A Sad Step Backward

  Today the United States Senate, a deliberative body consisting of 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats, approved the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme court. Kavanaugh was approved despite the fact that only 39% of Americans in a Gallup poll supported his confirmation. He was approved despite strong evidence that his temperament and political biases make him unsuitable for such an important lifetime appointment. He was approved despite several credible accusations of sexual assault against him. 

The bare majority of senate votes (50/48) which put him over the top obscures the injustice of this process and the undemocratic nature of our government today. 

Americans frequently claim to value democracy. They overwhelmingly support the idea that our government should reflect the beliefs and values of it’s citizens. We are far from that ideal today.

Brett Kavanaugh, when he is sworn in, will become the fourth justice on the U.S. Supreme Court to be nominated by a president who lost the popular vote. These four justices, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and now, Brett Kavanaugh, are all extremely conservative and do not, by any means, represent the beliefs of an American electorate who gave Al Gore 540,000 more votes than George W. Bush in 2000 nor the electorate who gave Hillary Clinton 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump in 2016. Indeed, Gorsuch’s seat was effectively stolen from a president who did win a majority of the popular vote (9.6 million vote margin in 2008 and 5 million vote margin in 2012). This unseemly and undemocratic action by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was a disgrace. He prevented consideration of President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, for an entire year. 

It is high time that we Americans examined our “democracy” to see if it is, in fact, democratic. Kavanaugh was appointed by a minority president and confirmed by a “minority Senate.” What do I mean by that? Consider the following:

The current U.S. Senate has 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats (or independents who caucus with the Democrats). That must mean that Republicans won more votes in the election, right? Sadly, no. In the 2016 Senate elections across the country, Republicans won 40.4 million votes. Democrats won 51.5 million! So, if the U.S. Senate reflected, at all, the will of the American people, there would be 56 Democrats in the Senate and Obama’s Supreme Court Justice, Merrick Garland would be completing his second year on the court. If democracy mattered, President Hillary Clinton’s first nominee would be winning confirmation today by a comfortable margin.

The Senate itself, which confirmed Kavanaugh today, is ridiculously undemocratic. Let me explain. The state of Wyoming has 574,000 residents and 2 U.S. Senators. The state of California has 37,253,956 and, you guessed it, 2 U.S. Senators. That means that each California Senator represents 18.6 million people while each Wyoming Senator represents 287 thousand people. Is a Wyoming resident 64 times more important than a California resident? Is this fair? Is it right that a state with a population smaller than Milwaukee, Wisconsin can provide the votes necessary to put a firebrand conservative on the court against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans? 

Unsatisfied with their unfair advantage in Senate seats and, thus electoral votes, the Republicans have pursued every avenue available to them at the state level to disenfranchise minority voters and thus skew the results further. Their voter ID laws and restrictions on early voting are all thinly veiled attempts to repress Democratic turnout in elections by targeting traditional Democratic constituencies.

All these things have consequences. They make our society less fair. They delegitimize our democracy and the critical institutions of our government. They empower demagogues like Donald Trump. Our archaic electoral college system has now elevated a man to power who has little respect for our democracy or its institutions. He is, as concisely as I can put it, a bad man. He is a profane narcissist. He does not respect women. He does not believe in freedom of the press. He is a bully who empowers bullies. He beats up on the weak instead of protecting them. He enriches himself and his family at the expense of our nation.

He is a tax-cheating, draft-dodging, faux patriot who uses patriotism as a cudgel to beat down his political opponents yet is, somehow, idolized by flag-waving morons who couldn’t name one of their U.S. Senators, let alone a Supreme Court Justice.

He is a three-time philandering, porn star shtupping, prostitute paying, pussy grabbing ridiculer of sex-crime victims. He has somehow hoodwinked the fundamentalist, evangelical Christians in this country. These are the Christians who devoutly study the Bible yet recognize no contradiction between the cruel, violent, hateful, arbitrary God of Leviticus and the loving, kind, protector of the poor and downtrodden upon whose name their religion is built. These so-called “Christians” wouldn’t invite this immoral man over to their house for dinner yet voted for him to be the leader of the free world. They chose him to be America’s example of propriety because they hoped he would punish unwed teenage mothers and homosexuals. 

And… he is a spoiled and coddled New York billionaire who rode in a limousine to school, poops in gold toilets, and built his largely inherited “empire” on strategic bankruptcies which screwed his creditors, contractors, and low-wage employees. Still he somehow manages to get the vote of poor, downtrodden West Virginia coal miners who, if they showed up at Trump Tower, would be quickly and unceremoniously escorted off the property. 

This is where we stand today in our democracy, in our America. And now the “minority” Republicans, who lack any kind of shame or decorum or sense of fairness have elevated Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court for the rest of his life – and he is 53. 

Does it matter, any of this, to the average American? It does! It really does! It matters in real and concrete ways to real people. 

I am reminded today of the Supreme court case Obergefell vs. Hodges. You may not know the case by name. It is better known as the Same-Sex Marriage ruling. It is the ruling which finally offered dignity and respect and the promise of America to gay and lesbian Americans. It was a wonderful and essential bend in what Martin Luther King Jr. called “The arc of the moral universe.”

And Obergfell was decided 5-4 with the conservatives on the wrong side of history and the deciding vote cast by Anthony Kennedy whose humane and logical ruling changed life in this country for a persecuted minority. Today, the “minority” Republicans in the Senate replaced the moderate and sensible Kennedy with another firebrand conservative appointed by a minority president. Obergefell would never have happened today. Homosexuals would still be denied their fundamental civil rights if that case came before the court tomorrow morning. 

It matters! 

In honor of this sad, infamous day I will here re-run the blogpost I made on the day Obergefell was decided, June 26, 2015. The title of this piece was A Step Forward. I hope it will give you pause when you go into the voting booth in a few weeks. I hope it makes you think about our democracy and our America and what Donald Trump and his Republican lackeys have done to it.

 

 

A STEP FORWARD

     Four years ago, when it became legal in Illinois, I had the honor of participating in the ceremony of civil union between my great friend and his long-time partner. My wife, our kids, and a small group of their friends and family assembled at the courthouse on a nice day in July.  It was a lovely day, and it was a lovely and dignified event. As they offered their vows, their little boy stood with them. They exchanged rings and said the words that we all know by heart and we signed papers signifying our witness to the event. 

     And then we went home and they went home and began the commonplace work and extraordinary joy of married life together. They have built a wonderful life in the intervening years, making a home, raising two bright and outgoing boys, advancing their careers, struggling through some serious medical issues, and doing all of those things which my wife and I have done and which all married couples who stay together must do. 

     And I remember thinking as we drove home from the courthouse that day that I could not understand how anyone could object to the thing we had all just been a part of.  I, who want to think the best of people and their motivations, decided that anyone who objected to this ceremony simply did not understand it. Any kind and thoughtful and, yes, Christian, person could not oppose this wonderful thing except through ignorance. 

     We all fear the unknown. We all are apprehensive about things which seem foreign to us. But I am here to tell you, as someone who has seen and participated in this joyful event, that gay marriage is not scary. It is not weird or foreign or disrespectful. It is the most normal thing in the world to want to build a life with the person you love. 

     This is a fundamentally good thing. It is good for families and it is good for children and it is good for our society. It is fair and right to afford the same opportunity for joy (or misery, as a divorced friend reminds me) to gay couples that the rest of us take for granted. And it is, I think, another step in the long march of civilization. It demonstrates that we continue to create a kind and humane society in the United States where dignity is respected and diversity is honored. 

     To all who are afraid of gay marriage I tell you that the earth will not fall out of its orbit because of this. The economy will not crash and our republic will not be brought to its knees. What will happen is that there will be more happiness in the world and more dignity and more understanding.  And, wonderfully, there will be one more group of our friends and neighbors who can happily move from the category “them” into the category “us.” To me, that is what the United States is supposed to be. 

by: Dustin Joy

A Noble Ditch

In my last travel related post I told you of my experience at the U.S. Rocket center in Huntsville, Alabama and of my infatuation with the Saturn V, the most powerful transportation machine ever built and certainly one of the fastest. Today I found myself, unexpectedly, spending the greater part of a day in downtown Syracuse, New York where I became, if not infatuated with, at least deeply fascinated by another museum dedicated to a much slower mode of transport.

After an amazing lunch at the Creole Soul Cafe (who knew Syracuse, NY would have absolutely amazing cajun food?) I walked up to the Erie Canal Museum which lies on the aptly named Erie Boulevard. It turns out that the boulevard, now blacktop instead of water, was the route the famous canal took through Syracuse. The museum is part of the original Weighlock building where passing canalboats were, quite literally, weighed to assess their toll for canal passage.

The Weighlock at Syracuse – Now the Erie Canal Museum.

Looking at a Saturn V rocket and the Apollo program in it’s entirety one can scarcely believe that this little ditch was its equivalent, perhaps it’s superior, in 1820. Considering the resources and technology of a still young nation this project was audacious. In fact, when asked to help with the financing of it Thomas Jefferson, no slouch in the visionary department, wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. “…little short of madness,” he is said to have commented.

It fell, instead to the Governor of New York, Dewitt Clinton, a bunch of progressive legislators, and some even more visionary but less celebrated thinkers and engineers to bring this crazy idea to life. And, like the Little Red Hen, when the wheat grew, was, harvested, ground into flour, and baked into a nice warm loaf, New York ate that loaf and became, well, New York.
Many big cities grow organically from a wide spot in a river. Clinton’s audacity was to build the river. Cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and, to a greater extent the Big Apple, grew from these seeds.

If going to the moon seems like one giant leap (to quote Neil Armstrong) the building of the Erie canal, in it’s day, was no less improbable. To understand the difficulty it is useful to assess the terrain of upstate New York.

Starting in Albany the canal follows the course of the Mohawk River west. This makes a lot of sense. The more your route can follow existing rivers the less you have to dig. Also, to New York’s great good fortune, the Mohawk possesses a unique characteristic unknown to other eastern rivers. It flows east into the Hudson, but it rises west of the Appalachian mountains. It’s valley transects the one insurmountable obstacle which stymied so many dreamers intent on building a water route to the Ohio or the Great Lakes.

Minimizing the digging is not the only consideration for a canal, though. The Mohawk route made sense from a hydrological point of view, also. A canal is not a static system. Moving water is what makes the locks work and allows boats to change elevation. That means that water must be added to the system continuously from the highest elevations. Having rivers nearby makes that possible. Only sea level canals like the Suez are not subject to this requirement.

The Erie Canal route across upstate New York is emphatically not a sea level affair. Even with the advantage of the Mohawk, the elevation changes from Albany to Buffalo were daunting. The net rise from tide level on the Hudson at Albany to Lake Erie at Buffalo is about 600 feet. That’s just a little less than the height of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. The best locks that could be constructed in 1825 would raise a boat about 12 feet. That would require about fifty locks, a big job. However, kind of like your Grandpa’s old story about walking to school “uphill both ways” the Erie canal route doesn’t just slope from one side of the state to the other. From Albany it goes up to about 420’ at Rome, then back down to about 380’ near Montezuma, then back up again at the Niagara River to 565’. In between it crosses rivers, creeks, valleys, and hills. The original “Clinton’s Folly” had 83 locks, each hand dug, lined with clay and stone, and fitted with heavy gates and valve systems. This was not child’s play.

Not a sea-level affair. A contemporary profile view of the Erie Canal route. Click on image for enlargement.

Looking at the map of the canal and upstate New York one is struck immediately by a question. You slap your head and think, “these people couldn’t have been that stupid.” The question is; Why build a canal across 363 miles of forests and swamps when you could, near Oneida Lake, cut a few miles up to Lake Ontario, ship your goods on this vast natural waterway to Niagara Falls, and build a short canal to bypass the falls? It is a good question, but there was, indeed, a method to the madness.

Firstly, canal boats are a great deal different from the sailing vessels required to navigate big open bodies of water like Lake Ontario. They are long and shallow draft to fit their highways of water. They are not designed to take big waves or make top speed under sail. So it would have been necessary to swap one for the other at Lake Ontario, again at Niagara Falls, and again to proceed on Lake Erie. If these dreamers had wanted to load and unload cargo three or four times they would have just kept transporting goods the way they had for years; overland in horse drawn wagons. Secondly, building a canal around the Niagara Falls, while doable (Canada did it in the mid-1800’s near Welland), was not an easy task. There is a reason Niagara Falls is such a famous attraction. It’s a damn 167 foot tall waterfall.

The truth is this though; It was mostly politics. In those days Canada was not the benign little puffball that we know today. Canada, or as they were in actuality then, England, was a very real existential threat to the new nation. We had just fought two wars against them and a multitude of skirmishes. It is easy to forget now, but was undoubtedly vivid in the American imagination then, that only three years prior to the commencement of canal construction, a British force had occupied Washington, D.C. and set fire to the White House and the U.S. Capitol. Only in September 1813 had the U.S. won undisputed control of Lake Erie during the famous Battle of Lake Erie which we all remember, if we remember it at all, from Oliver Hazard Perry’s cable to Washington after the victory, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” The U.S. never did achieve decisive control of Lake Ontario.

To make a long story short we didn’t trust them, we didn’t like them, and we certainly didn’t want them to get the benefit and control of trade in the western Great Lakes. The New Yorkers spent extra time, extra money, and probably extra human lives to keep their new canal just out of reach of those dastardly Canadians. Thanks to their sacrifice we are not obliged to eat poutine three times a day.

Seriously though, building the Erie Canal was a matter of blood, sweat, toil, and tears. The claims of 1000 men dying of swamp fever (probably malaria) during the excavation through Montezuma Marsh in 1819 are probably exaggerated. Still, it is quite likely that many hundreds of men were crushed, drowned, lacerated, blown up with gunpowder, and killed by epidemics.

Consider, if you will, the difficulty of removing a single tree stump. Even today, with chain saws and tractors, and grinding equipment it is difficult, at best, to remove the stump of a large tree to below grade level. If you are digging a canal, grade level is not good enough. You must remove the entire stump including the tap roots. For a tree of considerable size, like the American Chestnuts comprising the primeval forest of upstate New York, these roots can go 20’ deep.

The engineers who met these challenges were clever men. The way they solved the tree stump problem tells you all you need to know about their resourcefulness. Below is a picture of their stump puller. It’s elegant use of simple mechanics and leverage is an inspiration.

Stump Puller – An elegant solution to a big problem.

The catalog of challenges faced by the Scots Irish immigrants who dug the canal, the German Stonemasons who built the locks, and the engineers who mapped out the route, were astounding. In building locks, bridges, aqueducts, and machines to do so, these men advanced science and technology in their age no less than did the NASA scientists who built the Saturn V.

Some of their achievements are truly astounding. There is, of course, the 363 mile long canal 40’ wide and 4’ deep. There are also the 83 locks. Beyond that are the marvelous creations that Pharaoh might have been proud of. There is the “Deep Cut,” a high spot in the bedrock near Pendleton where men, without the benefit of dynamite, chiseled a channel for the canal 40’ deep and 7 miles long. There is the “Flight of Five” locks climbing the Niagara Escarpment near Lockport. There is the giant aqueduct of stone crossing the Genessee River at Rochester. And, there is the “Great Embankment,” a mile long earth fill 76’ deep crossing the valley of Irondquoit Creek. These are all remarkable feats.

A river crosses a river – The Erie Canal/ Genesee River aqueduct at Rochester.

What makes them more mind-blowing is to consider the catalog of things these men did not have. In 1817 they did not have bulldozers (invented 1923), diesel excavators (1930’s), or even steam shovels (patented 1839). They didn’t have the aforementioned dynamite which Alfred Nobel did not perfect until 1867. There were no rubber boots (Wellingtons invented in 1852). There was no nylon rope (1940’s), no steel cable (1830’s), no really very good steel at all (Bessemer process 1855). Feeding huge numbers of men in a remote wilderness area was difficult too because there was not yet refrigeration (1856). There were no antibiotics (penicillin 1928), exactly one “sort-of” vaccine (smallpox, 1796), and no anesthetic (1842) for the inevitable amputation of infected limbs. These men made Chuck Norris look like Steve Urkel.

They worked 12-15 hour days in terrible conditions with inadequate equipment and, in most cases, for about $12 – $15 per month. The unluckiest, and there were many of these, had been lured to the United States by deceptive advertisements in Irish newspapers promising a good job with decent pay, three meals a day, and an allowance of whiskey. The workers, too poor to pay, were brought to the U.S. by the Erie canal contractors and their passage was charged against their future meager earnings, making them, immediately, indentured servants. They were basically slaves without chains.

Once the canal was completed, New York’s investment paid back, and the financiers made rich, the men who labored to build this canal did what laboring men have always done – they took a deep breath and went back to work. Because they had to. They built railroads, worked in dank mines, and dug more canals.

A canalboat (2016 recreation) in the weigh lock chamber at Syracuse. I am standing where the opening in the building is visible in the previous weigh lock building photo.

Sleeping quareters on a canalboat. Cramped but cozy.

The Erie canal changed the United States. It enriched the country, it sped up western settlement, it insured U.S. dominance of the Great Lakes, and it helped to make New York City the financial and cultural powerhouse it is today. All these things were bricks in the great edifice which became U.S.A. – the Superpower. In this way the Erie canal, “Clinton’s Folly,” the little ditch, changed the world.

As I walked back to my hotel through the streets of Syracuse I thought about these men. I thought about rockets and I thought about canal boats. My thoughts drifted to the pyramids, the cathedrals, the railroads, the highways, and to all these ostensibly “good” things brought forth by men and women who got very little out of the exercise but exercise. Others with money and capital and power got more money and capital and power. As Kurt Vonnegut said, “So it goes.” And yet.

There is nobility in hard work and in struggle and in the creation of things which make the world a better place even if such benefits do not accrue to those who build them. The thing which raises human beings above the animals is not that we have iPhones, but that we can make iPhones. The Gateway Arch is a magnificent thing, but so is the Niagara Falls. What ennobles the Gateway Arch is not that it is pretty and gleaming and very, very tall, but that some man imagined it and a few men developed a plan to make it a reality, and hundreds of men and women with their hands and their feet and their brains summoned it into existence.

The Erie Canal, no less than Michelangelo’s David, was a work of art. The sacrifice of those who built it is not dimmed because their masterpiece has been superseded by bigger, better, and faster modes of transport. The nobility is in the striving, made all the more noble by the difficulty of the task. As John Kennedy said about sending men to the moon (the Saturn V) so might we say about the Erie Canal. We do these things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Therein lies the nobility.

by: Dustin Joy

Mister, We Could Use a (Republican) Like Herbert Hoover Again

Ours is a practical people, to whom ideals furnish the theory of political action….On the other side, they are equally disgusted with seeking for power by destructive criticism, demagoguery, specious promises and sham.

Some may ask where all this may lead beyond mere material progress…. It leads to the opportunity for greater and greater service, not alone from man in our own land, but from our country to the whole world. It leads to an America, healthy in body, healthy in spirit, unfettered, youthful, eager — with a vision searching beyond the farthest horizons, with an open mind, sympathetic and generous.

It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.

This is not a showman’s job. I will not step out of character.

– Herbert Hoover

 

 

 


Mister, We Could Use a (Republican) Like Herbert Hoover Again

There was a time, dear children, when the Republican Party of the United States was the stodgy old party of responsibility and prudence and eating your vegetables. People like Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft and George Romney and Nelson Rockefeller and Gerald Ford and, yes, even Richard Nixon for all his faults, cared about a thing called good governance. They took public service seriously. They believed in things like balanced budgets and sensible spending and good citizenship and doing the right thing. These anachronisms are what used to be called “principles” and Republicans used to have them.

Republicans have even been known to stand on principle to their own detriment. American history is replete with such examples. I am thinking of Ford’s pardon of Nixon which he had to know would cost him the 1976 election but which he honorably believed to be the right thing. Taft was a man so dedicated to our constitution and the rule of law that he dared to criticize the Nuremberg trials and Japanese internment. This bravery won him the praise of Senator John F. Kennedy and a chapter in his Pulitzer-Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage but probably cost him the Republican nomination for President in 1944, 1948, and 1952. Finally, there is Barry Goldwater. Whatever you thought about Goldwater’s ideas, cuckoo-bananas or genius, no one ever accused Barry Goldwater of selling out his principles for political expediency. He proudly rode them all the way to the ground like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.

Republicans have sometimes been willing to pull dirty tricks and tell lies to win (I know, right?). Telling lies is a time-tested way to achieve political goals and Republicans, of course, wrote their chapter in that book. Richard Nixon came by the moniker Tricky Dick honestly. What most Republicans didn’t do was to betray their own followers and their own own political philosophy in the pursuit of power. That innovation, or at least the mastery of it, belonged to that patron saint of conservatives, Mr. Ronald Reagan. Reagan, the “great communicator” preached the gospel of smaller government and fiscal responsibility to Goldwater’s beleaguered descendants. He promised the religious right, with a wink and a nod, to end abortion. He bludgeoned Jimmy Carter and the Democrats for “spending like drunken sailors.” And then he got elected. And he increased the size of government, did diddly-squat about abortion, and spent money like a drunken sailor.

What Reagan realized, but Carter had not, was that the American people don’t like bad news. They don’t like to be lectured. They don’t like discipline. They don’t like to eat their vegetables. So Reagan dropped all that “principle” stuff and distilled a new philosophy which went down smooth; let’s have our cake and eat it, too.

The Gipper figured it out. People like a strong military. They like to strut around with their chests puffed out humming the Star-Spangled Banner in the back of their throats. Reagan gave it to them. People don’t like paying taxes. Reagan smiled that goofy grin of his and said, “I don’t like paying taxes either. Let’s cut them.” The people thought Carter was too preachy and made everything sound “sooooooo complicated.” Reagan served up simple, sappy, aphorisms by the bushel. Reagan told the American people how good they were, and how noble, and how smart. He told them how good old common sense was better than all that book learnin’ and that, well gosh, the American people were just God’s own special people.

Americans ate it up. When that fuddy-duddy, spoil-sport Mondale told them they would have to pay higher taxes to finance Reagan’s blossoming deficits they put their fingers in their ears, stuck out their tongues and “raspberried” him back to Minnesota.

We Americans don’t like broccoli and, by-God, no pointy-headed intellectual is gonna make us eat it.

The lesson of Carter’s flameout and Mondale’s trouncing was not lost on Reagan’s progeny. There would be no more “malaise” speeches. There would be no more appeal to our intellect nor our self-discipline, nor our better angels. Even the Democrats learned the lesson. When George H.W. Bush’s remnant belief in good governance led him to compromise with the Democrats and raise taxes, a move which allowed, for the first time in decades, an actual surplus in the U.S. budget, the smarmy huckster from Arkansas slew him with his own noble gesture. Clinton gave the American people his best “Reagan” smile, told them he could “feel their pain” and that all their problems had been “laid on them,” and sunk the knife into George’s back. It was the last time anyone, of either party, dared to “reach across the aisle.”

Now, winning is all that matters. Working together, doing the right thing for the country, exercising restraint, practicing good governance, being philosophically consistent, putting country ahead of party; these are all relics from a bygone era.

Winning is everything and compromise is impossible (you can’t compromise with the Devil after all.) Ultimately anything can be sacrificed to the cause: honesty, fairness, faith in your fellow man, your own principles. Even flat-out hypocrisy, the kind that can be proven by video recordings, and, in the past would have sunk a politician, hardly moves the needle now. It’s the Lord’s work, after all. Mitch McConnell will stand in front of a television camera and excoriate Democrats for saying precisely, even word for word, what McConnell himself has been recorded saying a year ago. There are Democrats who would do the same thing to him. Here we are.

If both sides jettison their beliefs and philosophy for the expedient of winning what difference does it make? Why am I picking on Republicans? Why, in fact, do I beseech the Republicans to sober up and recover their proud tradition of principle above party. I do it now because we need them now more than ever. We need the Republicans to live up to the example of Taft and Eisenhower and Ford and Goldwater. They are the only ones who can help us now. They are the only ones who can slow down this unstable raging narcissist who has become our President.

We have now dispatched the Wicked Witch of the West and her wicked, wicked email server to oblivion. Will you, at long last, strengthen your backbones and stop this phony Republican before he dismantles all that is good and noble about our country? Republicans, I tell you again, this man does not believe what you do. He not only disregards your ideals and principles he positively mocks them.

He mocks, also, the serious and thoughtful men who used to represent you. Aren’t you embarrassed to watch your formerly proud leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney grovel before this gameshow host? Aren’t you appalled to hear a five-time draft deferred man with miraculously self-healing bone spurs brutally criticize actual Viet-Nam war heroes John McCain and John Kerry?

I now address you “God-fearing” Christians. I have read a great deal of the New Testament and I don’t think Jesus was advocating what your Republican President is now doing. Don’t take my word for it. Read the Sermon on the Mount, read all of Matthew, and judge for yourselves.

 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

I trust this verse will not be misattributed to President Donald Trump. How about this:

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Do Syrian refugees count?

Even if the darkness of the Old Testament is your cup of tea do you really think that this twice divorced serial adulterer who sexually harasses women is a model for your family? I think there are some passages of Leviticus which would insure this man some smiting, or worse. If he were not the President would you invite him into your house? Would you leave your daughter alone in a room with him? But you voted for him to represent America to the world? If you’ll pardon my French, What the hell is wrong with you?

What about our collective, agreed-upon American principles? Are we no longer to be a “nation of immigrants” as President Kennedy called us? Do we no longer tear-up at the words of Emma Lazarus’ poem?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Is that a Golden Door or a gray, cement wall with concertina wire strung along the top?

Finally, Republicans, which of these do you believe in your heart?

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
-Thomas Jefferson

Or this:

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
-Donald Trump

Obviously many of you are embarrassed. Most of my Republican friends will not even mention Trump unless someone else brings it up and then they mumble and stumble and dredge up an old line about Benghazi. But there was something about President Obama’s swagger or, ….I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt….something…. that set your teeth on edge. You listened to Hillary’s shrill, preachy voice and were reminded of those Brussels sprouts that Saint Reagan told you you would not have to eat anymore. And, doggone it, you wanted to win. It feels so good to win. We know you wanted Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush instead. But that ain’t what happened.

What you have representing your treasured GOP brand now is a self-absorbed spoiled little rich kid with no one ever to tell him no. You must tell him NO! This man-child is President of the United States and he is more concerned about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s television ratings than his National Security briefing.

He is still, from a podium in the White House, trying to “spin us” on just how many electoral votes he won the election by. He is creepily, bizarrely, self-deluding about this subject which nobody asked him about. He repeats it over and over, from meetings with the Israeli Prime-Minister to ceremonies about Black History Month. In a press conference this week Trump again boasted “We got 306….I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”

Now, it is one thing to lie about an ambiguous data point buried a thousand pages deep in a government report or a piece of information only you know the answer to. But, my God man, any eight year old can ask Siri who won the electoral college vote in the last 7 Presidential elections and know the answer with 100% accuracy in about 3/5ths of a second. In about two minutes (I’ll admit to being slower than an eight year old) I discovered that Trump won 304 electoral votes, not 306. (The idea that any man who won a Presidential election doesn’t know how many electoral votes he got is truly bizarre in itself.) In five of the seven elections preceding Trump’s the winner won more than 304 votes. For the record (George H.W. Bush – 426, Clinton (1992) – 370, Clinton (1996) – 379, George W. Bush (2000) – 271, George W. Bush (2004) – 286, Obama (2008) – 365, and Obama (2012) – 332.)

And Trump’s answer, when confronted with the demonstrable falseness of his claim; “Actually, I’ve seen that information around.” Apparently he didn’t see it around the internet, or in the encyclopedia, or the Congressional Record, or hear about it from one of the hundreds of Senators and Representatives present at the counting of the electoral votes by Vice-President Joe Biden which was, by the way, broadcast on CSPAN and still available for viewing on You Tube.

This is a pathology, one might say, borderline mental illness. This kind of egomania coupled with insecurity would be undesirable in any profession. Possessed by the man who controls the U.S. nuclear arsenal they are downright dangerous.

So, Republicans I implore you once again. Stiffen your upper lip. Steel yourself to defend your principles. Your country needs you now. Party politics can wait. You must stop this man or, at least, slow him down. This is your moment. Channel your own internal Herbert Hoover. Though it is sometimes hard to believe and I am loathe to admit it: There is precedent for Republicans to do the right thing.

by: Dustin Joy

President Trump – There, I said it!

Denial

My daughter cried when she heard about Donald Trump’s victory in the election. She said, “I can’t believe such a hateful man is going to be our President.” It is an understandable response. Were I not trying so hard to be a “big boy,” myself I would have cried too. This result is stunning. It is stunning not because it was heartbreakingly close, nor because it was so unexpected given the two years worth of polling, nor even because a few votes in a few small states can shift power in this country in such a dramatic and perhaps draconian way. It was painful and traumatic because it revealed to me something I perhaps didn’t want to know about my country and about, specifically, my neighbors and friends.

Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance – Not Necessarily in that order

I have a file on my computer that I have labeled “Letters not sent.” I highly recommend that everyone make one like it. The file does not consist solely of letters. It is also filled with essays and blog posts and emails which I wrote in the heat of the moment when my emotions were raw. I wrote them and I put them in the file. I let them sit in the file for no less than two days; that’s a rule. And then I took them out and read them. Most, the vast majority in fact, were put back into the file and stayed there. A small number were rewritten, edited, and sent or published. Some I open from time to time in moments of self-indulgence to wallow in their righteousness. And then I close the file again and leave them in there.

Such a blogpost, about Donald Trump’s victory, now resides in my “Letters” file. As of right now I feel like it is one of the best things I ever wrote. It is titled “This Election Means What I Say It Means.” It’s too bad you guys will never get to read it. Did I say it’s really great? Man it is good. It is thorough, clever, insightful, and devastating. And it is mean. It is vitriolic and divisive and bitter. It appeals to the worst instincts of my fellow Liberals and my own sense of moral indignation. It sat in the file for two days before failing my test.

Still a Bone to Pick

Wikipedia says that since 1990 there have been 70 civil wars in the world and 69 coups. Sometimes the violence in these unfortunate countries has lasted for years. Angola’s bitter, bloody conflict endured from 1975 to 2002. Children of my generation born there knew nothing but war and heartbreak all of their young lives. In a violent unstable world we are the exception. Informed by the example of George Washington we have routinely transferred power from one President to the next, sometimes from bitter rival to bitter rival. Our democracy has weathered wars and depressions and political turmoil for 233 years not because of luck or even a superior Constitution (although I think ours is pretty good). The reason our democracy has persevered where others haven’t is because of our forbearance and tolerance and devotion to our form of government – when we lose.

Of the many profane, cruel, narcissistic things Donald Trump said and did during the campaign one stands out as particularly harmful to our republic. Bigotry, of course, can be overcome by love (read your history of the freedom riders in Alabama in the 1960’s). Cruelty can be overcome by kindness (Read about the Truth and Reconciliation Committees set up after the fall of the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa). Narcissism can be overcome by parody and humor (and what a rich target Donald Trump is for parody and humor. He is the joke which writes itself.)

The thing Trump did which worries me the most is that he undermined, publicly and unabashedly, that fragile, but so far durable, notion that our system works. Whatever candidates might say or scream at each other, they should never imply, without powerful evidence, that our system of elections is rigged or invalid. They should never suggest that they or their followers shouldn’t or won’t accept the outcome in a peaceable and respectable way. They should not incite their adherents to violence. They should never suggest “2nd Amendment remedies.” We are not stupid. We all know the note of that dog whistle. And there are dogs out there who hear that frequency.

The Upshot

Our devotion to our country and to our constitution and, ultimately to our leaders, is sacred and precious. It is the fabric which holds our system together. That tolerance and forbearance by the losers is what Angola lacked. Do we want to be Angola? For a candidate to tear at that precious fabric with unsubstantiated offhand comments and throwaway lines in the service of short-term political gain is, okay I’ll go ahead and say it, unpatriotic.

This election was quite obviously not rigged. There was never any credible evidence that it was rigged. There was no serious or statistically meaningful voter fraud. There never has been. Trump, the man who whined like a baby that it was rigged against him – WON! He won the “rigged” election. He should apologize and, just as publicly, say, “I was wrong and I am sorry. Our system is sound. Our elections are fair. They are administered by good people across this country from county clerks to neighborhood poll workers who volunteer to do this work out of devotion to our country.”

I still love Walter Mondale – It will be OK

I will admit that all of my vitriol has not dissipated. I am still angry about this election and, at times, fearful for our future. But I am making progress. I remember 1984. I remember the impassioned defense I made, in our eighth grade history class, of Walter Mondale’s candidacy. I delivered my speech with gusto, extolling the virtues of this plain-spoken, honest midwestern man who believed in the little guy and worked for peace and had the guts to say we were all going to have to pay higher taxes to address Ronald Reagan’s deficits. And then we lost. We lost big. The heartless, faux patriotic, war monger (my thoughts at the time) wiped the floor with us and in the next four years cynically used his popularity to make the noble title Liberal a bad word. It still hurts a little to hear jokes about Mondale. (Homer Simpson: “Where’s the beef! Ha! Ha! Ha!. No wonder he won Minnesota.”)

What I learned from 1984 was this; We will be okay. We survived eight years of Reagan. We survived eight years of George W. Bush. We will survive four years (please) of Donald J. Trump. And, for the Conservatives who have predicted the end of the world to me so many times in the last eight years; you are ok, too. You survived eight years of that Muslim, Socialist, anti-christ called Barak Hussein Obama. You survived eight years of the philandering, back-slapping huckster from Arkansas. You survived four years of the ennui-peddling peanut farmer. We will all survive. This country is too resilient to be brought down by one man, no matter who he is or what he tries to do.

What to do next

So, according to me, what are our respective obligations at this point in history?

To my Conservative friends: You have much to atone for. You, who frequently use the word “patriotism” as a cudgel to beat down Democrats and Liberals, have done a very unpatriotic thing. You, who knew better, cynically put your party above your country. All through the primaries I listened to the Republican echo chamber (Fox News et. al.) rail on and on about how bad Donald Trump was and what a catastrophe he would be for this country. And then ….you voted for him. You lied to the pollsters and voted for this man you loathed. It was almost funny and surreal to see Paul Ryan and Reince Preibus and Chris Christie and Ted Cruz kiss the Donald’s ring on or just before election night. The cacophony of Republican throat clearing since the election has been gratifying, too. I will give exoneration to a few of your number who held to their principles: Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, Colin Powell, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, and the Bush family (most of them.) To the rest, enjoy the spoils of your victory, folks. They have cost you a great deal in reputation.

To my Liberal friends: Well, old friends, this is tough. But here is what we need to do. We need to lay down our protest signs, give Mr. Trump his due respect as our President, and get back to work. There is still a lot we can do to help the poor, care for the environment, work toward economic fairness, improve education opportunities, and protect the rights of every citizen, whether black or white, gay or straight, male or female, immigrant or citizen by birth. We are weakened and out of power now, but, despite the headlines, the people are with us.

Not only did Hillary Clinton win more votes than Donald Trump (2.9 million more at last count) but in states all over the country ballot measures calling for an increase in the minimum wage passed by landslides. The Republicans shouldn’t be too proud of the victory they sold their souls for – it was Trump’s victory, not theirs.

Finally, my fellow Liberals, failure is cathartic. We do have much to learn from this defeat. Some of our fellow Democrats (including the lady at the top) failed to recognize the suffering of a generation who has not seen a meaningful increase in their wages in thirty years while the rich got richer and richer. Bernie Sanders tried to warn us about this. My pet theory is that he or Elizabeth Warren would have cleaned Trump’s clock. A wise man learns from his mistakes, though, and failure makes that kind of introspection possible. Let’s do a little psyche-spelunking as a party and figure this thing out.

Finally, To Mr. Trump: SURPRISE US! Show us that the caricature of you we saw during the campaign was not the real you. No one is that bad. Show us that you possess empathy and humility and pity. Demonstrate by your actions that you are not a demagogue. We want badly to believe what you said on election night; that you want to be President for everyone. American’s are a very forgiving and tolerant people. We want you to succeed. Even many of us Liberals will give you a chance, if you give us a chance.

All Together Now

There is a quote I like very much from a politician I did not much like during his time in office. His clever turn of phrase did not quite convince me of his actual tenderness but did express what many of us on the left believe and, I suspect what many on the right believe, too. It goes like this:

How can we love our country and not love our countrymen, and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?
Ronald Reagan – first Inaugural Address

It will all be okay. There is still a lot more that unites us than divides us.

P.S. Thank you to good old sane, thoughtful Minnesota, a state I dearly love. You were with us again this year, as always. Some things you can count on. Walter would be proud.

by: Dustin Joy

Washington vs. Trump – A Plea

Note: The following quotes by President George Washington and Mr. Donald Trump come from different verifiable sources. They derive from speeches, official correspondence, and personal letters in the case of President Washington and speeches, recorded television appearances, and Twitter feeds in the case of Mr. Trump.

While some of my readers may wish to verify these quotes and are encouraged to do so I assume that most of you, knowing what you know about these men, will find it unnecessary. I think you will find that each quote attributed here to President Washington is plausibly his and each quote attributed to Mr. Trump is, unfortunately, plausibly his. The point of this comparison is to draw a contrast between the kind of public man President Washington was and the kind of public man Donald Trump is. I think the contrast is dramatic and instructive.

A fair criticism here is that it is inherently unfair to represent a man’s life through the use of a small number of hand-picked quotes. Quotes, of course, are easily manipulated and can be cleverly edited to illicit the desired response in the reader. While I have tried not to “manipulate the data” with regard to these quotes it is certainly possible that, having a low opinion of Mr. Trump, I might have unfairly selected quotes which reveal him at his worst and President Washington at his best. I will leave to you, the reader, the task of judging my objectivity.
I will say, in defense, that I presume no reader will believe that President Washington ever uttered the phrase “The boob job is terrible. They look like two lightbulbs coming out of her body.” Nor will they, I think, believe that Mr. Trump ever said “To speak evil of any one, unless there is unequivocal proofs of their deserving it, is an injury for which there is no adequate reparation.”

 



 

Washington and Trump on Science

“There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”
George Washington

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

“You may get AIDS by kissing.”

“Remember, new environment friendly lightbulbs can cause cancer. Be careful– the idiots who came up with this stuff don’t care.”

“Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”
Donald Trump

__________________________________________________

Washington and Trump on profanity

“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”
George Washington

“No, I’m not into anal.”

“And you can tell them to go fuck themselves,”
Portsmouth New Hampshire Rally

“Listen, you motherfuckers, we’re going to tax you 25 percent!”

“With the proper woman you don’t need Viagra”

“You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] writes as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
Donald Trump

____________________________________________________

Washington and Trump on Bigotry

“For happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”
George Washington

“When these people [Asians] walk in the room, they don’t say, ‘Oh, hello! How’s the weather? It’s so beautiful outside. They say, ‘We want deal!’”

“You haven’t been called, go back to Univision.”
— dismissing Latino reporter Jorge Ramos at an Iowa rally in August 2015

“I have a great relationship with the blacks.”

“Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”

“Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.”
Donald Trump

_________________________________________________

Washington and Trump on Women

“All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
George Washington

“Women: You have to treat them like shit.”

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her … wherever.”

“Nobody cares about the talent [in beauty pageants]. There’s only one talent you care about, and that’s the look talent. You don’t give a shit if a girl can play a violin like the greatest violinist in the world. You want to know what does she look like.”

“She’s really cute, I have to tell you, she’s really bouncy, really cute, She’s about 5-foot-1. Do you like girls that are 5-foot-1? They come up to you know where.” — Trump on Eva Longoria

“The boob job is terrible. They look like two lightbulbs coming out of her body.” — on actress Carmen Electra

“A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”

“It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam … It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” — on sleeping with women who could have STDs

“She does have a very nice figure. I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
Donald Trump

______________________________________________

Washington and Trump on Civility

“To speak evil of any one, unless there is unequivocal proofs of their deserving it, is an injury for which there is no adequate reparation.”
George Washington

“Just tried watching Modern Family — written by a moron, really boring. Writer has the mind of a very dumb and backward child.”

“One of the worst and most boring political pundits on television is Charles Krauthammer. A totally overrated clown who speaks without knowing facts”

“If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’”

“Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”

“Do you mind if I sit back a little? Because your breath is very bad—it really is.” — To Larry King, on air, 1989

“[Angelina Jolie]’s been with so many guys she makes me look like a baby, OK … I just don’t even find her attractive.”
Donald Trump

___________________________________________________

Washington and Trump on Immigrants

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.”
George Washington

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best …they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“Well, someone’s doing the raping, Don! I mean, somebody’s doing it. Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?” — responding to questions about his comments regarding Latino immigrants and rape

“An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud”

“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” 

“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.” (This has been thoroughly debunked)
Donald Trump

_________________________________________________

Washington and Trump on Compassion

“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”
George Washington

“I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, it’s literally going to cease to exist.”

“Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!'” –Donald Trump, mocking handicapped New York Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski.

“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”

“My entire life, I’ve watched politicians bragging about how poor they are, how they came from nothing, how poor their parents and grandparents were … if they can stay so poor for so many generations, maybe this isn’t the kind of person we want to be electing to higher office. How smart can they be? They’re morons.”
Donald Trump

___________________________________________

 

Washington and Trump on Humility

“It is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I am guilty of one; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of having committed it.”

“I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”
George Washington

“I will be so good at the military your head will spin”

“I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created”

“I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”

“I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”

“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

“I don’t think I’ve made mistakes. Every time somebody said I made a mistake, they do the polls and my numbers go up, so I guess I haven’t made any mistakes.”

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure.”

“I went to an Ivy League school. I’m very highly educated. I know words, I have the best words…”

“I’m the worst thing that’s ever happened to ISIS.”

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”

“I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me…”

“I have a total net worth [of] well-over $10 billion…. I’m not doing that to brag, because you know what? I don’t have to brag. I don’t have to”

“I’ve had a beautiful, I’ve had a flawless campaign. You’ll be writing books about this campaign.”

“I beat China all the time. All the time.”
Donald Trump

_______________________________________________

 

Washington and Trump on Political Cooperation

“Differences in political opinions are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary; but it is exceedingly to be regretted that subjects cannot be discussed with temper on the one hand, or decisions submitted to without having the motives, which led to them, improperly implicated on the other; and this regret borders on chagrin when we find that men of abilities, zealous patriots, having the same general objects in view, and the same upright intentions to prosecute them, will not exercise more charity in deciding on the opinions and actions of one another.”
George Washington, letter to Alexander Hamilton, Aug. 26, 1792

“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” (about Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina)

“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America.”

“Bush didn’t have the IQ [to be president]”

“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured (about Senator and War Hero John McCain).”

“Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.”

“Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!”

“Governor Perry failed on the border. He should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.”

“[Hillary Clinton] was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the United States. The world blew up around us. We lost everything, including all relationships.” “perhaps the most dishonest person to have ever run for the presidency”

[Governor Martin O’Malley] “a clown”

“What people don’t know about [Governor John] Kasich — he was a managing partner of the horrendous Lehman Brothers when it totally destroyed the economy!”

“George Pataki did a terrible job as governor of New York. If he ran again, he would have lost in a landslide.”

“Can anyone imagine [Lincoln] Chafee as president? No way.”

“I think Lindsey Graham is a disgrace, and I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States. I don’t think he could run for dog catcher in this state and win again. I really don’t. He’s one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.”

“I have a store that’s worth more money than he is. I understand losers. You can make a lot of money with losers” “He choked like a dog. He’s a choker.” “He walks like a penguin onto the stage. Like a penguin!” (comments on Mitt Romney)

“not doing the job.” “It’s your governor’s fault, we have to get your governor and get going. She’s got to do a better job, O.K.?” (comments on New Mexico Republican Governor Suzana Martinez.
Donald Trump

 

 



 

My Dear Conservative friends,

It has been an interesting political year on your side of the aisle. I will admit that there was a certain Schadenfreude on our side as we watched your serious conservative governors and senators being bludgeoned by the confederate-flag-waving toothless hillbilly wing of your party. We watched with amusement and amazement as the racist, sexist, anti-intellectual faction that you so cynically invited into your big tent over the last thirty years hijacked the whole party and steered it toward the cliff. We know that you didn’t want Trump any more than we did. We really thought you would find a way to stop him.

The truth is that while I frequently disagree with my philosophically conservative friends I have always respected their well-reasoned and considered opinions. I think there is room at the table for all serious, thoughtful, good faith arguments about the size of government, the scope of its activities, and the methods for determining best practice. That is what having a democratic republic is all about. I want conservatives at the table. I want them in Congress and, yes, occasionally in the White House.

There are Republicans I have admired and, indeed, Republicans for whom I have voted. I like and respect our Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and may well vote for him this year. I always respected and voted for Governor Jim Edgar when he served Illinois in the 1990’s.

Across the river in Iowa, Republican Congressman Jim Leach thoughtfully represented the people of Iowa’s second district for thirty years and won my respect as well. Further afield, I was a great admirer of Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming. He was a conservative to be sure but also a reasonable and intelligent Senator who worked with Democrats to reach a sensible “way forward.”

Even at the Presidential level, the big job, there are conservatives for whom I have voted, or would have. I have great respect for President George H.W. Bush who I still believe to be a man of conscience, seriousness, and intelligence. As a student of history I also admire President Eisenhower, President Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, President Grant, and, of course President Lincoln, whom every serious Republican should honor and emulate.

The preceding paragraphs are a metaphorical olive branch extended to you, my conservative friends. They also represent my true feelings about partisan politics. I believe, as President George Washington did, that a blind adherence to party is at odds with and contrary to the principles of republican government. I cannot express it better than President Washington did himself in his farewell address in 1796. He said:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

George Washington was not a perfect man. In the same address he humbly acknowledged this himself.

“Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.”

Though not infallible, any serious student of history recognizes the sincerity and wisdom of President Washington. He was the man who might have made himself a dictator and derailed the whole noble experiment of America. Everything he did as President set a precedent and he understood that. He believed in America, he believed in the ideals of our Constitution, and he was a sober, thoughtful, serious defender of those ideals. He was a man of moderation and conciliation and sober reflection. He did his utmost to steer this nation through the dangerous shoals of its infancy. He tried to reconcile the regional differences represented by the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, he tried to maintain a sensible neutrality with regards to the perplexing and essentially endless wars between Great Britain, France, and Spain. He tried to understand and work with, in a respectful and measured way, the other branches of government and the various states.

After two terms, when he might have assumed the mantle of ruler for life, he instead stepped away and relinquished his authority so that the principle of peaceful transfer of power would become the precedent we value and admire today. We have much to thank George Washington for and to admire in his humble, principled manner. He must surely represent the model of what we look for in a President.

Reflecting on Washington’s legacy, and that of Lincoln, and Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, and yes, even Ronald Reagan, I must ask you a question today, my conservative friends. Can you, in good conscience vote for Donald Trump? Can you set aside your principles and the principles of Washington and Lincoln and all these others who so nobly advanced the American ideal just for a politically expedient victory? Will you vote to turn the most powerful office in the world over to a reckless, profane, narcissist who represents none of your own beliefs and indeed mocks many of them. Donald Trump, in my judgement, embodies whatever the opposite of George Washington is. Will you vote for this charlatan just to put a win in the R column? No serious and thoughtful conservative can do it because by voting for Donald Trump you nullify what it means to be a conservative. Truly your vote for Donald Trump nullifies what it means to be an American.

We know that there are many principled conservatives who will stand up for right and good when they see it. This is one of those times, my friends. This is the time when you must stand for your principles even against the nominee of your own troubled party. Donald Trump is not right and he is not good and you know it. It is time to take one for Team America. It is the only way for your party to find it’s way back from the wilderness. It is the only way for you to maintain your own self-respect and the respect of others for your ideas. Please make the correct choice.

Dustin Joy