Bittersweet

For only the second time in my life, today I was reduced to actual sobbing after it was announced that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States. Unlike 2016, however, today my tears were those of relief that the era of Trump as president is almost over, that soon I will no longer be under a constant level of anxiety and stress worrying about what awful thing the president was going to do to the country and the planet in order to enrich himself. I actually felt lighter after I heard the news, as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

My tears were tinged with a not insignificant amount of sadness because more than 70 million of my fellow citizens (7 million more than voted for him in 2016!), despite the unending disaster that has been the Trump administration, were still fully supportive of him and the Republican enablers down ballot. There will be many in the media who will tap dance around the reasons for that support, especially given the votes of Cuban-Americans and Venezuelan-Americans in Miami Dade County, but there are two underlying conditions that provide all the proof I need to know that a combination of misogyny and racism is what draws them to him like moths to a flame.

The Republican Party (which many insist on referring to as ‘Trumpism’) long ago gave up any pretext that it was interested in the legislating or debating of anything beyond the appointment of right-wing judges, deregulating their donors’ industries, and maintaining their hold on power by any means necessary. Right now, the future of the Senate remains in flux pending the results of two run-off elections in the state of Georgia for the seats currently occupied by David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Trump toadies who have no business in government.

My 38 year old daughter, who with her boyfriend recently moved 1,500 miles away to Florida and just announced that they’re pregnant with my first grandbaby to replace the theoretical one whose future I’ve been so freaked out over. The texts, postcards and letters I sent to people all over the country were written with all the grandchildren in mind, the ones whose future the Republicans have continued to trash in their wanton destruction of anything that remotely resembles the democracy as we were told it was designed. We are now at a place where we cannot afford to sit back and savor the Biden/Harris victory because we have another election that is nearly as important as the one we have just won.

Georgia was in the unique position of having both Senatorial seats on the ballot this year, and both of those elections are now going to a run-off in January. With Trump off the ticket and no longer there to boost the base, both Democratic candidates, John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, have a higher likelihood of success on January 5, 2021. Our volunteer and financial efforts should be focused on these two races between now and then in order to gain the majority in the Senate (with the addition of the Vice-President’s vote) and castrate Moscow Mitch. When the only strategy the Republicans have is to obstruct every piece of legislation the Democrats create, there is only one party that benefits, and that’s the Republican and its donor class. The rest of us – all Americans, and all equally deserving of a government that puts the needs of the people over and above their own – must step up and do whatever we can to ensure that the Democrats take Senate in January and bring the awful era of McConnell as the arbiter of legislation comes to an end.

I’m going to enjoy this win today; tomorrow is the first day of the fight for the Senate. After that, we have to address the right-wing media bubble, because that’s where those 70 million who still support Trump get all their information. It’s not ever going to be possible to have any kind of discussion if only one side of the argument uses facts while the other side spews disinformation and conspiracy theories. Republicans and their media conflate freedom of speech and of the press with saying whatever you want on media platforms regardless of the facts.

We all know one or more of those 70 million people; my nephew is one of them. I love him, but I don’t know if there’s anything we have in common anymore except our surname. What I find most disturbing is that I never would have expected my nephew, with a huge circle of diverse friends, would be so easily sucked in by the Trump cult. It makes me sad for the future of his children.

My family is fractured, something that started long before Trump ran for office in 2015. When my dad was on hospice before he died in 2008, my brother and sister-in-law brought him to live with them in their house for the last two months of his life. During that time, I made sure to go over there every week, and always took him to any appointments if they were scheduled on my days off. Never during those months did either my brother or his wife ever tell me that they needed me to do more, so it was a shock to me when I found out after my dad’s death (when I couldn’t do anything to change things) how they felt. Before Dad died, the whole family spent Thanksgiving at my house and Easter at my brother’s. Since then, we spend no holidays together and it’s unusual if we even speak to each other on holidays now. My brother will tell me how important it is for us to stay in touch since our family is so small, but I don’t feel like he means it anymore. I suppose anything is possible as long as we’re all still here.

Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.

Only Two More Days

I’ve always been the person who walks into the room and then forgets why I went there in the first place, sometimes requiring a trip back to where I came from to jog my memory. Recently, it has gotten so much worse that I was actually starting to worry that I might have early-onset dementia. I was getting myself set to bring up my concerns during my next visit with my PCP when I read an article in The Washington Post about election stress disorder, something that wasn’t even a thing until Trump.

A therapist based in Washington, DC coined the term during the 2016 election, describing those with the disorder as having “continual worry and obsession with the election that spills over into all areas of your life.” Based on that, I suspect that there are millions of us in the US who have been suffering from the disorder continuously since Trump won the 2016 election.

Two days before the end of voting, record numbers of votes have already been cast all over the country, and it is reasonable to believe that many of these early votes are for Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. The Republicans, who have based their electoral strategy since the Nixon administration on voter suppression and disenfranchisement, continue to file lawsuits in battleground states in order to stop the counting of legitimately cast ballots because they believe those votes will be for their opponent. Within those states with Republican legislatures and governors, it is not inconceivable that they could fraudulently interfere with the counting of ballots and appoint electors based on their own personal preference rather than on the will of the people of their states.

What is wrong with the Republicans as fellow Americans? How is it acceptable to them that the leader of their party has been using the bully pulpit of the presidency to spread disinformation about the security of our elections with his claims about vote rigging if he loses? The answer to that question, as has been the case for most such questions over the last four years, is that they don’t care how much damage they do to the foundations of our democracy if the end result is their continued hold on the reins of power. Not only have they placed their party over the country, they have placed themselves as a minority over us all as sole arbiter of how our country should run for decades to come, regardless of the will of the majority.

The Republicans have taken core principles of our democracy and twisted them into a means of oppressing those with whom they disagree. Freedom of religion does not mean you can use your religious belief to discriminate against someone who doesn’t follow those beliefs, it means we are each free to choose whether or not to have a religious belief at all. Your freedom of religion ends where it begins to infringe on my freedom to not follow any religion.

Religion, specificially christianity, has gotten entirely too enmeshed within our government, and we have under Trump (likely the most godless hypocrite to hold the office) watched helplessly as his appointees have boldly admitted that their faith is a huge factor in their policy and decision making. Mike Pompeo and William Barr proudly profess their catholic faith as if the bible doesn’t instruct them to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ and to be a good samaritan and help those in need. They, like many who profess to be devout are actually using their supposed ‘faith’ as a way of diverting the attention from their naked desire for power, not the most ‘christian’ way to lead.

Not in my lifetime had I ever been forced to worry every day about what awful thing the president and his administration was going to do, until this incompetent, malignant narcissist was inaugurated in January, 2017. I don’t want to have to waste any more of my life freaked out over something over which I have absolutely no control on my own, because all it does is create a constant level of anxiety 24/7 which gets elevated every time Trump does something no other president would have ever considered doing.

When is the last time a president used his the power of the presidency to spread lies about mail in ballots? What president in modern history has promoted conspiracy theories that have led some to take up weapons in defense of fabricated children? What other president has refused to denounce white supremacists? Which of the previous 44 claimed that all media is ‘fake news’? How many others have used their presidency to line the pockets of their personal company with millions of dollars in taxpayer funds? Who are the others who tried to extort an ally in need for disinformation against his political opponent by withholding military assistance? Which of the former White House residents have used the pardon power to reward their friends and to keep them silent? And find me another president who did done nothing while more than a quarter million Americans died over eight months from any cause.

Donald Trump is the absolute worst person ever to hold the office of the president in the history of our country, period. While some of the ones early on were just terrible, they had much less power and were therefore able to hurt a smaller number of humans overall. Trump has had much more of an opportunity to spread his awfulness all over the world. Millions fleeing wars, famines, climate degradation and despots have been further tortured by this administration’s clamping shut the gates to the country. Not only is this in and of itself unamerican (given that we non-indigenous Americans are the result of our ancestors coming from somewhere else), it is cruel, short-sighted and xenophobic. Now with this pandemic, instead of the United States working with the world to find a vaccine and treatment, he’s decided to go it alone out of his selfish world-view that it’s all about him. His inability to understand that the United States isn’t the same as a sole proprietorship company and therefore cannot be treated as if it is his personal fiefdom.

I’ve mailed postcards and letters to voters in Florida, hoping to encourage them to vote, only to find out that my daughter’s boyfriend hasn’t even bothered to register to vote in Florida! I’m tired of hearing young people complain about the government they have while they refuse to participate and vote in order to change things. Don’t leave the voting to old people and then complain about what the old people voted for. The only way for us to get a more progressive government is to vote more progressive people into office, and you cannot count on old people to do that (full disclosure – I am 62 and have voted Democratic my entire life). Young people, who have more to lose, need to quit complaining and start doing something – find others who feel like you and get them to run for something. It’s past time for you to act like adults and do the hard work – get us old folks out of office and show us what we should have done years ago.

I know Joe Biden isn’t the one you wanted to vote for in 2020, but you have only two choices this election. You can vote for democracy and choose the Democratic ticket, or you can choose authoritarianism and vote for Trump. The two-party system sucks, but it is what it is; wasting your vote on a third-party candidate only benefits Trump. There is no excuse for anyone who truly believes that we can do better as a society and as a country to do anything other than vote for Joe Biden for President.

Death, Taxes…. and Voting!

I can remember being a little kid in grammar school, sitting there in my uniform, listening to the (mostly) nuns teach us “Social Studies”, including about voting not being required of each and every citizen at or above the legal age to do so. In a country that is supposed to be “by the people and for the people”, allowing apathy and inconvenience to keep anyone from participating in the franchise is yet another example of white supremacy. A study done in July supports this: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting.

Since the 1980’s, every baby born in this country has bee required to have a valid Social Security number in order for baby’s parents to claim them as a dependent on their income taxes. There is no reason that the Social Security system (which is also notified upon the death of almost everyone with a number) cannot be utilized in some way to provide automatic voter registration to everyone eligible (let’s take that as a given for the rest of this post) upon the occasion of their eighteenth birthday. In answer to those screaming about ‘dead people’ getting ballots, it is also possible to require that the Social Security Administration be notified upon the death of everyone to whom it has issued a number, thereby triggering a verification mechanism (in order to avoid taking away the ability to vote from someone who is still very much alive) and removal from the voter registration role once the death has been verified as legitimate.

In addition to automatically registering everyone at age eighteen, it is also necessary that all elections be held almost entirely by mail, with in-person voting primarily available for this who must cast their vote in person (due to disability, etc.) or who did not receive their ballot by mail. This includes the use of prepaid return envelopes, tracking of ballots back to the election officials, and a chance for citizens to correct or address any discrepancies before the ballot is tossed out. The point is, in order to ensure as much compliance as possible with mandatory voting, it is necessary to make it as easy and painless as possible for every eligible voter to cast their ballot. Doing this also brings a halt to the numerous and varied attempts by those on the right to prevent everyone else from voting.

There isn’t any logical reason why all these things can’t be enacted – and every reason to see this as the only sensible way of moving the government to a place where it is truly following the will of the majority instead of the minority. From local, county and state governments through to The White House, the Democratic Party has consistently demanded that everyone be able to cast a vote for the government of their choice, while the right has engaged in more than half a century of covert and overt voter suppression and disfranchisement to maintain their own hold on the reigns of power.

We must vote in numbers too big to manipulate, giving Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a victory so huge that Trump sneaks out of The White House in the middle of the night with his tail between his legs and his sycophants in the House and Senate crawling behind him. There is seriously no other outcome that we can reasonably expect to result in a peaceful transition of power. If Biden wins by just enough to get the Electoral College, especially when it could take weeks to get the totals figured out, we’re unlikely to get by without Trump firing up his gang of armed white supremacists to violence in cities run by Democrats all over the country. Since Biden supporters will be equally enraged and peacefully protesting, there will inevitably be clashes that turn out badly for the people who came to the fight unarmed (i.e., the Biden supporters).

Trump seems to be in self-destruct mode right now, and every day there seems to be another ‘anonymous source close to the president’ or “person familiar with the incident” willing to provide more and worse information that, while utterly unconscionable by any other President, is just verification of what we already know about Trump. Of course he refers to anyone who has chosen to serve our country in battle as “suckers” and those who were injured or died during their tour as “losers”; he threatened to disown his eldest son if he dared to enlist in the Army. Of course he doesn’t understand the willingness of someone to choose country over self; he lacks any ability to do anything that does not primarily and mainly benefit himself.

I feel some sympathy for those presently in the military who have been supportive of Trump’s presidency and it’s horrendous policies who have finally heard what he really thinks about them and their sacrifices, but I feel more pain for all those who have lost limbs, functionality, mental stability and family members or friends while they served in the armed forces. To hear the person referred to as “Commander in Chief” of the armed services speak so disparagingly of those who paid the ultimate price for their patriotism is beyond reprehensible. Maya Angelou said it best; “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This is who Trump has made very clear he is, for at least the last 25 years in various and assorted media clips.

Journalists are giving John Kelly, former DHS Secretary and Chief-of-Staff for Trump, credit for his silence at the reporting of Trump’s words, as though it’s tacit confirmation of the reports was in some way a sign of bravery on Kelly’s part. That’s bullsh**; some of these things were said either directly to or at least in John Kelly’s presence, and he continued to work for Trump anyway, I don’t think he deserves kudos, he deserves derision. Kelly chose to interpret Trump’s incredulous “What’s in it for them?” at the grave of Kelly’s son as though Trump was awkwardly expressing astonishment at their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their country. Kelly by that time had to know that Trump completely lacks compassion or empathy, making his continued fealty to Trump especially disconcerting and hard to fathom.

I suspect that there are thousands and thousands of things that Trump has said in private to people all over the world that, if put together in one book, would reveal many of the same or similar things that my grandfather and father used to say back in the 60’s and 70’s when it was somehow still acceptable in many circles to be outwardly racist, homophobic, misogynistic and generally just an asshole – at least for white men. Even if such a book were published, with the full names of those providing the quotes prominently placed for effect, it would be highly unlikely to change the opinions of most of the Republicans who will continue to either support Trump or remain silent about him in their own electoral or financial interest. It would do nothing to alter the base’s support or likelihood to vote for him in November, because this is who they knew him to be when they voted for him in 2016 and most still find nothing he says or does as ‘the last straw’ of their support for him.

I’m frustrated by the what-aboutism that continues throughout much of the mainstream media, since there is nothing that the Democrats have done since Reconstruction that can compare to the length, breadth and consistency of the Republicans’ efforts to suppress, withhold, discount and destroy the ability of Black, minority, immigrant and all those likely to vote Democratic to have their voices heard. The time is long past for mainstream media to specifically call out the Republicans as the reason we find ourselves where we are at this particular point in our history – in the middle of a raging pandemic unchecked by any coordinated effort at control or containment at the federal level by a president who refuses to accept responsibility for any of it. This failure in turn has caused the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression (which Trump continues to conflate with the Dow Jones average) while millions have no money for food or rent and are in danger of losing their homes, because those aren’t ‘his people’. Trump only concerns himself with those whose good fortune benefits Trump personally.

I spent two or three hours on Saturday afternoon texting to registered voters in Pennsylvania on behalf of a Congresswoman running for re-election. I don’t live in Pennsylvania, but New Jersey is a relatively blue state, while Pennsylvania (a mid-Atlantic state considered “Midwest” when the presidential election comes around) certainly helped put Trump in The White House in 2016, so I want to help where I can make a difference. These are the things that we can do right not to help get this clown out of office after just one four-year term of destruction.

So do something – volunteer to make calls, send texts, write letters, or postcards to voters across the country in places we want to flip from red to blue in November. The more we do, the greater the likelihood that we can encourage people who weren’t going to vote to do so, or to push someone to request a mail-in ballot in time to have their vote count. More participation in every election is demographically beneficial to Democrats, so Republicans want to keep participation down.

If you want to see change, you have to be the change. It took me years to figure out that the only person I can hope to change is myself, which led me to the amazing realization that everyone with whom we have a relationship is going to do things that get under our skin, and the only options we have about those things involve ourselves, not the other person. We can either accept that this person does that thing that makes you crazy and get over it, or get that person out of our life. There is no ‘I’ll change them to suit me’ option; knowing and understanding that would have led me down an entirely different path back in 1978… and 1993. Better late than never.

My point is, if we want things in politics and government to be different, then we need to do something different to make it so. I’ve never volunteered to help any campaign before in my life, but this time is different; this time matters more than any other in my adult life, and will matter even more years from now, when my children and (fingers crossed!) grandchildren are left to deal with the results of our action – or lack thereof. Even most of the childless have children further out in their families – nieces, nephews, cousins – that they don’t want to see suffer in 40 years because Republicans refused to tackle climate change to benefit the people instead of fossil fuel companies. Think about their future and volunteer for something.

Donate what you can. If there isn’t a particular local candidate you want to support, go to ActBlue.com and donate to the Biden/Harris campaign or to someone like Jamie Harrison for Senate against Lindsey Graham or Amy McGrath against Moscow Mitch.

We cannot just cast a vote every couple of years and call it good enough.  Today, we have the government that a minimally involved citizenry deserves; we have to make the effort so our government works for the 90%, not the 10%.  By the people, for the people.

The DNC Has Brought Me To Tears

MIchelle Obama Rocks!

I suppose after 3 1/2 years of Trump’s bloviating, it’s not unexpected that I’m reacting to hearing words that any other president would say by starting to cry. I haven’t actually had tears streaming down my face, but have for sure on multiple occasions on both nights of the convention have found myself getting choked up, both by the politicians and the everyday Americans who have been featured.

I think the format, which doesn’t focus only on politicians and eliminates all the crazy hats and loud cheering, has brought more sharply into focus how things could have been had Hillary been elected. The fact that there are Republicans (or former Republicans) willing to stand up and throw their support behind Joe Biden should be a huge sign to those still supporting Trump that there is something seriously, malignantly wrong with him. Although anyone who has been watching this shit show since January, 2017 already knows that, the media bubble and his enablers in the Senate, along with his sycophants in state governments, have chosen to go all in on his lies and conspiracy theories.

Or maybe I should say that Trump has gone all in on the Republicans’ lies and conspiracy theories. Despite the fact that there is almost no fraud in mail-in voting, they continue to spew their voter-suppressive crap to discourage people from using this safe, convenient and easy means of having our voices heard. His donor DeJoy, who has already removed too many mail sorting machines and street mail boxes, slashed overtime and insisted on carriers leaving mail behind, has now said he will stop all these stunts until after the election. Problem is, saying that isn’t worth a pint of cricket piss – not only is there no means of ensuring he does what he says he’ll do, there’s also been no mention of reversing the damage he’s already caused.

Since there is no way for us to be sure that the mail-in ballots will be delivered with their usual speed, so we have just a few options to make sure our votes count. Here are my suggestions for what each of us can do to give our ballots the best chance of being counted:

  • Carefully read the entire ballot and instructions before making any mark on your ballot.  Many ballots are discarded or deemed ineligible because the voters made mistakes when marking or signing their ballots. 
  • Make sure to follow the instructions for marking and signing.  Some states require a witness or two to verify the identity of the signer (although they have signatures to compare to in their own records), so make sure to do this part to the letter.  Ballots without signatures are tossed in the trash.
  • Return the ballot as soon as possible to avoid it being invalidated because it’s returned too late.  Trump has said out loud and on camera that he wants to interfere with the mail to stop Democrats from using mail-in ballots.  If you have any concerns that your ballot won’t make it through the mail, find out where you can bring your ballot and drop it off in person to take that out of the equation.
  • If you can’t vote by mail for some reason, learn where you can access early voting in your area.  By voting early, you can avoid the crush of crowds bound to happen on November 3rd while still ensuring your vote is counted.
  • And if you’re forced to vote in person on Election Day, make sure to wear a mask and maintain social distancing to keep your chances of contracting Covid-19 to a minimum.  In an effort to avoid the rush of working people in the evenings, vote as early in the day as possible.

I have never been more concerned about a Presidential election outcome as I am the one we’re preparing for now.  Sure, I was freaked out in 2016 because Trump was on the ballot, but I was naïve enough to think that there weren’t enough people in our country stupid enough to vote for him.  Clearly, that was a mistake, and that makes what could happen in this election exponentially more dire.  Four years of Trump have done so much damage to our country, our standing in the world, the environment, and so many other things.  He has become more and more emboldened in his corruption and authoritarianism as we get closer to the likely end of his term that there is a real chance that a second Trump term will end the United States of America as we know it.

We have only this chance to remove Trump and as many Republicans as we can from office before they succeed in enacting laws to further entrench their minority rule over the majority of us.  I for one will do whatever it takes to ensure that this doesn’t happen.  For me, that means voting for the Democrats from top to bottom.

What about you?  Do you see a viable future with another Trump term?  Or do you want to throw away your vote by choosing someone other than Joe Biden for President?  Are you willing to gamble the future of the planet by voting for Kanye, or maybe by refusing to cast a vote for President in protest?

Sure, an individual vote is a little thing, and by itself doesn’t make a huge difference.  But every one of us who votes together for the good of the country and the population for Joe Biden can be sure that their vote will be instrumental in getting Covid-19 and the resulting financial disaster under some kind of control, address racism throughout the country, work to stop climate change and ensure that everyone has affordable healthcare regardless of their ability to pay.  Voting for anyone else is simply unacceptable.

It’s a Feature, Not a Bug

In The Washington Post today, Max Boot’s opinion article “Republicans are becoming the QAnon Party” attempts what so many like him have been trying since Trump took office – to place the blame on Trump for the party being full of white nationalists and conspiracy-mongers. This is a fallacy – Republicans have been the party of white nationalists since the Civil Rights Amendment was passed by Lyndon Johnson. Nixon and Reagan, using policies purportedly enacted to control illegal drugs, set in motion the incarceration of Black and Hispanic men for ‘offenses’ that White citizens engaged in with impunity, particularly cannabis use. Statistically, White and Black people use pot in generally the same numbers, yet those arrested and put in jails/prisons falls almost entirely on those of color. The Reagan administration’s sentencing decisions of cocaine versus crack cocaine (White versus Black use) further illustrates this point.

So white nationalists have been members of the Republican Party for decades. Conspiracy theories have also been more likely to take hold and flourish on the right as well. Multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that, while those at either extreme (left and right) are more likely to espouse and believe conspiracy theories overall, the tendency for those on the conservative side to believe them is significantly higher. While liberals can be led out of their conspiratorial holes by providing them with information that both debunks and increases their trust in institutions (scientists, academics, politicians), conservatives maintain their low level of trust even with increased knowledge, making it much harder to disconnect them from their conspiracy.

Right wing media outlets and social media have made things so much worse, given the speed of dissemination and repetition from platform to platform – Fox, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Sinclair Broadcasting, OAN –

boosts the suspicion and paranoia that is inherent in those most susceptible to believing in conspiracy theories.  Those who limit their information only to right-wing media sources and social media reinforce their paranoid fantasies and are eventually unable to consider that their beliefs are based on bullshit, incapable of admitting that they’ve been wrong.

The Republicans have learned that this right-wing media bubble’s repetition of these conspiracies fires up their base, and an enraged base is a loyal one, more likely to vote because they’re convinced that the other side is out to get them, whether to take away their guns, force them to provide reproductive healthcare to women, prevent them from discriminating against those different from them, or to allow the LGBTQ to marry the person of their choice.  They know that to deny the conspiracy theories their base spreads on social media will cost them votes; since remaining in power is the primary focus of Republicans; it is therefore beneficial for their futures and their bank accounts to spread the conspiracies instead of disproving them.

It is no surprise, therefore, that we are now living with a person in the White House who believes in any number of wild conspiracy theories – Birtherism, QAnon, Joe Scarborough as a murderer, Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK, etc. – and has a fervent and devoted base willing to believe pretty much anything that spews from his word hole.  We have been brought to this precipice of disaster by a Republican Party more focused on ‘othering’ than on governing, on enriching themselves than on what’s best for the country, and on preventing everyone from voting than on changing to meet the country as it is now rather than as it was in the 1950’s. 

Max Boot’s columns clearly reveal that he recognizes that the presidency of Donald Trump is a feature, not a bug, of the Republican Party and its policies, and I believe that he is sincere in stating that they all have to go.  I just wish he wouldn’t give them any chance at using Trump as an excuse to remain as they are in any way, shape or form.

While it seems necessary for there to be two parties, one liberal and the other conservative, in order to have a functioning democracy, the inability of the Republicans to actually function within a democracy puts that premise to rest.  Eventually, a conservative party may reconfigure itself in a way that does not automatically disenfranchise those outside itself, focusing the policies it espouses on making life better for everyone, spreading the wealth more equally to all without using divisive rhetoric and criminalization to hold down the ‘others’, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  Until then, there should be no escape hatch for any of them.

The Republican Party must be crushed under the boot of democracy, and all those who have benefitted from their minority monopolization on the levers of power kept out of public life and media – no more ‘both sides’ crap.  The Democrats want equality and equity, with safe, widespread access to the vote for everyone, since they know that encouraging the electorate to participate is the best way to ensure that they feel like their voices have been heard. Trump ran as a Republican because of their white nationalism and paranoia.  He knew that he’d never convince Democrats to support him.

“Congress” Isn’t ‘Doing Nothing’

Grim Reaper Mitch McConnell – Happy to watch millions suffer

I read the Washington Post every day on my Kindle, and every time I come across an article like the one in Monday’s edition by Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim with the headline “Congress is doing what it does best: Nothing. Meanwhile, coronavirus ravages the country and the economy stalls” it makes me so mad. The entire article is based on the premise that the cause for the delay in another relief bill is that ‘bipartisan urgency’ has faded, which is disingenuous if not a baldfaced lie.

Nowhere in this article do the writers mention that the HEROES Act was passed by the Democratically-led House in mid-May and sent to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell sat on it while continuing to focus on approving judges. Not until July 28 did the Republicans in the Senate even attempt to come up with their own plan, which somehow found billions of dollars for construction of a new FBI building a block from Trump’s Hotel as well as funds to replace the money Trump stole from the military to build his ’emergency wall’ but not to continue the $600 per week of enhanced unemployment benefits. Somehow, these old wealthy white men in the Republican Party see this as a problem, claiming that people who are making more money on unemployment won’t return to work, when the whole point is to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression. That $600 per week payment is mostly being put back into the economy by people who would be homeless, starving, and completely unable to live without it.

This article doesn’t mention that Mitch McConnell shut the Senate down for a long weekend, or that the House has had it’s August recess put on hold until the relief legislation is signed by the idiot in chief, President Stupid.

It would be so much less while also avoiding misleading the less informed in the public at large to be honest when writing articles like this. It isn’t Congress that’s doing nothing. It’s the Republicans and the administration that are doing nothing. The White House offering to extend the unemployment benefit for a week while they continue to dither and complain just puts things off another week. Nancy Pelosi isn’t stupid – she and the rest of the Democrats know that they cannot let the Senate Republicans have their way in this legislation, because their goal is to withhold as much help from the rest of us as possible. This, from (mostly) old white men who are being paid $174,000 a year of our tax dollars are more worried about making sure that businesses can deduct 100% of their meal and entertainment costs from their taxes than they have ever been in making sure that the other 90% of us can remain fed and housed, with utilities on and healthcare coverage.

So please, when you see the next headline claiming that the entire legislative branch is not functioning in our best interest, take a minute and do a little research. It’s likely inaccurate, like so many ‘both sides’ arguments are, tossing the Democrats in the House who have been passing legislation for the past two years to benefit us in with the non-governing, non-legislating Republicans. They have decided that their only purpose is to approve right-wing, incompetent judges, cut taxes for themselves, their donors and corporations, and keep their minority hands gripped firmly on every lever of power then can. Every dollar cut from the social safety net has been tucked into their pockets.

Mitch McConnell and his cronies in the Senate have abrogated their responsibility to do their jobs – for which they continue to be paid $174,000 a year. Do you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from them?

If You Plan a Viable Future – VOTE

There are multiple reasons for the embarrassingly low percentage of those eligible to vote who actually vote regularly in elections in the United States. There are things the federal government could do to encourage those who have chosen not to vote to exercise their franchise short of mandating that everyone vote in every election, but that won’t be considered until Republicans no longer have control in Washington.

Why is in necessary for us to register to vote in the first place? We have already given the federal government all the information they need (except for party choice) by applying for a Social Security card, something every parent has had to do for their children since at least 1980. There is no logical reason not to have national automatic voter registration in this country. The right to vote is written into the constitution. The federal government certainly knows enough about everyone in the country in order to add everyone eligible to vote onto the voter rolls on their eighteenth birthday and then share those registrations with the states where the individuals reside. The only ‘reason’ there appears to be for requiring individuals to register separately to vote is to put another roadblock in the way of those trying to vote.

In countries like Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Iraq (yes, Iraq!), voting participation increased between 76% and 81% once automated registration took effect. In a liberal (vs illiberal) democracy, the goal should be to get as many eligible voters as possible to get involved and cast an informed vote; automatic registration is the first step towards higher voter participation and engagement.

The Republicans, however, know that the demographic group that has been most likely to register and vote with them is aging and leaving this mortal coil. Polls show that only 25% of eligible voters align with the Republicans, 31% with the Democrats, and 40% with Independents. Therefore, from the point of view of the Republican Party, encouraging a larger percentage of the eligible voter pool to cast a vote is demographically counter to their purposes. This is a major factor in the Republicans continued hold on power despite having a minority throughout the country as a whole, since fewer voters overall (of which 71% would NOT be Republicans) gives them a disproportionate share of votes cast.

This leads to the outrageous lies being made by the President of the United States spewing conspiracy theories about the security of mail-in ballots. Trump continues to claim for no reason except to scare his own base away from using mail-in ballots that there will be wide-spread fraud. First of all, there was a recent report from the conservative Heritage Foundation that found just 14 instances out of 15.5 million votes. Secondly, the most recent and egregious case of someone using mail-in ballots to commit voter fraud involved a Republican campaign operative in North Carolina. Third and most disturbing, there are actually thousands of mail-in ballots that are deemed ineligible compared with a minimum of in-person ballots, often for mistakes made by the voter or because of a questionable signature match. In order to have fewer legitimate votes disallowed, rules and regulations about verification of these ballots should be standardized across the country.

After Joe Biden is sworn into office in January, 2021, it would behoove all of us to do whatever we can to push for making it easier to participate in the electoral process throughout the country, in addition to all the other things needed to undo voter suppression and gerrymandering Republicans have used since the Nixon administration to keep those not voting for them from exercising their franchise.

The media has to step up, too. Media outlets not specifically designed to propagate right-wing disinformation and talking points must get off of their ‘both-sides’ soapbox. There is nothing consistent with fair coverage that requires any news outlet to give on-air time to anyone from either side when what they are saying isn’t even true. The opinions of party sycophants are of no importance, nor is their outrage at perceived offenses outside of the right-wing media bubble. If those on the ‘conservative’ side of the aisle cannot provide actual subject matter experts who have serious, fact-based information to bring to the discussion, they should not be provided with a platform from which to spread their crap. Climate change, for instance, isn’t a matter of opinion – it is happening, and it is man-made, and anyone who claims anything different without providing science-based hard evidence for their conclusion should no longer be offered the chance to speak. Ditto for those who want to argue about systemic racism, Covid-19, or any other subject which has been scientifically investigated and understood.

I think it should be mandatory for everyone eligible to vote to do so, but in order for that to be an accepted demand, it is also necessary for every obstacle currently placed between the eligible and the ballot be torn down. Automatic voter registration, Election Day as a national holiday and country-wide mail-in ballots would go a long way towards giving more of our fellow citizens the chance to vote without losing time from work, finding a babysitter, looking for a ride, or any one of thousands other reasons why everyone who can do so does not cast a vote.

The presidency and administration of Donald Trump should have opened the eyes of everyone, whether they have previously voted or not, of the importance for everyone to get informed and cast their vote. Everyone has something that they care about, whether it’s climate change, taxes, election security, money in politics, etc., and the only way to make sure that your government knows how you feel about those things is to vote. Social media could be a force for good, but not as it is currently configured. Print media has suffered mightily in this digital age, and broadcast media has been maligned for real and imagined offenses, making it the individual responsibility of every American to find actual facts about candidates, issues and policies from reputable sources upon which to base political choices.

This country has so much potential to life up to (sort of like both of my former husbands). It’s up to each and every one of us to put our big person pants on and do that which is required of every citizen – learn about the issues, decide which side of the issue you agree with, and vote in every election for candidates whose platforms and plans are what you hope to see going forward.

Vote as if your very future depends on the outcome of every election. Vote as if the life your children and grandchildren will be living will be determined by the election winner. Vote as if the continued existence of the very planet we all live on will be controlled by the next office holder.

It should be painfully obvious by now how very true that is.

Political Apathy is Unacceptable

I sent a few of my Facebook contacts an invitation to my page and didn’t think about it again until one of those invitees sent me a message to tell me that he wasn’t going to my page because he has “zero interest in politics”. Before the 2016 elections, I too thought of politics as something that other people cared about, despite voting the Democratic ticket starting with Jimmy Carter in 1976. I got most of my information from watching local and national news on the ABC affiliate WPVI out of Philadelphia along with listening to KYW 1060, the AM all-news-and-traffic radio station. All things considered, I got enough accurate information to know which party had my best interests at heart.

Today, I have no concept of how anyone with skin in the game (like my 61 year old diabetic smoking friend) can be indifferent about politics. This election is for all the chips, because if Trump and the Republicans are not soundly defeated and removed from power, we will be living in an authoritarian dictatorship during all future Trump terms. I want my friend will read this one post in the hopes of inspiring him to participate in the democracy that has been so good to both him and his family by voting for Joe Biden and the Democrats down ticket. I’m going to refer to my friend as “Billie” (not his real name).

Billie, I read your message declining my invitation to my Facebook page and was disappointed that you have no interest in politics. I don’t believe that’s true; I think that there are a multitude of places where your life, health, financial well-being and future comfort are directly and inextricably intertwined with the outcomes of elections, such as right now, in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century. If the federal government was being led by a capable, competent, empathetic and caring leader who placed the good of the country over all else, the awesome power of the office of the President would have done everything to contain and control this virus, issuing national orders for staying home, social distancing and mask wearing while also putting a robust, nationwide testing and contact tracing system in place to find everyone spreading the virus and limit the spread. Instead, we have a person so incapable of ever admitting he’s made a mistake that he prefers to watch more than 150,000 of our fellow Americans die while he exhibits magical thinking by insisting that the virus will “just disappear”.

The Republicans have been laser-focused since the Affordable Care Act was passed on overturning it and stripping health insurance from millions of Americans while making those of us with preexisting conditions like diabetes, emphysema/COPD and osteoarthritis pay exorbitant premiums if we can even obtain health insurance coverage at all. Trump and his cadre of former fossil fuel executives, Wall Street bankers and right-wing media pundits have used his presidency to roll back rules and regulations to benefit corporate interests at the expense of all the rest of us and the planet. Trump’s delusional belief that he is the holder of all knowledge has made him incapable of accepting input from those in his own government with specialized knowledge of all manner of subjects versus taking the word of assorted hosts on Fox News and OANN. There are millions of Americans out of work because Trump is unable to do his job to put people in positions throughout the federal government with actual experience and skills to handle a crisis like the one we’re living through now. Instead, Trump appoints sycophants who agree that their first priority is to praise the dear leader no matter the reality on the ground, while their second priority is to allow Trump’s corporate donors to run rampant over everyone and everything in their paths.

Billie, you mentioned that your roommate has Covid-19 and that he’s still sharing the house with you. Your diabetes and smoking history make your chances of having a negative outcome if you contract the virus much higher than a healthier individual. The reason you’re in this position right now is because enough people in the right states decided that voting for the most prepared individual in history to run for the presidency wasn’t an option if that person also had a vagina, so they instead voted for the most incapable, incompetent, incurious, inept, undiplomatic and self-serving individual to ever seek the office. A lack of ‘interest’ in the actual issues combined with centuries-old, systemic misogyny led millions of voters to either stay home, vote third party, or actually cast votes for Trump because they thought Hillary was going to win and their individual vote didn’t really matter. Sadly, some 70,000 of those individual votes mattered way more than they should have.

I know you don’t have kids of your own Billie, and I’m sure that affects your attitude about ‘politics’, but your brother does have kids that I’m sure you love like they were your own. Think for a while about the world that will be left to them and their kids, and ask yourself if maybe the things that we’ve been doing to the planet for the last 100 years or so have helped or hurt the environment. I don’t know what the weather has been like in Vegas recently, but I can tell you without qualification that the heat and humidity here in New Jersey has been oppressive and unrelenting. We have always had our hottest days of the year in July and August, but I can’t remember in my lifetime having so many consecutive days of high humidity and high temperatures like the one we’re in the midst of now. Your brother’s offspring will have to deal with the climate disaster that our generation has been particularly loathe to address, given the propensity for the Republicans to claim that some climate ‘scientists’ don’t agree with the 97% of actual scientists that climate change is caused by humans releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. They don’t mention that their ‘scientists’ are actually employed by the fossil fuel industry to spread their bullshit, or that those same fossil fuel companies are full of their political donors.

Billie, I know that Whitey was your grandfather by blood, but you only saw him occasionally. During the ten years that my Mom and I lived with Whitey and my grandmother, I spent every day with him, and I think I can say with some degree of certainty that he was NOT just interested in the Phillies and the Eagles. Whitey knew that politics wasn’t just about the people in Washington; it’s about all of us, and what we want for ourselves and our families as part of a functioning democracy to which we pay taxes for services that said government is supposed to provide to us all when things happen that affect a large swath of us here in the United States. There is no way that Whitey would have remained completely uninformed and uninterested in the damage being done throughout our government and around the world by a lawless, incompetent president and the complicit Republicans. I know that he watched the evening news on a daily basis, because we all watched the evening news together back then, and I used to watch him reading the entire paper – not just the sports section – so I know he had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the government and the world before he exercised his right to vote.

The Republicans’ goal for decades has been to prevent as many people of color as possible from entering the US from anywhere else; had they been successful back in the fifties, it’s quite possible that you and your brother wouldn’t even exist. Your Mom marrying a man from the Philippines back in the fifties was a big deal back then, and I’m sure that your parents were on the receiving end of a lot of racist crap during their marriage. The point is that the people who win elections get to make the rules about who to let in and who to keep out. It is abundantly clear that leaving Republicans in charge of anything related to immigration or equality for all is very much like the fox watching the hen house. Electing a person uniquely unqualified for any of the tasks a US president must address along with keeping Republicans who have not interest in governing or legislating in office leaves all the rest of us subject to Trump’s whims and his inability to ever let any real or perceived insult or negative opinion go without a fight. Trump has never cared at all about the country; he entered the 2016 election in order to get free publicity so that he could start his own cable network; then, the unimaginable happened.

This is NOT the face of a happy person!

Trump didn’t want to win; he’s spent his whole life not working at a job he couldn’t get fired from that he didn’t have to apply for – just like his three older children have done – and the last thing he wanted was an actual job that required him to focus for more time than he ever had to in his entire life on someone other than himself. The look on his face in the photo above says all that and more.

Billie, right now the Republicans in the Senate, after refusing to consider the HEROES Act that the House sent to them May 12th to provide additional stimulus during the pandemic have taken two whole days to ‘legislate’ the Heals Act behind closed doors that gives businesses, hospitals and schools five years of liability protection retroactive to 2019 while cutting the weekly emergency unemployment payments from $600 to $200, because of course Republicans have to insist that it’s the $600 weekly benefit check preventing people from going to work, not the pandemic raging through a country without any plan to stop it or even slow it down. Apparently, these professional politicians don’t understand that the only reason that the “economy” has done as well as it has through the pandemic so far relative to the number of people out of work has been that $600 bonus, which has permitted millions to remain in their homes, buy groceries and other necessities, and keep their heads almost above water. Republicans also fail to see the irony when they indignantly point out that some people are making more money now than when they were working – because of course the answer to that wouldn’t be increasing the pay for those workers, right? The moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and other legal actions due to a lack of payment are going to expire, and who knows how many families will be forced our of their homes in the midst of a pandemic; state and local governments are going to have to significantly reduce services to help their citizens because the HEALS Act includes only funds for schools, although just a tenth of what the House proposed. Student loan deferments are also ignored in the HEALS Act.

The HEROES Act addresses state, local, tribal and territorial governments and provides stimulus funds for them all; along with the HEALS Act, it recommends a second $1,200 stimulus payment to every adult, but that is the only major similarity in the two. The House bill expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, unemployment, and payments to farmers. It also eliminates cost-sharing for Covid-19 testing and treatment in addition to a range of other policies. The bill passed because of the Democrats – only one Republican supported the bill.

Elections have consequences, Billie. An uninformed electorate distracted by social media posts that often have no basis in fact while they avoid any of the actual journalism still available in multiple formats is a large part of how we ended up here. Once upon a time, when it was unthinkable that someone so completely lacking in ability, restraint or a willingness to follow norms and laws could be elected to the highest office in the country, it may have been acceptable to proudly proclaim yourself to have “Zero interest in politics…” The last forty years or so have demonstrated that those among us who have chosen to abdicate their civic responsibility by simply ignoring everything political including refusing to vote is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 million. It is unacceptable in the time of viral social media posts and massive disinformation from the president’s Twitter account for anyone eligible to vote to remain on the sidelines, or to stay ignorant of the facts before they cast their votes.

Billie, you owe it to your country, your fellow citizens, and the next generation to take some time out of your life (maybe every time you go outside to smoke) to learn why you should care about these things.

I hope you understand that I’m only telling you this because I have been paying attention to ‘politics’, not because I like them, but because what those people do matters. No one should sit back and let others make the big decisions, because everything that the government does and does not do has an effect on every one of us. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the cars we drive, how our homes are built, how efficient our appliances are…. All that and more than I can write in this post are affected by the government, and how much or little you are personally touched by those things is also a function of some part of government. You have no legitimate excuse for remaining uninformed and disinterested in the political landscape while your country literally burns around you.

The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men.

Plato

Vote – For the Sake of Your Children

Today, I had an interesting conversation with a 30-something young man I’ll call Jim, who told me that he does not vote.  This young man has volunteered for the armed forces, but does not think he has any need to participate in the democracy for which he was willing to sacrifice his life in the Middle East, and I still don’t really understand his lack of interest in voting.  He has a young daughter who will have to survive in the world after we’re all gone, so why does he not feel the need to cast a ballot? 

The fact that he (like me), lives in New Jersey, where the only likely outcome in November will be for Joe Biden, doesn’t excuse his lack of participation.  He told me he’d been a Bernie supporter in the 2016 primary against Hillary, and has come to the conclusion that no matter who we cast our votes for, the system is rigged, sounding more like Trump than Bernie.  It sounds to me as though Bernie may need to step up to a microphone to try to put this conspiracy theory to bed and disabuse his followers of their cynicism about voting. 

This is not my first conversation with Jim about voting.  Previously, we discussed the Democratic primary, and I encouraged him to vote with his heart for the candidate he most wanted to see as the candidate, but that, in the general, we all need to vote for the winner of the primary to get rid of Trump.  Even then, before Biden became the presumptive nominee, he wasn’t willing to agree to do that.  Now, it seems, his decision has become refusing to exercise his franchise at all, including at the local level, where things that matter to us happen, too.

I’m not sure what I need to say to Jim to help him to understand that his refusal to vote ensures that his voice is not heard at any of the levels of government that influence his life on a daily basis.  Sure, one vote out of millions may not matter much at the national level, but he isn’t the only one with this attitude in his cohort group.  His cousin, my daughter’s partner, hasn’t even registered to vote since returning to the state in 2018 (although I did print a registration form for him last week).  He too was in the army in Afghanistan; he too joined after 9/11.  I’ve tried to talk to him about politics but had to stop when he kept insisting that things wouldn’t have turned out any better if Hillary had beaten Trump in 2016.  I don’t want to alienate him by arguing when I’m unlikely to succeed in changing his viewpoint.  

I’m saddened by both these young men’s lack of interest in participating in the democracy that both of them fought for.  I know that both of my adult children learned from me that voting is something we as citizens should view as our duty, and they both accompanied me to the voting booth when they were young.  I’ve always felt that voting should be mandatory, not optional, although in order to do that it must be easier for everyone to do, whether by making the time available to vote longer than one weekday or by using universal mail ballots, and it’s interesting that now, during Covid-19, mail-in ballots are the one way we have of keeping everyone safe from the virus while allowing votes to be cast. 

I know that my kids vote, especially for the president, although my son Chris doesn’t necessarily vote the same way I do.  In 2016, he cast his presidential ballot for Jill Stein because he too thought Bernie had been treated unfairly by the Dems; as a resident of Pennsylvania, his third-party vote was essentially a vote for Trump, and we have had several heated discussions about it in the interim.  I hope he sees his way clear to voting for Biden in November, since doing anything else is, per Bernie, “irresponsible.”

I have cast a ballot in almost every election since I voted for Jimmy Carter for president in 1976.  Some of my votes have gone to the winner, while others have not, but I haven’t let that keep me from voting during subsequent elections.  When the younger members of society abdicate their responsibility and leave voting to those in my age range, they end up with representatives who in fact do not necessarily represent them in government.  Climate change is happening at an alarming rate, economic inequality is worsening, and things can only improve if everyone is fighting on the same side.  Having a swath of the population choose to stand by and do nothing is unacceptable. So please – REGISTER AND VOTE.  It’s your responsibility as both a citizen and a parent.  Your kid deserves better.

Did You Sign Up For This?

Today’sMilitary.com

I am not a ‘warrior’ in Trump’s battle against the poorly-paid, people of color, immigrants, meat packers, nursing home residents, prisoners, the detained, the disabled, and the elderly.  Trump is no warrior either.  He is a whiney little bitch (as Bill Maher says), incapable of doing his job to protect the American people, and the submission of the Republicans as Trump goes further and further out on a limb in an effort to save his reelection has left me at a loss for words to effectively express my outrage.

Republicans remain silent while William Barr’s lackey in the ‘Justice’ Department tries to get Michael Flynn’s case dismissed, despite repeated statements under oath that he was freely pleading guilty.  The years of work by previous Attorneys General to repair the damage done to the Justice Department during the Nixon administration have been tossed out by Barr’s repeated kowtowing to Trump. 

Barr’s politicization of the Justice Department is just the beginning of the destruction.  What is making it so much worse are the continued lifetime appointments of unqualified, right-wing dingbats to federal and appeals courts by Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans.  McConnell forced the Senate back to Capitol Hill this week, not to work on another relief package to address the current pandemic and economic crisis, but to nominate an unqualified federal judge put on the bench just two months ago for an appeals court position that won’t even be available until September.   But try to get the Senate to help the American people and that’s another matter entirely.

Lindsey Graham said that he and Tom Scott would extend the $600 per week unemployment benefit beyond July “over our dead bodies.”  As more and more Republicans reveal who they really are to the voters who put them in office, their constituents are being sickened and killed by a pandemic that at least some Republicans knew was coming while millions have lost their jobs.  Despite this knowledge, they did absolutely nothing to prepare for the inevitable or to let the public know the truth.  Now, while the country is suffering through the worst pandemic in modern history along with an associated financial crisis that may be greater than the Depression, the Republicans in the House refuse to consider moving the body into the 21st century because of “200 years of precedent”.  If Parliament can learn to vote remotely, why can’t the Republicans in the House?  Because they don’t want to legislate, they want to obfuscate and obstruct, not because that helps the American people in this time of such overwhelming misery and need, but because remaining in power is all they care about. 

Why do Republicans believe that their refusal to do their jobs for the people is beneficial to them in their reelection campaigns?  The Fox/right-wing media bubble’s propaganda and lies enrages the viewers and distracts them with extraneous bullshit.  I have several people in my life who appear to be getting their information from right-wing sources, and I still can’t figure out how to snap them out of the trance.  Those who complain about “big government” and profess “fiscal conservatism” don’t seem too bothered by all these Republican representatives getting paid taxpayer money while refusing to do their jobs, yet they worry about people on welfare because they’re ‘lazy’ and getting ‘free money’.

For those who have never had the pleasure of applying for public assistance, let me enlighten you.  I know what a pleasure it is to be on “the dole”, and I can tell you for sure that there is nothing about it that anyone with another choice would pick as a means of support.  I was forced by circumstances to apply for assistance in the early 90’s, and there was nothing about the experience that I would choose to repeat without dire circumstances forcing my hand.

I was approved for all the assistance – Medicaid, cash welfare and food stamps – ‘awarded’ around $450 in cash and $265 in food stamps to support myself and my two kids for a month.  Even in ’91, $265 wasn’t even close to enough to buy food for three, and $450 per month didn’t cover my monthly expenses (electric, gas, car insurance, homeowners’ insurance, real estate taxes, cable), and having a paid-for home wasn’t the benefit you might think it was.  Fact – food stamps/SNAP doesn’t pay for toilet paper, laundry detergent or other cleaning products, soap, feminine hygiene products, or really any other non-food necessities.

Housing subsidies are only available for renters – for reasons I don’t understand, people who have a home they own outright who have hit a rough spot and need assistance aren’t able to do anything to offset things like real estate taxes.  If I’d had to pay a mortgage payment on top of the taxes, I never could have stayed here, but even without the loan I was still not getting enough to keep my bills paid.  The common but mistaken impression that people who are on welfare and food stamps/SNAP are somehow living their best lives is ridiculous.

Did I buy lobster tail using that first book of food stamps?  I did – since I was given two or three months’ worth of benefits all at once (it took that long to process the application) and couldn’t retroactively pay for the food we’d already eaten during that time, why not?  I didn’t do it again, because I couldn’t justify using so much of my benefit for such a costly item, but of course the other customers in the store when I bought that lobster tail had no way of knowing it was a once and done event.

My point is this – Republicans have chipped away at benefits meant to keep us out of poverty when times are rough, and now, when so many are in such need, hearing people like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell flat-out refusing to use our own tax dollars to keep us going is beyond cruel.  They all seem to forget that the money they’re refusing to spend to keep the American people out of despair is our money, not theirs.  We all pay taxes willingly with the expectation that we can depend on the government to be there for us when we need the help.  Republicans who so gleefully voted to give tax cuts to their donors and big business have no shits left to give for the rest of us.

The crickets are singing while Republicans watch minorities die in disproportionate numbers from Covid-19 and the CDC and experts are silenced by Trump.  Why would anyone refuse to publish the CDC recommendations for reopening businesses safely except that they prove that Trump continues to press governors to put their own residents at risk?  The Republicans continued silence while the Trump administration limits, silences, reverses and de-legitimizes its own agencies and professionals in sole pursuit of a reelection victory is proof that, as a party, they are no longer capable of governing anyone, anywhere.  Period.

Trumpism isn’t separate from the Republican Party.  It is the inevitable outcome since the party decided that Newt Gingrich, the Tea Party, and the Freedom Caucus were the way to go.  Instead of changing their platform to attract new voters, they have spent years working towards disenfranchising Democrats, or those they believe will vote for Democrats, via gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and now, refusing to push for all eligible voters to obtain mail-in ballots.  They have stood in the way of anything that will make it easier for everyone to vote, although there is no proof that making voting more accessible benefits one party over the other. 

We welcome all Republicans who have seen the light and want to vote with us.  For those who still support Trump and the Republican Party, know that you are truly putting your lives on the line by following this cult.  Since only 45% of Republicans think wearing a face mask in public is a good idea, and the party base is old, it is likely that more of them will be adversely affected by Covid-19 and may not survive the disease.  Their media bubble continues to spew lies that are detrimental to their health and well-being, and I am finding it more and more difficult to feel empathy or sympathy for those viewers while the people they’ve put in office do nothing to help.