Friday, January 20, 2017

Well, It Finally Happened!

               I finally lost a friend over the election. The first that I know of. The first to tell me I'm dead to him. In person and not on social media. And I can't even blame him--it was I who lost my temper and said things that shouldn't be said. (You know how emotional we females can get--I blame it all on menopause and drinking too many Diet Pepsis .)

               And I'm the one who said I would respect each person's individual vote. After all, we all have our own issues, prejudices, and hot buttons. And they drive our votes. As for me, I'm a card-carrying bleeding-heart liberal. I don't mind paying more taxes so others can get the services they need, even if they don't always deserve them. I'll fight to the death to have a competent Secretary of Education of our public schools so the children of the trump voters can have a better education.

               But it's tough. My friend called me a poor sport. Like I just lost at marbles. Actually, where important things like the Washington Redskins are concerned, I admit I'm a pretty poor sport.  But, with lots of practice, over the years I've honed my ability to pretend I'm okay with the Dallas Cowboys claiming they are "America's Team" while the Redskins stay home again from the Big Game.

               But I digress. I tried to explain that, more important than being a good sport, I have real concerns about the competence and experience of trump and his cabinet members.  He waved that off as having less importance than that the Republican party had vanquished Hillary and Obama. Oh, good. The black guy and the woman are gone.

               He's also a bottom-line guy who hates the idea that a business, like the one we work for, would be forced to pay for employees to have basic healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act. Or the idea that the federal government would force its opinion or any type of regimen on anyone. God knows we wouldn't want anyone telling us we had to be a Christian or a heterosexual or eschew birth control or guard ourselves from grizzlies in our public schools.

               But I'm pleading temporary insanity. When he told me that (a) there is no evidence that Congress wants to repeal healthcare coverage for under-26's or for those with preexisting conditions and (b) there is no evidence that Russia was involved in the recent debacle, I felt my precarious hold on mental health starting to fail.  I asked where he was getting his news. When he told me "that's Hillary stuff," I heard a snapping sound from inside my head. Something vital had broken loose.

               When our coworker, sitting with us, naively asked what Congress intended to replace the ACA with, since obviously so many people needed it, he told her not to worry about it, that Congress would handle it. At this point, I flew over the edge of the cuckoo's nest.

               This was not going to work. I had gone into a gunfight armed with a spitball. And it didn't end well. The top of my head blew off and blood and brains spewed out. Metaphorically speaking. When he told me I was dead to him, I think I remember telling him to send it to me in a 140-character Tweet so I'd know it was official.

               The important thing here is that it was my fault. I didn't set out to lose a friend I've worked with for 15 years. I had no intention of making an enemy out of a coworker that I work with daily.  And friends, long-time or new, are nothing to scoff at. I value my friends. I take full blame for what happened.

               But the more I think about it, we really weren't friends. We were coworkers who disagreed violently but politely on most aspects of daily life and culture. We were generally cordial as long as we stuck to topics with no possible religious or political significance. Pictures of cute puppies and grumpy kittycats were possible but only if none of the puppies was sitting too close to another puppy of the same sex.

               My friends and I don't always agree on everything but we agree on the important things--the value of other people, the importance of the environment, the need to be able to trust those to whom we've entrusted the leadership of our country. So I guess he and I weren't really friends. Just work acquaintances.  And I guess that's over.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I'm Back--and it took This Guy to get me back

To my conservative friend(s):

               Someone commented to me the other day that I seem to be "really bothered" by This Guy. And I answered that I was "worried," not bothered. That wasn't the truth.

               I'm not "bothered" by him. He is who he is. He has changed his public persona over the years, has claimed a multitude of beliefs and positions, and has been a chameleon depending on who he needed to be, who he was with, what he thought someone wanted to hear. Like the old joke about the snake, we knew he was a snake when we picked him up. The fact is, it's not his fault that he's in a job that he's uniquely unqualified for. It's the fault of the American voters.

               I'm not even bothered by the so-called deplorables (what a crappy word to call someone!), those voters who are uneducated or poorly educated, underemployed or unemployed, who have no hope for their present or future, who are racists or misogynists, or who are still fighting in bars rather than engaging in debates. Nope, I'm bothered by voters like you.

               I know you to be honorable. You're a good person, a patriot, a loyal employee, a loving husband and father. You are someone I've spent hours with, debating  history, football, and politics, always with the underlying idea that, although we fundamentally disagree on many aspects of today's culture, we share basic positions that we both hold dear: love of country, love of family, love of work, respect for the foundations of our country and those who seek to keep us safe, a complex spiritual life, and concern for those among us who have less than we do, either materially, emotionally, or health-wise.

               I'm bothered that you have endorsed This Guy with your vote. We've all met people like him. He's the boss who pinched my butt and tried to touch my breasts in the office (when I was 17 and in my first job), waving a soggy cigar when I pulled away. He's the guy who brags about how much he does for others but you have to dun for the entry fee for the charity golf tournament. He's the guy who stiffs the waitstaff because of some imaginary slight in the service. The guy who sneers behind your back that your (first) wife isn't as hot as his (third or fourth) wife, that your kid went into the military instead of a fancy university because the military is for "losers," that he's too smart to pay taxes when you just made your quarterly payment, that he's too smart to believe in God when you're seeking prayers for your sick child. He's the guy you don't let hold your toddler daughter. Ever. The business owner who overlooks your years of service to give the job you've earned to his nephew who has no experience. The guy who makes rude jokes at others' expense and doesn't understand why his peers aren't laughing.

               So, tell me. Would you hire This Guy? Would you ask him to join you and your wife for dinner? Have a drink with him in the bar? Introduce him to your daughter? Play poker with him? Ask him to mentor your son? Nominate him for an office in your professional organization? Suggest him to lead an important fundraising drive? Ask him to babysit your precious grandchild or dog for a weekend, a day, an hour?

               If the answers are no, he's not fit to be the leader of one of the leaders of the free world. We need a leader with experience, a willingness to learn the complexities of the world we live in, and an ability to work with others. (Harry Truman did it with little or no experience in national politics, but he was a selfless guy with a deep love of his country and a willingness to listen to a bi-partisan group of advisors.) Someone who will be honest with the American people (we all know those coal-country jobs aren't coming back--they don't exist any more and the jobs that do exist require a different set of educational and experiential qualifications--we need to be concentrating on education, not standing around waiting for a miracle). Someone who engenders respect, and maybe trust, from our allies and enemies alike.  Someone who can't be bought or influenced. Someone who puts the country's needs ahead of his own. This Guy isn't it. I'm not certain the other candidate was the best the Democrats could have come up with either, but at least I'm not worried she would get us blown up by North Korea because of an ego trip.

               Finally, my friend said, "hey, we've survived worse than this." Really? Is that now the qualification for president, that he's not the worst? Seriously?