Try to stay healthy, physical fitness

3 02 2017

Stand up! Fight back!

Yes yes yes: Good to remember, good to shout. Let us oppose this wretched administration in every way. But opposition is not enough.

I’m not saying anything particularly original, here. We’re riled up because the actions and policies of Trump, Inc. are an offense against our values, threats to our ways of life. Most of us out there yellin’ aren’t political nihilists, but seek to defend what matters.

And we—perhaps I should stop with the royal “we?—and I have to keep that close, that I am standing up for what matters to me as a citizen and as a human being, that I should not simply become the negative to whatever this administration proposes.

This doesn’t mean I think protesters or Democratic politicians should play nice, but that our dissent is not just about Trump or Steve Bannon or Jeff Sessions and their terrible policies, but about what we want our country to look like, to be.

I don’t know that all of us agree on that, which is fine, not least because I don’t know that all of us know. But if I am fine with obstruction as a tactic, it can’t be the entire strategy—that would just turn us into counter-Republicans. Our goals have to extend beyond NO.

That we should be “large” is something I’ve already mentioned: big-hearted and generous welcoming, confident and curious and capacious in our thinking, willing to take risks and just as willing to take care.

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats did a decent job of with the practicalities of how to build a better country—I and many others have our disagreements here and there, but there was a lot to work with—but I also think the Dems have coasted on a reassuring rather than compelling story of America, and that that wasn’t enough.

Trump has given the country his frightening, fearful, fractured, nasty vision of us. We have to say No! to it, to yell Stand up! Fight back! But that’s not enough, we also have to shout about what we’re fighting for.

Because we can’t just react to these wretches, to let them dictate our actions. In standing up, we have to stand on our own, and forge a new way.

Advertisements




Transmit the message to the receiver

15 11 2016

After being knocked flat, then crouching, I’m back on my feet.

Still not listening to NPR, but I’ve managed WNYC and the BBC. It’ll come, it’ll come.

So, what are we to do?

My principles remain. I am committed to pluralism, committed to politics, and (I’ll try to be) committed to life beyond politics. I’m trying to be human. Politics won’t make us human, but it can make it easier or harder for us to become human. Let’s try to make it easier.

What does this mean? Since I’m a political theorist, I’ll be reading (natch) some political theory. I’ll also be reading some history, and anything else that can help me see what I do not see.

But not just that. If theories are to matter at all, they must be connected to actions. To that end, I sent the local offices of my representative and my two senators the following letter:

Given the recent election of a man manifestly unprepared to take over the presidency of this country, I understand that there is a great deal of discussion as to how much or how far the Democrats should go to aid or cooperate with President-elect Trump. This is indeed a difficult question, especially for those who value the institutions of government and who wish to mitigate any damage his administration will likely cause.

My suggestion to and to your Democratic colleagues: do nothing to help him.

He ran a hateful campaign predicated on harming large portions of the American citizenry, he could not be bothered to do the work to make the transition to the Oval Office, and he has selected a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim propagandist as his Chief Strategist. There is nothing in his actions to indicate he cares one whit about the people who voted for Secretary Clinton or anyone who did not enthusiastically cheer on his candidacy. He has done nothing to indicate he wants to be president for the entire United States.

In requesting that you do nothing to help the incoming administration, I do not also mean that you do nothing to help your constituents or this country. If he happens to put together a bill (e.g., the oft-mentioned infrastructure bill) which would injure no one and would do good, please do vote for it. Do what is necessary to fulfill your obligations to your constituents and to this country.

Those obligations, however, do not extend to aiding a man who would harm us. Yes, Mr. Trump will need a great deal of assistance if he is to rise even to the level of mediocrity. But let the Republicans, who selected this petty and careless man to represent their party, take responsibility for him.

Had Senator McCain or Governor Romney won the presidency in 2008 or 2012, I would have been distressed, but I would not have been moved to write a letter like this to you. Whatever my deep policy differences with these men, I doubted neither their experience nor their desire to do what they thought best for this country. I have no confidence whatsoever that the President-elect is concerned for anyone beyond himself or those within his inner circle.

(With all the necessary salutations and sign-offs and such.)

In doing this, I was following some of the advice of Emily Ellsworth,* a former Congressional staffer. Yes, she advises a phone call would be better, but late last night the letter seemed a good idea. As the weeks roll by, perhaps I’ll call. I’ll do what I can.

And that, dear readers, is what I suggest for those of you who are similarly distressed and looking for something to do: Do what you can.

There are all kinds of good ideas out there, some of which may make more sense to you than others. Do those. Don’t worry if someone is doing something else. Moving a country is a big damned deal and requires all different kinds of work. If you can’t stand to talk to someone who voted for Trump, don’t. If marching seems silly, don’t march. If you can’t stand to think about the national scene, look local. Wear a safety pin, don’t wear a safety pin—do what makes sense to you, and be kind to those on our side whose sense is different from yours.

I think the way through is by becoming large: big-hearted, broad-minded, and standing up and with one another whenever and wherever we can.

No, no compromise with racism and sexism, no compromise with hate. No compromise with the small and the mean. But we will have to invite to become large those who have taken refuge in the small.

I’m not ready to do this, not yet. If you voted for Trump, well, today I don’t want to talk to you. But some of us are going to have to, and maybe, down the line, I’ll be one of those who is able to.

But right now, I’m doing what I can.

~~~

What to do? Make contact:





All things weird and wonderful, 39

29 05 2014

I’ve totally got a thing for storms, big big big storms.

Not enough to be a stormchaser, but I totally get the urge to find the kind of weather that looks beautiful as it kills you.

That’s shot by Stephen Locke, and he’s got a coupla’ websites to showcase his skills at capturing these beautiful beasts.

New York has almost everything, good and bad, but it lacks the weather—or, more precisely, lacks the sightlines to the kind of weather that makes me want to run outside and throw my arms wide and head back and let it all rush through me.

Wisconsin and Minnesota had that. Even in Minneapolis, which is a respectable city, there was enough open space to see how the big sky made us all small.

To be made small by pettiness—my own or someone else’s—diminishes me. But to be made small by something overwhelming is to be caught up in the overwhelm and, absurdly, made large.

~~~

h/t Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer





We might as well try: Come to me, come to me, set me free, set me free

18 10 2012

Oh, for the love of all that is greasy and salty!

A federal court strikes down DOMA and Jay Michaelson at The Daily Beast complains that the decision is. . . wait for it. . . too good.

TOO GOOD.

I’m a good American leftist, which means that I’m gloomy and pissy and rarely accused of optimism, but c’mon! This is is win!

Okay, maybe only a temporary win, maybe five members of the Supreme Court will decide that the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment doesn’t mean equal equal, y’know, equal for anyone who isn’t all regular and equal and everything (remember: gotta see the downside), but as Michaelson himself finally notes, “when it comes to the high court, you really never know.”

Oh really? After arguing that the standards of scrutiny two recent court rulings invoked in their reasons for overturning DOMA won’t be accepted by the Supremes, he finally gets around to noting:

It’s also worth stepping back from the legal details in cases like these. Intermediate scrutiny, narrowly tailored, suspect class … these legalisms are often critical to how the case turns out, but they don’t get to the human heart of the stories. What these cases are really about are widows like Edith Windsor who deserve equal rights. For her, of course, this case is an unqualified victory.

(Am I being churlish if I note that the victory is not “unqualified” if, in fact, the Supreme Court overrules it? I am not, because that is a matter of fact, not speculation. Unlike the rest of Michaelson’s higgledy-piggledy piece.)

I take inordinate pride in my scowl, and the side-eye I give the world is not an act, but even I think we leftists, liberals, and fellow-travellers might do ourselves a favor if we remembered the old cries of We want bread and roses, too! and If I can’t dance I don’t want to be a part of your revolution.

If we can’t find joy even in our wins, why the hell would anyone else want to join us?

Let’s leave the bitterness and fear to those who want to make our world smaller.

Let us be large. Let us embrace the whole, wide, messy world. Let us laugh and gambol around in the sand and leaves and snow. Let us throw our arms out to our fellow human beings and say there is so much more to to all of us, so much more for all of us.

Let us all be something more.