Getting Political In A Nice Way?

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

ginger ~ coin ~ Kentucky ~ jinn ~ dead ~ shadow

They were submitted by: http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

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First, let me say that I found these words EXTREMELY difficult.  No worries, I like a challenge.  I’m using my words to get a little political today.  I’ve dipped my toe into the world of political punditry from time to time, but I’ve avoided jumping in altogether.  It’s not that I’m afraid to have difficult conversations, or that I’m short on opinions.  Given the political landscape of our current time, I’ve just decided my approach should be more thoughtful and introspective.  Why do I believe what I believe?  What do I actually believe? Do I understand what I believe? Can I articulate what I believe? Can I articulate what I believe in such a way that it doesn’t close down the conversation, but opens myself and others to meaningful dialogue and an exchange of ideas and knowledge?

I don’t know. I’ve spent the first 6 months of this new administration trying to answer these questions for myself.  Seeking to learn what I didn’t understand, I’ve become a student of all things politics.  Better late than never I suppose.  I’ve always held the opinion, wrongly I believe, that what happens in Washington, what happens at the state and local levels of government really doesn’t affect my life in any real tangible way I can see and identify. I think many people feel this way.  Most of us are just trying to survive the best way we know how, taking care of our families and responsibilities.

I believe that there are groups and individuals on both sides of the political aisle with voices so loud, painting the other side of the fence with broad, sweeping generalizations, dominating the political stage, that most of us feel as if we’ve been left out of the conversation altogether.  Most of us hover in the shadows, staying quiet, out of the fray.

There is a general feeling that civil conversation, debate and discussion are dead.  The cacophony of vitriol, hatred, indignation, malice, anger, self-righteousness, sanctimonious superiority and fear is reverberating across our nation in staccato fashion leaving very little room for anything else, or any other voice.

I’ve never held the expectation that any President was a Jinn, or magical genie, with a magical wand that could cure all that ails us as a nation and as a people.

(I have to stop and take a moment to appreciate how I worked that word “Jinn” into this blog post, I mean…I’m totally patting myself on the back over here!)

I did not vote for Donald Trump but I’ve tried REALLY hard to give him and his administration the benefit of the doubt.  Trump supporters genuinely believe that life is exponentially worse for them now than people just like them 50 years ago.  Hence the “Make America Great Again” slogan that seems to be so popular. I’ll give credit where credit is due, Trump certainly knows how to play to his audience, to his core base.  He knows how to work and manipulate the media.  I can’t help but feel that he’s treating the Presidency as another reality TV or game show, where he is merely starring as the President.  I’m not sure he actually holds any vision or fixed ideology or belief system.  He’s a series of contradictions, and I’m not sure that Trump’s promises of a greater America line up with the rest of his party affiliation, or that even understands what that means.  I’m concerned that so many offices of our federal government, both domestic and international have yet to be filled.  I’m concerned that we seem to have no clear direction, no vision, no plan.

There are idealogical differences between our two main party affiliates that may never be bridged. For example, the idea that health care is a privilege not a right or the role assigned to the federal government and the size of that role.  It seems that we cannot even currently agree on basic facts.  I could never have raised my children under the guise of subjective truth.  I’m not sure I know how to navigate in a world where nothing is ever true or factual.  I believe in a free press, it is essential and necessary to our democracy.  There are principled and ethical bi-partisan news organizations and journalists doing a terrific job despite an ever-increasing hostile environment.  I don’t really care where you get your news, but I believe in your inherent democratic right to get it wherever you want.  My hope would be that people would listen to a variety of sources, seeking knowledge and understanding from all sides of the conversation, but if you want to read things that only support or agree with your current worldview, that is your right and I would never seek to undermine or take that right away from you.

What I’ve really tried to do in the first six months of this administration is understand why people voted for Trump.  I looked specifically at the states where he currently has a solid base and overwhelming support, states like Kentucky.

Historically, Kentucky has been divided politically, at least until the 1950’s. As social issues became more prevalent over national issues, more and more residents of Kentucky began voting Republican.  Kentucky is home to the current Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, the junior senator Rand Paul and the Republican governor, Matt Bevin.  Only four states gave Trump a larger percentage of victory than Kentucky, where he won five out of every eight votes.  Kentucky has been hit very hard economically by the loss of manufacturing jobs.  Kentucky is the number 3 automobile making state, but it’s eastern coalfield has shut down over half it’s mining jobs.  Kentucky is economically depressed, with over 440,000 residents on Medicaid.  Kentucky has also been hit extremely hard in the opioid epidemic, where over 90 people are dying EVERY day.  Pharmacies seem to be thriving in Kentucky.  In one rural county, there are eleven drug stores, mostly independent, scattered around a tiny city of 1,500 people.  Prescription pain killers are one of the best-selling items.  Kentucky is hurting.  They are  a people in abject poverty and pain. Black, brown, white, ginger…they are united in their suffering and distress.

(yeah, I know, not the best use of the word “ginger” but I did the best I could)

Kentucky, under the Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, was considered the main success story for the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Trump’s promise to not cut medicaid and provide affordable insurance to ALL was important to Kentucky voters behind economic concerns.  Is he keeping this campaign promise?

When a reporter asked a Trump supporter at a recent rally what they thought about the current healthcare bill, they gave what is probably my favorite quote of all-time: “I don’t like that Obamacare at all, now that ACA care, that’s good stuff, we need to keep that but make it better.”  I’m not judging.  But I do think it illustrates my point about educating ourselves.

I’ve read the mere 142 page Senate Republican Health Care Bill.  I’d encourage you to read it as well.  I’m still trying to understand most of it, legal jargon not a language I speak fluently or even passably, but it read more like a tax reformation bill than a healthcare bill.  I would also encourage you not to discount or ignore the CBO or the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the healthcare bill currently on the floor of the Senate.  The CBO is a non-partisan agency in the legislative branch of the United States government.  It provides INDEPENDENT analyses of budgetary and economic issues facing our federal government.  Despite the aspersions cast upon the agency from our current administration, historically even when senators disagree with the CBO scoring, they respect its expertise.  Again, I would encourage you to read the bill for yourself, and research and analyze the portions you do not understand before forming a concrete opinion of it’s merits or pitfalls.

Trump’s big campaign promise was to not cut Medicaid and to provide affordable health insurance for every American. I’m honestly not sure he understands the difference between Medicare and Medicaid or if he’s even read the bill he’s claims to now support.

The most pressing issue for the residents of Kentucky is the economy and more specifically, jobs.  Mitch McConnell has a long history of blaming Obama for the “war on coal”.  Trump has promised to revitalize and reinstate the coal and manufacturing industries by severing “bad” trade deals, bringing back manufacturing jobs moved overseas, removing our country from the Paris Agreement, repealing environmental protections introduced under the Obama administration and cracking down on immigration.

Sure all those promises SOUND good (to some voters), but are they realistic?  Using emotional rhetoric to illicit a visceral reaction is easy and may give you results in the short term, but do any of these “promises” actually do anything to help not only the people of Kentucky but the American people as a whole?  Blaming immigrants for stealing “American” jobs gives a better sound bite to a divided country than pictures of robots sneaking across the border.  Automation has certainly helped creat the jobs crisis, and as far as I can tell has yet to be addressed by either party.  For every coal job lost, new jobs were created in solar and wind energy.  Progress is leaving people behind, not policy nor ideology.  The cost of manufacturing in the United States drives up the cost of goods.  Manufacturing our goods in foreign countries is cheaper, making our products more affordable.  Are people really going to pay substantially more for the “Made in America” label when they could get it cheaper somewhere else? The rising popularity of Amazon and other online retailers would suggest a resounding no to that question.  Mining jobs have been lost not only because of the environmental regulations but in larger part due to the competition of its cheaper counterpart, natural gas.  How do Trump’s promises seriously address any of these actual issues, other than to incite emotional responses to very real and tangible problems and concerns?

I didn’t even touch on other key and critical areas of concern, but I mean it’s a blog post not a novel, so I focused on touching not only two primary concerns for the nation, but also specifically for the great state of Kentucky.  Obviously, I have strong feelings and opinions and could write for days, but in the interest of the standard reader’s attention span…I’m trying to keep it simple and concise.

Personally, I am concerned about social issues.  I need to broaden my scope and understanding of economic issues, such as budget and taxation, but I’m learning…slowly gaining in knowledge.  I believe in some hybrid form of a single-payer healthcare system.  No system is perfect or without its problems but I do believe healthcare is a right not a privilege.  I believe strongly that taking care of the poor and the marginalized is a very clear Christian mandate.  Jesus wasn’t selective about who he invited to the table.  The table was open for EVERYONE. I believe knowledge is power and truth is vital to our democracy.  I’m not going to be fed information or told what to believe. I’m invested in investigating and seeking out information from a variety of sources. I personally use the following:

The New York Times, the WSJ, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg and Politico, just to name a few.

I’m certainly open to suggestions.  I’m not big on conspiracy theories, so there are certain news organizations that I will never frequent.  I won’t list them here.

I am a huge fan of the podcast.  (#friendofthepod) I love the Crooked Media podcasts: Lovett or Leave It, Pod Save America, With Friends Like These, Pod Save the World and Pod Save the People are my faves.  These particular podcasts are definitely in the #nevertrump camp so you’ve been warned.

I also love true crime podcasts but that doesn’t really fit the scope of this blog post, so I’ll leave that discussion for another day :=)

I would label myself a progressive, and I do have a certain set of ideological perspectives that I consider non-negotiables. I’m not ruled by the almighty coin.  I care about people.  My passion is for social injustice, the problems of mass incarceration and our broken criminal justice system, women’s issues and social issues concerning race and sexual preference.  I’m learning the difference between cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation and my role in the conversation.

I’m currently reading two really remarkable books right now that specifically address issues I’m concerned about in today’s political and national landscape:

“Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America” by Jeff Chu

and

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

I’ll have much more to say about both books when I’ve finished them, but boy have they changed my perspective, challenged what I thought I knew and shined a spotlight on the deepest darkest parts of me and my personal fears and biases.

You may not agree with me and that’s okay.  I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I’m encouraging people to stay informed, seek out knowledge and stay open to civil discourse and dialogue.  Don’t let anyone tell you what to believe.  Truth should never be the enemy.  Be thoughtful.  Be introspective.  Be respectful.  My hope would be that with increased knowledge comes increased action and with action comes change.  We all want a better world for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren.

I would take it one step further though.  I would propose that instead of wishing and waiting for the world to change to fit our individual perspectives, circumstances, or worldview, that perhaps we seek to instead transform ourselves, change the way we think, the way we interact, the way we feel.  Challenge ourselves.  Be open to change.  Be available to the presence of transformation and new ideas.  Ghandi said it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Whatever that means for you.  Embrace it.

There is so much more I feel I could write about, but I’ve used my words, hopefully in a considerate and thoughtful way and hope to share more as I learn and grow.

Love one another ❤

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Cognitive Script                         https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com/blog

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                  http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen                  http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom         http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Climaxed                                        http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

 

4 thoughts on “Getting Political In A Nice Way?

  1. Well said and I agree with so much of it. Partisan politics has replaced compassion and values and it does scare me. I am Jewish and although anti-semitism has always existed in this country, the way that the haters (of all kinds) are being emboldened, validated, is a sad testament to where our country is going.
    And I do now and always have felt that if you use your religion to validate your personal bigotry, that is blasphemy.

  2. This is so good, Shannon! If only we all could have a civil discourse without all the vitriol and name-calling! And your last line said it all: Love one another!

  3. WOW, what a kick-ass, excellently written post! LOVE! You have just established that you are a million times more qualified to run this country. If Mr T went ahead and analysed the challenges and needs of each state like you just did for Kentucky, he’d actually be able to make America even greater.
    Congratulations, this post is my personal post of the month!

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