet each other halfway sometimes.  We need to take care of our planet, putting the future ahead of corporate greed.  These things cannot happen under the regime of Donald Trump, for he will do everything in his power to keep it from happening, to keep us divided and hating.

Think about it.

An Open Letter From Adam Schiff

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff of California published an open letter in The Washington Post to his republican colleagues.  I am sharing this letter, for in it Mr. Schiff makes a number of very valid and valuable points that the republicans in Congress need to hear, and not just from Mr. Schiff, but also from We the People.  I have sent a copy of his letter with my own plea to the republicans who represent my state/district and with a rather stern warning that if they fail to step up to the plate, I will do everything in my power to unseat them next year.

Adam Schiff: An open letter to my Republican colleagues

By Adam B. Schiff February 21 at 6:06 PM
Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat, represents California’s 28th Congressional District in the House and is chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

This is a moment of great peril for our democracy. Our country is deeply divided. Our national discourse has become coarse, indeed, poisonous. Disunity and dysfunction have paralyzed Congress.

And while our attention is focused inward, the world spins on, new authoritarian regimes are born, old rivals spread their pernicious ideologies, and the space for freedom-loving peoples begins to contract violently. At last week’s Munich Security Conference, the prevailing sentiment among our closest allies is that the United States can no longer be counted on to champion liberal democracy or defend the world order we built.

For the past two years, we have examined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its attempts to influence the 2018 midterms. Moscow’s effort to undermine our democracy was spectacularly successful in inflaming racial, ethnic and other divides in our society and turning American against American.

But the attack on our democracy had its limits. Russian President Vladimir Putin could not lead us to distrust our own intelligence agencies or the FBI. He could not cause us to view our own free press as an enemy of the people. He could not undermine the independence of the Justice Department or denigrate judges. Only we could do that to ourselves. Although many forces have contributed to the decline in public confidence in our institutions, one force stands out as an accelerant, like gas on a fire. And try as some of us might to avoid invoking the arsonist’s name, we must say it.

I speak, of course, of our president, Donald Trump.

The president has just declared a national emergency to subvert the will of Congress and appropriate billions of dollars for a border wall that Congress has explicitly refused to fund. Whether you support the border wall or oppose it, you should be deeply troubled by the president’s intent to obtain it through a plainly unconstitutional abuse of power.

To my Republican colleagues: When the president attacked the independence of the Justice Department by intervening in a case in which he is implicated, you did not speak out. When he attacked the press as the enemy of the people, you again were silent. When he targeted the judiciary, labeling judges and decisions he didn’t like as illegitimate, we heard not a word. And now he comes for Congress, the first branch of government, seeking to strip it of its greatest power, that of the purse.

Many of you have acknowledged your deep misgivings about the president in quiet conversations over the past two years. You have bemoaned his lack of decency, character and integrity. You have deplored his fundamental inability to tell the truth. But for reasons that are all too easy to comprehend, you have chosen to keep your misgivings and your rising alarm private.

That must end. The time for silent disagreement is over. You must speak out.

This will require courage. The president is popular among your base, which revels in his vindictive and personal attacks on members of his own party, even giants such as the late senator John McCain. Speaking up risks a primary challenge or accusations of disloyalty. But such acts of independence are the most profound demonstrations of loyalty to country.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III may soon conclude his investigation and report. Depending on what is in that report and what we find in our own investigations, our nation may face an even greater challenge. While I am alarmed at what we have already seen and found of the president’s conduct and that of his campaign, I continue to reserve judgment about what consequences should flow from our eventual findings. I ask you to do the same.

If we cannot rise to the defense of our democracy now, in the face of a plainly unconstitutional aggrandizement of presidential power, what hope can we have that we will do so with the far greater decisions that could be yet to come?

Although these times pose unprecedented challenges, we have been through worse. The divisions during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement were just as grave and far more deadly. The Depression and World War II were far more consequential. And nothing can compare to the searing experience of the Civil War.

If Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, could be hopeful that our bonds of affection would be strained but not broken by a war that pitted brother against brother, surely America can come together once more. But as long as we must endure the present trial, history compels us to speak, and act, our conscience, Republicans and Democrats alike.

What Is A Government For?

When reading yesterday about Trump’s threat to cut off emergency aid to the state of California to assist in its efforts to recover and rebuild after the recent deadly fires, I had to ask … what is a government for, then?  It is highly questionable whether food stamp recipients will receive their food stamps next month.  Farmers are not receiving the subsidies they were promised to help ease the cost of the tariffs that have cut deeply into their revenues.  TSA workers who inspect people and luggage at airports to detect bombs are calling off the job, for they cannot afford to keep working without pay.  Inspections of the food we buy at the grocery store are curtailed.  And the list of services that we pay for, but are being denied, goes on … and on … and on … ad infinitum.

So what is a government for, then?  What is its purpose?  For starters, let’s take a look at the Preamble of the United States Constitution:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

First off, note that it is “We the People” who established the government.  We the People give the government its legitimacy.  So, when the government no longer does those things … no longer promotes the general welfare, but rather only the welfare of a few wealthy people … then what purpose does it serve?  Is it truly a government of, by and for the people?

Look at that first point in the Preamble … “in order to form a more perfect union”.  This nation is divided as it has never before been.  I’m not sure that even the Civil War era was as divisive as the current environment is.  What’s worse, though, is that the ‘leader’ of this government is the very one who is causing the divisiveness!  The government is doing not one single thing to try to help bring people together, to “form a more perfect union”.

The second point … “establish justice”.  Justice?  The person in the Oval Office has declared himself to be above the law.  Time and time again.  So, think about this for a minute.  If the head of the government is above the law, if most of his political appointees are considered above the law … can there be justice in this nation?  I think not.

The third point … “ensure domestic tranquility”.  Can you even say that phrase without either laughing or crying?  Domestic tranquility?  What the Sam Heck is that???

Fourth point … “provide for the common defense”.  Let’s ponder for a minute … does constant and unwarranted criticism of our allies, denigration of such peacekeeping organizations as the United Nations and NATO make us safer?  Does the pandering to strong-arm dictators like Putin, Erdoğan, Kim, and Duterte make us safer?  Better yet, does the domestic hotbed that exists in this nation make us safer?  I think not.

Fifth point … “promote the general welfare”.  This is another that would be laughable, if only the laughter didn’t turn to tears.  General welfare???  800,000+ people not getting paid?  Food stamps reduced or eliminated?  Trash overflowing in national parks?  People losing their homes?  Food growers unable to meet their mortgage payments?  A nation in chaos does not … I repeat, NOT … promote the general welfare.

And finally, the sixth point … “secure liberty and posterity”.  Liberty?  From what?  Liberty from tyranny comes to mind, but we have the most tyrannical leader in the history of the nation, so that can’t be right.  Liberty to … go to work without pay?  To watch our infrastructure crumble beneath our feet?  To listen to the self-promoting lies of a madman?  And posterity … defined as “all future generations of people”.  Given the government’s stance on climate change and the devastating effects, there aren’t likely to be too many future generations of people.

I return to my original question:  What is government for?  Whatever it was intended to be for, it no longer fulfills those responsibilities.  What do we do about this?

Think about it.

Fool On The Hill — Mitch McConnell

The date was 23 October 2010 — nearly two years into President Barack Obama’s first term and two weeks before the first midterm elections of his presidency. Speaking to the National Journal, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a now-infamous statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  A statement that congressional republicans intended to do everything in their power to thwart President Obama could not have been any clearer.  But, listen to what McConnell had to say on Fox News earlier this week …

“Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?”

Say WHAT???

Here is McConnell’s OpEd, enhanced by Filosofa’s snarky comments in blue:

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) There are worse pictures of him.Last Tuesday I was proud to see that the American people voted keep Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate. But we also learned that, come January, the Republican Senate majority will be dealing with a House of Representatives under Democratic control. What goes around, comes around, Mitchie.

Needless to say, the past two years of unified Republican government will be remembered as a period of historic productivity.  Define productivity???  You haven’t done a damn thing worthwhile!

Both houses of Congress have taken swift action to right-size a bloated federal regulatory state. The Senate has shattered records in confirming the president’s well-qualified judicial nominees, including two outstanding jurists to serve on the Supreme Court.  Um… Mitchie … ever hear of a little thing called “climate change”?  Those regulations were in place in an attempt to save our earth.  And one of your “outstanding” jurists is a sexual predator!

And together, we passed the first comprehensive reform of the nation’s tax code in a generation. Already, Americans’ paychecks are growing, consumer confidence is high and unemployment has reached a near 50-year low.  Have you looked at the federal debt/deficit estimates lately?  And do you realize that your damn tax reform robbed from the poor and gave to the rich?  Rather a reverse Robin Hood!

After this prolific run, I was not surprised to be asked over the past week about just how much the American people can expect from the next Congress under divided leadership. What can we realistically accomplish?  Restoration of sanity and accountability is my hope.

I have good news: reports of the death of bipartisanship in Washington have been wildly exaggerated. In fact, some of the most significant accomplishments of this Congress have been delivered with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.  Eh?  Such as?  Name one, please?

Under bipartisan committee leadership, we took major steps toward restoring regular order to our appropriations process. The Senate passed more funding measures before the beginning of this fiscal year than at any point in the last two decades.  Funding for what?  Certainly not to help the poor, the homeless, the ill.  Nothing that I can see that benefits the people in any practical manner.

The measures included the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in 15 years, which put an end to the Obama-era atrophy of our armed forcesGeez, Mitchie … the U.S. already had the largest military budget in the western world!  How is that “atrophy of the armed forces”???  Ever hear the term ‘guns or butter’?  We. Don’t. Need. More. F***ing. Military. Toys.  Get it?  We need help for the poor, we need healthcare!

Working closely with counterparts in the House, we found common ground on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. In fact, America’s Water Infrastructure Act – designed to improve interstate commerce, water quality and flood safety – passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1.  Let me just pop over to Flint, Michigan and see how much help you’ve given them …

And in August, the Senate voted unanimously to expand Americans’ opportunities to receive technical and career-focused education.  Meanwhile, you’ve done nothing to improve our public schools, and have made a college education damn near out of reach for the average citizen!  There is much, MUCH more to education than technical and job training …

We’ve passed 22 pieces of legislation produced by the bipartisan work of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. From improving the efficiency of Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities to enhancing access to post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits, each of these pieces of legislation was designed to help America keep its promises to returning heroes and their families.  Not what I’m hearing from the vets.  Have you talked to anybody from AMVETS lately?  I have.

And last month, the Senate passed a landmark package of targeted resources to combat the opioid epidemic. The legislation was produced by five bipartisan committees and included direct input from 72 different senators.  Whoopee.  Meanwhile, those of us who need medications such as insulin to stay alive, cannot afford them. 

Of course, these are just a few highlights of a Congress that has conducted as much serious, cooperative work as any in recent history.  Hah! Let me ask Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi if that’s true …

So make no mistake. The Senate has proven its ability to reach bipartisan solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.  I think you mistake the meaning of “bipartisan”.  I’ve seen naught but infighting and chaos in the 115th Congress.

And looking ahead to the coming year, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol.  Opportunities, yes.  But will you put aside your love of all things Trump and join the democrats in holding him accountable?  Will you put the 99% ahead of the 1% just for once?  Will you act with the interests of the nation in mind?

What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?  Look in the mirror and ask that question, Mitchie.

Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference.  Is this a new concept to you?

That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.  Not ‘fanning the flames of division’, Mitchie … it’s called ‘accountability’.  Look it up in the dictionary.

But however Democrats interpret the latest message from voters, Senate Republicans will continue our commitment to delivering results.  Continue???  When did you start?

We’ll keep working to lift the burden on American job creators and small businesses. We’ll stay focused on helping communities across the country seize new opportunities and realize greater prosperity. We’ll seek new ways to make life easier for working families.  “Lift the burden”???  WTF???  The burden is on the poor and middle-class, not the big corporations whose so-called ‘burdens’ you seek to ‘lift’.

Most importantly, in the face of whichever tactics the far left chooses to employ next, we’ll continue to stand for the rule of law. We’ll continue to confirm more well-qualified nominees to serve on our nation’s courts.  Rule of law?  Where is that, Mitchie?  Where was rule of law when Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath?  Where was rule of law when you and your cohorts refused to ban assault weapons because you are in the pocket of the NRA?  Where, indeed, is rule of law in Trumpdom?

This is what the Senate’s Republican majority was elected to do. And we’ll continue to get it done.  Bull. You’ll keep right on licking the boots of the fool in the White House.

It is obvious to me that McConnell was doing damage control, making it clear to the Fox viewers, which likely includes Trump’s & McConnell’s followers, that whatever goes wrong in the next two years will be the fault of those mean ol’ democrats.  Mitch McConnell has been in Washington far too long … time for him to retire!

United We Stand???

If the old adage, “United we stand, Divided we fall” is true, the United States of America is in for a hard fall and one that will change the nation, perhaps for the better, perhaps not.  Not since the Civil War has this nation been so ideologically divided and has hate and mistrust filled every venue.

Senator Jeff Flake said last week that the general fiasco that the Kavanaugh confirmation process has turned into is dividing the nation.  While it is certainly widening the Great Divide, I would argue that the gap was already, before Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, wider than the Grand Canyon.  There is no longer a middle ground, civil discourse has left for greener pastures and tensions have never in my lifetime been higher.

Today, there is “they” and “we” … you are either one or the other.  You may remember me mentioning my dear friend Brian, the only sensible republican I know.  Even he and I have given up on carrying on civil political conversations, for we value each other’s friendship and see how easily it could be shredded.  He rarely reads my posts any more, and I skim over his Facebook posts, unless they are humour.  Last night, however, my angst being at an all-time high, I did respond to this on Brian’s page …Brian's postAnd my response was, under the circumstances, I thought reasonable:

“We don’t make fun of Trump’s sobriety, though I might question it in light of his behaviour. We don’t make fun of Pence’s fidelity, but we are appalled by Pence’s harsh anti-LGBT rhetoric and bigotry. And we don’t mock Kavanaugh’s ‘virginity’, but for the fact there is credible evidence that he was not a virgin at all, but rather a party-boy. “We” don’t wish the next several decades of life-or-death decisions in this nation to be made by a man who cannot even control his temper in a professional setting and who has lied to the U.S. Senate. But then, ‘we’ don’t want a dishonest, misogynistic, temperamental ‘man’ in the White House, either, but for the time being we are stuck with it. Sorry, Brian, but sometimes I just have to speak out — no disrespect toward you at all.”

Brian was fine with it, one of his friends not so much, but that is neither here nor there.  The thing, I think, that offended me most was the “they” thing.  It’s like some highly contentious sports tournament where it’s They vs Us, Liberal vs Conservative, Democrat vs Republican, Blue Jerseys vs Red Jerseys with ugly maga hats.  My grandmother had a tattoo with a number on it.  Should we go that route and make everybody get a tattoo either in blue or red, so we can see at a glance what “tribe” a person belongs to?

Brian’s friend, who I will not name, shot back wanting to know if I support Hillary and then drew some imaginary line whereby he concluded that I must be racist!  In the words of my late friend, Brenda:  HELLO HANNAH!!!  (That was her form of an expletive) Or as our friend Roger has taught me to say:  FORNACAZONI!!!

one worldWhat are we doing to each other, people?  Ten years ago, I couldn’t have told you if any one of my friends was a democrat or a republican … it just didn’t matter.  Ten years ago, we didn’t talk about ‘tribalism’; we had family, we had friends, some closer than others, we had co-workers, but we didn’t ask people to qualify their eligibility for friendship by political party affiliation, or even religion or skin colour.  At least, most of us didn’t.  “They” was a term reserved for an enemy, perhaps the Russians, perhaps the Chinese, but we were all “We”.

I am so angry with “Us”, and by “Us”, I mean all of us, democrat, republican, male, female, every religion, every ideology.  Instead of listening, all we are doing is yelling, insulting and bullying.  Instead of trying to get our views across so that they can be debated, so that we can learn from each other, we are yelling and pointing fingers and blaming everybody, even dead people!  We all have some good ideas, and most of us also have a few really rotten ones, but unless we listen, we will never know.

This nation will not survive the Era of Trump if we don’t unify, if we cannot even talk to each other.  And yes, I definitely include myself in my anger, I accept my share of blame, for I am no better and by this afternoon will once again be ranting against “them”.  But how do we do better when we cannot even talk to each other?

How do we put the greater good ahead of our individual desires?  This nation has already crossed the line from a democratic-republic to an oligarchical-plutocracy.  We now have a government run by the very few ultra-wealthy.  Decisions made at the highest levels that will affect each and every one of us, are made by wealthy people whose only goal is to get wealthier.  Elections are subject to Russian interference, for Putin sees it as being in his interest to keep Trump’s boot-lickers in Congress and to keep the nation divided. Elections are also subject to nefarious games such as gerrymandering, voter intimidation and voter suppression to attempt to keep certain groups, such as the poor and minorities away from the polls, or at least dilute their vote.

So, how is our voice to be heard?  We write and call our elected officials, but at best we receive a standard form letter in response.  Today, we have more avenues of communication … instantaneous communication … than ever before, yet we cannot make ourselves heard by the people who ought to be listening.  And so, we fight amongst ourselves.  And such may well be the goal of those in power.  I began this post with a quote:  United we stand, Divided we fall.  I use another quote to leave you with another thought:  Divide and Conquer.divide-conquer

Let’s Talk!

It’s hard to believe it has been nearly two weeks already since I wrote the post Give-and-Take.  That post was the experiment I tried in response to a challenge by Lisa Jensen writing as The Snarky Activist, where we each tried to find one good thing to say about Donald Trump.  My goal was to try to start a conversation between right and left, conservative and liberal, republican and democrat.  A conversation where we listen … actually listen to the other side, and respond with respect, yet without sacrificing our own views.  The post was enormously successful, beyond my wildest imaginings, and the feedback (140 comments) was beyond encouraging.  Lisa and I discussed it and decided to try to turn this into a multi-post, joint effort project.

civil-discourse.jpgOne thing we decided was that the conversation would be more meaningful if we limited it to a single topic at a time, and get everyone on the same page.  I suggested, and Lisa concurred, that we would put it to my readers to choose the topic.  I initially put together a list of about 30 topics, looked at it, set it aside, and then tonight I pulled it up and looked at it again and just shook my head and started cutting.  I narrowed the field to six of the ones I think are high priorities.  You will note that there is an elephant in the room.  I have intentionally NOT put issues related to guns on the list at this time.  The Santa Fe school shooting has, I think, left us all too raw for the moment and I fear we could not calmly discuss anything related to gun regulation.  I know I couldn’t … not yet.  Soon, however, I do want to open this topic, most specifically a ban on assault-style weapons.  But not just yet.

purpose of disagreementWe have had a lull in this project, partly because Lisa was on a business trip all last week, and I have been battling a respiratory infection all week.  But I don’t want to lose the momentum, so I hope that by mid-week, we can open a new discussion on the topic you guys choose.  Please select two choices from the following topics.  If there are other topics you would like us to discuss either now or in the future, please let me know in the comments.  I am thinking one discussion every 10 days or so, and the format is still being considered.  All ideas are welcome … you guys are part of this project too!!!

I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions, and also to engaging with everybody, doing our small part to try to narrow the gap that is tearing this country apart.  Thanks to all for your interest, enthusiasm and participation!

Many, Many Thanks, Dear Friends!!!

Dear Friends and Readers …

I was truly amazed and thrilled by the interactions generated by the post “Give-and-Take”.  This, my friends, is what civil discourse looks like.  Nobody likely changed their minds, their opinions or their ideologies based on the discussion, but … we talked to each other respectfully and more importantly we listened to each other!  I thank you, Lisa Jensen, for bringing this idea to Filosofa’s Word, and I look forward to more interactions, more meaningful dialogues where, perhaps we don’t change our minds, but perhaps we at least begin to understand one another.  I am so chuffed, for this far exceeded my expectations when I first seized upon the idea.

And I thank you all, my wonderful friends and readers, for your participation, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments, and your willingness to listen.  You guys are wonderful!

Lisa and I will be communicating about ways in which we might carry on with this sort of dialogue, and I will keep you all posted.  Imagine what this country might look like if everyone took part in these sort of dialogues, keeping an open mind, finding common ground, even if only small specks of it!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am still trying to read and respond to the comments, so please bear with me … I am old, slow, and somewhat over-extended in terms of time & energy at the moment, but I will respond to those I haven’t yet.

Love ‘n Hugs to all of you!

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