Sunday, October 16, 2016

Permission to Rant

How to be fierce in defense of the vulnerable without getting caught in the muck of the evil-doers? How to be honest in my exasperation with lies, hatred and willful hurt? How to understand without excusing or accepting purposeful ignorance and malevolent ideas and actions? The rant I really want to make would be filled with expletives and caps and exclamation points. I want to Howl like Allen Ginsberg, scream like Pharoah Sanders in Coltrane’s Meditations, swing my sword of justice like Hercules cutting off the heads of the Hydra or Rama vanquishing Ravanna. In most of the real world, good and evil are dressed in countless shades of gray, but sometimes it’s as simple as black and white and this time, black is the good guys. But that Mr. Nice Guy I carry with me has trouble letting it all hang out in a public blog. So below is my tempered rant I wrote after reading an article trying to explain the Trump phenomena. As follows:

I am so tired of hearing all the reasons, rationales, excuses, justifications, analysis and theories about why apparently perfectly normal decent people would choose to vote for Trump. Yes, it’s important to consider, to analyze, to think about what needs more attention in the future, but from where I sit, there simply is no excuse for an adult human being closing down the multiple pathways of the thinking brain to just obsess on one thing. Never mind the blatant insults to and sexual harassment of women, never mind the vitriol hurled at the handicapped, Latinos, blacks and Muslims, never mind the inability to answer a direct question or develop a single coherent thought beyond spouting out about the liberal “disaster,” never mind a pathological inability to apologize and take responsibility, never mind the idolization of a Russian despot, never mind the insane denial of climate change, never mind the arrogant boasting about how smart he is to avoid paying millions in taxes while ranting about our economic problems, never mind the absence of a single coherent political plan, never mind his casual attitude about nuclear weapons. None of that matters as long as he promises the lie that the working citizen will pay less taxes and make them feel better about their life by raising them one notch higher than all the rapists, terrorists and violent folks that make up his fantasy of people of color.

I’m tired of hearing excuses from and about these people, I’m tired of trying to understand the reasons why they act like they do and make the choices they make, I’m tired of listening to a psychoanalysis about why they so fanatically hate a woman who has devoted a lifetime of service to trying to make this government run better for its citizens. They have adult bodies and the responsibility to match them with adult minds, minds capable of discerning fact from fiction, minds open to discussion, minds adept at the basics of rational thought. They have adult powers and responsibilities that they have to meet with hearts that care beyond their own discontent with their life. Some part of them signed up for a human incarnation and that means following nature’s invitation to keep growing neuron connections, to develop the frontal lobes capable of empathy and compassion, to consider consequences beyond their unfocused anger at who they are and who they aren’t. They boast about their good fortune about landing in a democratic nation without looking at the responsibilities, knowledge and good citizenship that requires.

I’m sick of trying to understand them. And I know that they’re not trying to understand why people would vote for Hillary because that would mean talking about actual real things like job qualifications, political proposals, voting records, ideas about making government work better. I’ll have a good healthy discussion with any of them with honest and open-minded points that we can equally consider about each other’s experience, but I won’t have a shouting-match or name-calling session or casual agreement to disagree when the stakes are so high.

People, the stakes are so high. No one takes time to understand the experience of people fleeing from a burning building or running to put out the fire. Trump has proven six ways to Sunday that he is the least qualified and appropriate candidate in the entire history of the United States and it is the responsibility of every adult voter to think beyond their own one issue and their own strange anger and their own casual irresponsibility.

After the election is over and Trump loses—by a landslide, I hope— and we can all breathe again, then I will want to understand his supporters. I know it sounds arrogant that I and my kind think that we're 95% right and they're 95% wrong, but the truth is that this is not a respectful disagreement between two political points of view. It's a contest between a point of view and a knee-jerk, desperate, fanatic, unthinking, vengeful misuse of democratic power for all the wrong reasons. It's a battle between thought and ignorance, between people who can defend the pros and cons of Hillary's offerings and people who are shouting "Hang her in the streets!", between folks who want to keep the moral arc the universe bending toward justice and those who are punching black folks in the face for attending their rallies, openly encouraged by their candidate. 

When this bad nightmare is over, then I will re-commit to educating them—or more importantly, their children. And yes, I'll be happy to hear why they thought this was okay and listen to their frustrations and calmly look at why hatred and simple-minded non-solutions would not have solved them. But not now. All I want to say to them now is please stay home and don't vote. I know it sounds anti-democratic, but voting is a privilege and responsibility earned by citizens who take it seriously enough to understand that we cannot build a wall on our border and no, we cannot make Mexico pay for it. Or as one Trumpette thought, we cannot make China pay for the Mexican wall. Don't get me started on that list.

Rant over and back to work.

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