World on Fire

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.20160823_164603

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).

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Donald in our closet, hoping for peaceful coexistence

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.

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Saturday protests in Portland led to someone  being shot.

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.

 

The Day After

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.

God Bless America!

Top Ten Reasons I’m Voting for Hillary

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Hillary Clinton, 2016 Presumptive Democratic Nominee for President of the United States

Number 10: Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump.  I would support almost any reasonable candidate over Mr. Trump who continues to be a bully, racist and misogynistic.  The concept of Mr. Trump as leader of the free world is terrifying.  His campaign rhetoric has shown him to be a thin-skinned, unstable narcissist and a pathological liar.  Since winning the primary rather than demonstrating he can be Presidential, Mr. Trump has shown a total disrespect for the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers and continued on his path of “my way or the highway”.  I deeply respect the Republicans who have refused to endorse him and publicly rebuked his commendation of Judge Curiel, the Mexican-American federal judge overseeing the Trump University law suit.

Most frightening to me is Mr. Trump’s strong support across a variety of income and educational groups in the Republican Party.  The Economist in April reviewed Trump’s support and found that he has appeal to Republican voters across all income and education levels.

I have heard supporters of Mr. Sanders say they will boycott the election or write in Mr. Sanders’ name.  I would argue this is a dangerous strategy. Given the sluggish economy and the fact that a Democrat has been President for two terms, past voting trends favor a Republican being elected. Mr. Sanders’ remarkable campaign and many victories have demonstrated that the future of the Democratic Party lies in a progressive agenda.  We know, however, from Al Gore’s failed presidential run in 2000 that it is possible to win the popular vote and lose the election through the Electoral College.  In my mind, Mr. Trump as President is too worrisome to waste a vote.

Number 9:  Mrs. Clinton is a Feminine Warrior.  I read recently that Hillary practices the yoga warrior pose when she is tired and needs to re-energize for an upcoming event.  I was taken by the image of a strong woman rising to battle time and time again.

After more than forty years in politics and advocacy, Americans certainly know all her professional and personal baggage.  We quite literally know her dirty laundry. Anyone who was an adult in the late nineties links the names Monica Lewinsky, President Bill Clinton and impeachment proceedings.  Former President Clinton’s bimbo eruptions are a tawdry stain on his policy accomplishments as President.  More unfathomable to me than President Clinton’s behavior, a known womanizer is Hillary’s ability to get through that dark period still married to the man and to have emerged with an amicable marriage intact.

On the professional front, Hillary has been beaten many times but she never accepts defeat. In 1993, Mrs. Clinton received a bludgeoning for her leadership on a proposed national health plan, a precursor to the arduous battle we are still fighting to provide health care to all.  After a grueling primary campaign in 2008, she politely endorsed then Candidate Obama and later agreed to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. Time and time again over her political career, Mrs. Clinton has been pushed down and like a phoenix she has recreated herself and risen again, a proud, regal female warrior ready to do battle for what she believes in.

Number 8: Mrs. Clinton is fallible (and that makes her more human).  As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton took responsibility for not providing enough security in the Benghazi Attacks (September, 2012) that led to the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, a friend of Clinton’s.  Eleven hours of Congressional hearings on the subject never directly implicated Clinton but given her position of Secretary of State the responsibility for her staff did and should fall on her shoulders.

The Benghazi Hearings subsequently led to the investigations into Mrs. Clinton private server hosting her email account while Secretary of State.  Apparently, this was common practice by other high ranking officials in other administrations. For example, Colin Powell used a similar approach to email when he served as Secretary of State.  With the gift of hindsight and the Snowden (2013) leaks and numerous mass hacking of corporate accounts such as Target, the naiveté of keeping a personal server for government business seems absurd.  But for those of us carrying Blackberry phones for business during this period, these choices don’t seem Machiavelli.

As recently as June 9th, 2016, the email debacle was still being raised as an election issue in Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy.  Possessing the warrior spirit, Hillary politely told a reporter she would not be indicted and the email problem would not interfere with her presidential bid.  She rose to the question with grace and aplomb.

To vote for Mrs. Clinton, I do not have to agree with all of her decisions or actions.  I would never assume this level of support for a male candidate.  I find it maddening when talking to potential voters who do not support Hillary because she is “untrustworthy”.  Would they say the same about Colin Powel (a man I greatly admire) who testified that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S. went to war? After all, we didn’t find any weapons but that was the opinion of experts at the time.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has managed to stick the moniker of “lying Hillary” on Mrs. Clinton with some ease.  Yet we see Mr. Trump revising his version of the facts and his comments at almost every turn.  Only recently has the media begun rapidly and accurately checking his statements. Many of which have proven to be false.

Number 7:  Mrs. Clinton is a policy nerd and incrementalist.  When campaigning against Mrs. Clinton, Bernie Sanders cited Hillary’s incremental approach to most policy issues as a fault.  As a student of public administration, I can tell you that we are a nation of incrementalists.  With few exceptions, Americans tend to respond the best and most creatively when in crisis or at war.  For example, the transcontinental railroad had been stymied due to bickering in Congress on whether to follow a southern or northern route.  The railroad only became possible with the succession of the southern states from the Union allowing Lincoln to authorize a northern passage.  Once a decision was made, we were able to overcome all engineering stumbling blocks and become a nation united.

A less successful example of American incrementalism is health care. As a country, we implemented Social Security in response to the Great Depression. But even popular four-term President Franklin Roosevelt was unable to get universal health coverage because of opposition from Republicans, conservative Democrats and organized medicine. President Truman was the first president to strongly advocate for universal health care and his proposal was stalled in Congress.  President Lyndon Johnson was successful at getting Medicare approved in 1965 (thirty years after the first discussions began).

Since then, Congress has been slowly expanding Medicare benefits including covering qualifying disabled individuals, improving quality of nursing home care, adding hospice care, drug benefits (with a donut hole) and encouraging preventive care and providing the option to purchase private insurance.

The problems of Obamacare are a direct outgrowth of our nation’s inability to implement the “Grand Idea”.  Harris polling indicates that a large majority of Americans believe every American should have access to health care.  Unfortunately, we are unable to agree on the details. The same poll found that 87 percent of Democrats and only 33 percent of Republicans favor a universal health care system (Harris Poll, September 8 2015).

While Americans may want to hear grand ideas in presidential debates and speeches when it comes to moving a policy agenda forward Americans proceed at a snail’s pace (thirty years to get to Medicare and almost fifty years of refinements have not resulted in full coverage for Americans).  The fact that Mrs. Clinton is an incrementalist is not an indictment of her politics but rather a high compliment to her clear understanding of the difficulties of implementing policies in a large diverse nation with many viewpoints and a fractious, politically divided, stonewalling Congress.

Number 6: Mrs. Clinton is inclusive. My family is inter-racial. I have an adopted daughter from China. My sister has an adopted daughter of Mexican and Native American descent. My sister’s daughter was married for a period to an undocumented Mexican man. Together they had 3 darling Hispanic children, ages 7, 8, and 9.

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My niece and nephews visiting Boise from Colorado.

These children are American citizens. While my niece is now divorced, the ex still has joint custody of the children. In summary, we have a very complicated multi -cultural  extended family. But we represent the future of America. We are a diverse nation and becoming more so by every day. It is our very diversity which has traditionally made us a strong country. Mrs. Clinton attracts large numbers of black and Hispanic voters because these groups see opportunities for economic and social equality consistently pushed by Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is interested in developing road blocks to forward mobility of all while creating a divisive culture. Other countries have discovered to their peril that exclusionary policies lead to social unrest and ethnic  violence. We are already beginning to see this response by Hispanics at anti-Trump rallies.

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Hillary Clinton dancing with Hillary Anjoela Makabikwa an immigrant from the Congo

Number 5: Mrs. Clinton recognizes that women’s issues are family issues.  The demographics of American families have been shifting for many years.  The Pew Research Center (Census data 2013) has found that four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a single mother who is either the sole or primary of these breadwinners. The median family income for single mothers — who are more likely to be younger, black or Hispanic, and less educated — is $23,000. The transformation of black families clearly highlights the changing dynamics of American families. In 1950, 18% of black families were headed by a single woman today that number is 68% of families.  This is the reality of American children, especially low income children.  They are growing up in families headed by their mother with an income at or below poverty level. Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a family of three in 2016 is $20,160.

Mrs. Clinton throughout her forty year political career has advocated for expanded, high quality day care, expansion of pre-k education, educational opportunities for women and equal pay for women.  The issues on the surface appear to be “women’s issues” but with the transformation of the American family these issues are fundamental to providing a strong beginning for most of America’s children, particularly America’s low income and ethnically diverse children.

Number 4: Mrs.  Clinton wants to build bridges not walls. There are two primary philosophies about how to approach U.S. foreign policy.  The first is protectionism and isolationism. The second is that our community is the world and we must be strategically engaged globally. The isolationist/protectionist approach worked well for America when we were a young nation, expanding across a vast continent.  But Pearl Harbor and our entry into World War II was a wake-up call that United States could not depend on the boundaries provided by the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans for its primary protection. Our safety as a nation required that we develop strategic alliances globally.  The arrival of the internet has brought further globalization. The destruction caused by 9-11 was a devastating way for Americans to learn that we sometimes harbor enemies on our own soil. We know from Orlando this week, that we continue to harbor home-grown enemies within our borders.

The choice this election is unequivocal.  Mr. Trump has emphasized repeatedly his protection/isolationist approach to foreign policy.  He has been clear about building a wall to keep undocumented Mexicans out of the U.S.  He has suggested that entire ethnic groups such as Muslims are not welcome in our country.  I believe both proposals, a wall and mass screenings, will be extremely  expensive and cumbersome to implement.  Assuming these polices were implemented, I’m not sure that our country will be any safer. I am sure both proposals will create further enemies both within and outside of our country. I personally do not believe that isolationism/protectionist approach is the way to keep America safe. Developing strong allies across borders and creating a global community with shared goals united against terrorism both within and outside our borders seems like a better approach to me.

Mrs. Clinton has consistently demonstrated her willingness to reach out to other nations and cultures. When Mrs. Clinton served as 67th Secretary of State, she became one of the most traveled Secretaries of State in American history. She visited 112 countries during her four-year tenure, and logged enough miles to span the globe more than 38 times.0130hillarytravel_final.png

Number 3: Mrs.  Clinton has vast experience at the state and federal levels and executive and legislative branches of government.  President Obama in his video endorsement of Mrs. Clinton for President said “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” (June 8, 2016). Need I say more?

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President Obama endorsing Hillary Clinton for President

Number 2: Mrs. Clinton is a well-respected international icon.  Hillary is well known throughout the world for her roles as politician, diplomat, and as an international champion for opportunities for women and girls.  Her list of awards throughout her forty year career fills pages including many honorary degrees awarded worldwide.  The awards vary from having a tulip created in her honor in by The Netherlands (1994) to receiving the Mother Teresa Award, the highest civilian honor given by Albania (1999) to the Chatham House Prize, Royal Institute of Internal Affairs, London (2013) for “driving a new era of diplomatic engagement and for her particular focus on promoting education and rights for women and girls.” Of particular interest to me was that Mrs. Clinton topped the list in Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll in 2015. This win was her fourteenth in a row and twentieth overall.  She has held the top spot in the poll longer than other woman or man in Gallup’s history of asking the question.

Number 1:  Did I mention, Mrs. Clinton just happens to be a woman.Hillary Clinton