On the 2016 Presidential Election

On the 2016 Presidential Election

Republicans are not to “blame” for Trump. The DNC colluded to put forth a flawed candidate who did nothing to appease what voters apparently wanted: a job boost and any kind of change. Add that with Democrats not turning up to the polls and there is enough “blame” to go around for everyone. The same power that Democrats, and the country to some degree, fear in the hands of Trump was made that way over the last eight years. The left needs to take a look in the mirror.

Additionally, not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or a bigot or a misogynist. That said, Trump is. He is a racist. He is a bigot. He is a misogynist. By voting for him you elected those things to the White House. Just because you say you cast your vote for his policy does not mean you can ignore what he has shown himself to be. You, in your small way, gave those voices a seat at the most powerful table in the world.

Along those lines, to those saying “Give him a chance to prove himself” I respond by saying he has had chances. A 70-year-old man has an established worldview and pattern of abusing others for his own personal gain. To suggest now that he has more power would somehow make him more restrained seems doubtful at best. And a week in to his transition he has named a white nationalist as his chief strategist. He has floated Joe Arpaio and Dave Clark for Secretary of Homeland Security. A man of pink jumpsuits, criminal contempt charges and deportation raids; and “blue lives matter,” “fix the ghetto not the police” rhetoric, respectively. His top choice for EPA administrator denies climate change. Trump had a chance to surprise me, and he did not.

I find it entirely possible, probable even, that he conned those who did vote for him. At least those who believed when he said he wanted to “drain the swamp” in Washington. His cabinet front-runners include Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and political lifer, for Secretary of State or Attorney General; Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, for Secretary of State; Forest Lucas, founder of Lucas Oil, for  Interior Secretary; and Steven Mnuchin, who worked for Goldman Sachs for 17 years, as Treasury Secretary. From lobbyists to the political elite to his own children, his Oval Office shows very little radical change. His proposed tax plan also most benefits the richest of Americans, and may even hurt the poorest.

But even if this administration does follow through on the economic promises, the social cost may be too much. I am a straight, white male. I can’t speak to living a day in the life of a black man, a Muslim woman, a Latino family or a LGBTQ teen. So I won’t. But I can listen, and I hear a lot of those voices saying they’re scared. It’s scary when the KKK celebrates Trump’s election. It’s scary to read that the FBI reports an increase in hate crimes against Muslims this past year to the highest point since 9/11. It’s scary to hear Trump promise to deport 2 million people. It’s scary when the Vice President-elect advocated for spending tax dollars on conversion therapy as the governor of Indiana. Again, I don’t know anything about the challenges facing these groups. But that should make me more prone to listen, not less.

I don’t want to see eight years of white working class individuals feeling ignored and angry erase the progress made to help others who have felt ignored and voiceless for decades, or even centuries, in this country.

Finally, as skeptical as I am of this man and nervous about what policies his government could enact, I have been encouraged by the desire to have fierce resistance to anything that might wipe away that progress. The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, ProPublica and many others have seen a swell in donations. In a perverse way Trump’s election may have shaken us to action. I can only hope that fire doesn’t die out.

It’s been a week since I learned Donald Trump would be President. The moments of absolute dread keep ebbing away, but my adversarial skepticism remains sharp as ever. Equally important my desire to ensure social equality does not regress has been stoked to a new high.

Thank you for reading,

AR

 

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My friend died.

It’s still a surreal sentence to write; just like it was a surreal sentence to say; just like it was a surreal sentence to hear. At 24, I didn’t expect a friend, a younger friend, to die. It didn’t make sense. I found out fairly soon after it happened, but with no information as to how, and for a few hours I didn’t even know if it was true. In time I learned it was, and the reality slowly sank in. I couldn’t see him if I went to California and he couldn’t come to the East Coast. He wouldn’t be at my wedding and I wouldn’t be at his. We couldn’t golf and smoke cigars and sing improv songs while he played guitar. It’s heartbreaking.

There is solace in the fact it was a painless death, and that he lived a happy life that made other lives happy as well. There is sadness in the fact it ended too soon.

In this age of social media I watched post after post go up on his Facebook page in the days after the news spread. It was amazing (though, knowing him, I shouldn’t have been surprised) how many people’s lives he touched. The terms “lit up a room” and “left people better than he found them” were repeated again and again. Little stories were shared, little windows into the amazing life he led, and they each brightened a dark time a little more.

There were memorials in three cities for him. That alone is a testament to the impact he had on those who knew him. Each one organically included “Piano Man,” a song he played as often as he did well. That, to me, is a testament to his genuine character. He was a genuine man. He didn’t change for anyone.

I was able to see most of our mutual friends at one memorial, and the little bit of brightness gained from the stories posted by strangers became a floodlight of good memories and bonding with men who I call brothers, not friends. As I suspect it is with most tragedies, this one made it clear I need to keep in constant contact with my brothers. I needed to keep in contact with all the people I love. I’m realizing it doesn’t take much time or extra effort to send a text or make a phone call.

I guess I’m saying all this to make the point of showing those you love that you care. Tell someone you love them today. Send a text. Make a phone call. You won’t regret it, I promise you.

Exodus is coming. It’s been a roller coaster couple weeks.

Thank you for reading,

AR

Hello, and welcome

Welcome to redagoodbook. This blog will be my thoughts and reactions to different pieces of literature I read in an attempt to improve and increase my own reading, and to offer some kind of insight into how they affect my life.

The first book featured will be The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. The second book will be Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. The third book will be The Bible. I recently finished The God Delusion and, as someone brought up in the Christian faith, it shook me. It made me question. It made me doubt. But as someone brought up to think critically, to look at the world as a whole and not only through my personal sliver of perspective, it liberated me. It inspired me. It made me want to dig into my own faith and see what that faith was really about.

I read Blue Like Jazz in my teens. When I had finished it I claimed it as my own personal Bible. Miller offers up an idea called “Christian spirituality” which, in short, rejected the idea of organized religion and instead focused on a personal relationship with Christ. I liked this idea, but it became a way for me to say I was a Christian without actually doing anything. This type of faith also mirrored a selective type of faith that Dawkins discusses. I thought I was a good person because I was a Christian. Dawkins argues that we don’t need God, or religion, to be moral (I will delve more into this in the next posts). So, was I being a Christian spiritualist or a moral humanist? I needed to re-read Miller’s book to see.

After that will be The Bible. For the purposes of this blog I will reflect on each book therein. Yup, all 66 of them. In the end it doesn’t matter what Dawkins argues or Miller argues. In the end, I figure, if I read the book I was taught about every weekend until I was 17 (but never actually read) then I would know if it was something I believed.

Once that’s done, it may be a Calvin and Hobbes collection so this blog isn’t so heavy.

I’m posting my reactions for two reasons: 1) to give myself a record of my thoughts as I read and 2) hopefully a friend, family member or stranger will see this and it will help them in some way.

Thank you for reading,

AR