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Please  the  and  in your  and  to post this on their  to take a  against the  of our . #onecountry

#accountability #maga #trumptrain #racialjustice

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This is the second in a three-part series on Trump and his supporters.

When evangelical Christians decided that they would back Donald Trump for President a number of commentators rightfully pointed out that the cynical hypocrisy of such an endorsement. The Religious Right stood for a certain type of morality that focused on personal behavior.  Trump has a lifetime of behavior that is completely antithetical to the brand that evangelical Christians have built for 4 decades.  Indeed, Trump does not live up to the any interpretation of the teachings of Jesus, whether you are a conservative, centrist or progressive Christian.  Evangelicals made a choice to associate with someone who clearly has spent a life away from the church focusing on satiating his greed and an ego that he is never quite able to fill.  Through cheating on wives, divorces and clear utterances of misogyny and disrespect of women, he exemplified everything Evangelicals have decried in public life.  Refusing to walk away from someone who says he just walks up to women and "grabs them in the pussy" is evidence that evangelicals were willing to walk away from the values, for...well for what exactly?  I assume their support was predicated on the promise of more conservative judges who will restrict abortion rights.  Losing your soul to potentially make progress on a public policy is a most cynical political decision that seems so out of character with the moralizing that we've heard from the evangelical community. 

I guess the "grab them by the pussy" comment answered the question that what would Trump have to do lose the support of his core voters like evangelicals.   Maybe he was right. During the campaign, Trump said he could should someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose his supporters.  I'm sure Fox News would find a way to let us know that Trump was simply standing his ground against his unsuspecting victim.  They've done it before (Trayvon Martin). 

The last few days provided more evidence.  He introduced "shithole" into our lexicon in describing Haiti and African countries in a way that those folks felt was really racist.  So did the rest of us.   Most evangelicals and Trump supporters writ large did not condemn the racism or the cursing. I know evangelicals generally shy away from such language. Some commentators and friends decry the use of "shithole" on TV rather than denouncing the racism which is misplaced.  Most of us care about the racism and not so much about the cursing.  But even with the cursing, the media is blamed as opposed to the man in the Oval Office who used the term.  

There was also news the following day that Trump's lawyer paid $130,000 in hush money to a porn star (Anyone else look her up? Your kids probably did Trump supporters).   Paying off a porn star during a campaign would have ended most political careers and certainly would have drawn forceful denunciations from religious right types.  For Donald Trump and his supporters now, it is just Friday.  

To Trump Supporters I would say this:

Many, if not most of you, are decent hardworking people.  I understand that you may live in an environment where Fox News and other media, folks at church and in your community, affirm the choice you made to vote for Trump and supporting him now.  I must say, though, defending this man now may actually be an exercise that corrodes your decency and our collective sense as a nation about what kind of behavior and sentiments we will accept from our leaders and that which will we   This is not about the election, though Trump frequently talks about the election.  Many of you proudly cast your vote for him. Are you proud now of that vote given his Presidency is really the question. And given that you voted for him do you hold him accountable for his racism and misogyny?  If so, how?  Are your concerned about the women who have come forward and those that apparently have been paid off. 

Some of you may want to challenge the sentiment that the President is racist.  That's a difficult position for me to accept. Some inquiries for you to consider: 

  • Do you think saying there are good people amongst neo-Nazis racist and anti-semitic? Which among the chanters saying "Jews will not replace us" are good people?
  • Do you think saying all Haitian immigrants have AIDS is racist?
  • Do you think saying an American born judge of Mexican heritage could not be fair in a case because of that heritage is racist?
  • Do you think having an almost all white workforce in the White House, cabinet and amongst the GOP congress racist?
  • Do you think calling Haiti and countries in Africa shitholes while saying you want immigrants from Norway racist? The African Union demanded a retraction and an apology.
  • Finally, as a white person who isn't subject to racism, do you think you are the best judge of what is racist and what isn't?

On that last point, I try not to be a judge on what's racist. I listen to the folks most affected by racism and let that be an important guide to my view. The African Union issued an unprecedented joint statement. They felt the recent statement was racist. The Haitians felt the same way. The Norwegians felt similarly. African Americans in Congress denounced the statements as racist. Many Republicans did as well. The broad judgement of much of the world is that Trump has indeed made multiple racist statements. It is perhaps you who is either naive or willfully choosing not to listen to voices of those most affected an truly at this point almost the entire country and world who believe Trump is a racist based on his racist statements. My question to you again is how do you hold Trump accountable? Perhaps first though, you should be holding yourself accountable to listening and learning from folks who don't look like you, who find themselves the victims of racism.

If you have confined yourself to a certain range of content/media because you we hear the talking points that these outlets use to defend terrible behavior from the President...something about criticism coming from those "whom don't want America to succeed."

Many of you want us to look past his words and tweets but rather judge him by his actions. Do you judge all leaders in that way? Why do you tolerate behavior in from the nation's leader that you would not tolerate from your children or from anyone in your community? In my view, part of leadership is how they use their voice, but are you suggesting that we ignore the racism and pettiness that comes from the President on a daily basis? If you want me to judge him solely on his policy, what policy accomplishments can you point?  Unfortunately, there's a lot of policies that Trump pursues that are likewise racist in nature.  

In this most recent incident, if every nation in the African Union is offended by Trump's comments, should he apologize and retract? What would you tell your child who called his or her friends' homes shitholes? On some level it comes down to basic human decency doesn't it?  Don't lose your soul and your own decency by defending Trump's lack of morality or decency or his dehumanizing of others.  You voted for him, but don't lower the bar,  Hold him accountable to living into our American ideals, basic human decency, and the moral values that every religion lifts up.   

Most of you are a lot better people than Trump.  Show it.   

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This is the first of a three-part series on Trump and his supporters. 

When Trump won the election over a year ago, I pledged to engage white Trump voters with whom I disagree to better understand their position.  My personal pledge reflected a consensus media narrative that white folks left behind from the economic disruptions of a globalized economy had taken their anger out on the system through an imperfect candidate, but a person who channeled and spoke to their frustrations.  Such a broad brush of Trump voters never really painted the full picture.  Yes, there were plenty of folks who voted from an economically aggrieved position AND there were significant elements of racism and xenophobia evident at Trump rallies and amongst some subset of his supporters.  Indeed, in my own family there is a real spectrum of Trump voters ranging from:

  • Folks who couldn't bring themselves to vote for either candidate - Plenty of typical Republicans/conservatives were so disgusted with Trump's behavior that they could not bring themselves to vote for Trump.  Likewise, they could not bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton (the reasons for which we can address another time). On election night, Michael Moore noted that there were 90,000 votes in Michigan where folks refused to vote at the top of the ticket and yet voted in the down ballot races.  That switched reliably blue Michigan to a gain for Trump.  
  • Folks who are genuinely feeling economic pain who felt left behind - White working class folks have a real economic ax to grind that has been left largely unaddressed by Democratic policy makers (though in fairness moving on such policies have often been blocked by the GOP).  During the Bush Tax debate in late 2012, I suggested that President Obama do a bus tour from Pennsylvania through the Upper Midwest to make the economic case as to why we needed higher taxes for rich people and to make the case for how progressive policy is helping people in their daily lives.  Democrats would be well served to follow the example of Bernie Sanders by adopting a truly progressive economic agenda keep going to communities from West Virginia and other less urbanized areas of the country to make the case consistently and with passion.  
  • Upper middle class and wealthy folks voting for their economic self-interest - Largely missing in the media conversation about Trump voters, there are a lot of upper middle class and wealthy folks whose investment in the GOP and thereby Trump continues to pay off in tax cuts to income and inheritances.  While they're votes aligned with the previous group, their economic interests are not.  Right wing media does its best to align these two groups through use of racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and anti-poor rhetoric combined with a the GOP economic promise of lower taxes.
  • Outright racists - No one in my family is a KKK member (at least that I know) but you can see from their social media posts and from the conversations we've had that they are clearly racist.  Some have used the n-word and anti-semitic language in different family functions over the years.  They like Trump largely because he gives license to their racism and addresses their fears about a diversifying American population.  And or course, actual members of the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups have adopted Trump as their standard bearer and he has given the love back assuring the rest of the country that they have good people amongst their ranks. 

Even as I've divided these audiences, it is important to note that there is a good degree of overlap between these groups.  A Trump voter can have legitimate economic grievances and at the same time hold internalized or overt racial hostilities and both sentiments affirm a vote for Trump given what he represents.

In the last year, I struggled with this pledge of engagement.  With each succeeding episode of blather coming from Trump's lips or his thumbs on twitter, it has become increasingly difficult to engage folks who defend such vile, egomaniacal, and racist utterances.  There are of course folks who know better, but because of political expediency or lack of courage, refuse to condemn racist statements from the President.  

Nonetheless, I believe that such engagement is important, especially for white folks such as myself that have Trump supporters in your networks.  We must always challenge racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and other forms of oppression where we see, even within our families and communities.  For whatever frustration and disconcert it brings to our lives, it often pales to what the victims of oppression must contend.  My white male privilege demands my engagement to address of those who perpetuate and defend systems of racism and oppression.  

That being said, I'm not suggesting you bang your head against the walls of ignorance or vehement racism.  I understand the frustration. Ultimately, you have to extricate yourself from conversations with folks who refuse to engage responsibly without insults and move on to the next challenge.  I leave those conversations with some fairly simple advice to them:

1. Spend a lot more time speaking with folks who don't look and think like you, and;

2. Read and consume content from a wider range of views.

From within the right wing media vortex, it is tough to hear different viewpoints and even to get basic facts on the table (see climate change as the debate only exists amongst the right wing of US, while the rest of the world has accepted the basic science and facts on the matter).  If folks' self-identity or their frame of reference is so caught up in the years of right wing propaganda, talking right now might not help.  In those cases, you can only offer the opportunity for learning and engagement.  

If some segment of Trump voters spends the time listening to folks who are the subject to oppression and learning some of the basic facts of policy that it will change their minds and perhaps more importantly their hearts.  Not many will open themselves to such learning because it requires the humility, not a strong suite of Trump and many of his supporters. There will be some, eventually.  We are planting seeds and playing a long game.  

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I am a huge Civil War buff, not to the level of Re-enactor, but I'm definitely a nerd when it comes to Civil War history.  I love visiting Civil War battlefields. On some of them, I could be your tour guide. At different points in my life I was a voracious reader of Civil War history.  Lincoln is probably my favorite historical figure, a hero, and obviously central to the Civil War story. I am all about honoring our history as a nation and the Civil War was the pivotal moment.  This interest in the history is shared by many, including white Southerners who had a different set of experiences. 

Frequently though, a line is crossed between interest in the history and the promotion of the cause of racism and treason.  This discussion heated up in recent years concerning the Confederate Flag.  The Star and Bars has been and is still used as a flag of intimidation against African Americans and other people of color.  Racists in the South and North have wrapped themselves in this flag.  The racist stench on the flag, the lynchings and Jim Crow associated with it, make it completely unacceptable for use for anything other than a Re-enactment battlefield or a museum.  Let us also not forget that the Confederate flag is that of secession, of treason against the government.  These acts of treason were not some noble act against a morally bankrupt nation, like perhaps the Revolutionary War, but was fought to maintain the institution of chattel slavery.  The descendants of those enslaved Africans, many of whom fought for their freedom only to live under a system of continued racial oppression, should not have to confront these symbols in their daily life as they enter a courthouse, a school, or a town green. 

The same principles apply to Civil War monuments and statues.  The emphasis of white supremacists on Charlottesville came as a result of the town coming to terms with its Confederate monuments in particular a statue of Robert E. Lee, the capable general of the Army of Northern Virginia.  I was not privy to the process of community engagement that Charlottesville used, but on social media even seen some progressives have problems coming to terms with this discussion.  Some even defended the existence of prominent memorials to Robert E. Lee, apologizing for him because he struggled at the onset of the Civil War about what to do.  I can respect the man as a general and respect the sacrifices of common people on both sides of the conflict.  But let's be clear,  Bobby Lee made the wrong choice. He led the fight as a traitor to maintain the institution of slavery.  Lee was a great military mind and lived up to his own sense of honor. But he failed crucial moral tests about which folks in his day were quite clear.

These statues, like flying the Confederate flag, serve a nefarious purpose well beyond historical remembrance.  As can be seen from the chart above, most of these statues were put up during Jim Crow to further maintain the false notion that the South was somehow right in attempts to secede and maintain the institution of slavery. I'm all about remembrances on battlefields or in museums, but not on prominent government property. We shouldn't be honoring treason or racism in such a manner.

Take a look at the video of Don Lemon's reaction (not a show with which I'm necessarily enthralled). He gave a poignant testimony of the real psychological harm to black and other students of color who must go to a public school named after Robert E. Lee or other prominent Souther secessionists.

We should have moral clarity on this issue.  As Lemon states, the Germans rid themselves of the racist symbols of Nazi Germany.  As America continues to deal with its original sin of racism and slavery, it is time to take the next step.  No longer should we publicly honor traitors to the country who fought to maintain chattel, race-based slavery.  No longer should we maintain symbols built to justify the cause of racism and maintain oppressive racist structures.  The time has long past to take the Confederate flags and the statues of Confederates down.  Let us now hold these folks accountable for their clearly wrong choices by taking them out of our public life and communities  putting them in a museum or a battlefield.

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Dear , doesn't give a shit about you. He only cares about himself. #workingpeople

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Jake Tapper has been on fire, hasn't he? He, Rachel Maddow, and David Frum have the most lucid commentary on the Trump administration, each from a very different perspective.  In his commentary today, Tapper called out the Trump administration for lying...again.  No one in the administration produced a single shred of evidence to support Trump's ridiculous claims that Obama ordered surveillance on him. Indeed, the Justice Department, asked for a delay in producing evidence for Congressional investigation committees.  Delay might be the only tactic available, short of saying that the President actually lied.  

Tapper's take down of the administration hacks who attempt to explain lie after lie that the President tweets is epic and worth the watch:


Most disturbing elment of this latest lie is that Trump again breaks a basic norm essential to a functioning democracy.  Sitting Presidents generally are hands off against their predecessors. Except during election cycles, former Presidents generally try to stay out of the fray.  A norm like this ensures that the current occupant of the White House can act without the interference of a former President. Likewise, a former President who has take on the toughest job in the world for four or eight years can live in relative peace without the threat of ongoing political reprisals.  

When Trump treats such basic democratic norms with his typical self-centered disdain, where are the aides and Trump voters who step up to say that's not okay? Instead, Spicer goes out before the world to airquote "wire tap" like we're supposed to take Trump figuratively even when he speaks quite definitively. I keep asking on social media are there any Trump supporters who wish to defend breaking of norms, the complete retreat from basic decency, or his blatant lying such as the the "tap" that Obama placed on Trump? Despite my entreaties, I have yet to see any of those who voted for him defend the ridiculous tweets or policy positions of the administration. I have yet to see any of them defend the blatant lying.

They went after the speck in Obama's eye incessantly, but are completely unwilling to denounce the wood beam in Trump's eye. At this point, they are enablers.

#wiretap ance

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