Donald Trump is a Jerk and Why I’m Voting Republican

I pray for forgiveness of sins done and undone and this is why I’m writing this post. I don’t know that I will change anyone’s mind, but I don’t want the regrets of not giving it my best shot.

Let’s get something out of the way right now, God is neither a Republican or Democrat, in fact he’s not even an American. I hope that doesn’t shock you too much ( I still hold to the hope that he prefers the Cardinals over the Cubs, but have not been able to find any evidence of that in Holy Scriptures). While God may be neither Republican or Democrat, I believe that he loves every human everywhere as his child and values the sanctity of the life he has given us all..

The political landscape is as divisive as I have ever seen. Civility is not just missing, a stake has been driven through her heart. The hot topics (generally) are not ones of foreign policy or financial philosophies  but social issues; immigration, gender identity, LGBT adoption rights, healthcare, religious freedom act, gun control, etc. These are all important and very emotional issues.

I find it ironic that we are living in an era where by most measures we are more sensitive than any other point in time. We agonize over using plastic straws for fear that they may end up in the ocean inserted into a sea turtle’s nostril. We debate safe spaces for students at universities where they can gather to avoid a speaker or event that may offend them. We have raised the level of awareness for animal rights but yet we are willing to stop the beating heart of an unborn human baby, to suck him or her from the safety of it’s mother’s womb or dismember it all under the name of “reproductive health.”

But … but … but that’s just one issue among many you say.

Yes, but it’s the only issue that at it’s core is a matter of life and death.

I am hesitant to mention Nazis because that is so overdone, but imagine a defense of the Nazi party based on the argument that extermination of the Jews was just one plank in their platform. Any reasonable person would find that argument repugnant and indefensible.

Every year in America the Democratic party salutes as over 300,000 babies are violently torn from their mother’s wombs. That’s harsh you say … but the Democratic Party has made abortion a major plank in their platform and chooses their judges and candidates accordingly.

I wish this were not true. Neither Republicans or Democrats hold a monopoly on good policy ideas, but I will not sell out my principles for legislation that will benefit me financially or provide some measure of convenience when there are matters of life and death at stake.

Imagine a country where we truly embraced the sanctity of life from the beginning  until death, across every social, economic, religious and racial strata. I believe this has to start with the most innocent and helpless among us.

Yes, Donald Trump can be a real jerk, offensive and abrasive, but I have no other choice than to vote Republican this Tuesday.

Addendum, 11-15-18:

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” …Elie Wiesel

 

 

The Last Cowboy and when Politics became Religion

As Americans, we entertain a romantic notion that we are a group of rugged individualists. We imagine ourselves as the cowboy sitting astride his horse in a driving blizzard, hat pulled low, coat collar turned high as he watches over the herd. We have visions of life on the prairie, the pioneer wife, busting through the sod to plant a crop to feed her family, or the rugged New Englander, launching his hand-made wooden craft into the stormy Atlantic in pursuit of lobster or cod.

That individualism may be a part of our national gene pool, but if we’re honest, we are mostly a nation of joiners. We join the Lions Club, Kiwanis or Masons, we become Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, or Pentecostals. We sign up for book clubs and knitting groups, identify ourselves as Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox or Yankee fans. And of course we align ourselves as Democrats or Republicans.

There is value and comfort in joining with others of like interests. It provides a common bond, a baseline of communication and a sense of belonging. It allows us to relax, knowing that we are with others of same beliefs. That group becomes our community, more than our neighbors or the residents of the town we live in. They become our tribe.

But humans are an inherently flawed species, and all this joining carries with it a dark side. Somehow we understand that our tribe is made up of a collection of individuals, we are willing to cut each other some slack for our idiosyncrasies, for our differences, for our humanity. But that other tribe, the group that we don’t belong too, we paint with a broad brush. We use terms like, “those people.”

And then we have politics.

Somewhere along the way, politics ceased to be a preference of one policy over another. We no longer debate the merits of the New Deal or the Truman Doctrine. Economic and foreign policy issues have been relegated to lessor importance than social issues, and with the focus on social issues, political debate has become very personal and very divisive. National politics has become our national religion, an unholy alliance of church and state.

To know God’s love and grace is a wonderful thing.

To believe that God is aligned with your political party is a scary and dangerous thing.

Once you make the leap that God is on the side of your political party then there is just one answer as to who the other political party serves. If your party is good and the other party evil, then there is no reason to communicate, there is no need for compromise because who would want to compromise with evil. The result is vote after vote divided strictly along party lines.

Once you decide that God is on your side, then every action, every attitude, no matter how cruel or vicious is justified. We know that God hates evil, therefore it is perfectly permissible to hate members of the other party. We become crusaders, fighting a new holy war.

The irony is that this religion doesn’t even require a belief in God.

No matter, because we can make one in our own image. Sometimes he appears as a white, middle-aged, Republican living in the mid west. Other times she takes the image of an east coast Democrat, a vegan hipster, espousing radical environmentalist views. This is a God of our own construct, miraculously aligning with our party’s platform.

Our sacred texts are no longer delivered on tablets of stone, but flow daily in no more than 140 characters from Mount Hollywood or the white marble temples of Washington D. C.

If we need more motivation than tweets can provide, there is always Facebook. Our need for periodic outrage can be satisfied by selecting from an endless smorgasbord of questionable news sources.

The high priests and priestesses of these national religions tolerate no heresy within their own ranks, only true believers will be accepted.  Any Democrat who entertains thoughts of being pro-life or any Republican considering gun control is shunned and removed from meaningful committees.

Marie Newman, a long-time Democratic activist said in an recent interview. “No matter how you feel personally, you have to vote to support the Democratic Party values. We have all looked at the 90-page document that is the Democratic Party platform that was created last year.”

Individual thought is discouraged while “groupthink” is praised.

Wikipedia offers this description of groupthink: Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.


Somewhere on a high mountain sits a cowboy.  He looks down into the valleys below and sees a string of towns and cities, glittering in the night. He can see the twinkling lights, but they do not compete with the canopy of stars above him. He has been to the city. He knows that the lights they have created block from view the constellations and galaxies that form the roof over his head.

By their measure he is uneducated, but he can tell the weather by watching the skies, and knows when a storm is brewing. He is comfortable with himself, he needs no titles or trophies.

The cowboy appreciates that the constellations he now enjoys will slowly shift over the horizon as the seasons change and smiles knowingly that herdsman in other countries will soon view the same stars. The stars create a perspective that can’t be denied. The heavens above remind him that he is just one small person in God’s creation. God’s creation illuminates the slums of Haiti, the sidewalk cafes of Paris, the villages of China, the high-rise apartments in New York, around the globe the light of the stars and sun shine on all the world. God recognizes no political parties, no sports teams and no organizations, he only knows his children, which is to say, all of us.

The cowboy whistles softly to his dog and they trot slowly back to the herd, leaving the glitter behind.

Be the cowboy … Poppy

The Shadow and the Tree

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Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing” – Abraham Lincoln


The design was unremarkable. The message was simple.  If it had not been on the eve of the second presidential debate, the t-shirt would have probably gone unnoticed.

Our family had just finished touring the Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield, Illinois (which is excellent). As with all good American attractions, we were instructed to “exit through the gift shop”. Front and center upon entering the gift shop was a circular display filled with black t-shirts of various sizes. They all bore the same inscription in simple white letters … “I miss Abe.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” I thought to myself, “what I wouldn’t give for a good Lincoln-Douglas debate right about now.” Of course that was not to be, and instead we had Hillary and Donald.

Arriving back at our hotel, I fired up the iPad and started to catch up on the events of the day. I’ve made it a habit to switch between Fox News and CNN for my news feeds. It’s interesting to observe how two different news organizations can spin the same story in such opposite directions. Many times they pick entirely different stories to cover without even a pretense of neutrality.

Following both news feeds is an attempt on my part to get a balanced perspective. I can’t tell that it’s working.

What was working, was that after spending ten minutes reading about the latest shenanigans from both candidates, I was thoroughly depressed.

I thought about character. I thought about principles. I thought about personal values. I thought about Abe.

I’m sure over the years we have romanticized Lincoln to some extent. But we have enough of his writings, speeches and notes, not to mention the recorded history from the newspapers of that time to have a pretty accurate picture of the man.

I thought about our current crop of candidates.

I thought about character some more.

Do we, as a nation, care about character anymore?

Hilary and Donald seem to be in a race to the bottom. It’s as if they were in some perverse video game where the goal is to collect the seven deadly sins as bonus tokens during their free fall. And then when they have arrived at the bottom, jump up in front of us and say, “Vote for Me.”

Are we so desperate to align ourselves with a candidate that mirrors a particular position we hold, that we are willing to accept anything?

Let’s bring it a little closer to home:

  • Suppose you’re on the board of a worthy non-profit organization and you discover that the treasurer is skimming money meant to help those in need. But the treasurer holds the same views as you do on immigration and health care, so you let it slide.
  • You find out that your city councilwoman is taking bribes to award city business. You’re upset by that, but their stance on gun control and gay marriage is the same as yours, so you let it go unreported.
  • You discover your pastor is having an affair with the church secretary. You’re not happy with that, but the pastor agrees with your position on abortion and foreign policy, so you accept his immorality.

Of course those examples are ridiculous, no moral person would look the other way on any of those scenarios … why then do we accept such a lack of character, morality and principles from our candidates for the highest offices of the land?

I’m not so naïve as to expect perfection from anyone, let alone politicians. Backroom deals, chicanery and tomfoolery (to be polite) have been a part of politics since the beginning. But traditionally they were kept in the backroom, they were kept secret. Why?, because the majority of Americans would not have tolerated those behaviors.

Why do we now accept those behaviors? We have witnessed things in this campaign that would have derailed candidates in previous election cycles. And now that we have accepted the lowest common denominator, where do we go from here?

I miss Abe!



Addendum –

“Okay Poppy,” you’re thinking right about now … “you’ve shot your mouth off, what do you suggest”?

I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you a few things that have helped me.

Take an inventory of your values-

I can place mine in three buckets. In the first group are issues that I have some opinion about, but are of little importance to me. The second group contain issues that are important to me and all other things being equal, will be a deciding factor. The third group holds values that are to me, inviolate. I would never vote for a candidate who does not uphold that value.

Your values will vary, for me there is only one issue in that third bucket because I believe it to be literally a matter of life and death.

Understand your rights-

As an American citizen you have the right to vote.

As an American citizen you have the right to not vote.

If voting for either candidate for a particular office violates your conscience, then don’t do it. Don’t be guilted into voting for someone you don’t approve of or fall prey to the faulty logic of … “If you don’t vote for him, it’s a vote for her or if you don’t vote her it’s a vote for him.” It cuts both ways.

Demand better-

We don’t have to go back all the way to Lincoln to find principled candidates. It was not so long ago, that I could have pointed to the Republican and Democratic candidates for president and while I might have preferred one over the other, I believe both were of good character.

We all know principled men and women of good character. They exist! Demand more of everyone running for office on every level from dog-catcher to the POTUS. Don’t settle for click-bait. Get involved!

See you in four years!

Hazel vs. Hillary vs. Donald

hillary-trump

I try to stay away from politics in any form of social media. I’ve seen people so ready and willing to give everyone a piece of their mind, that they have little remaining. But gazing across the current political landscape I can’t help but comment and to shake my head and say, “Really, Is this the best we’ve got?”

Feeling a little down and hopeless, I remembered this incident in John Steinbeck’s brilliant, light-hearted novel, Sweet Thursday. It brightened my day, hopefully it will also provide a brief escape for you.

A sequel to Cannery Row, this story takes place after WWII as the characters are returning home from the war.

First, an introduction to some of the characters:

Hazel, one of the bums. Steinbeck describes Hazel’s mental status like this.

“Hazel was in the Army long enough to qualify for the G.I. bill, and he enrolled at the University of California for training in astrophysics by making a check mark on an application. Three months later, when some of the confusion had died down, the college authorities discovered him. The Department of Psychology wanted to keep him, but it was against the law. Hazel often wondered what is was that he had gone to study. He intended to ask, Doc, but by the time Doc got back it slipped his mind.”

Fauna, the madam of the local whorehouse, who gives horoscope readings. Continue reading “Hazel vs. Hillary vs. Donald”