Power Through Hate?

Being a child of the 60s and a teen of the seventies, I grew up with domestic terrorism. The Weather UndergroundSLANew World Liberation FrontBlack Panthers and a host of others. While I didn’t sympathize with them, I understood them, understood what they were protesting against; inequality, Injustice, Imperialism, racism, war, all the social ills that have never changed. These new brand terrorist groups coincided with social movements such the student movements, movements for civil rights, women, gay rights, the environment and of course Viet Nam. Without doubt, one could argue that things changed due to the unrest, but how is it, nothing seems to have changed? Sure, we made some progress with civil rights, we became much more aware of our environment, women started being listened to, the war did end and public awareness of alternative sexual lifestyles entered the public American consciousness. All good things for most sensible people, but it seems that all the small steps of progress came to a screeching halt in the early eighties. Maybe we just grew tired, perhaps it was too much too soon, could be the wind just changed. I don’t know, I have my own opinion, and it’s politically based, having to do with Reagan and the rise of the moral majority, but I wouldn’t bet my life on my opinion.

While the turmoil of the time was based in far left ideologies, I’m worried that the next wave of domestic terrorism is going to be from far right ideologies. At some point in time, I believe it’s going to happen. I’m not ignorant of the fact that there already had been far right protests and killings, I’m just of the belief it’s going to get worse. A lot worse. Why? It would be easy to blame Trump, but Trump isn’t the cause, being just a symptom of the disease. The root cause is what lives in the hearts of the individual, in how they perceive the world around them. Who they blame for all the ills in their lives. In that fact, there’s a lot of similarities to those protesters and domestic terrorist of my youth. Everyone sees injustice through their own lens, and they personalize it, needing to blame someone, somebody, and usually the wrong somebody. There is, however, a concrete difference in perception between yesterday and today. Fifty years back, people wanted better, better for all Americans, not just a select group. Fairness and equality were a concept for all Americans, not a select group.

What I see today is a much different concept, based in hate, blame and fear. What the far right wants, and I’m not sure if it’s even a white america, as much as it is, a movement to secure power as theirs alone, at the expense of immigrants, people of color, people with alternative lifestyles, and anyone who isn’t Christian. It’s not a logical concept for a Democratic Republic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. It is! And I think they’re dead set on getting it, any means possible.

Truth of the Matter

Given the amount of information available on any given topic, one would think misinformation, myths and lies would be a thing of the past. One would think! Of course, we all know that’s not true, and in fact, we seem to be more confused to what the truth is on any given subject than ever. I’m not talking about flat earthers, or those claiming we never landed on the moon, there will always be a small segment of humans out on a weak limb. I’m thinking more along the lines of climate change, politics, and our media in general. For instance, News. I happen to believe what I read in the headlines of the major markets, but I understand, outlets need to frame their headlines in a certain way, and that all our media is profit based. I also understand that from time to time, they get something wrong. Generally, I believe our media is honest. I do want to draw a distinction here, I’m not including political pundits, on any network. Being somewhat of a science nerd, I also tend to trust science, and yet I know science is always evolving, new theories are always emerging. And then there’s politics, and you can’t talk about truth in politics unless you mention Trump. First a disclaimer, Trump ain’t the first politician to warp the truth. He just does it better than anyone else. Ever! I never believed he had a shot at winning the Presidency simply because I thought people would see through his bullshit. I was wrong. So how is it, people accept his word as truth, and how do you fight it? Well, you can’t fight his beliefs with truth, with facts, as others would suggest. Indeed, it’s claimed that re-framing lies with facts is the way to go. I don’t buy into that. So how do you change peoples beliefs, when their truths are wrong. There’s a lot to unpack in that question, and it offers up more questions than answers perhaps. It starts with an examination your own personal beliefs, your facts, and the reason for them. You simply can’t persuade a person to change their belief systems if you’re using bogus facts yourself, or repeating a viral Internet meme as a foundation for truth. Sorry, that’s laughable. It’s important to establish why you believe a fact is true, from an emotional standpoint. How a fact moves you to laugh, or cry. For example, I find it hard to give any credit to those claiming our moon landings were all a hoax, simply because of the pride I take in my nations, and humanities, accomplishments. They could be right, for all I know, but the evidence is moot because I don’t want to hear it simply because doing so would damage that pride. It’s no different with politics. The question isn’t replacing your opponents facts with your facts, facts can be found to support any position, true or not. The question is how do you get your opponents to start questioning their own beliefs, especially when their beliefs make them feel better. Part of that answer is in the ‘entertainment factor’, part of it is in ‘being special’ and another part of it is in ‘belonging’. Trumps a perfect example, he’s entertaining, people like that. They didn’t see his mockery of a disabled journalist as beyond pale, because he was entertaining, because no one else in the room thought it was disgusting, and it bought them all together as a group, making them all special, even while knowing the behavior was probably wrong. All on an emotional level. How do you think a trump support felt when he mocked the disabled, if that supporter had a disabled child at home? I’d guess they’d be somewhat bothered, but they very well might not be bothered to the point where they withdrew their support. Same thing with his pussy grabbing. It’s bothersome at an emotional, human level, but acceptable. Why? For several reasons. First, it wasn’t too long ago where we mocked the disabled, where the term ‘retarded’ was common place, and talk about grabbing pussy, well, that really was locker room talk, something men just did. While both might stir emotional issues with a person, the emotional issues were able to be swept aside due to a sense of justification at an emotional level. An emotional connection to the person standing next to you, that you’re both part of something special. That’s a strong bond, and the only way to break it is by establishing a stronger bond, from another emotional perspective, and that ain’t an easy thing to do


The Value of Balance

I stood before a judge once. An old judge. One who mumbled, and slobbered, spittle running from his mouth, and hard of hearing to boot. While I received justice, it was clear to everyone in his courtroom, his best days as a fair and impartial judge were in his days past. Justice is a funny thing, it’s not always fair and balanced as much as we’d like to believe it to be. It can’t be be. We’re humans, we’re fallible, we make mistakes. Judges, Prosecutors, Defense attorneys, and jury’s are all comprised of people with preconceived thoughts and emotions, and all struggle to balance those with what is right, the right decision based on facts presented. I do not believe a person reaches a conclusion in a court of law based upon their political leanings, but on facts, through argument, and deliberation.

I do not know what the truth is in accusations toward Judge Kavanaugh, but I have heard enough to believe in an investigation of accusations. More than that, after watching his testimony, I believe that he simply cannot be impartial, cannot be fair if he believes the accusations against him are a conspiracy put forth, without providing evidence, without demanding an investigation into the facts. I’m bothered too, by his temperament, by his indignant lack of respect toward those who oppose his nomination. If Judge Kavanaugh holds such disrespect for those who seek the truth of the accusations made toward his character, I do not believe he’ll show the needed respect for those issues which come before him as a Supreme court justice. That facts, that valued arguments, that deliberation of those things upon which our scales of justice are balanced, simply won’t matter.

Deep State

Americans are embedded with a suspicion of government. It’s who we are, it’s how we’re raised, that suspicious eye being derived from our history, and weaved into our constitution. On one hand we trust our Government, and on the other, we’re deeply aware of how government can fail it’s people, and work to it’s own, ugly agenda. There is no surprise that 75% of Americans believe in a deep state, a cabal of the powerful running the show, behind the scenes.

If you define deep state in the above manner, look around. It’s not so deep, not so secretive, and in fact it’s quite evident. The rich and powerful, be they major corporations or individuals, spend billions of dollars to exert their will, to push their agenda, agendas that often betray the American experience.

If you define deep state as Trump does, as a cabal of Obama, left leaning democrats embedded in key government positions for the sole purpose of dictating policies, and working against his administration, I’d ask to see the evidence. I’d want to know how that works, especially in light of how each incoming president appoints their own cabinet officials to voice their political ideologies and agendas. A newly elected democrat could easily claim the same of the right. He could fire the Director of the FBI, claiming the director was out to get him, wasn’t following his new policies. That’s not evidence of a secretive cabal, that’s a disagreement between a man and his new boss.

I’ve never trusted our government to do the right thing, but not because of secret cabals of men working to their own ends, hidden deep in the offices of Washington, but rather because of money, and power. Of the two, money and power wins every time.

Trump, Racist?

Adolph Hitler believed in the Master Race, a belief founded in Joseph Arthur De Gobineau’s philosophy that distinct races who mixed, degenerated their cultures. Like Hitler, Donald Trump believes in the superiority of his genes. If environment plays any part in one’s belief, look no further than Donald Trump’s father. While there’s no valid evidence that Fred Trump was an active, and participating member of the Klu Klux Klan, he was arrested during a KKK rally, and Woody Guthrie was specific in his lyrics about old man Trump and his racial prejudice.

If a man’s actions are different than his words, the default is always to look to his actions to define ones’ character. In 1989, when 5 Black and Latino kids were charged with the brutal rape of a white woman, Donald Trump took out full page advertisements in leading New York papers, calling for their execution. Those five young adults were later to be found innocent, and to this day, Trump defends his actions, without apology.

Jumping to the recent past, in June of 2016, Trump claimed Mexico was sending us their ‘rapists’.

At face value, two incidents separated by twenty some years don’t make a person an outright racist. I’ve said, and done stupid things over the course of my lifetime to understand that. I have however, walked stupid actions back, and apologized as needed. I’ve tried to correct my wrongful assumptions.

Adding fuel to Racism charges is the fact that both he and his father were accused of racial discrimination as early as 1973, resulting in a settlement without admission of guilt. To continually make racial statements without apology, such as “they don’t look like Indians to me”, implying an American judge is biased due to his Mexican Heritage, along with attacking a gold star family, is fodder for defining the man’s character.

Trumps character is one based in abuse, of humiliation, divisiveness, and revenge and I can’t help but believe he takes great pride and pleasure in his character. Whether he is humiliating a disabled reporter, abusing a woman for her looks, implying he has the right to grope women, or simply seeking revenge toward one who disagrees with his own thoughts, nothing in his core character is unifying.

Indeed, in the last 24 hours, Trump has attacked the NFL, criticizing its owners for not disciplining their black players who kneel instead of stand during our anthem. It’s his personal opinion, but added to the thread of his character, I’m getting the drift.

Trump came full circle travelling from his Charlottesville comments to his NFL comments, in that his Charlottesville comments essentially claiming some white nationalists were good people and today, calling black NFL protestors sons of bitches.

All of this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Consider when Trump complemented those who assaulted a black protester during a campaign rally in Alabama. Perhaps we should let sink in, Trumps off the cuff remark that ‘Laziness is a trait of black people’, or his failure to outright condemn the white nationalists’ movement.

I watched the movie ‘Mother’ last night, an allegorical script about a mans need for adoration, and Trump came to mind. He’ll burn the world down around him to get that adoration from the few supporters he has left, that’s Trump. Fostering division to the delight of his base, encouraging hate to the gleeful screams of his fans, that’s Trump.

Finally, let’s not forget who Trump surrounded himself with in the early days of his administration. Bannon, Miller, Gorka, white nationalists! You are who you associate with. You are who your behavior dictates. Trump, Racist!

Surviving Trump

Christ, am I ever going to get a break from this imbecilic bully? Are any of us ever going to find our sanity again?

I’m tired of the 24/7 next level bullshit. Did I say next level? Hell, he’s skipped the next dozen rungs of the ladder and taken it to never before seen heights. Yea, we can point our fingers at the media, but the medias just taking his bullshit and fertilizing the America soil. I’m tired of it! I’m tired of Trump, and I just wish he’d go away, someplace where fire bakes brimstone.

Getting up in the morning, coffee in hand, reading the news is like standing in a shitstorm, mouth hung open, facing the wind. There’s no other way to say it.

For eight years I listened as Republicans fertilized our soil, spreading lie after lie about Obama. That was palpable, but I could deal with it, I knew what was going on. I guess in a way, they laid the foundation for Trump, and their refusal to recognize that adds to my Trumpfatigitis, cuz I know they could do something about it, but won’t, and it ain’t because they’re tired of slinging shit. Personally, I think Republicans are liking the show, revealing in it. They’re used to it, they spent so much time in the pigpen, it’s all they know. Shit!

I really don’t know if I can take another 7.5 years of this. That’s a lifetime, ‘specially for a geezer like me. Being old accounts for a lot of aches and pains, and I’ve rode a wild bike down the road of life, but I don’t deserve this shitstorm, nobody in this Nation does. Hell, nobody ever in existence does. Trump has taken my old mans pain and just beat me down, to the point where I’m like living in an alternate reality, where nothing is real. Living in a Salvador Dali world would be a blessing compared to this.

I don’t relish waking up every morning for the next seven plus years, and getting a mouthfull of shit. I got other things to do. Grandbabies in Hungary, an elderly mother, summertime firepits, tequila, YouTube videos, a little website. Christ, I skype with my son, it’s about Trump. I visit my mom, it’s about Trump. I set around my firepit with Friends, it’s about Trump. I do a vlog, and Trump has to show up. I drink tequila by the shotglass because of Trump. Shot after shot till I’m finally wandering about a Dali landscape, rejoicing in my escape.

And then I wake up to the shitstorm. Mouth agape, foul taste, and I’m just so fucking numb from it all. I’s only 9am, and I do a shot. And another. Now I’m ready for this alternative Universe.

I’d also bet what years I got left in this world, that I’m not fucking alone.

And don’t forget to stop by my website, robpaxton.me

 

A Path Forward

Minnesota has a unique political history with the Democratic party. While many Democrats in Minnesota identify with Democrats, we’re known as the DFL. I grew up believing the principals of the Democrat Farmer Labor party, I still do.

In the early 1920s, the Farmer Labor movement became a powerful political force earning State legislative victories over Democrats and Republicans with their simple message. ‘Agrarian reform, protection of farmers and unions, public ownership of our natural resources, utilities, railroads and a belief in social security legislation’.

Ideals that benefited people’s lives. Ideologies that common folk could understand.

Not only was the Farmer-labor party successful in Minnesota’s legislative seats, from 1921 to 1944 this party elected 3 Governors, 4 United States Senators, and eight United States Representatives.

In 1944, with Hubert Humphry being instrumental, the Minnesota Farmer-Labor party merged with the Democratic party becoming the Democratic Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota.

Today’s Republican party have all but merged with the Tea Party, Libertarians, the Alt-right, and far right Evangelicals giving them a powerful, political voice that drowns out Democrats, Progressives and Liberals.

There’s a history lesson here, and we should learn from it.

Democrats should ask themselves, ‘Why are people who hold our values, our belief in unions, in our environment, in social justice, turning from us, and seeking representation in third parties such as the Progressives, the Green Party, the Independence party, and even Libertarians?’.

We should ask also ‘Why does America have one of the lowest voter turnouts of any modern nation?’.

I don’t have to parse the questions into a thousand data points to find the answer. It’s there, clear, concise.

People don’t vote, simply because there’s nothing to vote for. Nothing new, nothing challenging, nothing that speaks to their future. Not because they don’t care, not because they’re lazy, but because they have heard it all before, with no real-world results.

The Progressive party will continue to grow, as will the Green party, the Constitutional party, the many state Independent parties. So will the Tea Party in some form and fashion, and the Libertarian party, and as they grow, the Republican Party will grow, and become much more of a force than they are now.

At face value, the Democratic Party will claim that they echo the voice of Progressives, that they believe in public ownership of our natural resources, that the Party believes in our labor force, that corporations have grown too large, their influence too great, but if that were all true, Bernie Sanders would have been our nominee.

And here’s the rub, rank and file Democrats, believe in all those things. People in general believe all these issues. Yet, half our nation will not vote.

For the Democratic Party to become sustainable, they must do more than echo repeatedly their concern for issues. They must reach out to people with third party affiliations, bring them into leadership positions, incorporate some of their platforms into theirs, cut ties with corporate donors that contribute to both political parties, and they must learn how to message their belief systems beyond simply attacking Republicans.

While we live in a different world than those of the 1920s and the Farmer-Labor party, some things don’t change. The need to change, the ability to change, the desire to change are always with us.

Politics are, after all, always rooted in being local.

www.robpaxton.me