Monday, February 12, 2018

The Mansplainers and the Hillary Haters

Have they called you not that smart?
Have they told you to "do your research"?
Have they said the truth you believe, the truth you know because you've lived it, is "fake news"?
Have they said that this country would be better off without "people like you"?
Have they told you to leave them alone with their guns, that they just want to "live their lives"?
Have they mentioned that your hero is too establishment, not attractive enough, not "progressive" enough? They hate the sound of her laugh, her voice. She should smile more. It's not like she's #BernieSanders or #ElizabethWarren. They'd vote for a women, just not this woman. Or that one. Maybe, no wait, not her either.
Have they told you that you just "need to grow up"? That you haven't studied history, that your experience doesn't matter because they marched with MLK or voted for JFK? Maybe stick to looking pretty?
Have they mentioned Bill Clinton's affairs, Benghazi, but "her emails." It's not that they "supported Trump." It's just they couldn't support Hillary Clinton. You, know, right, that she's opposed to universal healthcare? She's best friends with Kissinger?
Have they wowed you with their smart, original commentary? Joe Biden could have won. Or Bernie Sanders. Or some obscure dog catcher who really cares about people. Anyone but Hillary. What has she ever done?
Have they made you want to laugh? Have they made you want to cry? In spite of that, have you decided to keep going? Have you kept your faith in history? Have you remembered that this moment is fleeting, and you will prevail? #KeepGoing #ImWithHer In the end, history is on our side.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Ubuntu is an African word that means, "I am what I am because of who we all are."

I was listening to an NRP story on Maya Angelou when I heard about this concept. The story included a recording of Maya Angelou reading her poem, "Still I Rise."

I found this NPR story to be comforting because I felt like I was on the verge of despair. Day after day, we hear about some new unqualified person that Donald Trump has appointed to his cabinet or made some important adviser and I find myself wondering: How can we put up with THIS when we could have had THAT?

There's not even a comparison for how much more qualified Hillary Clinton was and is than Donald Trump, and the irony is that the electoral college, something meant to prevent people like Donald Trump, dangerous populist demagogues, from assuming power, may be the very thing that allows him to assume it.

I find this all to be incredibly disheartening and discouraging, and I am perhaps at least as infuriated by the fact that some people want to spend this time trying to understand white racists. Um, I think I get it. You're white and your racist. You lost your job or you don't make enough money, so you blame the black people or the Mexicans. You think Donald Trump is going to wave some magic wand and bring you back to those good old days. It's not happening, and I don't think there's all that much to understand.

Instead of trying to understand racism (I think we call it sin in theological terms), I want to understand the things about the world I do not know, read the books I have not read--learn about jazz and blues and read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, learn about Mexican history.

There's so much about the world I don't know, like the names of all the providences in Canada or what all the rivers in Africa look like. I'd rather learn about that than about all the shades of hate and resentment.

The Blue Nile River pictured below:
Image result for Blue Nile

We all have a lot to learn, but I think we all know how populists rise. What we need to counter it is not to learn what makes people hate but what makes them love.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hard Candy Christmas

I got an early Christmas present from my husband, the new Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Christmas cd "Christmas Together."

Some of the songs are traditional--"Baby, it's Cold Outside," "Feliz Navidad"-- and some are non-traditional or new.

But my favorite song on the album is "Hard Candy Christmas," which had been previously recorded by Dolly Parton in 1982.

The lyrics begin:

Hey, maybe I'll dye my hair
Maybe I'll move somewhere
Maybe I'll get a car
Maybe I'll drive so far
That I'll lose track
Me, I'll bounce right back
Maybe I'll sleep real late
Maybe I'll lose some weight
Maybe I'll clear my junk
Maybe I'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I'll be just
Fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down
Those lyrics feel oddly appropriate for this political moment. At one point, I was so angry, I wasn't sure I would celebrate this Christmas. But I have kids, and they would be deeply disappointed if Santa didn't show up because Mommy's political candidate didn't win.
Of course, it's not just about that, one person, but the direction that we want this country to go in or not go in.
I want this country to be a place that not just tolerates immigrants, but welcomes them. A place that doesn't fear science and the inconvenience of hard truths but embraces these truths. Yes, climate change is scary, but we can't pretend it's not happening. Avoidance never solved any problems. It only exacerbates them.
Still, this year, like every year, we decorated the tree. I turned the Christmas music on. And then I found this song, which I don't remember from 1982 because I was very young then. I do remember sometimes watching Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton specials. I think, but I can't be sure that there was one called Christmas in July.
Years later, alone, doing an internship during college, I spent my first Thanksgiving away from my mom and dad in Pittsburgh. I shared the day with a cousin and some of her other family. Instead of pumpkin, we ate Key Lime Pie.
This year, we got a real tree again for the first time in a long while. We took the netting off and let the branches fall, the smell of citrus filling the room.
I'm a religious person, so I try to find some deeper meaning in all of this. Maybe this:
Image result for darkness and christmas bible
Or this:
Image result for darkness bible
Or maybe just this:
"Me, I'll be just
Fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down"
While I fear the worst and hope for the best, there is a comfort in Christmas music, familiar and new, and a comfort in sharing new traditions with my own family.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016



I see stories that say: We can't get over it. She lost. Women lost.

But I think they miss the point. Okay, so it is a lot about who eventually gets to be president.

But it's also about who won. And SHE won. For the first time in history, a woman won the popular vote. A WOMAN got the most votes.

Of course, I care about who becomes president.

But the inspiration of the campaign itself doesn't fade. I'm still inspired by the pantsuit flashmob, by the elderly ladies proudly wearing their pantsuits to vote, by the little girls who said: She can be president. Yes, I can be president.

Policy matters. Who gets to sit in the White House matters. To some extent.

But, to some extent, who emerges victorious isn't about who gets the White House. It's about who got the most votes. Because it's about who won the hearts and minds of the people, not who emerged victorious in the white man system that was invented before black men could vote, before women could vote.

Could Alexander Hamilton have predicted a black president? Would he have approved? If not, does it really matter?

History is about understanding the past, but not repeating it like a bunch of rote Civil War enactors.

When I think about this election, yes, I may never be able to drink Wendy's lemonade again because that's what I ordered on the night we got the awful baffling results, the night where Donald Trump gave his victory speech. Not what we were supposed to hear. WE thought SHE was ahead. WE thought HE didn't have a chance.

But she won the popular vote. And everywhere all around people are taking pictures with her that are going viral. Like this one below.

Image result for hillary clinton popular vote

Meanwhile: According to rumor and published media reports, Trump can't find anyone who wants to play his inauguration.

And people are threatening to boycott his brand. There's even an app for it now.

I don't think that that was quite what Donald Trump had in mind when he thought of winning. Meanwhile, we're subjected to the sad tweets of a sad man who overuses the word sad and the exclamation mark and makes me wonder what it will take for someone to teach him to make the sentence great again or at least not nails on the chalkboard bad.

When we think about class, who do we think about? Do we think about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Donald Trump has embarrassed himself over and over again. The mockeries and scandals are too many to name, and I don't particularly want to relive the ugliness.

Maybe we're stuck with him. BUT HE DID not win. And his brand of hate and lies and misogyny and his blatant, pathetic appeal to fear will never win. It may seem to triumph in the short run, but, in, the long run #LoveTrumpsHate and Hope Trumps Fear, and we truly are stronger together. And, yes, I am #StillWithHer.

Now and always. Whoever occupies the White House, SHE WON.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Where do we go from here?

There have been days when I've woken up and thought: This did not happen. THIS cannot be reality and days when I've thought: How do we live here, like this?

In a country that chose hate over love?

Fear over hope?

Division over unity?

One of Hillary's slogans was "Stronger Together" and I believe that's true.

I believe this writer gets it right when she says that Hillary Clinton's campaign was a campaign that attempted to look and move forward while others wanted to look to the past, to what people have lost.

Yes, jobs have declined in some industries like coal and steel. I'm from Pittsburgh, so I know all about what it's like for an industrial city to die, but, fortunately, I also know what it's like for a city to be reborn.

Pittsburgh is called a Renaissance city because there are jobs there. It's a great place to live and raise kids, and it's not covered in a cloud of smog like it once was.

We can't go back to the days of unrelenting pollution, unchecked discrimination, and civilized, normalized hate.

We can't tell our neighbors to "go back to where they came from" unless we plan to do that as well.

Many have noted that all of us came from somewhere. The only people who can even attempt to claim that this land is their land is Native Americans, and what have we done but taken that land away from them.

Donald Trump promised to "drain the swamp," but from where I'm sitting all I see is someone who is making the swamp viler and more nasty.

We can't do everything. We can't fight racism and oppression and resist everything and fight 24/7 without making a living and caring for ourselves. But we can control how we respond.

As Michelle Obama said, "When they go low, we go high."

Image result for michelle obama when they go low

I'll admit that there are times when I haven't felt like going high. When I didn't like being called bossy or the other b word or stupid by someone who couldn't form a grammatically correct sentence.

But what I see is that these people are insecure and insensitive. All they have is name calling, sometimes as a substitute for logic. Those of us who have ever taught freshman competition know that while people can be swayed by fear, you don't WIN with fear.

And what is winning? Winning is being Hillary Clinton, who could have gone lower but instead tried to inspire us to be the nation that is united not divided by class and race.

So what do I say to my misguided brother or sister who voted for Trump? I look to John Wesley, who said:

Image result for john wesley do all the good

It was a quote that inspired Methodist Hillary Clinton. When people said she was a murderer, a criminal, and wanted to "lock her up" for the crime of daring to be a woman who dreamed and hoped for a better future for us all, she could have retired.

She was already a successful lawyer, senator, author, speaker, and Secretary of State, she didn't need to be president, but America needed a strong tough leader like Hillary Clinton who wanted to move us forward. We still need one.

The leader we are apparently about to get is not the leader we need. He will not bring back jobs to the miners in West Virginia or the industrial workers in Ohio. His agenda won't make anything better.

So where do we go from here? We don't wade in the swamp water to prove that we can. Yes, we can insult and hate and blame, but where does that take us? It doesn't make us stronger. It does no one good.

To move forward, we need to look to Hillary Clinton, one of the only winners in a sea of losers. She is what makes me proud to be an American.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Soundtrack for Trumpocalypse

Like many of you who are attempting to get through this, who don't think we can just get over it who don't know if life will ever be the same again, I'm turning to art and music. And here's my soundtrack for now and maybe for the next few weeks, months, years, however long it takes to make it through without losing our dignity and humanity.

Image result for ani difranco protest

1) "I'll never fall in love again" by Burt Bacharach Some of us have fallen in love with a candidate, an ideal, a nation that we feel no longer exists. It's going to hard to put this behind us and get over it, so this.

2) "Talkin' about a revolution" In this election, I feel like our safeguards failed us. The media that was supposed to protect us from electing a demagogue sometimes didn't do its job, with some courageous exceptions like Kirk Eichenwald at Newsweek.

3) "Hallelujah" Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live singing Leonard Cohen's classic song: "And even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the lord of song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."

4) "America" by Simon and Garfunkel. They write: "'Kathy, I'm lost', I said, Though I knew she was sleeping." Many of us feel lost, like we really didn't realize that this country was filled so much resentment and hate.

5) "Could we start again please" from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The video shows Mary Magdalene trying to make sense of what is about to happen to Jesus Christ. Like Mary, many of us are trying to make sense of a situation they thought they understood: "I've been living to see you, dying to see you, but it shouldn't be like this. This was not expected. What do I do now? Could we start again, please?"

6) "Not ready to make nice" by the Dixie Chicks, one of the ultimate anger/protest songs sung by the Chicks after some people criticized them for criticizing the Iraq War. Guess what? They were right. "I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell, and I don't have time to go round and round and round."

7) "Long, long time" by Linda Ronstadt: "Love will abide. Take things in stride. Sounds like good advice, but there's no one at my side. As time washes clean, love's wound unseen, that's what someone told me, but I don't what it means." "I've done everything I know to try and change your mind, and I think it's gonna hurt me for a long, long time."

8) "Will I?" from the musical Rent about a group of young people suffering from AIDs and the uncertainty of what will happen. It seems appropriate for our current political situation.

9) "Save Me" from the excellent film Magnolia: "Can you save me? Come on, and save me, if you can save me."

10) "World on Fire" Sarah McLachlan wrote this after 911. I know some people feel like they did after 911, trying to make sense of a world we thought we know, wondering if the world will never be same.

I'm interested in what anyone else is doing for comfort, to help make it through the days ahead. Let's keep our chins and our heads up and continue fighting for the rights of all.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

More Than I Thought I Could Be

Though I once worked as a journalist, I'm shy. I don't like talking to people most of the time. As a writer, I'm comfortable writing, taking my pen to paper, expressing myself that way.

But this election, I talked to people. I registered voters. I made phone calls, and, then, in the end, I knocked on doors.

Image result for canvassing for hillary

It wasn't easy for me. But I found myself driving gravel and dirt roads alone. Passing cows and sheep and farms and getting lost and encountering dogs off leash.

But I wasn't afraid of dogs. I like dogs. And I believed in Hillary Clinton. I still do.

This election challenged me, to be more than I ever thought I could be and to do more than I ever thought I could do.

At first, I was horrible at phone banking. I couldn't get anyone scheduled for a shift. But I kept at it, and I got better. Because I have never believed anything so strongly in my life as I believed that Hillary Clinton should be president, that she would make the best president I had ever seen.

If you don't believe that, put aside all you think you know about Hillary Clinton, which likely includes many exaggerations and lies. And then go watch Hillary Clinton talk about the importance of women's rights.

After watching this, can you really still tell me that she's "establishment"? That she isn't authentic?

Now I find myself in a place that I didn't want to be. I thought, after the election, we could relax because Hillary Clinton is smart and strong and she knows what she's doing.

Instead, we find ourselves with Donald Trump, a man whose qualifications for president include never having held public office and hosting The Apprentice. A man that every major newspaper--except of course the newspaper of the racist KKK--agreed was not fit to be president.

But some Americans thought they knew better. Who are they to listen to experts on issues like climate change or vaccines? I know that they didn't, that the anti-establishment longing that some people apparently felt would not be solved by electing (or not really electing) a man yelling and screaming instead of offering serious solutions to our nation's problems.

I don't want to keep going. But now we must. What stands between our nation and fascism but us? So, now, I will be continuing to make phone calls, to my senator and my congressman and whoever I need to call to make sure that "women's rights are human rights, once and for all" and that the rights of all people are similarly honored. If I ask myself, what would Hillary do, I don't have to wonder. I know. When Obama was chosen over Hillary Clinton in 2008, she didn't give up on politics. She didn't quit. She served honorably as Secretary of State, helping to repair our nation's tarnished reputation abroad following the Bush years.

In the words of JFK, I now have to ask myself, as I'm sure Hillary Clinton has many times, not what my country can do for me, but what I can do for my country.

Hillary Clinton, you answered the call to service, and you served honorably. Now, so will I. I don't know what this will mean or where this will lead me. But I know that I must stand up and fight to make sure that all the progress that you fought for is not erased.

In your honor and following in your footsteps, I will do what I can for my country.