Stop telling me Biden’s not so bad.

A little over twenty years ago, I got hired to do some grunt work renovating an old Kmart. This job was nobody’s dream, but I was pretty desperate. I was pregnant and trying hard to move out of town, and I needed to make as much money as I could before I got really unwieldy; and I needed to get hired somewhere before I started to show. 

The job was awful. Just awful. Nine hours under fluorescent lights on my feet in a windowless cavern, and I had two chief duties: shoving metal shelves over tile, inch after screeching inch, and scrubbing gummy residue off walls where the signs used to be. The smell of the solvent made me sick and dizzy, and I worried constantly that the fumes, and strain of pushing those metal shelves, would kill my baby. 

And there was something else. On the day I was hired, the manager’s computer kept freezing up, and he struggled to enter my information in his files. “I’ll have to enter her manually,” he said. My supervisor laughed and said, “I’d like to enter her manually.”

I was sitting right there, three feet away. Ten of my co-workers were sitting right there. All the men laughed. And then we went to work for the day. It did not occur to me to ask any of those men for lighter work, to accommodate me and my unborn child. I was 22 years old. It did not occur to me. 

This memory came back to me today, for the first time in years. The question of Biden’s fitness for the presidency came up, and a vocally anti-Trump man told me that, if it comes down to it, I should “choose wisely” and support Biden. He admonished me to remember those who do not share my privilege. Biden, you see, may feel free to put his hands on women, to smell their necks and hair, to come up behind them like a snake, to use his power and wealth and fame and security as a free pass to the body of any women or girl who whets his appetite.

But he’s nowhere near as bad as Trump. And so women like me need to remember our duty and once again roll over for the man who thinks we’re here for his entertainment. Because we are desperate. 

The truth is, I am privileged. When I got out of work at Kmart, I would scour the want ads, and pretty soon I found something better: a job making sandwiches at Subway. It was a pay cut, but I leaped at the chance, because I had to get out of that place where I never felt safe. There was another pregnant young woman working on the renovation, and I doubt she even realized she had another choice. She had no one on her side. The father of her child was long gone. Her face was blank and bewildered as she worked, and she didn’t even flinch when the men talked about her and her belly. 

When I gave my notice at Kmart and mentioned my fears about the fumes, someone said, “Oh, she just doesn’t want to work.” That was not true. I did want to work. But at my new job, my boss was a woman who expected us to do our jobs . . . and that was all. And it felt like pure, intoxicating freedom to be able to simply put on my apron, wash my hands, and begin my routine without that constant prickle of terror and shame that comes with being vulnerable for nine straight hours every day. 

How many anti-Trumpers spent a delicious season thrashing around in the warm, shallow waters of the #metoo movement, preening themselves on their righteous indignation in defense of the vulnerable? But when it comes down to it, if Biden raises enough money and grins his way into enough votes, they’ll give him the nomination and they’ll tell women it’s their duty to be quiet, it’s their duty to be docile, it’s their duty to be forgiving, it’s their duty to take one for the team. 

I talked about shame. That’s part of the power of the sexual predator: He knows his victim will feel shame, and that will make her less able to fight. Less willing to fight. More likely to tell herself, “It’s not so bad. I can put up with this. Why am I making a fuss? It could be so much worse . . . ”

Biden is just an old school perv who refuses to take responsibility for his perviness. Is he as bad as Trump? Of course not — not by magnitudes of awfulness. But the real question is, are democrats as bad as republicans?

I long ago abandoned the idea that the political party of family values actually cares for either family or values. The republicans have made it clear, over (Trump) and over (Roy Moore) and over (Kavanaugh) again, that women and their suffering and their alarm and their shame do not matter. What matters is power; and women are expected not only not to fuss, but to take part in their own degradation for the good of the party. 

But what about the DNC? Are they any different? Here we are, still months away from the nomination, and democrats are already clearing their throats to make exactly the same point as the GOP made: It’s power that matters, not the vulnerable. Biden isn’t so bad. You can put up with this. Why are you making a fuss? It could be so much worse . . .

Now stay still while we enter you manually. 

Pay close attention, women: The democratic party is not your friend. They do not care about your dignity as a person. They care about power, and if the fates invest an old school perv with that power, then that’s who they will nominate. Brace yourself, because another election bus is bearing down on us, and your friends in the DNC will throw you under. 

***
Image by Ancho. via Flickr (public domain)

The GOP is forcing me to stop them because they won’t stop themselves

I’m a lifelong registered republican, and I’ll probably vote straight democrat today. I’m not trying to persuade anyone. I’m just telling you what I’m thinking, because I know there are plenty like me.

.

I’m pro-life, always have been. I’ve always voted for whoever seems the most likely to benefit unborn children. That’s the most important issue for me, because you can’t be any poorer than dead.

.

But there are no abortion-related battles in my state right now, and anyway, the moderate republicans are identical to the moderate democrats in practice on abortion issues. It may be different in your state.

.

Our current republican governor voted to expand Medicaid for another five years, and I’m tempted stick with him as a pro-life voter based on that. This is how I vote pro-life: I look at abortion first, and then I work my way outward to intertwined issues. The next closest pro-life issue is healthcare. This isn’t code for “I’m really pro-abortion, and I think it’s pro-woman to allow choice, but I’m co-opting pro-life language to salve my conscience.” Nope. I’m fiercely opposed to abortion, because it hurts women and children and men and society. I think republican policies tend to create conditions that make abortion seem necessary. It means nothing to say “You should give birth” but then make it impossible to survive giving birth unless you’re rich. But as I said, our current governor is about as pro-life as his democratic rival, and he did vote to expand Medicaid. So as a pro-lifer, I’m on the fence with that race.

.

Why am I on the fence? Why not just vote for the republican who more or less does what I hope he will do? Why even consider voting straight democratic ticket?

.

Because the republican party as a whole is directly responsible for Trump and for what he has done. It may be true to that there are multitudes of reasons Trump came to power, but it’s also true that you can blame original sin for the guy who knifed my tire, but I’m still gonna look at the guy actually holding the knife. And the guys egging him on, and the guys who held his jacket while he did it, and the guys already working on the “More Knifings 2020” campaign.

.

So yeah, the GOP is responsible for the 2016 election. And most importantly, they are responsible for what he and his coreligionists will certainly do more of as they get bolder and bolder, in the next election and in general. I love my country and I hate what they’re trying to turn it into. As a woman, as a Jew, as the granddaughter of immigrants fleeing poverty and violence, as a lover of the Constitution, as a parent who values decency and justice, and as a follower of Christ, I see no safety or goodness in the GOP as it exists today.

.

They’re not going to stop unless someone stops them. They’re just getting started. They need to be swatted down and told, “NO, this is not what we want our country to look like.” So I will most likely vote straight Democrat. There is very little else I can do, except love my neighbor.

.

I don’t want to vote democrat. I don’t like the democratic party. I don’t like most of the ideals at their core. They hold dear many values I have always found repugnant. But even in their errors they are recognizably American, and their mistakes can be remedied. That sets them apart from where I see the GOP taking us. The GOP is taking us down a road that leads off a cliff. These things do happen. You can ruin good countries. It could happen to us. It is happening to us.

.

I’m angry that the democrats are putting me in the same position that the republicans have done for so many years: saying “hey, we know you hate what we do, but what other choice do you have?” That’s not representation, and I’m angry that I’m not represented. This is not how the system is supposed to work.

.

But what I keep coming back to is this: We are becoming a nation that is learning to accept atrocities. Before atrocities happen, people must become accustomed to them, and this is where we are now. The worst are gleeful about what’s happening to us, and the best are measured and patient. That’s not good enough. If my grandchildren ask me what I did to stop atrocities from happening, at least I should be able to tell them I freaking tried to vote them out.

.

So that’s my course of action, as a voter, with very limited power. I’m not falling prey to relativism; I’m refusing to pretend there’s an easy solution. But you know who did have an easy solution? My party. My republican party, for whom I stood out in the snow with homemade campaign signs when I was eight years old, because they told me they loved our country and I believed them. They’re the ones who could have done the easy thing and stopped Trump and Trump wannabees in their tracks.

.

They had so many chances. My party had a chance to not nominate him. They had a chance to not support him. They had a chance to repudiate him and his rhetoric. They had a chance to distance themselves from his policies. They had chance after chance after chance to constrain the ugliest impulses of the far right, and they decided not to, over and over again. In many cases, they modeled their approach after his, which in turn emboldened individual citizens to do the same.

.

They didn’t stop him. So it’s up to me. I usually vote for or against individual candidates based on their merits, but today the GOP as a whole needs to be swatted down. They are irredeemably polluted.

.

If republicans had done the right thing, I’d be voting for them now. But they didn’t, and so I won’t. It’s not a punishment or revenge. It’s an emergency.

To enthusiastic fans of Donald Trump

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-34-05-pm

Two people were facing the congregation at Mass last Sunday: The priest, of course, and an interpreter, who was signing for the deaf people in the pews.

Scratch that, there were three people facing the congregation. The third was a profoundly disabled man, his body twisted permanently into a pretzel, his skull misshapen, his features preternaturally mobile. He didn’t seem able to face the altar, but spend most of the hour bobbing and grinning and leering at the rest of us, while his caregiver patiently redirected him over and over again, calming him when he got agitated, soothing him when he got loud.

Why is it so hard to meet the gaze of folks like this? If ever there was a low-risk social interaction, it’s making eye contact with someone who can’t talk at all, much less expect something witty or suitable in response. “Just smile at him,” I tell myself. “Just be friendly and sincere, and then move along.” Still, I avoid eye contact. It’s obviously not about him. It’s about me.

That hour nagged at me.  Two faces, the translator and the disabled man demanded our attention, their eyes shining, their hands busy with gestures that meant nothing to me. If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. If today you see a face and it keeps grinning and winking and nodding at you, at least you could ask the Holy Spirit what’s up. Here’s what I think it is.

The sign language translator was there because there are some folks in the congregation with a disability. They cannot hear, so they need extra help to have God’s word conveyed to them.

I am disabled, too, spiritually. I need a translator. There is something in my heart that fears and rejects mentally and even physically disabled people, and I’d rather they just turn around and leave me alone with my smart, attractive children and friends. I’m a pro-lifer, so I am ashamed to respond this way to any of God’s children. It is a common but severe defect. I want to be open, but I am not, and I can only fake it about half the time. Most of the time, I just avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid. I’m not alone or unusual in this, but that doesn’t make it all right.

I don’t mean to reduce another human being to a symbol. This man was attending Mass, and certainly wasn’t there just for my benefit or edification. He has a name, and he obviously has at least one person who loves and cares for him. But he was also, for me, a translator, someone turning to face me to convey a message that I wasn’t able to hear on my own without his help. Sometimes you don’t realize you are deaf until a translator turns up.

So there is more. It made me ask myself: Who am I having the hardest time facing right now? Who do I not want to look in the face? Who am I reluctant to treat as fully human?

Easy to answer in January of 2017: Enthusiastic Trump supporters. Over and over again, despite my resolve, I lose my temper with them, I get nasty, I get personal. I am just so angry at what they have chosen for me and my family and my beloved country. There they stand, shamelessly twisted in their worldview, not even hiding their faces, just leering and gesticulating. Turn around! Shut up! Get away from me! I want to yell (and sometimes do).

I’m not proud of behaving this way. I call myself a pro-lifer. This is a severe defect, that I allow myself to respond to other human beings with open, personal contempt and derision. It’s especially egregious because I often write about our obligation to show love to each other.

I don’t know what to tell you. I’m working on it. Yes, this post is the best I can do right now. Those of you who happily voted for Trump and continue to champion him, I think you are wrong, wrong, wrong, and I will not apologize for calling it twisted and awry to admire and champion a wicked man. Whatever your motivation, you have done something objectively terrible to our country.

But the way I respond to you is my problem, not your problem. I have a defect, and I know it. Thank you for looking me in the face and helping me be more aware of my defect. Thank you for being the translator who alerts me to just how deaf I am. Please pray for me, and I will pray for you. And then maybe we can all just turn around and face the altar, like we’re supposed to.

***
Image: Detail of Self-Portrait as a Deaf Man by Sir Joshua Reynolds (Creative Commons)

 

Take the pledge: Today, I shut up.

You’ll find this hard to believe, but yesterday I was kind of a jerk on Facebook. I wasn’t wrong, but I sure acted like a jerk. Christina SC, I am sorry I was a jerk to you.

Here’s my plan: Today, I shut up about politics. I will not post, write, or comment about the election, about Trump, about any other candidate or political entity, or about people who voted for Trump, or about why people voted for Trump.

zipped-lips

I will try not to read anything about politics. Just for today! I want to finish up the day without feeling like this, just for one day:

Tomorrow, we’ll see. Are you with me? Want to take the pledge, just for today?

 

Wait! Before you vote!

Here’s the most valuable advice you will receive all day:

Don’t forget to take the little “I voted” sticker off your shirt before you put it in the wash, or it will leave a mark.

 

Who am I kidding. It’s gonna leave a mark.

I’m a single-issue pro-lifer in a swing state, and I cannot vote for Trump

I’m a pro-lifer. I believe that the term “pro-life” encompasses so much more than abortion; but I also believe, as Flannery O’Connor says, that you can’t be any poorer than dead.

So when I vote, I vote for the candidate whose presidency will result in fewer dead babies, because you have to start somewhere.

Many of my friends who think the same way are voting for Trump. This is something I cannot do.

As a single-issue, pro-life, swing state voter, here’s what I know:

The President doesn’t just rush over from the swearing-in ceremony, wielding a copy of the Constitution and a Sharpie, passing laws or repealing laws by fiat. They are required to work with Congress. A President Hillary can’t just repeal the Hyde Amendment on her own, any more than a President Trump can’t just repeal Obamacare on his own. So if you’re voting for Trump just because you think Hillary will repeal the Hyde Amendment, then think again. The Hyde Amendment comes down to budgetary issues, and who passes the budget? Congress. So if you’re worried about specific legislation, think of who you’re voting for down ticket. They’re the ones who hold that power.

Presidents also don’t just show up at work and decide who’s going to be on the Supreme Court. The president can nominate someone, but then Congress must approve the nomination. Remember? Remember how Obama shamed the GOP by nominating Merrick Garland, who is widely known as a thoughtful, rigorous, non-partisan judge, and the GOP dug in its heels and blocked him out of spite? That’s how that works.

So if you’re voting for Trump just because of potential Supreme Court nominations, think again. The president can’t put anyone in place without congress’ say-so, and congress has shown that they’re more interested in vengeance and grandstanding than in anything to do with Roe v. Wade or any other pro-life legal case. They’ll say yes to any idiot Trump chooses if they think that idiot will grease their palms in matters that are actually important to them, and they’ll say no to any good judge he might accidentally choose if they think that it will impress their constituents to stand up to Trump.

Congress. Doesn’t. Care. About. Abortion.

Speaking of the Hyde Amendment and Obamacare, if the fate of tens of thousands of babies really does come down to funding, as I keep hearing from the “But the Hyde Amendment!” crowd, then riddle me this: The Hyde Amendment (and I keep accidentally typing “Hype Amendment,” which is pretty accurate) means that federal tax dollars can’t go for abortions. And it’s completely bogus. The federal government funnels millions and millions of tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, and has done so for years. Planned Parenthood is mainly in the abortion business. Money is fungible. Your tax dollars have been paying for abortions forever. The Hyde Amendment  is there so republicans can point to it and say, “SEE? This is why you have no choice but to vote for me!” That’s its only function.

But what about Obamacare? It’s a huge friggin’ mess. Lots of my friends are suffering because of it. But also, it pays for things like prenatal care for poor people who have no other insurance. It pays for thing like the delivery of babies, and for healthcare that keeps alive already-born babies (and children and teenagers, not to mention pregnant and non-pregnant women, and men). One of the reasons people seek abortion is because they think, “How can I possibly afford a baby?” And . . . Trump has sworn to repeal Obamacare.

So if you really believe that it’s mainly big government funding that makes the difference between life and death, you might as well vote Hillary, because she’s not talking about yanking Obamacare. (But those are ugly, leech-like Obamacare babies, not clean, noble Hyde Amendment babies, so screw ’em, right?)

Where do pro-life laws or pro-choice laws really come from, anyway? The president has all kinds of ways of influencing what kind of laws come before congress. The president can make deals with legislators, appointing people heads of committees, and promising rewards in return for favors done; and the president can occasionally pass executive orders or try to repeal certain laws, if they are extremely important to him and worth making a stand over.

But the political will and clout for big, important, life-changing laws come from the ground up, from the states and from individual communities. That’s where the momentum comes from. That’s how legislatures get the idea and the courage to introduce new bills: if they think their constituents will like it, and if they think someone will put money behind it. That’s also, frankly, how laws come before the Supreme Court: if someone has the stamina to keep challenging it, and if someone puts up the money to keep championing it.

I know you don’t want to hear that our legal system rises and falls on popular opinion and money, but it does. It’s really not mainly about who’s president. That’s simply not how it works.

So what happens (and what’s already happening) when pro-lifers openly support Trump and say that he represents our goals and values? Checks come pouring in to pro-choice candidates. Sane people take one look at him and say, “If that’s what it means to be pro-life, then helllllll, no.” A Trump presidency backed by pro-lifers would energize the pro-choice movement in ways we’ve never seen before, ever. Money, enthusiasm, legislative pressure, local and state election — all, all will go shrieking away from pro-lifers. And this is one thing that you really can pin directly on who’s president.

What happened during the Obama presidency? The pro-life movement was tremendously energized. Dozens and dozens of pro-life laws have been passed. Abortions have gone down. This is what it looks like when pro-lifers look at the president and say, “This is the enemy. Let’s fight back!” The very same thing will happen if Hillary is president.

And the very same thing will happen is Trump is president — only it won’t be pro-lifers saying it; it’ll be pro-choicers, and it will be pro-choice laws being passed, and pro-choice causes gaining clout and energy and donations. If I were pro-choice, I’d vote for Trump.

And now let’s talk about pregnant women in crisis. Let’s talk about how they get that way. Let’s talk about the fact that so very many pregnant women who seek abortion say they felt pressured into it. Where could that pressure possibly come from?

Maybe from men who treat them like sex objects. (This is how Donald Trump treats women, past, present, and future.)

Maybe from men who hear that their wife or girlfriend is pregnant and immediately see it as a problem. (This is how Donald Trump treated his wife.)

Maybe because they think they can’t afford to be pregnant and can’t afford to take care of a child. (Donald Trump doesn’t want poor women to have access to free healthcare.)

Maybe because they’re involved with a man who doesn’t feel any need to honor his promises. (Donald Trump is a rich man because he routinely backs out of his promises, refusing to pay contractors and declaring bankruptcy.)

Maybe because they’re living in a culture where men feel that they have a right to push their way into women’s lives, grab whatever they want from women, blame and shame women for anything that happens next, and leave whenever the relationship becomes inconvenient for him. (Donald Trump Donald Trump Donald Trump Donald Trump.)

Women end up having abortions mainly when they feel like they have no other choice: when they feel that their lives and their identities are only worthwhile if they’re more serviceable to people who have power over them.

And I have just described the world that Donald Trump builds around himself, and will continue to build as president.

Just yesterday, Baby Christian Trump said that a reporter’s accusation of sexual aggression isn’t credible because “look at her.” This is how he operates. This is how he sees women: as either pretty enough to be worthy of his sexual onslaught, or as too ugly to be worth anyone’s time.

Women seek abortion for a reason. Donald Trump, and the people who admire him and imitate him, are that reason. Trump has been telling us who he is. Pro-lifers, let’s believe him.

So how to vote, then?
-Vote for Hillary if you think she’ll be better, in the long run, for the unborn. Since I live in a swing state, this is probably what I will do, because I think it’s the least un-pro-life option.
-Vote for a third party candidate if you think he can’t win, but you just can’t stand to vote R or D.
-Vote for a third party candidate , or write in someone if you can, if you think your candidate won’t win, but it will crack open the monstrously dysfunctional two-party system that got us here in the first place.
-Leave your ballot blank, if you think that’s what this election deserves.

But don’t vote for Trump because you’re pro-life. It would be better to hang a millstone on your ballot and throw it into the sea.

Huffington Post to Donald Trump: Send out the clowns

Vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert Donald Trump opened his festering gob and said of John McCain:

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

5440390625_feab8a9520

So the Huffington Post said this:

After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won’t report on Trump’s campaign as part of The Huffington Post’s political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

Next, I’d like to see the elections commission print up a special scratchy ballots just for Trump supporters, so they really feel it when they stick them up their cornholes.

****

There is no real choice in my state.

PIC local candidate with “flu shots cause autism” car

I’ve had it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick and tired of telling these people, “Yes, please, this is what we want. No, thanks, I won’t insist on you even pretending to represent me in the most important issue in the world. I’ll vote for you because I always vote for you, because I always vote for you, and you know I always vote for you.  Oh, I’m sorry, was this crucifix around my neck getting in your way? I’ll just twitch that to the side so you can twist the knife a little more easily.”

Can’t do it. Can’t do it one more time.

Read the rest at the Register.