Trump Disaster

Democratic socialism, September 2018

I’m sharing another of my published opinion pieces, this one in the St. Cloud Times. An email friend told me it was in. That’s usually how I find out it’s been published, because I don’t get the paper until days later from a kind neighbor. This arrangement saves both the environment and my pocketbook.

The Times used my suggested title— “Socialism” is not a dirty word. I explain that democratic socialism does not reject capitalism but checks its vices—power-grabbing, union-busting profiteering at the expense of all citizens with less money and power.

The U.S. already has forms of socialism because our taxes fund transportation, police, schools, FEMA, Social Security, Medicare, and many more socialist institutions. They provide for the welfare of all and check the power of capitalist bosses to control what rightly belongs to everyone—like our government.  

Without socialist checks, Washington D.C. becomes an enemy of the people instead of our protector.

During this time of Trump, people of conscience must do what we can to resist destruction of socialist protections: clean air, water, and soil, safe drugs, health care, protections for consumers, workers, elderly, disabled, and marginalized persons. All are at risk today.

Democratic socialism tempers strict capitalism with kindness and justice. This is where religion and politics intersect.

I just listened to MPR Presents, The Making of Male Dominance.  It quickly summarizes sexist developments over millennia, back to pre-history.
I would have liked to hear more about religion's role in this, but my greatest criticism concerns language. They call humanity "man." How could people working to topple male dominance fail to recognize this vocabulary of male dominance? 

Obscenely Rich,  August 2, 2018

My recent letter in the St.Cloud Times got such favorable response that I decided to post it here. But it can leave a person despairing for our country, so I'd like readers to scroll down to the post below to see reasons for hope.  Excerpts of my Times letter:
One sentence in “The Politics of Politics” stands out for me: “We cannot be jealous but are to be grateful to those who do well and not punish them with punitive taxes.”
 It displays a naïve concept of economic reality in the U.S.
 Multi-millionaires and billionaires hold their wealth in assets that are not taxable. . . .
The belief that cutting taxes boosts the whole economy contradicts reality. . . . Strenuous efforts fail to find any benefit for most people.
The top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent combined. . . . Big Money buys influence in D.C. . . .
Raising taxes for those who are doing obscenely well would not be punitive. It would be wise. 
My letter in the Times spells out how our national government tilts toward the rich and powerful, but it inspires little hope. Again I remind readers to scroll down for reminders that all is not bleak. 

Injustice has always existed in our national government. From the very beginning it privileged the privileged and burdened the needy by, for instance, excluding women, Blacks, and persons without property from playing a role as citizens. Our current president and administration only do it more blatantly and extremely.

But that rouses ordinary citizens to action. Just this morning I heard about citizens countering NIMBY (not in my back yard) resistance to building apartments in neighborhoods with single-family homes.

A woman who saw how NIMBY was fueling the housing crisis in San Francisco decided she did not have to settle for being angry. She could do something to relieve homelessness. And thus began the YIMBY (yes, in my back yard) movement. It assures fearful homeowners that building affordable housing in stable neighborhoods does not threaten their economic security. YIMBY has spread around the country—including Minneapolis—and even to Australia.

Similar stories of volunteers springing to action show grass-roots in motion as never before. And that gives me hope.  

Food Aid,  April 28, 2018

Having just given the rich hefty tax cuts, the Trump administration and Republican Congress now are bent on reducing aid to have-nots in sundry ways. NCR editorialized:
While cable pundits are buzzing about Stormy Daniels, the most vulnerable Americans now face the prospect of losing critical nutrition support for their families. 
The editorial bemoans the draft of the 2018 farm bill that proposes cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rep. Colin Peterson of MN said it would drop 8 million people—children, seniors, disabled, and those who aid them—from getting food aid. Authors of the draft are reconsidering because of intense opposition. 

It’s already an old story during this administration. It and Congress propose outrageous attacks on vulnerable people, then have to back down in the face of vigorous objection. Citizens have power during this critical time, but only if we keep paying attention. 

We must not accept as normal what is now going on in D.C. This president and this Congress do not represent citizens fairly. They got their positions of power through gerrymandering and misleading propaganda paid for by Big Money. We need to keep calling out against injustice. Only if we are vigilant can we save our country from its immoral politicians. 

Responding to proposed food-stamp cuts, a Benedictine friend mourns, "What next?"

I draw strength from a psychic friend who sees the sun rising because of Trump's presidency. When we've sunk so low, the only direction to go is up.

But we have to make it happen, with our attention if nothing else. Staying informed, paying attention, is not doing nothing. Our mind activity alone can help to make things happen.

Migrants on the Cross, March 31, 2018

From Good Friday to Easter, Christian church-goers memorialize the transformation of a man named Jesus who lived in Palestine. The Apostles’ Creed says he descended into hell and rose again from the dead.

From Joseph Campbell I learned of innumerable myths around the world with an array of Christ-figures whose lives resemble the Jesus story. The myths tell of transformation—dying and rising—often through the death and resurrection of a god or goddess. Campbell called this ubiquitous theme “the monomyth” of ancient civilizations.
The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl evokes Christ on the cross by sacrificing himself and descending to the Underworld. His heart then rises to the heavens and becomes the star Venus.

A Mother/Daughter myth of dying and rising balances the Father/Son myth of Christ. Persephone, the daughter, is abducted by Hades, who rules the underworld where the dead live. After her descent to the dead, her mother Demeter becomes enraged and withers the earth into a wintry death.
Demeter and Hades come to an agreement. He lets Persephone ascend to earth and live there for two-thirds of the year. When she rises, Demeter allows the earth to reawaken and it bursts into the fertile growth of spring.

Persephone’s descent and dwelling awhile in the underworld symbolizes a drop into the unconscious, where she is transformed. We all are transformed during moments—sometimes lasting years—when our divinity within guides us through perilous circumstances.

Striking examples of cross and resurrection today are the journeys of migrants. Imagine the terror of facing their horrific crossings over sea and land and then perhaps to meet hostility at their destination. If they experience a final resurrection on this earth, it is hard-won.

Our small deaths and resurrections pale by comparison, but recognizing the parallels with their journeys may help us to empathize appropriately.

Bottom-up power, August 20, 2018

I neglected this blog to work on my memoir, but I continued getting opinion pieces published elsewhere—recently in the Minneapolis StarTribune about righting patriarchal wrongs. To provoke awareness of what’s been done to women, I wrote, “Consider an ad displaying a man’s genital area clad in a clinging fabric.”

I urge women to sensitize themselves to male bias in advertising all aspects of society and then to educate men in healthy relating.

Yesterday, the St. Cloud Times titled my piece: Citzens gain power when they work together. 

     The real voter fraud is blocking people from voting by expensive ID requirements and other restrictions, obviously, to suppress bottom-up power. . . .

     The Consumer Financial Protection Agency, formed during President Obama’s term to protect consumers . . . was taking three to five enforcement actions against powerful wrongdoers each month. After Donald Trump took charge, its enforcement actions dropped to zero. . . .

     But this bleak picture tells only half the story. As top-down power surges, bottom-up power is roused to action. . . .
     In the new wave of sensitivity, . . . Minneapolis police now are listening to the homeless and finding out what they need. . . .
     “Focusing on what’s wrong leads to despair. . . . We can infuse hope, living by Paul Wellstone’s words: We all do better when we all do better.

The Good of Trump,  July 20, 2018

I'm gratified by the scene in America today. Sounds like a Trump-fan, huh? How can Clancy be saying this?

I'm serious. What's going on in our country gives me hope. Never before have so many Americans defended Blacks, Muslims, and immigrants. Never before so many men nurturing children and doing housework. Never before so many women and people of color entering politics. Never before so much concern about unequal wealth and power, disgust with Big Money, awareness of discrimination in our criminal justice system, and concern for victims.

At the same time, macho toughness seems to be rising not only in our country but around the world. Victor Orban in Hungary and Morawiecki in Poland turn away immigrants, Putin persecutes opponents in Russia and kills them elsewhere, Duterte slaughters citizens in the Philippines, Xi Jinping tortures political opponents in China, el-Sissi in Egypt and Erdogan in Turkey jail dissidents, Kim Jong Un tortures citizens and executes rivals in North Korea.

Trump expresses admiration for these strongmen, he calls them friends, but American citizens are repulsed by strongman brutality and cruelty. As they come into stark relief, they engender reverse impulses. People are waking up to the ugliness of making enemies of people who are different from us and disagree with us.

The story of Americans insisting that immigrant children must not be torn from their parents shows the rise of compassion and understanding of otherness. Stuff going on in our country and elsewhere pains me, but it forces awareness and I believe this ultimately leads to good. When we hit bottom, the only way to go is up.

July 22

As I read about the administration's dirty, less well-known policies that persecute refugees, workers, consumers, and marginalized of all kinds, it becomes a challenge to keep my chin up. Seeing things from a long-range perspective helps.

Political Worries, January 31, 2019

My outdoor thermometer registered 32 degrees below zero about 6:20 yesterday morning. I'm fortunate because I don't have to leave my house. On I-94 I saw traffic moving, less heavy than usual but not by much, it seemed to mepeople going to work or doing necessary chores, I'm sure.

Pre-publication tasks have taken my mind away from blogging but not from political events. On MPR I heard a political scientist review our history since 1969 and express concern for the state of our nation today.

In the January 11 to 24 issue of National Catholic ReporterMichael Sean Winters wrote,
The country is headed into some rough and uncharted waters. We Americans have not witnessed such a direct threat to democratic norms since, well, never.
This is worse than Watergate, worse than the McCarthy hearings. Our nation has faced other kinds of crisis, from the Civil War to the Great Depression, and in those times the constancy of our democratic norms has been a source of solidarity.
He expressed doubt that Republican leaders today would act as courageously as Republican leaders during the Watergate era.

I take heart from the editorial in the same issue of NCR, which quotes a roster of respected conservative columnists, all critics of Trump: Michael Gerson, George Will, the late Charles Krauthammer, and David Brooks. I consider them true conservatives, whom I distinguish from right-wingers.

In the latest developmentnew ones come every day—Trump lashed out at intelligence chiefs who corrected his false claims. He called them "naive" and suggested they "go back to school." Some people are outraged by his foolishness. Not I.
I laugh at the image of a kindergartner mouthing off at college professors.

Although I title this post "Political worries," I'm less worried than most. I think, finally,  Trump's boast that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters, which so far seemed accurate, will prove less than prophetic. 
As the foolishness and cruelty of right-wing ideology grows impossible to miss, it is bound eventually to be undone.

Looking for the silver cloud, I see how this unsavory Trump saga has uncovered trends in our political system that need mending. Only when the public can clearly see what's wrong can remedies occur. Signs of public awakening appear for eyes to see. 

Awareness is growing that capitalist markets left unregulated cause severe injustice. Groups historically excluded from power have been roused to action. They're entering politics. 
Women and other marginalized groups are smarter about societal norms because they've had to swim in waters not of their own culture. We can realistically expect more diversity in political leaders to produce good outcomes. 

When things reach their lowest point, there's nowhere to go but up. Trump is not the cause of what's wrong; he's the effect. And also the billboard showing what needs to change. 

Before the 2016 election, a psychic friend received the image of the sun rising at the horizon, about to rise over it. After that election, she saw the sun higher, above the horizon and still rising.

The picture may be bleak now, but I have faith in our system surviving and growing stronger from it. My generation will not see the far-reaching consequences. They'll appear after we're gone.

The Silver Lining, April 25, 2019

This email came to me:
H.L. Mencken had it right when he said, “As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron."
H. L. Mencken.  The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

“Ouch!” I replied. “I don't like that sentiment at all.”

I prefer to look at the silver lining of any bad situation. If Hillary Clinton were in the White House now, the country would be less aware of immigrant suffering; less aware of conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras; less open to people of color inhabiting our country; less accepting of Black rights; less opposed to gun "rights"; less aware of climate change.

And the list goes on. A Hillary Clinton presidency would have roused more furious right-wing emotion. She would not have been able to implement her ideas for domestic policy reforms. Our country needed Trump to show how bad right-wing ideology—which is not true conservatism—can get. Now we have to take advantage of the natural pendulum swing back toward the values needed to restore good government.

Years ago my spiritual reading led me to the habit of looking for what's right when everything looks wrong. This habit and a spirit of gratefulness keep me sane.

P.S. "I think HLM might have been referring to Harding," wrote Bill.
        I think this astute reader is right.
        "Quite timely though," added Bill.


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