“There you go, Donald…just like we practiced…D…O…N…A…”
“Oh Jesus Christ almighty, what is that smell? Is that Bannon? God, Priebus smells it too, that’s definitely his trying-not-to-register-disgust face. He smells like…sulfur. I wonder if it’s egg farts or if he’s actually a demon fresh from hell.”
*Today’s topic is discussed wordily and humorlessly by Samantha Clarke. If you make it all the way through, you get to read the joke at the end. May the odds be ever in your favor.*
Most Americans, so fascinated with individual morality and heroism, generally face a certain question at some point in their youth: if placed in history, would I have done the right thing even if I differed from the majority?
Fun, I know. Here we go.
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You talk to the Socialists, the Democratic Socialists, the Communists or another far left group in this country and they’ll all tell you the same thing: we don’t have a true left wing here.
Much of Europe would agree; their socialist parties have weight and are taken seriously and are sometimes even elected to high office. Our socialists (even the super moderate, pro-capitalism types) are laughed off, and that’s an improvement over 40 years or so ago when they were literally a persecuted minority group, wrongfully imprisoned and totally ostracized in the stupidest witch-hunt since the actual witch-hunts.
Our politicians who are considered to be far on the left—like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—would be considered moderates in most of Europe. And I think most political scientists would, in fact, agree with that.
I am lucky at this moment in history to live in a state that is decently represented. Oregon’s senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have both been vocal and courageous in opposing the Trump administrations appalling actions, orders and cabinet picks.
I feel that positive reinforcement and support are just as important as criticism and urgency when it comes to encouraging our elected representatives to listen to what their constituents have to say. Good people can be prompted to do even better when they feel supported and appreciated.
So I wrote a letter to Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley (I sent them separately, but they’re the same letter). I thought I’d share them here as well. Feel free to swipe this if you want to do the same thing for an elected official in your area who is doing good things.
Most Germans were completely aware of what was happening during the Holocaust. They knew Jewish, gypsy/Romani, LGBTQ, disabled, communist, and trade unionist folks, along with dissenters and criminals and more, were systematically imprisoned, tortured, slaughtered, and entirely dehumanized.
Most Germans also allowed themselves to be desensitized to this; allowed it to be normalized; allowed their ingrained biases and hatred of others to be taken advantage of for this to happen.
Most Germans lived relatively normal lives during the war. They had jobs, families, parties, birthdays, school, homes, and so on. They could ignore what was happening to their fellow humans, and ignore they did.
I have never sung a patriotic song with more heart than I did last night.
Unfortunately, it was not because I shared in the joy and triumph inherent in those songs, but because of the tragic fear of losing what they stand for. It was because it was the evening before our next President was sworn in: Donald Trump, a racist, sexist, xenophobic sexual abuser with strong and deeply suspicious ties to a hostile foreign government, nepotistic tendencies, and financial conflicts of interest out the ears. A man with a dangerous idea of militaristic power, of nationalism, and of war. A man who sees no reason to be diplomatic with foreign powers if he doesn’t feel like it that day. A man who could ruin us all, and in a thousand different ways.
Last night, drunk and alone, I sang “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” with all the heart I had. I sang them to no one and to everyone, loud and strong, choking on my tears. I sang them for what has been, and what could be, and what may be lost. I sang them for those who died to give it to us. I sang them for those who may never know what came before. And I sang them for myself, to remember. I sang them to cement them in my heart and memory, and I swore never to forget the words.
I’ve been fighting an internal struggle over writing this article.
It’s difficult to express the impact Barack Obama has had on my life. It’s been a massive one, and I expect that anything I uncover in writing this will be only the tip of the iceberg. I am certain that in years to come I will continue to find new ways his presidency and his leadership have changed me.
But he is leaving office on Friday, and it seems to me that he is due my effort to express it before then.
So this is my attempt.
I don’t have it in me, right now, to say goodbye to Barack Obama.
Maybe in a normal election cycle, if a normal Republican was taking office, if anything at all was normal about any of this I’d be able to choke up some words about how much Barack and Michelle Obama have meant to me, and how sorry I am to see them go.
I’ve never been much of a protester myself. I’ve attended a small handful of them, but only in a journalistic capacity: I showed up to take some pictures and show support by posting them online, using my small amount of social media influence to help draw attention to those I saw as the real heroes—the people out marching.