Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pull For The New Pilot?

I've read a lot of folks say that we need to root for Trump now. He's the pilot of the plane, whether you like him or not. Stuff like that.

I'll root for him if he does good things. If he appoints smart, thoughtful people to positions of authority. If he places tremendous value on science and our climate. If he is inclusive in his actions, words and attitudes towards all our citizens. If he actively promotes the American values of freedom of speech, press and religion. If he is properly wary of autocratic regimes throughout the world. If he keeps his business interests separate from his administration. If he values women's rights. If he represents America in a civil way domestically and internationally. If he seeks to subdue the ever-present danger of violence and the easy proliferation of weapons throughout our country. If he seeks to help middle and working class folks who are having trouble finding a new way in a world of free trade and automation.

If he doesn't do these things....if rather he seeks to suppress women's rights, marry his business interests with his administration, further marginalize the vulnerable, say uncivil things, appoint people who value ideology over science, act like a weak-minded bully and empower the worst among us, embarrass America internationally with his tendency to be unprepared, further enrich the entrenched wealthy and turn his back on the working poor, admire and ally with autocrats, persecute his political foes.....etc. etc.

If he does these things instead, then I hope he fails spectacularly. And I hope that we will learn to never let such a person even come close to being president again. I just hope that folks don't get hurt in the process. I really, really, really hope that folks don't get hurt.

David Brooks, who has earned a lot more of my respect through this cycle, rightly pointed out that civility and decency, a couple of the many things that Trump lacks, are not just nice things to have when you can get them. They are foundational qualities for our union. We can't get far without them.
So should we root for Trump? That's up to him. And it doesn't look good at all so far.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Immigration in 2016

Some thoughts in the context of listening to interviews where folks express their fears and prejudices concerning immigration. I differ with them, but I want to try to give them just the slightest bit of a sympathetic thought:

I believe in diversity as an inherently good thing, and immigration is part of the life blood of our country. However sometimes liberals have failed to adequately acknowledge that when thinking about immigration policy, it is important to keep in mind that we cannot allow certain American values to be diminished. Among those values are freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion (or the lack thereof). If immigrants do not accept these ideals, then perhaps we should not welcome them to America in great quantities. I believe in the free exchange of ideas, and I believe that exposure to American values can change the minds of those who are unaccustomed to them, but we must maintain a balance when seeking to preserve and expand those ideals.

Now I believe the vast majority of immigrants do believe in those ideals whole-heartedly, which is a big reason they want to come to America, but in our discourse sometimes liberals can go too far when combatting what they perceive (rightly, I believe) to be lots of xenophobia and racism here at home. We must acknowledge that certain American ideals are paramount and must be strongly supported by our populace to thrive.

Perhaps a SMALL part of the current Republican candidate's appeal to some has been brought about by the failure of many liberals to be properly nuanced about immigration policy. I should be clear that I support continued immigration as a moral duty and as a good thing, and even a necessary thing, for our country, but there are complexities involved.

The great irony in all this however, is that the greatest current threat to the American ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion is the very person whom those fearing immigration are turning to - this year's Republican nominee. He has continually threatened people for speaking ill of him. He has threatened protesters with violence. He has lashed out at the press when they say anything negative about him, calling them "disgusting" and filing meaningless but costly lawsuits. He has suggested a religious litmus test for entry into the United States, which renders second class status to any current resident of that religion.

And I barely mention his lack of respect for the equal personhood of women, his endorsement of sexual assault, and his dangerous flirtation with challenging America's 240 year old tradition of the peaceful transfer of power after elections.

This guy is the threat to American values. He does not serve American ideals.