14 Dec

#notnormal

Like so many people, I am overwhelmed. There are so many things I see happening that I can’t figure out what action to take, or if it’s even worthwhile to take action. Every day it’s some new outrage. I’m trying to put myself in others’ shoes, to see things through other eyes. Not everyone sees the country the same way I do and that’s fine. So, I want to respect the needs and beliefs of my fellow Americans. But a month after the election I’m having a hard time seeing how this is going to be OK.

“Give him a chance,” people say. “Checks and balances,” they reassure.

  orange“His bluster and “straight talk” on the campaign trail was just that: bluster. He’ll be more Presidential if he wins.” OK, but a month on, he’s lashing out via Twitter at SNL, newspapers, and a union boss for not gushing over him. Businesses and offices can probably handle the backlash, but individual people are not prepared to fend off the consequences of targeted vitriol (see last year’s college student who asked a reasoned question of the candidate and received not only a crude response from him but also a year of online harassment from his followers). I don’t see a move towards either Presidential behavior, nor any effort to bring Americans together as he promised.

“He’s so rich he won’t be corruptible. He doesn’t need to be in this for the money. He’ll work with the average worker in mind.” OK, but before the election there was no evidence of altruism. He still doesn’t show us where his money is or what he does with us. Not long after the election, he said he was working with lawyers to disentangle his conflicts of interest. I actually told my cynical husband that this was movement in the right direction and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. But, a month later, there’s been no discernible effort to distance himself from his money. In fact, it actually looks like he’s putting his ducks (children and business interests) in a row to take advantage of of his and their positions of power to guide policy and decision making for personal financial gain. Oh, and he’s put off until after the electoral college casts their votes, his public explanation of his intentions vis a vis conflicts of interest.

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Heal the divide? Not gonna happen with continued Tweet storms or nominating cabinet members with nihilistic tendencies towards the cabinets they’d head. Don’t like the appearance of Pay to Play? How do his big donor advisory picks and cabinet nominations look?

The backlash (mine included) against him can’t merely be sour grapes. This is not the first time my candidate has lost, but this is the first time I just can’t wrap my head around why the other candidate won. I swear I’m trying to suss out the ways his election will address the issues people say they care about, but I just can’t see it yet.

“Government is corrupt and has done nothing for me. We might as well burn it all down.” Ah, now here’s something I think he can deliver on. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to believe that a scorched earth approach to governance is good for the American people. This is not normal…

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…but I fear that it WILL become normal.

04 Dec

Feeling The Need to Rant

I try not to make this blog too ranty or political, but every now and then I just need to use my outside voice, and this is my platform. Yes, I ranted about gun control two and a half years ago and my opinions have not changed much since then. But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since then about what I want to do about it.

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I could “like” and share posts on social media that align with my views, but outrage on social media is just so much hot air and nothing actually tangible. I could vote for leaders who’s platforms include issues I agree with, but I’ve been doing that for decades and even if my local politicians support the issues I support, overall the majority and/or oligarchs of this country have very different goals than I do.

I do think that we should continue to pressure politicians to pass (or simply enforce) gun control laws. Sure, background checks, limits on certain types of guns, and limits to amounts of ammunition won’t stop all gun violence, but it has been shown to slow it down in countries that do have stricter laws than the U.S. My vote will reflect this.

I also agree that this country is in dire need to increased mental health services and funding for them. What I don’t believe is that the majority of gun violence perpetrators could have been stopped by better mental health services. I sincerely think that most gun violence is much more a result of poor anger management skills. I have no problem paying higher taxes if that money is going to more and/or better social services.

One thing I think could actually happen soon is to lift the implied ban on gun violence research. In recent news, many doctors are lobbying lawmakers for this. I believe that in the long run, more research on the myriad motives for gun violence and mass killings, and research on gun violence as a health issue will lead us to better understand the problem and to better combat it.

Since it is highly unlikely that Americans as a whole would willingly “give up their guns,” I support the suggestion that gun owners purchase liability insurance for said weapons. Sure, illegal guns wouldn’t be covered, and home intruders and mass shooters couldn’t necessarily be held accountable, but how about the toddlers that accidentally shoot their family members, or the school shooters that use their parent’s guns to kill classmates, or the guy who shoots his girlfriend thinking she was an intruder? At the very least, the insurance could go towards hospital costs, burial costs, first responders, legal fees, etc. in a more direct line from gun owner to gun incident. Having a tangible way to account for the monetary costs of gun violence might encourage some to be more responsible gun owners, or to consider if gun ownership really is the appropriate choice.

Finally, I think that we as a nation need to start thinking long term and seriously work towards changing our gun culture. To this end I wish I knew how to attract the attention of Hollywood. Celebrities have as much, if not more, influence than politicians. Actors can refuse gun-heavy parts. We could enact common sense gun laws all day long, but as long as news and entertainment media keep convincing us that we are in constant danger and that we are all Bruce Willis saving the day with our indefatigable firepower, the short fused among us will keep turning to guns as the go-to problem solving solution. Lets stop watching TV shows that are quick to pull out a gun with the justification “I had no choice.”  Hey Hollywood: you are dynamic and creative — use that force to write scripts that solve problems and bring excitement without guns (or lets start with 50% fewer guns). Personally, I think use of cunning and martial arts is pretty exciting. How about inspiring creative thinking, hand to hand combat, and bloodless suspense rather than going first to shooting from the hip. (Wouldn’t it be interesting if disaffected young white men chose to practice parcour over collecting bullet proof vests and long guns because their TV hero is a parcour and MMA badass.) I’m not saying turn away from action and drama shows, I’m saying find ways to create that action and drama with fewer guns. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick — but maybe the next generation will view gun violence with more disdain just as we’ve come to view cigarette smoking or drunk driving as socially unacceptable. Of course, maybe the next generation will view gun violence with disdain because they’re growing up with regular lock-down drills at school and that can’t not affect young minds. News and infotainment can work to change public opinion as well. I think recently there actually has been a shift away from giving attention to the perpetrators and putting more focus on the victims. This is a good shift. I saw a hashtag the other day, showthebodies. That’s probably too visceral a solution, but point taken.

Personally, I’m saddened by, frustrated about, and resigned to, the state of gun violence in the U.S. today. I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. My thoughts are barely organized. My voice is small, but here it is.