“We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.” —Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, June 2020
I actually don’t think that’s all we’re witnessing. I think our problems run much deeper. Four hundred years deep, dating back to the day the first slave stepped off the ship onto the soil that would one day be the soil of the United States.
Oh where were our visionaries then?
I suppose we could look to our founding fathers. Well, not all of them. But Benjamin Franklin allowed himself to be educated on the slave situation, though he remained pessimistic about integrating Black people into society. However, a thoughtful, intelligent man could not help but be troubled by what he himself saw as “an atrocious debasement of human nature”.
Yet he owned two slaves himself. And Benjamin Franklin was the best white man we had to offer at the time.
Jump ahead a few centuries. On June 16, 2015, Donald J. Trump announced he was running for president. Less than a year later, it was obvious he had the support to win. To the befuddlement and consternation of thoughtful, intelligent people everywhere, Donald J. Trump went on to become president of what was once the greatest nation in the world.
Life went on, but from that moment, the rights of the marginalized were under attack and in danger. As Mattis says, we haven’t had mature leadership. We have had evil leadership. Ignorant leadership. Leadership with the rights and privileges of the rich and powerful and white (and mainly male) prioritized. And our institutions have suffered because so much of them is controlled by that very demographic. It’s hard to stand up for what’s right when your stock portfolio is soaring. It’s hard to be concerned about “the others” when your race/religion/party is on top.
“The founding fathers, in their genius, created a system of three co-equal branches of government and a built-in system of checks and balances. I feel as though that is under assault and is eroding.” —Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, May 2017
Turns out Clapper was right. Our institutions have crumbled. Our checks and balances are nearly gone. And now we have a choice to make. The economy is on the verge of recovering after the blow it was dealt by Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis. We haven’t seen the last of COVID-19, but people are learning how to live with the danger. That’s not even the wrong thing to do. We had to adapt. We are strong that way. Where we are weak is remembering the bad times.
Black Lives Matter has a chance for the first time in our history to make a difference. As a Southern White Woman—which I put in capitals because I worry constantly that it defines me to others, but, worse, to myself—I know this is important. It is important to every marginalized human being in our country including women, but it is most important to the Black community, which may finally throw off four hundred years of oppression.
Can we as a nation find the strength to resist a government which would oppress all of us—all but the powerful, white, and rich? Can the powerful, white, and rich find it in themselves to resist the call of more power and more money? Some have. James Mattis was one of them. There have been others.
“We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent.” —Senator John McCain, October 2017
“Without fear of the consequences and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.” Senator Jeff Flake, October 2017
Can others follow? Can we all come to realize what is wrong is wrong even when it is not in our own interests? I don’t know. In November 2020 I hope I will find out. I pray what has been normalized—whether that has happened over four years or four centuries—will be rejected. Only then will the symbols of freedom we treasure mean anything at all.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been a Democrat since Jimmy Carter. No kidding. My first political memory is of campaigning with my mother outside the local Veteran’s Hall. We handed out leaflets and my mother talked about how Carter was a good man.
I was six years old.
Since then most of my family has become Republican, my political affiliation has never wavered. When I registered to vote at the age of 18, I proudly stated my political affiliation as Democrat. Democrat I was and Democrat I always should be. I voted for Mondale and Ferraro. I voted straight Democratic tickets for years. I saw candidates fail time after time because I live in North Carolina, home of Jesse Helms, for God’s sake. I saw Howard Dean’s scream. I lived through Dukakis’s tank ride. I shook my head at Gary Hart’s downfall. In 1991, on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, I was moved by the enthusiastic and powerful words of Bill Clinton. I later endured what felt like a betrayal by this personable man I’d supported.
In 2000, I waited with bated breath for the results of an election which should not have been close, only to see Al Gore respectfully bow out when I wanted him to fight. My heart cracked then but by 2004 I thought I’d grown accustomed to defeat when John Kerry also fell short.
The Obama years were a bright spot, but my heart truly broke when Hillary failed in 2016. That’s the only time I’ve ever cried over an election. And now, in these dark times, I find myself with a new enemy.
You dare to tell me, who has struggled wearily along this long path strewn with political careers of people I’ve admired and candidates who’ve failed me, that I’m part of the problem because I’m not “woke” enough? I’ll tell you this, young whippersnappers, I’m “woke” enough to see what your “wokeness” hath wrought and being “woke” doesn’t help you when the world is so dark you can’t see anything but black. And that’s what we’re approaching if you keep firing on people who are ON THE SAME SIDE AS YOU. A world that cares nothing for those who are different, a world that denies problems instead of trying to solve them, a world so deeply divided both sides fall into the crevasse instead of reaching across to each other.
Still don’t think I’m woke enough?
The peanut lapel pin my mother received for campaigning for Jimmy Carter. I keep it to remind myself what being Democrat is all about: Persevering for the little guy.
As a parent of teenagers, my heart breaks at these high school shootings and the texts exchanged between parents and children during them. In a way, this is found poetry, based on actual text messages, though I changed the wording so it could be between one parent and child. Please, please, when November comes, think about how long it will be before you are the one who receives that first text followed by the next desperate If-I-die one.
A Last Tenuous Connection
By Michelle Garren Flye
Someone shooting in the school.
I love you.
Don’t. We’re on lockdown. You might get hurt.
My teacher is dead.
OMG. Stay quiet. Stay safe. On my way.
If I don’t make it, I love you and thank you for everything.
Today, all over the country at 10 a.m., school children will exercise one of America’s most fundamental rights. In an act of (hopefully) ringing civil disobedience, they will walk out of their classrooms for seventeen minutes in protest of the lack of government action on sensible gun control. In the wake of the Parkland shooting and our national government’s subsequent groveling at the feet of the NRA, students across the nation will seek to make themselves and their opinions heard through this act.
Good for them.
Today of all days I think it is important to remember that civil disobedience has shaped our country in some wonderful ways.
Without civil disobedience, women would not have the right to vote.
Without civil disobedience, African Americans would still be enslaved.
Without civil disobedience, we’d all be paying taxes to Great Britain.
And yet, this week alone, I have seen some horrible reminders that civil disobedience can (and usually is) forced to become militant.
Consider the case of the two Seattle Seahawks football players going to practice who were followed by a woman who screamed at them that they better not kneel during the national anthem because her tax money paid for them to play football. I won’t even address the tax money fallacy or even that she was screaming obscenities at two men who aren’t actually known for kneeling during the national anthem. My problem with this is that they have every right to kneel during the national anthem if they want to and feel the need. Hell, the way things are in our country right now, I have a hard time keeping my knees from buckling during the pledge of allegiance and national anthem rituals I once embraced wholeheartedly.
But worse than that were the comments I read on a local news story about how school systems in our county are dealing with the school walkout. Two school systems issued statements promising to support the students in peaceful protests and to provide safe spaces for them to do so. Comments on the online story ranged from supportive to a some really ugly sentiments like the students were making themselves targets by walking out of the school and one from a parent who said no kid of hers better take part in such a display.
Are today’s young people willing to make their peaceful cause a militant one? Women were imprisoned and beaten for demanding their right to vote—and they kept marching and demanding. In the 1960s, some—not all—African Americans fought back against similar treatment when their peaceful sit-ins and marches were threatened. The Black Panthers were a frightening and militant group who were ready and willing to kill for their cause.
And, possibly the most poignant history lesson of all to every American citizen out there, when throwing tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of British taxes didn’t have the desired effect on the British government, war was the result.
So listen to your children. They aren’t tomorrow’s voices anymore. They are today’s, and you ignore those voices at your own peril.
It’s not a decision I made lightly. Friends and colleagues both warned me not to jump into the political arena this year. “You’ll alienate your reader base,” they said. “You’re a romance author. You’ll sound like you’re trying to be an expert at something you’re not trained in.”
What did I do? I ignored them. And there’s a very simple reason why. This year isn’t about politics at all. Politics are about policies, and there must always be some give and take about policies. This year is different. This year is about defending our country’s values, principles and freedoms. They are in danger, and Donald Trump is the threat.
I started my crusade on Facebook at the beginning of the year, trying to encourage friends and family to truly look at what Donald Trump had said and done since launching his presidential campaign. His off-the-cuff remarks about Mexicans being rapists and drug dealers, his horrible comments about women, his passion for waterboarding and other forms of torture, and the worst of all, to me at least, his advocating for killing the families of terrorists. And let’s not forget his promises to limit both freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Any of the other Republican candidates would have been better for our nation. But they didn’t become the presidential nominee. Trump did. And so I vowed to keep posting until Donald Trump was no longer a threat to my country.
Well, he’s still out there. And I’m still writing my articles for whatever they’re worth. And that’s part of why this blog has been so neglected. I’ve only let my politics sneak on here once or twice before. But with the election less than a month away, I’ve made a decision. I hope it’s not a dumb one.
I hope it doesn’t make you hate me or decide not to read my books. If it does, that’s my loss.
In an attempt to reach more voters, I’ll be posting on here now. You’ll see what I believe in right up front. There’s nothing romantic about politics, but there is passion. Passion for preserving our country’s founding principles. There is love. Love for our country and our fellow man. There is desire. Desire to make our country a better place for everyone.
And that’s why, for the next month, I’m dedicating this blog to anyone who believes that we must defeat Donald J. Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. I’ll post my #StopTrump articles here and then to Facebook. If any of my other talented, like-minded fellow writers wishes to join me, I will welcome them.
1. If you fear making anyone mad, then you ultimately probe for the lowest common denominator of human achievement. — Jimmy Carter
2. I hate to see complacency prevail in our lives when it’s so directly contrary to the teachings of Christ. — Jimmy Carter
3. We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams. — Jimmy Carter
4. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. — John F. Kennedy
5. Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. — John F. Kennedy
6. The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves. — George Washington
7. Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they can do this is by not voting. — Franklin D. Roosevelt
8. Americans…still believe in an America where anything is possible. They just don’t think their leaders do. — Barack Obama
9. Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses. — Mitt Romney
10. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. — Theodore Roosevelt
That last one really says it all, doesn’t it? Source for all quotes is BrainyQuote.com.