The Election

(cross-posted on medium.com)

sad disappointed Anna Frozen do you wanna build a snowman face

I’m sad and disappointed that we’ve elected a man who no one should rightly admire. A president should be a person with dignity, judgment, and a conscience. Is that too much for a minimum?

So I’m stuck here wondering why we are where are in America. Deeply divided. Deeply compromised in our choices. What’s wrong with the system? Perhaps the electoral system: proportional representation and compromise might serve the U.S. better. Perhaps the electoral college, which makes some states’ voters more critical than others. Perhaps the election rules, which require vast sums of money be used to sway people, and endless footage be played to brainwash TV-watchers, with little responsibility to check the facts.

OK, but that’s the system. How did the President-Elect’s message convince so many folks to vote for him, despite all his offenses? Let’s look at both:

message 1: Anti-immigrant (offense: ‘build a wall against Mexico’ and ‘ban all Muslims coming in’ and ‘Mexicans are rapists and murderers’)

message 2: Anti-women’s equality (offense: ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ and ‘not a 10’ and ‘blood out of her wherever’ and ‘fat’ and ‘abortion should be punished’…)

message 3: Ignorance and Inexperience are better than knowledge and hard work (offense: touting his never holding office as an accomplishment, promising to replace or fire federal government workers en masse)

message 4: Outdated gender and sexuality roles and categories (offense: allowing room for hate crimes and discrimination against LGBTQ folks in the form of a law, and generally toeing the Republican line on social equality issues)

message 5: Anti-underdog (offense: ‘mocks disabled reporter’ and ‘likes people who weren’t captured’ and ‘calls PTSD veterans not strong’ and criticizes dead war hero’s parents and inciting violence against journalists and general bullying)

message 6: Anti-black equality (offense: championing stop-and-frisk policy, assuming black=inner city=poverty=violence, failing to disavow the KKK or David Duke’s support)

message 7: Science-denier (offense: calling climate change a hoax by the Chinese, boosting fossil fuel development, walking away from international agreements on clean energy development)

I’m getting these a bit mixed up, and they do overlap. I’m not writing this as an academic or expert, but I am trying to cite sources. I’m sure I’m missing some of his egregious offenses, because I’ve blocked them out or managed to tune out his massive plays for media attention. Others should feel free to add on where they feel most threatened or offended by the President-Elect.

I’ve been through this before — feeling sucker-punched and betrayed by people you thought you knew. It’s called 2004.

But what about Hillary’s offenses? Aren’t they ‘just as bad’? I’ll take the things I’ve heard about her too, one by one, and explain why they’re not at the same level of ‘bad’’.

charge 1: She’s unlikable. The presidential race is not a popularity contest. This is a commander-in-chief.

Would you choose a general based on their joviality? No.

Just like with W. in 2000/04, I am mystified by people’s willingness to put ‘attractiveness to have a beer with’ over the ability to do the job competently. Perhaps it has something to do with being able to see yourself in the officials you elect, and people can’t abide a strong woman in that position.

Also, is the President-Elect likable? With his strident hand gestures, name-calling, 3rd-grade vocabulary of taunts, and disrespectfulness? It’s a reality that women are held to different standards when it comes to assertiveness, and here is one place where it has certainly come into play.

charge 2: She’s an entrenched interest. Here is a legitimate argument. She’s been in government in many different roles. She’s seen what kind of compromise it takes to get to the top (spoiler: a lot, just ask Ted Cruz). She’s maybe had to change her policies based on the majority of opinions she works with. Just like Obama, once one gets inside the snowglobe, a politician skews right. Maybe it’s because of how they get reelected, or maybe it’s the dealmaking required with people you don’t agree with.

Whatever it is, Hillary did move right after being in government longer. We can’t compare her to the President-Elect because he has no record. Just a long trail of flip-flopping and pandering.

The legitimate part of this argument is that a voter wants a change to business as usual. They are unhappy with how policies (most likely the economy, but also perhaps foreign policy) have been going, and want someone who will shake things up.

Behind this, I sense anger and bitterness at being left behind or ignored. And that’s legitimate, too. Bringing attention to this population of voters is important.

But doing it by endangering women’s rights and the planet’s ability to digest our waste CO2, threatening immigrants and the adherents of a whole religion, and allowing someone thoughtless and narcissistic to be the mouthpiece of America in the world, that is irresponsible. It’s chopping off your nose to spite your face, when your nose is millions of frightened Americans whose views or backgrounds you may not agree with or understand, but who are American, nonetheless.

charge 3: She lied about her emails. In the same way that Colin Powell and Jeb Bush had a private server and/or used private email accounts, Hillary kept private emails on her own server. Federal agency employees must submit their email correspondence to official record due to the FOIA, while Congress does not. Loophole. Federal employees also must adhere to security protocols that advise against the mixing of private and work emails and the keeping of one’s own server outside federal firewalls.

‘The emails’ were a minor issue that showed Hillary’s resistance to technology and her reliance on her own judgment as to security risk. They became an election piñata when she tried to hide this one aspect of going rogue on her job’s responsibilities. The FBI has found nothing criminal in the bajillion emails it had to scan.

charge 4: She’s a hawk. She voted for the war in Iraq. Well, based on the information that Congress was given at the time, that is the decision she made. And I’m sure she regretted it when the falsified evidence was made public. But the fault for misleading the public lies with the Bush administration. If you think you’re too liberal to handle this part of her record, listen to this tale of how devious people can smear someone’s reputation.

I know a person who fought for the underdog in her county like nobody’s business — tooth and claw. She was running for the state legislature in 2004. A few years before, the county where she worked had downsized their public hospital capacity. General Hospital, where I was born, was targeted by conservatives and closed because it was where most people went who had no insurance, costing the county a bundle.

This woman fought to find places to relocate those services provided to people who couldn’t pay, voting no each time on the closure until this was accomplished. Finally, when she couldn’t get any more support to keep General open, she voted with all the rest of the board to close it.

In the legislature campaign, her opponent ran ads featuring sad children and dogs in black and white, claiming she closed the hospital single-handedly, putting these poor creatures out in the street.

It was the opposite of the truth, but they had taken her vote out of context and convinced people it meant something very different. So please, review someone’s voting record, but be cautious about passing easy judgment.

What’s the President-Elect’s voting record? Oh wait, he doesn’t have one.

I’m sad and disappointed because a vote for the President-Elect was a vote for the rights of one class above all others. It was a vote against protecting the vulnerable. So the fighters among us have our work cut out for us for the next four years.

Since I drafted this, I saw the first episode of a short series by Van Jones called The Messy Truth, which I found encouraging. In it, Jones journeys to Gettysburg to hear from Trump voters why they voted for him. I hope this article can show people in a similar way what this Hillary voter was thinking when she voted.

Image via Griffin and Her Books

Twenties, Thirties, & Beyond: How It Gets Better

It’s my third and final night in Paris tonight.

It’s also my 35th birthday in 10 days.

IMG_1061

Between this adventure I’m currently on and the life I’m living, I’ve had lots of time to reflect, and lots of great conversations with old friends. These have led me to an interesting conclusion.

Life just seems to get better and better.

In speaking with friends scattered across the globe, a common theme emerges: we’re aging. But we’re seeing some really great things come out of the process, not just the wrinkles and the graduated torture of additional medical exams.

As I look out from the middle of my fourth decade, I’m feeling like I have ‘a new lease on life,’ as the old saying goes. And why? What could give someone who is no longer ‘young’ the feeling that the world is her oyster? Well, I’ll tell you.

IMG_1051

You don’t put up with SHIT.

Back in your 20s, maybe you had a boyfriend for 3 years that you should have split up with after Year 1. But you thought maybe it was you, and you could change, and then you’d be perfect together.

Now you wouldn’t think twice about standing up for your standards because time with someone who doesn’t make you happy in some way is time wasted. Life wasted. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

IMG_0871

You don’t CARE about shit.

Back in my former life, I toed the line, following others’ expectations for my life, because I was too insecure about going after the things I really wanted: to be a musical comedy actress, for example. I couldn’t move somewhere on my own and try something so drastically dreamy without someone cheering me on, now, could I?

Instead, I worried about how my pencil skirt fit, and made a concerted effort to purchase the perfect plates for hors d’oeuvres at dinner parties.

And after all this agonizing, I realized that it’s not about the style of teacup used as an air plant receptacle; it’s the fact that someone wanted a planter more than a teacup at one point, so they adapted what they had to suit.

Things don’t matter. Don’t bother ironing. Suit yourself.

IMG_0339

You know yourself.

(hopefully)

Now that you’ve been an ‘adult’ in name for a while, you’ve probably tried out a few things. Partners. Shoes. Cities.

Maybe you’ve been from one extreme to the other: from Cairo to Buffalo, from Vans to Jimmy Choo, from frat guy to polyamory. And when you tried on these different situations, maybe like Goldilocks you found a happy medium.

Or maybe you’re still searching. But you know yourself better after those experiences, don’t you?

You’re not the type to stay with an unhappy partner. Because you don’t put up with that shit.

You are the type to wear suede triple-tone Oxfords to work. Because you like them, and who cares if purple, blue, and brown are impossible to match?

You can take this self-knowledge and design your life now, instead of feeling like your choices are circumscribed by some cosmic forces, or society, or the popular crowd at school.

IMG_1070

And even better news? I’ve got it from several sources that your 40s are even better.

Life gets better and better. Well, maybe there’s a place where it starts to bend back downward But I don’t think we’re there yet.

 

Do you see the same shape in your life? How? Do you see other benefits in aging? Tell us in the comments!

 

Images property of author

The Light From Within

“People are like stained glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

– Elisabeth Kubler Ross

paisley abbey stained glass light

This post is inspired by the quote above and this photo, which I took while in Paisley Abbey this spring.

My friend Sarah, an incredible processor of emotions, decoder of psychology, and beam of positive sunshine, reflected on the quote and what it meant for her.

As this blog is a place for reflection, discovery, and growth, I am very pleased to feature her thoughts here.

“At first, I took this quote to mean that character and authenticity, or lack thereof, are displayed when struggle is at your doorstep or worse, has invaded your home. It is a powerful metaphor intimating the need for a deep, inner truth and a grounded sense of self if one wishes to shine with integrity, kindness, and grace through such trials.

It is easier to be at my best when the sun is shining, when circumstances perfectly align for me to be healthy, well-rested, well-fed, well-spent, and well-loved. When all is well, ‘soul beauty’ is easy to share, but those moments exist only in fleeting magnificence.  

Life is almost always some measure less than optimum existence. I often fail to find my own inner light in the midst of turbulence, but mettle is light that springs forth in response to or anticipation of life’s shadows.

If people are like stained glass, an inner light not only reveals their own beauty but lights the path for those who pass by outside.Inner light is both a gift and the outcome of patterned positive thinking and practiced kindness. It enriches life with the peaceful knowledge that no matter what darkness may come, the light will not be extinguished.

This is the root of happiness: the practice of acceptance, gratitude, and resilience coming together.  If ever life runs amuck, it is inside that one must find a light.  

Thankfully, even without a natural source of inner light, it may be developed and grown. So for me, it is not enough to have my own inner light.  How can I see beauty when someone cannot find the match for themselves?  How can I bring my light and heart to bear in a way that reaches into their darkness, finds the match, and ignites a flame for them?

Let’s not let the dark and evil blind us to the light that remains hidden. Let’s show this compassion to ourselves and those we encounter. It is the greatest and most uplifting kindness.”

What do you think?

IMG_7722 copySarah is a Midwesterner at heart and a mom. She loves food, music, reading, dogs, outdoor activities, travel, and self-defense training. Her musings occasionally stumble out and onto the page. Her true vocation eludes her, but the search is on.