Change at the turn of the century

“This Was America” by Martin Sandler. One of the many books of historic photographs that I’ve enjoyed. This is turn-of-the century, nineteenth to twentieth America. Americans are leaving  farms for cities. Agriculture is replacing manufacturing. Inventions are transforming daily life — telephone, bicycle, automobile, electricity. The western frontier is settled. Immigrants flood into the country, women don’t have the right to vote, Jim Crow rules the South and lynchings are a time for postcards and picnics, there are no child labor laws. Kids slave in factory and mine. Urban slums are notorious. The wealth differential between rich and poor dramatically increases. The wealthy enjoy Palm Springs and Newport, sailing, sports hunting and fishing, golf, and horse racing.  Restaurants, theatre, luxury and  servants — the good life. America is a world power; some would label it imperialistic.

No question that this was an exciting time in America history. Much of who we are today began or began to change then. Read history.  It’s important to know how we got where we are.

Take a look at the photographs (a new documentary invention back then). Was this when America was great?   If not when?




It’s a small country after all

img_2116Last night I described in a blog how I was on a seesaw (see Seasaw).  This morning the unthinkable happened, I turned to my right and on the seesaw next to me was President-elect, Donald Trump.  Up and down he went, at times he seemed to balance right in the middle.  I couldn,t tell if he was happy.

Down he went, appointing RNC chair, Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff.  This guy has strong establishment credentials.  What will supporters think.  Wasn’t the election anout”draining the swamp.”  They need to understand, we may need to pull bodies out of the swamp and put them in the administration if we want to get anything  done.

The seasaw swings up, appointing Steve Brannon, Breitbart News executive, who worked so hard on the campaign,  as policy advisor.   Won’t this please supporters (some anyway), Bannon and Breitbart are known as the voice of the alt-right, advocates of white supremacy. I mean the KKK enforced me and are mounting a big recruiting drive.

Then there is Paul Ryan, House leadership, wasn’t he deep in the swamp.  Trump tries a balancing act — hovering between up and down.  Do we pull him out of the swamp and give him a voice in the administration, it’s a tough call. Maybe we get in the swamp.   Ryan is talking about cuts to social security and Medicare.  He has firmly supported the appeal of Obamacare.  What do my supporters want?  What do I want?  What’s best for me in other words.

The seesaw swings down.  After talking to President Obama Trump realizes that there are provisions of the law that should not be repealed.  Maybe instead of repeal, it should be amended.  We should keep the clause that pre-existing conditions cannot disqualify and another that allows young adults to stay on their parent’s policy.  Will insurance companies pay for these provisions?  If not how do we pay for them?

Trump swings up but again tries to hover in the middle.  A lot was said about immigration in the campaign.  Supporters really expect results.  But deporting 11 million, that’s a tall order, maybe we can deport just the criminals, should be 2 or 3 million (the real number doesn’t matter as much as we say deport, deport the alien, Mexican rapists and drug dealers, Muslin terrorists, deport).  And we got to keep them out.  A wall is really expensive and would it work, Mexico certainly won’t pay for it.  Maybe Congress will approve a fence, in a few places anyway.  And what do we do with all those Muslims — those here, those who want to come here.  Can we deport them if they are a threat; can we ban them from entering the country.  Somehow we’d need to finesse the Constitution.

The seasaw swings up. Trump gets to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice.  Any liberal interpretation will disappear.  The Constitution is conservative and only political conservatives know what it means.  Only they understand the founding fathers (even though they were eighteenth century elitist).  The new Supreme Court will repeal Roe v. Wade.  That should make the troops happy.  What if over 65% of women support abortion, they still voted for me when the liberal press tried to paint me out as a sex deviant, grabbing, you know,  assulting — 42 % still voted for me. And what really counts 52% of white women voted for me.  But this does get complicated.

Down we go. Trump claims that gay marriage is the bag.  The Supreme Court has spoken.  But what to do about Mike Pence.  The administration needs him.  He might play a big role in policy.  But we don’t need headlines like the Huffington Post’s  recent “The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assult on LGBTQ Equality is Already Underway.”  I said, The Supreme Court has spoken, tough if it was a liberal court.  We can’t just change everything, can we.


The seasaw swings back to the middle.  Thousands are protesting the great Trump victory.  So what if a majority didn’t elect me.  Trump won; the electoral college has (hopefully will) spoken.  The young Clinton (and probably Sanders) sore losers are taking to the streets.  They call it free speech; I call it anarchy.  We need to support strong police departments.  We need law and order.  Some of my critics say there is an increase of hate crimes, particularly in colleges, high schools and elementary schools.  It’s reported usually by the liberal press and organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that students have painted  swastika’s on bathroom walls, told classmates they should be deported, told Muslim women to remove their hijabs, reminded African-Americans about lunching that happened historically if Niggers didn’t keep there place.  They try to say I’m responsible.  I say, “Now this is free speech.”  I’m not condoning violence or destruction of property, to that, I say, “Stop it.”  You remember when Nancy Reagan said, “Just say no”  and ended drug addiction.  Trump people aren’t haters; they love America and want to make it great again.

Trump remains swaying, balancing in the middle.  What does the new administration do about Education (Doctor Ben will know), Free Trade and NATO (I bet Mike Pence can figure that out, with a little help from his friends).  Climate change (we need a Secretary of the Interior who supports both burning coal and digging for more oil).  Burn, baby, burn, maybe Sarah has some ideas.  And jobs, how do I create jobs.  The Congress probably won’t fund a massive public works project. Maybe Christi can help, I read something about his involvement with bridges.  Experience can help if your not as smart as me.

Trump continues to balance.  Can I force people to buy American made goods even if they cost twice as much. But that’s no good,  the Trump brand of clothes isn’t made in the US.  And did you hear Macy’s refuses to sell the Presidents brand of clothing.  Could that be considered treason?   But wait, I wander, must stay focused.  Jobs, jobs, jobs, no regulations, no regulations, no regulations, lock her up, lock her up.  I need to get people chanting again, that will make America great.  And I’ll call Giuliani about the lock her up thing.

After about an hour of going up and down, balancing in the middle, Trump turns to me.  “You know, Profy, (yes, I know who you are), this isn’t easy.  Do my supporters think I can just deliver on those campaign promises.  Don’t they know politics in America is compromise.  At least it was until recent Republican practice.  Do they want me it ignore the majority of eligible voters who didn’t support me.  Is about 35% of eligible voters really a strong mandate.  Now that I’m elected I’ve got to think what’s best for me.  To paraphrase someone, “What’s good for Trump is good for the country.”  But I’m not selfish, I don’t need a tax break since I never pay federal taxes, but some of my friends might like a break.    “Maybe  this isn’t so hard, Profy, all I need to do is help the 1% that control this country.”  My supporters will follow like sheep.  Or will they?  Stay tuned.




The Day After


November 9, 2016 might be a day always remembered like September 11, 2001 or November 22, 1963. The day is already remembered as “Kristallacht” or “Night of the Broken Glass” when the Nazi began their campaign against the Jews that lead to the Holocaust.

In 2016, it’s the day after the controversial election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  Despite lack of support from many mainstream Republicans, outrageous comments and revelations, negative media coverage, Trump rallied his supporters in a populist uprising against the establishment.  He rallied rural Americans.  Forgotten Americans.  White Americans. High School graduate Americans.  Male Americans.  And unfortunately, Bigoted Americans, White Supremists, and sexists.  They rallied against elites, government, the establishment.

Many thought a win by Trump was impossible.  But the voice of the majority has spoken.  I suspect they have been heard.  Republicans now control all three branches of government.  Where will we go?  The worse case scenario would be mini Kristallachts — attacks on those that are perceived as different, through intimidation or laws. The best is probably a toned down Trump seeking advice and help in unifying the country.  In  between these extremes, we might see the erosion of many liberal policies that have been in place for years, decades.  How will women, Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Homosexuals fare in a Trump America?

I was not totally surprised by the election outcome.  I wanted to close my eyes to the possibility but I knew it could happen.  I had given Trump 30-35 % committed core  supporters (not all but a percentage of them probably deserve Clinton’s “deplorable” label).  It became pretty clear there was another dissatisfied  group (some just anti-Clinton) who would vote Trump. Maybe, if it was 15%, he could win the election.  And it happened.

I wake up reflecting.  I spoke out strongly against Trump.  And still believe he will be bad for the country.  Maybe I should say my country.  Obviously many feel he will be good for their country.  Part of my current  reflection is the composition and beliefs of these different countries.  And how to bring them together.

I guess I am part of the establishment, the elite.  Although I sympathize and want to help those struggling, I live the “good life.”  My retirement so far (except for medical issues) has been pretty nice.  We vacation in nice places, eat in the best restaurants, go to whatever theatre or entertainment we wish.  We have good health care and don’t worry a lot about the cost of something we want.  We’re not really rich but part of an upper middle class percentage.  Lower-upper?

Today I wonder, how did Diane and I get here.  First  we had good families. We went to college.  We worked.  Both teachers.  Not the highest paid occupation.  And I even worked in private schools that paid less.  We didn’t inherit a lot.  We saved and tried not to waste.  So now we are part of the “elite?”  I don’t fully understand.

Although Ive been registered both Republican and Democratic, my politics have always supported what are labeled liberal policies.  I’ve never identified with national Republicans, big business or jingoistic American ethnocentrism.  I’ve believed American diversity was a strength, tried to overcome my male chauvinism, and supported the equality of all people.  That pretty consistently led me to Democratic candidates, particularly nationally.

Now we have a populist movement of average people.  Unfortunately up to now it seems like a movement of predominately average white people.  I might be part of an elite but I’m  in a party with a lot of average, nonwhite people.  What’s going on here?  I recall in 1966-67 when I was attending Boston College.  I spent much of my Sophomore year involved in the anti-war movement.  I was active in SDS.  We decided students had to reach out to the the working class.  They were being hurt by the war.  They not us (college students) were dying in Vietnam.  We tried to organize and recruit in poor and working class Boston neighborhoods.  Blacks and Irish.  It didn’t work.  For them, we were part of a deferred “elite.”  They continued to fight and died in Vietnam for another 8  years.  Tragic.

For me the current election frenzy leaves me a bit emotionally exhausted.  I will spend today, tomorrow and the coming days reflecting.  Can we forge new political alliances?  I’m pretty sure I won’t be satisfied in a Trump America.  But this may be a turning point.  A dialogue must begin.

Time to reflect today, listen to the rain, contact some close friends, watch the birds and the stock market.   Bake some bread and pumpkin pie.  Finish reading my book on the Oregon Trail — the story of some pioneers that made America great (unfortunately they slaughtered Native Americans and bison in the process).  But I  must think positive.  Today is just the first day after.

Is it time to circle the wagons?  Together?