The Dogs of Hell were trained Rottweilers, who escape a military compound and terrorized al small town in a cult movie of the same name (1982). Replicating the actions of these fictional canines, the most racist, bigoted Americans have been unleashed by Trump’s unlikely Presidential win to terrorize people of color, the LBGT community and other vulnerable individuals.
Previously suppressed by societal norms and national leaders committed to inclusion and diversity, the day after the surprise win by Mr. Trump, these marauding dogs began shredding our fragile web of political correctness. The real face of the ugly American is now in full view. Apparently, I have been living in a fantasy world believing that we were slowly eradicating these attitudes but I have discovered to my chagrin that our progress in the area of inclusion is an extremely fragile safety net loosely tethered by a web of civil rights laws, court decisions and public civility.
These Dogs have previously been muzzled by the broader community’s values. The Dogs’ attacks after the recent election have taught me that bigotry is flourishing in this country in hidden places like mold spores invisible to the naked eye, thriving in dark moist environments. The election provided the necessary well spring for an explosion of white backlash.
These dogs are even rampaging in Boise, Idaho. Last week, they wrote “Nigger!” as graffiti near our Black History Museum. My family was horrified when I used the “N” word at the dinner table describing the incident. My daughter scolded me and said, “Never use that word again!” I would like to comply; but the only way to grasp the harshness of these attacks on the population they are intended to traumatize is to speak truth. The “N” word does not capture the abuse and rebuke inherent in this demoralizing word scribbled in large letters in plain view for the sole purpose of causing pain.
The lone black female in the Idaho Senate, told me this graffiti is not an isolated incident. She described to me the experience of a two black children playing outside in Boise being accosted by white adults the day after the election and being told; “We can kill you and your parents, now.”
My sister tells of the Asian man she knows, born and raised in Caldwell, Idaho (a town of 50,000, 25 miles west of Boise) who has never experienced discrimination in Idaho. Last week a car driving by him, rolled down the window and an invisible male voice shouted, “Go back to where you came from!” The fact that this man would be returning to Caldwell would be amusing if it weren’t so horrifying.
These are just a few incidents from Idaho, a small, almost exclusively white, homogeneous state. We are generally pro guns but peace abiding. Imagine the power of this unfettered hate in larger cities with more diversity and opportunity to choose “We” versus”They”.
The Oxford Dictionary has named “post truth” as the 2016 word of the year. The word describes a culture in which an individual’s decisions are based on appearances, frequently generated by incorrect or deliberately false social media postings, not on facts. I am fascinated and nauseated by our “post truth” world. In our current political milieu, the Dogs of Hell can become vicious overlords of the most vulnerable. Made up stories of Muslim attacks lead to hatred of innocent neighbors. Women wearing head coverings, symbols of respect for their religion, are suspect.
The trial of Dylann Roof is currently in the news. He is the white young man who joined a black Bible study group at Emanuel African Methodist Church, Charleston, South Carolina and ended up killing nine church members (2015). He has been quoted as saying he, “wanted to ignite a race war.” Roof’s actions resulted in public outcry, prayer vigils and persecutors seeking the death penalty. He failed in his revolution.
Unlike Roof, if not restrained, the Dogs of Hell are capable of phenomenal harm to our constitutional rights. This election, we, the people, have unleashed violent forces of hatred in America.
As Christmas approaches, as Christains let us not just pray for peace on earth as if we are speaking of some distant land. We need to pray for peace in small town Idaho and other parts of America. We must actively engage our spiritual communities and push back the forces of hate which are spreading dark clouds of fear over our land.
My college-aged son suggested I could increase interest in my paper mache and my blog by creating Donald Trump. After all, he said, “Donald would be easy; an orange face, small hands with pointing finger, classic blue suit, red tie and golden cotton candy hair.” He added, “Everything Trump attracts attention.” I agreed because deep in some dark part of me I harbor a strange, horrifying fascination with the man.
My Donald has been featured on this blog in an article, Trumpster Perfect for the Dumpster. For those of you who haven’t read that blog (probably most of you based on the low number of views), my paper sculpture of Donald is fabricated on a toilet paper roll, stands about 6 inches high on a 2 inch gold platform with the slogan “Trump, Make America Great Again, is pasted across the bottom.” Donald didn’t draw the number of blog views my son and I expected when he was posted, possibly because I emphasize I am a Blue Girl in a Red State in my writing. I even drive a car with a novelty license plate, Blue Girl. My readers may not like everything Trump as my son and I projected or may have better impulse control than I do about voyeuristically checking in to see what tweet he has sapped off at three a.m. this day.
Once Donald was created and unappreciated online, I came up with the idea to burn him and film it in a YouTube video, after all he is only paper, flour and salt. Donald should burst into flames easily. My seventeen-year-old daughter absolutely forbid me from going forward with this project. She told me I had no idea how vitriolic Trump supporters would be. My humor at burning the paper mache, would be lost in the flames of his supporters who might track us down and firebomb our house. The paper mache Donald bonfire was nixed.
One of my friends suggested a house party of “Nasty Women” after the election where we could burn paper Donald assuming Hillary won. Since Hillary didn’t win, I am left with disposing of Donald in a peaceful manner. I thought of donating him to the Youth Ranch. But my husband suggested that should my paper sculpture capture an audience (highly dubious but one can always hope), Donald might have some future historical value. I personally doubt that given the low quality of the product, after all Donald’s hair is made from my sheltie’s fur died bright yellow. For now, I have moved the Donald out of my husband’s office where he was on prominent display to an upstairs closet where all of us can peacefully co-exist (hopefully the country can too for the next four years).
I am extremely disappointed by the violence in Portland instigated by Clinton supporters. The irony of Democrats objecting to Trump’s election through violent protest should not be lost on anyone. Much of the campaign banter circulated around Trump’s encouragement of his supporters to outrageous acts. Clintonites are participating in the very activities that we feared would erupt from Trump supporters if Hillary Clinton was elected President. I have also heard that Trump supporters have seen Trump’s election as a license to bully refugees and non-white Americans. This is also unacceptable.
My spiritual foundation and fundamental belief in America’s system of rule of law requires that I give President-elect Trump and his team a chance to govern now that he has been chosen as our President. I plan to approach his presidency cautiously with an “open mind” but I also plan on being courageously out-spoken when I see injustice and incivility. Our country protects the right to free speech. Nonviolent civil disobedience has led to great change in our nation, just look at Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of the bus. But I also know, our current political climate requires us to be thoughtful about how we express our political opinions. We are not in the sixties where burning effigies and American flags was frowned on but seen as symbols of protected free speech. One did not have to worry about personal safety when expressing themselves non-violently i.e. my daughter’s concern that our house might be fire bombed if I chose to post burning paper Donald. Unfortunately, in 2016, we find ourselves in a world that is constantly fired up and always on the verge of bursting into angry flames.
Late last night as the election results calcified, I received a text from a very good friend of mine in Wyoming reminding me that I had correctly called the election this summer. I told my disbelieving liberal friends in June that Trump had a very strong chance of winning. When FBI Director Comey announced 11 days ago that the Clinton email fiasco re-emerged, I knew in my heart that Hillary’s chances of winning were minimal.
What led me to have such a strong sense of Trump success even though I vote Democratic? First, Hillary never could shake, even among highly educated white women, the tinge of dishonesty or more correctly, covertness. Everyone says Hillary is a private person but I believe in transparency in government. Hillary began her national career at Bill’s side as First Lady leading the failed health care reform effort behind closed doors. I totally disagreed with her policy approach at the time though not the recommendations for a national health card. This sense that Hilary is not being completely candid has haunted her for years. I wanted to love her but I couldn’t. I respect her years of tenacious advocacy for women and children, her policy knowledge, her ability to be knocked down and get back up again but I never got chills when I thought about voting for her. I would love to live to see the first woman elected President of the United States. I would have been fine if that woman was Hillary but personally I was never captivated by her. Today, I could feel Hillary’s pain when she conceded. She has given it her all to lead this country on two different occasions and I think we all realize now that this is a dream that will elude her.
I am not sure Hillary could have done anything differently during this campaign. Her failure is one of charisma which I’m not sure one can learn. The Obamas both have it in spades. I cried with joy when Obama won the Presidency the first time. When he and his family walked on stage after winning, I felt the world had moved. I had goose bumps when Michelle Obama spoke at the 2016 Democrat Convention about how “When they go low, we go high!” Having watched The Apprentice for many years with my daughter when she was younger, I know that Donald Trump is capable of captivating an audience. In a world of social media, the personal image is political reality. Trump correctly assumed as the polls and pundits did not that the large crowds he was drawing would result in a swell of passionate, dedicated Trump voters. These folks were what I call shadow supporters, not readily available to traditional pollsters. Can you see a big think tank reaching out to someone who goes to a rally wrapped in fake green turf to show their “grass roots support.” My guess is Trump supporters got chills voting for him and cried when they saw the swing states predicted blue turning to bright red right before our eyes.
Winning a national election requires great outpourings of emotion (Of course, it can be argued Trump didn’t win the election since Clinton got more votes but given our electoral college approach, he put together the strategic states to run the board). In our electronic world, the charismatic individual whether we like their ideas or not has an advantage from the starting line. Trump is nothing if not charismatic; even his greatest detracters followed his every move providing tons of free publicity for him through tweets, late night comedy shows, news stories. I admit to some dark part of me daily checking what new strange tweet he had sent out. Silencing his tweeting near the end of the campaign and keeping Trump on message further strengthened my sense that he could win this thing. Throughout the campaign, he had been his own worst enemy. Once someone wrapped up his spontaneous outbursts and put him on an airplane crisscrossing rural America, Trump’s personal image solidified as a political outsider, pro-life business man who could build our economy, relished a fight, told it like it was and was focused on protectionism. HIs consistent mantra that America needed change struck a cord in America’s heartland. His other failings such as sexual predator, misogynist, inconsistent statements from day-to-day, no clear policy positions on many issues, and a protectionist approach based on racism never stuck. Hillary’s image on the other hand, as a policy wonk, part of the power elite establishment and probably dishonest to boot was with her from day one and stayed with her throughout the long arduous campaign, the dishonesty piece finally solidified for undecided voters with the Comey announcement of more emails for the FBI to check (so much smoke there must be fire).
The Republicans now control the Presidency, Congress, and with Trump’s nomination in January the Supreme Court. Our nation will no longer have divided government though we remain poltically and socially divided as a country.
It will be interesting to see what a Republican health care approach looks like. My bet is thousands of individuals will once again be thrown off insurance. But a step backward may be the only way to leap forward. I agree with Bernie Sanders that the only viable long-term health care solution for the U.S. is a national health care plan. Radical right regression may be what will unite progressives where nothing else has.
Democrats have every reason to be discouraged. They are without any recognizable leaders, they won the national vote, lost the election, failed to gain control of the Senate, lost the opportunity to transform the Supreme Court and will need to reorganize and re-energize. But as another friend of mine says, America made it through the Civil War and we will make it through this.
I was in McCall, Idaho last weekend when the Christmas Tree for the nation came into town. It was cut down at the little ski hill outside of McCall. There were crowds of people mulling around, an announcer shouting repeatedly the tree was coming, , the giant Idaho Potato came into sight, the McCall High School Band came by on a truck, a hundred or so disorganized children paraded by and then this big shining red semi-truck turned the corner dragging a gaily wrapped something which turned out to be the tree, covered for its journey East. I thought at that moment this is America at its best, small town America coming together and celebrating something as simple as a giant pine tree on the move across our great country.
My husband and I were probably the only two Democrats in the entire crowd given how the voting across Idaho went. Idaho Democrats lost five legislative races on Tuesday bringing the Republican Legislative Super Majority to 84%. Idaho is the redest state in the Union. I have a friend who chides me that Idaho Democrats can meet in a phone booth there are so few of us if we can find a phone booth anymore. I still hope to see a woman elected president (Preferably a Democrat though I open to any strong, thoughtful female leader) in my life time. But for now I am glad to be an American. I celebrate we can have a contentious, nasty, close election and get up the next morning knowing we will be free to walk out the door, talk about how crazy the voting was yesterday over a cup of coffee, express our opinions openly on Facebook or a blog and not worry about our safety.
Our words have the power to destroy and the power to build up (Proverbs 12:6).
I volunteer to tutor refugees. These individuals have escaped unspeakable horrors and are learning English. Working alongside these kind, hard-working adults has taught me how blessed we are to live in America. Mr. Trump has created his own language to describe America, Trumpism. Mr. Trump’s own description of Trumpism: “I know words, I have the best words but there is no better word than “stupid”. Words most frequently used by Mr. Trump: win, stupid, weak, loser, moron, politically correctness, smart, tough, dangerous, bad, lightweight, amazing, huge, tremendous, terrific, zero, out of control, classy.
Listeners know when we hear Mr. Trump that his terminology is slightly off but those of us who grew up in the U.S. intuitively understand what he is saying. I challenge you to think about what you would think if you and your family had just escaped extreme violence half way across the world for sanctuary in the United States and you heard Mr. Trump describe America. Below is a short list of Trumpisms. There is no attempt to capture all of his misused words or to provide citations. Rather, I want to capture the essence of his language.
Trumpism: Words made up by Mr. Donald Trump in his run for President of United States in 2016. Mr. Trump has a vast, original lexicon which creates sweeping indictments and vicious mental pictures using just a couple of words or phrases. Some of his words are spoken; others have been tweeted in the wee hours of the morning. Trumpism could also be considered Mr. Trump’s political platform. Trumpism pushes nativism (foreigners are suspect) and populism (giving power to the people rather than political elites). Through twitter and his speeches, Mr. Trump has created a mish-mash of images of America as a dark, dangerous place in deep economic decline. Mr. Trump’s America needs saving. His slogan is “Make America Great Again” as if returning to the past is a positive. His primary policy proposals are deporting illegal immigrants, tightening and/or stopping future immigration of certain groups particularly Muslims, emphasizing that foreign individuals living in America commit the majority of violent crimes particularly rape and robbery while taking away American jobs. Trumpism’s primary focus is that Muslim refugees are terrorist infidels, illegal Mexicans are criminals and global trade has crippled America.
The Wall: Mr. Trump’s proposal to have Mexico pay for a wall dividing Mexico and the United States with the intention of stopping Mexicans from illegally entering the U.S. Mr. Trump estimates the wall will cost $5 billion dollars. He promises the entire cost will be paid for by the Mexican Government. The Mexican President has refused to pay for the wall in a tweet. Tweeting seems to be the primary form of policy development in this election year. Mr. Trump sees the wall as a beautiful thing with a door right in the middle for legal Mexicans to be welcomed to America.
Bad Hombre: Uncomplimentary reference to undocumented Mexicans living in America. Hombre is Spanish for man. Trump used the reference to reinforce his vision of increasing hordes of criminals illegally crossing the Mexican border. In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that the number of illegal Mexicans coming into the U.S. has stabilized in recent years and declined by about 1 million since 2007. About 2/3 of all illegal immigrants have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more. About half of immigrants coming into the U.S. are women. There are 5000 children in foster care whose parents have been detained or deported by U.S. immigration authorities. This figure is estimated to rise to 15,000 children over the next five years because of tightening immigration policies. These women and children have not been part of any policy discussion during this presidential season.
Nasty Woman: Mr. Trump’s description of Mrs. Clinton at the 3rd and final debate. He uttered it to interrupt Mrs. Clinton presentation on Social Security. His intent was appeal to the old boys club where powerful women are seen as unpleasant and pushy and frequently described in private as “bitches”. In this case, Mr. Trump’s effort to belittle women led to a social media backlash from women who saw Trump’s remark as sexist rather than as descriptive of Mrs. Clinton’s temperament. As a young professional woman in the seventies, I can attest that smart, ambitious women were not described in positive terms by their male coworkers. I am proud to be a Nasty Woman.
Miss Piggy: a revered children’s puppet on Sesame Street. Miss Piggy is a large female Pink Pig who dresses in extravagant outfits and frequently wears a crown. Most American’s know Miss Piggy. Mr. Trump referred to Miss Universe 1996, Alicia Machado, as Miss Piggy when she gained weight after winning the Miss Universe title. Using Miss Piggy as a descriptor is a classic example of Mr. Trump’s skill at choosing short phrases to create a lasting image.
Miss Housekeeping: Another term, coined by Mr. Trump, to describe Ms. Machado, who represented Venezuela in the Miss Universe Pageant. This image is premised on Latino women largely serving in housekeeping positions in the U.S. This nickname can be seen as a sexist slur against Latino women and as slamming hard work done by many Americans who are surviving on pay below a living wage. Nationally, unauthorized workers compose 23% of all domestic workers.
Locker Room Banter: Mr. Trump’s justification of the conversation he was having with Billy Bush prior to an appearance on AccessHollywood in 2005. In the recorded encounter, Mr. Trump used extremely vulgar terms to describe women and what he would do to them. When the tape was released, Mr. Trump defended the conversation as the kind of talk that routinely goes own in all male places such as locker rooms. My husband played college basketball and when I asked him about it, he responded that young guys might not use the best language but this is an example of a 60 year old man (at the time) who could be expected to have outgrown the titillation of talking dirty. Billy Bush was relieved of his position on Good Morning America for his role both in the conversation and for not bringing the tape to light sooner.
Bigly: Frequently used by Mr. Trump to describe an idea or policy which is large in scope. Bigly is an adverb and Mr. Trump has used it correctly. On questioning, Mr. Trump’s staff clarified that Mr. Trump is not saying “bigly”. He is instead saying, “Big League.” Here is an example from an actual speech: Donald Trump has said, “Iran is taking over Iraq and they’re taking it over bigly.” According to staff this is incorrect reporting. Instead, Mr. Trump said, “Iran is taking over Iraq and they’re taking it over Big League.” I personally think bigly is easier to understand in the contexts he uses it. Either term gives us the idea, that this is something big.
Extreme Vetting:Mr. Trump’s proposal to conduct ideological screening of new arrivals from countries with a history of terror (specific countries are unspecified). Mr. Trump had previously said he would ban all Muslims from coming into the country. This proposal would allow in some individuals. However, all individuals from countries harboring terrorists would be banned from the U.S. until this new screening test was designed and in place. The U.S. already has extremely rigorous screening approaches in place sometimes taking many years. In addition, it is difficult to assess an individual’s most innermost beliefs and private opinions. In a country that values free speech, this proposal may be difficult or impossible to implement. Finally, individuals from other countries are less likely to engage in violence than native born Americans.
Yuuuge: Mr. Trump’s unique way of saying huge.
Braggadocios: A braggart who boasts so much about themselves that they become annoying to their audience. The term was commonly used in the 19th century. The word is so seldom used in the 21st century, braggadocios is not considered part of our common vocabulary. Mr. Trump, who usually says he does not want to seem braggadocios, has breathed life back into this word.
Birther Movement: People who question of the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. Starting in 2011, Mr. Trump persistently demanded to see President Obama’s birth certificate to demonstrate that Obama was born in the United States as required by the U.S. Constitution. Recently, Mr. Trump has said he believes Mr. Trump was born in the United States.
Speaking Mexican: Reference to Jeb Bush in a tweet. Mr. Trump means that Mr. Bush is fluent in Spanish, something Mr. Trump obviously is not.
Taking the Shackles Off: A twitter comment on Mr. Trump’s revised strategic campaign breaking free from the traditional Republic platform and policy. Trump’s new approach was the result of some Republicans disavowing their support of Trump in the wake of NBC sex tape. This announcement was followed by a stream of tweets filled with rage and resentment towards traditional politicians.
Rigged Elections: As political polls have begun indicating that Mr. Trump might lose, Trump has become more strident in his claims that the media and the Democratic machine are rigging the election. Mr. Trump has said he would accept the election results if he won. However, when questioned during the third debate, he refused to confirm that he would accept the results. The charge of rigged elections is at the very heart of the U.S. democracy where for centuries Americans have cast their votes and lived with the results. Mr. Trump’s charge also suggests he is not familiar with the structure of U.S. elections. Elections (even for national candidates such as Congress and the President) are under the control of the states. Forty-seven of the fifty states and the Puerto Rico have a Secretary of State position. The primary duty of this individual is to serve as the chief election officer for the state. In the three states without a Secretary of State, the responsibility for elections falls to the Lieutenant Governor. Given the diffuse structure of elections in the U.S. it would be difficult to rig the outcome nationally. As we know from the 2000 Bush/Gore Presidential election, the role of the Secretary of State in a close election can be very important. Former Vice President Gore received about 540,000 more popular votes than Bush across the nation. In Gore’s presidential run, the Florida Secretary of State, Republican Katherine Harris certified that Bush had won the popular vote in Florida. Her decision was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court on a 5 to 4 decision preventing a recount of key precincts in Florida. Former Vice President Gore honored the decision and has been largely invisible on the national stage since.
Gloria Steinman told a sold out crowd in Boise on October 17, 2016 that the right to vote is what makes America great. People have fought hard and lost lives for each of us to have the equal opportunity to weigh in on America’s future. The America of 2016 is far more expansive and inclusive than our forefathers envisioned. We are a nation where each of us can vote regardless of race, religion or gender.
The refugees I work with fled totalitarian and military reigns with the hope of becoming Americans and gaining the right to vote. Hidden in Trump’s mangled phrases is the clear threat to equal opportunity. Isolationism doesn’t create greatness but it does breed fear. I am yuugely hoping that Americans in bigly numbers will notpick a braggadocios birther, who engages regularly in unseemly locker room banter demeaning women, for their next president.
Right before my son, Scott, left for college he came up with idea that I should create a paper mache Trump figure. Wacky Trumpster featured in this blog would make a great gift for politicos from either major party. Trumpster is a convenient paperweight to keep track of all those nasty receipts you need at your finger tips when you are audited by the IRS. If Trump had a Trumpster, we may have seen his tax returns by now. Remember Trumpster comes with real hair which you can wash and comb. If you are loosing your hair, here is your opportunity to style someone else’s hair to your heart’s content. Trumpster is made entirely of recyclable products when you grow tired of him just toss him in the Dumpster. Each Trumpser is unique and lovingly made with only the finest old, used products. Don’t wait to order yours!
More reasons that Trumpster is this Election’s trendiest gift.
Trump Supporters: Give them a Trumpster along with a carton of legos. Trumpster is entirely made in American by a 6th generation American (me). The legos are so your Right Wing friend and Trumpster can build walls to their hearts’ content at no cost to tax payers.
Trump Detractors. Give them a Trumpster to help them work off anger and frustration with the current Congress:
Made of paper, Trumpster can serve as a bulletin board to remind you of key dates. For example, the Presidential election is Tuesday, November 8, 2016. If Trump looses, political commentary won’t be near as much fun.
If you have a ghoulish side you could just push pins in Trumpster any time you are upset. I don’t think Trumpster contains any voodoo magic but punching holes in a wind bag is bound to make your day better.
To Order your own Trumpster or Trumpster for your friends and loved ones message me on Facebook or WordPress or go to:
I started working in paper mache this summer to create sellable items for a Christmas Bazaar where the funds go to charity. So far I have created assorted cats and woodland angels. These items have not proven very popular on Etsy or Facebook. I am beginning to have a craft room full of colorful cats and flying nymphs made of paper, paint and paste.
My college son, Scott, is of the opinion that anything “Trump” no matter how bizarre will sell. Scott may have a point. Trump seems to hold a weird fascination even for his detractors. All across America we wait with baited breath to hear the next outrageous Twitter or giggle at Trump’s explanation of how Obama created ISIS only to learn that these wild statements are a new form of “sarcasm”.
I took Scott up on his challenge and created “Trumpster”. Paper mache Trump is functional which is more than can be said for his real-life counterpart. He is a paper weight. Mr. Trump sits on a replica of Trump tower, a raspberry box filled with rocks(I liked both the symbolism of Trump perched on raspberries and his tower covered with a gold facade but really holding nothing but rocks like many of his failed real estate deals). Trump’s body is made from a recycled brew cup. We have lots of these from coffee every morning, might as well put them to good use.
As Scott noted, the only things you need to denote Trump are big hair, pointing fingers and orange skin. The reality bar is quite low because Trump has made himself into his own reality TV character. The hardest part of the project was the hair. I finally clipped hair off my Sheltie, Shani, and glued it on a wig form. When I told Scott this, he worried that I had given Shani bare spots. Do not be alarmed, Shani has more hair at any one time than most dogs grow in a life-time. As you can see by the picture, Shani looks no different after providing Trump with his gilded hair than she did before my gentle clipping. Once the hair was glued in place, the wig fell off the model into a cup of water. Not to worry, made from real hair, the wig dried out and remains perfectly groomed unaffected by this potential castrophy.
I have lived in Idaho almost 22 years, a third of my life. Idaho is the most Republican state in the nation.The state where a perfectly normal question is “Have you heard of the group Black lives Matter? Well, in Idaho Redneck Lives Matter.” In rural Idaho, PETA stands for “People eating tasty animals.” (Probably shot with a concealed weapon, all perfectly legal.)
In this staunchly Red environment, I have transformed into a strong Democrat. I drive a blue car with a novelty license plate that says BLUEGRL. I am proud to be a Blue girl (Democrat)in a Red State. I sometimes worry about the car getting keyed for advertising my political opinions.
I have a Republican friend who says Idaho Democrats could hold the state convention in a phone booth if we could find a phone booth anymore. Idaho Democrats running for statewide office get consistently about 30% of the vote if the individual candidate runs a good campaign. We haven’t had a Democrat elected statewide since our Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marilyn Howard, retired in 2006. No other position has even been competitive in the 20 years I’ve lived here
The miracle of Bernie Sanders in Idaho is that thousands of people showed up for Democratic caucuses all over the state. In Boise, there are still Bernie yard signs up. Before the Democratic National Convention several hundred people marched in Boise in support of Bernie.While I still see Bernie stickers on cars and yards signs, I haven’t seen any Hilary stickers. I got an email last week that Hilary had hired an Idaho field organizer, a young woman, recent graduate of the University of Idaho. The email said Hillary could use some help in Idaho. NO KIDDING! Hillary and Idaho? Talk about an oxymoron! The fact Hillary has paid staff in Idaho shows the fundraising process of the Democratic Presidential campaign. Maybe Hillary has a field organization in Idaho to recruit Bernie fans. But the few I know wouldn’t vote for Trump. They may choose to not vote and thus the need for Hillary to have a grassroots organization.Paying to organize Idaho Democrats for a national election is like seeing how many people you can get in a Volkswagen. You can run around a lot, create frenetic energy, spend a great deal of time but in the end the number will be quite small.
In this environment, where there are no decent Democrats running for national office why do I remain a Democrat? Afterall, I will be voting for Republican Congressman Mike Simpson in my Congressional District. Congressman Simpson is a retired dentist who supported expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He recently got Congress to pass the White Cloud Wilderness Bill, designating three areas in the Owyhee Mountains as wilderness. This legislation took years of work. In other words, Simpson is a good guy. Why bother with the Democratic label at all when I am clearly the minority?
I have wrestled with my Democratic values for some time. I am forced to when I am consistently in the minority. Saying my political alliegence aloud can lead to crazy arguments and loss of friendships.
I grew up a Republican in Wyoming. I can remember standing on the tamarack at the Cheyenne airport. My sister was dressed in white holding glittery gold poms poms along with other teenage girls. I tasted the bitter bile of jealousy as the wickedly cold wind made my eyes leak because I wasn’t old enough to be a Goldwater Girl and stand with the cheering girls. Goldwater went on to win only six states, Arizona (his home state) and five southern states. He even lost Wyoming and Idaho.
Early in my early professional career I worked for both Democratic and Republican Governors. I considered myself an independent, supporting the individual rather than the party.
I capitulated to dyed-in-the-wool, bright Blue Democrat as I saw the Idaho legislature become progressively conservative giving tax breaks to business, failing to appropriately fund our public schools, repeatedly defeating Medicaid Expansion. Last year in the legislature an emergency room physician testified that at least a 1000 low-income Idahoans die a year because of lack of health care. Our Republican Governor Butch Otter’s response was, ” Lots of people die every year.”
My husband and I give monthly to Idaho Democrats. I am volunteering to stuff envelopes for state legislative races. All of this money and energy with no expectation of it making a difference. The question is why bother?
I got the answer on Saturday at Payette Lake in McCall. I was sitting on the dock at Ponderosa State Park watching my daughter and her friend jet skiing across the lake. A woman with head covered, black leggings and a beautiful white lace top got on the back of a new jet ski behind her husband. I presume she was Muslim and the man was her husband. After bouncing across the water at full tilt, she came back to the dock sporting a huge smile. At that moment it became crystal clear to me why I am a Democrat. Jet skiing provided a great metaphor for living in our complex world. My Chinese daughter was out on the same water with the Muslin couple and behind me some black families who were speaking a language other than English, also in full dress, probably refugees, were playing on the beach and wading in the shallow water, laughing and splashing. All of us from very different backgrounds were sharing the lake linked by our human capacity for laughter and joy.
I am a Democrat because I believe all lives matter. Hurrah for Rednecks, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Jews, Gays and everyone else! You all matter and American should be a big enough place that we can embrace and live with our differences.
The Republican primary season wrapped up last week with Donald Trump crowned the Republican nominee for President in Cleveland. Over the course of the last year, the American public has watched the 16 Republican presidential candidates drop to 1. After listening to a week of gloom and doom about the state of America presented by speakers at the Republican convention, I am reminded of the authoritarian spectacle presented in the first Hunger Games movie.
For those of you who haven’t seen the first Hunger Games (2012). The movie is set in a futurist society, the Capital of Panem. The leadership keeps the peace by annually hosting the Hunger Games. Participants in the games, called Tributes, are a randomly selected boy and girl from each of 12 districts. The Tributes fight to the death until only one remains in a nationally televised event called the Hunger Games. The Games are kicked off with much fanfare, drawing the viewer in by being both terrifying and fascinating in the leadership’s total lack of humanity. The battle to the last person standing takes place within a televised bubble in which new barriers for contestants emerge on a regular basis, reports of the progress and trials of the teens is routinely broadcast throughout the nation. A solitary cannon boom notifies the nation as each child is killed by another.
This event is presided over by President Coriolanus Snow, the ruthless, tyrannical and primary antagonist. He is a cruel and manipulative dictator who has no qualms about using force to maintain discipline. The Games are intended to give citizens a little bit of hope by allowing the victor to live but not so much hope that citizens revolt.
You may ask what is the similarly between this dark movie franchise and the Republican primary season? The Republican primaries proved to be a hard test not only for the candidates but for the Republican Party. The divisions created during the primaries have recently been discounted by National Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus . But the fracture lines are still there. Many prominent Republican chose to stay away from the convention. Senator Cruz’s caution to the convention goers of “vote your conscience” resulted in boos, personal rejection by mega-funders and media assessment of the fall-out of Cruz’s speech possibly ruining his political career.
In between the opening of the convention and the Cruz political theater, Melania Trump became involved in a plagiarism controversy. Her eloquent speech lauded for it’s sincerity upon close review was remarkably similar to Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008. While imitation is the greatest form of flattery, I am sure the attendees at the convention would not have liked to have Michelle Obama be their guiding light. Mrs.Trump’s speech became the major media story for at least 24 hours. Finally, the story was put to rest when a loyal Trump employee, Meredith McIver, was offered up as the responsible person for the mistake. This tempest in a tea pot is still not over. A major Democratic super pack, the Democratic Coalition against Trump has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging Trump broke the law by using his personal corporation to help with the campaign.
On the final night of the convention, Ivanka Trump presented a winning view of her father.
She described Trump as a family man committed to gender equally; evaluating workers results rather than positions, degrees, gender, ethnicity or color; understanding the need to make child care affordable and accessible for working women (a position ardently opposed by Idaho Republicans and probably nationally) and committed to making America great again by focusing on results and talent rather than degrees and bureaucracy. Though I strongly disagree with her dad on many of his political positions, I found Ivanka’s portrait of her father quite compelling. To put my faith in Ivanka’s Trump, I have to forget that this is the man who described women during his highly publicized career as fat, pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting and when asked about these characterizations by Fox News Megyn Kelly described her as “a bimbo”. Angry about Kelly’s tough questions during the debate, Trump took to twitter saying, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever. ” (August 7, 2015). These are not comments of a man who understands and respects professional women.
Like the Hunger Games, the entire Republican primary season has been hosted under the magnifying lens created by the intense and constant attention of national media. There is no escape either for the willing participants (the candidates) or Americans. Every sound bite, twitter, picture, comment is captured and reflected out to the world to see. We know who was fired and why, who said what and when. Similar to the Hunger Games, the media keeps score of each day. During the convention, the Washington Post ran a daily analysis of the winners and losers. This constant attention to ever minor and major detail has moved campaigns from a civil discussion of legitimate policy differences to the rancor of realty TV where every day people shout that the opposition should be shot or sent to jail. Conveners at the Republican convention ganged up on each other and on those of us with different beliefs outside the convention as if having a difference of an opinion makes one an enemy rather than an neighbor who pays the same taxes, sends their children to the same schools, drives on the same highways or sits in the same pew at church.
After listening to the Republican presentations at their convention, one would think that Hilary Clinton is President Snow come to life on American soil. In this fiction, Mrs. Clinton is single-handily responsible for every ill in this country rather than one of the most respected women in the world. Scapegoating, laying the blame for societal ills on one person, is much easier than developing cohesive national policy. At the Republican convention, we heard many platitudes about “Making America Great!” and very few specifics about how we would achieve a new unified vision of the future. I wanted to hear specific proposals on how to bring our nation with admittedly many challenges together so we can build on the multitude of strengths we share.
This election is not a reality TV show, it is not a game with winners and losers, it is not a movie with three sequels, it is about what we as Americans want for our future. I, for one, am not yet ready to give up on civil discourse and the ability to look for concrete solutions to the many pressing problems facing us. Like Katniss Everdeen at the end of the Hunger Games, I refuse to follow the rules presented at the Republican Convention. I will not demonize the opposition. I am anxious to hear real solutions to real problems.