Tag Archives: donald trump

An Open Letter to Kellyanne Conway

Dear Ms. Conway,

Yesterday I caught your interview with George Stephanopoulos. It was disturbing, on many levels. You dodged his very reasonable question about why Donald and press secretary Sean Spicer both lied about attendance at the inauguration, and when he did what good interviewers do, (that is, repeat the question until you gave a real answer) you accused him of harping on an issue. Even when he clarified that he agreed it shouldn’t be important, but stressed that the falsehoods were worthy of discussion, you kept treating him as if he was single handedly standing in the way of talking about real issues.

That was abusive, Ms. Conway. That was practically gaslighting.

And that wasn’t the only time you used tricks from Manipulation for Psychological Abusers 101. You used promises of future good behavior to bargain for free reign now, when past behavior clearly indicates those promises will go unfulfilled. You encouraged viewers to confuse “less bad” with “good” when you talked about Donald’s inauguration speech. True, it was not as horrendously crass as we are used to, but it was also fearmongering and an inaccurate characterization of our nation. I know you want to people to equate “he’s not being quite as nasty as we are used to” with “he’s actually fine,” because that’s a classic trick manipulative people use to convince others to trust them. It saves them from the inconvenience of a real apology.

That brings me to the one thing that made me more angry than any of the other abuser tactics. You used one of the most sadistic mindfucks of all; using your victim’s defenses against abuse as justification for that abuse.

The press criticize you, so it’s fine that you exclude them and dodge their questions. People protest you, so it’s fine that you lie and cheat and bully. You treat other people horribly, but that’s fine, because by having the audacity to stand up against their own bad treatment, they justify your abuse.

No. That’s not how this works.

We all saw this dumpster fire of an election. We saw how your candidate bullied, insulted, and incited violence at every rally. Every newscaster and journalist saw how he changed the tone of the entire election cycle. He spent more time insulting Mexicans alone than talking about concrete policies, and still had time left over for African-American communities, women, people with disabilities, Muslims, refugees…..

Let me break this down for you. Until Donald Trump makes a genuine apology for everything he has said over the past year and a half, you have no moral high ground to criticize anyone’s conduct or civility, period. Here’s what that apology would look like;

  • Admitting, without reservation, that he was crude, demeaning, and even abusive to millions of people.
  • Naming specific individuals and groups and directing individualized apologies to them.
  • Admitting that this was damaging on both a personal level and damaging to our national culture.
  • Taking full responsibility for what he said and the consequences, and apologizing for going so long without an apology.

Having trouble picturing the Donald we all know doing that? Well, tough. That doesn’t change the fact that this is the only thing that would even give you the right to criticize other people’s tones. You don’t get to adjust the goalposts for him to something like;

  • Going nearly fifteen minutes without adding to the list of people he has crassly insulted.
  • Being polite to people who are knuckling under and giving him everything he wants for fear of being abused even more.
  • Giving one of those fake apologies where you explain how nothing you did was actually your fault.
  • Stating that things are going to be better in the future and expecting forgiveness on credit.

And since I’m having to explain these basic things in detail, I might as well add that if such an unlikely apology were to be given, it would only give you the right to ask for civil discourse to begin again. It would not give you the right to avoid doing any of the following;

  • Answering questions from the press, including ones that could potentially make you look bad.
  • Listening to the concerns of people, regardless of whether they voted for you or not.
  • Tolerating peaceful protests from people who decide, for any reason at all, that they aren’t happy with your actions.
  • Educating yourselves collectively on the issues, and evolving your stances.
  • Compromising and being happy with getting some of what you wanted, instead of whining that you didn’t get to steamroll over those with a slightly different take on the world.

Those are all just basic consequences of getting to live in a democracy.

Based on Donald’s past behavior, we can’t even picture him dealing with that final list of to-dos. That’s why we hate your boss, and that’s why we protest him. We are expressing anger and fear at a man who has gone out of his way to be infuriating and scary.

This has been your refresher course on Basic Decent Human Behavior. If you don’t like it, get the fuck out of here.

Sincerely,

Lane William Brown

The Last Electoral College

First, I motherfucking love this. This is the best shit.

(source here)

I suspect for many people, their New Year’s resolutions look more like New Year’s battle plans, as they use resources like this and this to figure out how to effectively combat the bigotry of the Trump administration. I’ve already seen some people put together game plans, and it’s awesome. I’ve joined a lot of action mailing lists and I’ve been working on contacting my representatives, which feels great. But I’ve decided to add my own personal, specific quest.

In 2017, I’m going to make the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact something that politicians openly talk about and campaign on.

The Electoral College had one job to do; prevent a corrupt, unqualified demagogue from taking election due to a popular vote. Last year, it did the exactly opposite of that. At best, it’s redundant, and at worst it undermines the very concept of democracy. There are two ways to get rid of it. First, there’s the constitutional amendment route, but you need an incredibly united front to do that, and in today’s politically fragmented world that is unlikely. Second, there’s the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, or NPVIC. When they sign the compact, states agree that they will award all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, as soon as 270 electoral votes worth of them are signed on. When it hits that magic number, the electoral college will automatically vote for the winner of the popular vote. It’s a clever trick that makes the college cancel itself out.

Some people have argued that this won’t work because it isn’t in the interest of red states (who tend to gain a disproportionate advantage from the Electoral College, hence George W. Bush and Donald Trump). It also won’t be in the interest of swing states, who get wined and dined every four years thanks to the electors. So far only blue states have signed it and, according to these experts, only deep blue states will, so it’s a lost cause.

To which I say, bullshit. Parties aren’t going to sign it. Elected officials are, and elected officials are selfish. They want to be re-elected. If we send a message that we are fed up with this shitty system, and promising to sign it is key to their elections, they will sign the compact.

Right now, there’s a circle of silence. Politicians don’t talk about the NPVIC, so voters don’t know about it. Because voters don’t know about it, they don’t petition, ask or vote for it. And because they don’t petition, ask or vote for it, politicians feel comfortable ignoring it, which is why they don’t bring it up.

A lot of action people have taken has centered around calling our national representatives, which is great. It’s incredibly important to do that. But we also have state governors and legislators who we can call and talk to. We will also have elections, and candidates. Virginia and New Jersey are electing new governors this year. I’ve already called candidates in my state asking them to make statements on their support of the NPVIC. I plan to go to events whenever I can and ask them about it publicly as well. And I’m going to do what I can to get other people asking politicians about this.

I’ll keep updating as I keep working on this. In the meantime, if you are reading this, please call your state governors and legislators and tell them you’re voting in 2018 and talk to them about the NPVIC. Keep yourself updated on it’s progress. This can be done.

No Clean Slate For Donald Trump

I’m not a fucking goldfish.

So, the election is over, and the person who technically won it somehow lost it. The majority of the country is pissed; that’s not the conversation we are having, as a nation. The conversation is whether we should calm down, take a deep breath, and give him a chance to show us what kind of person he’ll be, or actually let his past behavior inform our current opinion of him.

Here’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. The most dangerous people aren’t the ones who are consistently horrible. The ones with no self-control, no common sense and no shred of human decency set off warning signs around themselves. They can screw things up fairly badly, but most people figure out to get away from them before things get too bad. The worst ones are the people who can make a show of contrition, without really meaning it. They are the people who know how much forgiveness you have in you, who will push you right to the edge of your limits and stop exactly when you run out of second chances. They’ll bide their time, until your anger has simmered down and you are confident that they have changed, and then they’ll go back to their old ways. They’ll do this again and again. Worst of all, any time you hurt them, they will take the fact that you value forgiveness and turn it against you. The expectation will be that you apologize every time you do something they don’t like, while they only apologize to you as often as you can force them to. This will create a distorted feeling of reality; you feel constantly hurt by them, but somehow you’re apologizing more, so you must be doing something wrong, right? You may never get out, because you are mired down by your constant fear that asserting yourself will make you a bad person.

There is only one way out of this trap. It is to recognize the signs of someone who has a truly repentent character, as opposed to somebody who is currently in a situation where contriteness is convenient. Here are some of the signs I have learned:

  • They aren’t afraid of having their flaws pointed out to them.
  • You never need to threaten or bribe them in order to get them to act like a decent person.
  • The first time you bring up the fact that you were hurt, they listen.
  • Sometimes, they even bring it up before you’ve figured out what to say to them.
  • They regularly invest effort in improving themselves, across the board. They want to be a better person simply because that is a valuable goal to them, for its own sake.
  • They never have to be convinced of the basic fact that other people have feelings that matter. They already believe this; it’s just a matter of better understanding how other people’s feelings work.

If a person hurts you, and doesn’t have the basic human capacity to care that you are hurting, they will not change. At most, they will temporarily adjust to dodge consequences.

I have had eighteen months to watch Donald Trump in action. He has, in fact, been shoved in my face by a ratings obsessed media. In order to have him act like a kind and reasonable adult for two minutes together, there needs to be enormous pressure, from media, from his campaign managers and pundits, and from the nation as a whole. But he will gleefully smear any marginalized group for a round of applause from his alt-right voters. I genuinely don’t care which groups he is or isn’t actually prejudiced against. Whether he is willing to harm marginalized groups because he personally hates they or just because he’s pandering to a hateful base, the same people end up hurt.

Between his staff and cabinet picks, the Russian calls and the fact that he’s already gotten into another twitter fight, with the cast of Hamilton of all people, it already looks like those who have erased their slate will just end up having to write the same shit on it all over again.

hamilton-cast
Apparently “Thanks for coming, please treat us like humans” constituted harassment.

My slate still has everything written on it. All the slurs, all the bigotry, all the violence at his rallies that he actively encouraged. All the scandals, the cheats, the corruption. All the sexual assault and intimidation, all the bullying of reporters. All the unconstitutional and dictatorial suggestions he made with flippant disregard to the actual implications. He ran on a campaign of racial hatred and totalitarian soundbites. I will take him at his word.

November 9th, 2016

I don’t know what happened.

I’m writing this at ten minutes to 1 AM. Unless a miracle happens between now and dawn, Hillary Clinton will lose the election.

I don’t know what happened, but I can guess.

People were complacent that someone else would do the right thing. They knew one thing would feel morally superior and one thing was what most people needed to do to protect us as a whole. Instead of casting their vote in the best interest of the nation as a whole, they did what they could pretend was morally superior. Or else they just stayed home.

People swallowed a myth about the lesser of two evils. True in it’s substance, woefully inaccurate in it’s scale.

People let themselves be swept up by a story instead of fighting for the issues that will really matter to us over the next four years.

People turned out to be depressingly more bigoted and hateful than I wanted them to be.

I am scared, and sad, and feel like I haven’t even fully processed the weight of how bad this is. It will probably take a while before I do. Eventually, though, I will have processed this.

I will see injustices; I have no illusions. Real people will be hurt. In some situations, I will be one of them. In others, they will be people different from me; women, POC, and Muslims in particular. Things will not be fine.

In the meantime, I will love my partner, my sister, and my best friend. I will keep talking about injustices and protesting them. When I can do something to help, I will.

And eventually, I will regain my hope in the American people.

It’s just not going to happen today.

November 8th, 2016

This is it, people. We can do this.

We can elect a president who will support for women’s rights, defend queer families and reform the education system to meet the needs of students from preschool to college.

We can shame the swelling movement of racist nonsense that is gaining dangerous ground here. We are a nation that has helped and abused those of other races, nationalities and beliefs, one that has welcomed immigrant with one hand and beaten them down with the other. Today, we can choose to be our better selves.

We can secure a Supreme Court that will push for freedom and equality for generations to come. We can strike down Citizens United and uphold individual liberties.

We can choose the candidate who understands climate change and will ensure America does it’s share to preserve the planet as a place where humanity can continue to exist.

We can choose a commander in chief with the guts to stand up to foreign dictators, the sense to avoid pointless wars, and the experience to make diplomacy work for us.

This isn’t a normal election. We are at a crossroads that will determine our path, not only as a nation but as a global society. This election will have repercussions for generations to come.

We can do it. We can make the right choice.

We’ve got this.

An Open Letter to Gary Johnson, on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, the GOP and LGBT Rights

Dear Gary Johnson,

Google, in it’s infinite algorithmic wisdom, has decided to throw an ad of yours my way, several times over the last few weeks. It can be summarized as, “vote for me, I supported gay marriage before Hillary Clinton did.” Initially I treated the way I treat most sidebar ads; I glanced then ignored. Then I found myself mildly irritated by it, and every time I saw it, I thought a little more about that irritation. And now here we are, with me ranting on the internet.

First of all, I looked up the date you came out to publically support gay marriage. I got December 1, 2011. Hillary Clinton supported civil unions but opposed marriage back in 2003, but changed to fully supporting equal marriage rights in March of 2013 (references in same link). So congratulations; you beat her by a full fifteen months. A baby went from lying in a crib to kind-of walking in the time it took for Hillary to catch up to your courageous public support of my love life.

Second, it doesn’t really bother me that Hillary Clinton played it safe back in the day. She’s been politically active for a long time, and her stances on numerous issues have evolved with the times. I’m okay with that, because I’m not naive. In her case, I’m especially inclined to forgive, because while she’ll bow and pander and obfuscate to get power, she then uses that power to do awesome stuff. She has fought hard for healthcare, environmentalism and women’s rights.

And no, it doesn’t bother me that you weren’t always openly pro-gay either.

That brings me to my third point. Your accomplishments, as far as LGBTQ rights go, consist of, well, saying you aren’t against them. The tide of public opinion on gay marriage turned quickly. You jumped into the water a year before Hillary Clinton did. But while you paddled in the shallows, she struck out swimming.

She even started working for us ever unpopular transgender people. As Secretary of State, she pushed through legislation that enabled trans people to get passports that affirmed their gender without jumping through medical hoops. Imagine life with an ID that can out you, that can expose you to violence. Imagine needing a surgery to get that ID changed, and needing a job to pay for the surgery, and being denied the job because your ID outs you as transgender. Long before I knew who was responsible, I knew a trans woman who carried her passport with her all the time. She carried it because she didn’t “pass” well, because she sometimes did get attacked, because the security of a gender affirming government-issued ID was something she needed daily. The passport bill is the kind of work Hillary is best at; small, not too glamorous, but with significant practical benefits for real human beings.

To this day, if you go to her plan on her website, you see trans issues explicitly spelled out. She will fight for our rights in bathrooms, as she will also fight gender conversion therapy, appoint Supreme Court Justices who will uphold our newly won marriage rights, and continue to vocally, openly support us.

I couldn’t find any evidence of your support for trans rights, or that you’ve even mentioned them. I don’t see what you say about conversion therapy. You are socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. When you pick the new Supreme Court Justice, which will be your priority? Do you already have a list of highly qualified judges who are your fellow libertarians? If you can’t get one, would you appoint someone who is socially and fiscally liberal? Or will your primary concern be appointing someone in favor of “small government” even when that means making the government too small to protect people like me?

Those are the questions that concern me, a person who has to live in this country while being queer. Not “who liked us before we were cool?”

Fourth, why the hell are you criticizing Hillary Clinton at all? She’s not the person I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of the party who, this year, reached new lows in their vehement opposition of LGBTQ rights. I’m scared of the people who are actively anti-gay marriage, not the one whose support of it is only three years old. I’m scared of the party that grins approvingly at conversion therapy and would refuse to let me adopt a child.

I’m scared of the fucking Republicans.

It’s possible you’ve got ads targeting the GOP and appealing to young, gay-friendly Republicans, and I just haven’t seen them because Google knows I’m not a Republican. It’s possible.

Although I do see an awful lot of pro-Trump ads these days though. So Google is letting Trump, Clinton and you being anti-Clinton through, but not you calling out Republicans on the most anti-LGBTQ platform yet? Yeah, that’s definitely more likely than you calling out the kettle and ignoring the pot.

What the hell, man?

All this together makes me think that, honestly, you don’t give a shit about people like me. You don’t see our rights as worthy of real time and action. But you’re happy to take credit for liking us, even if that means stealing votes for somebody who will actually make us a priority.

I think you can see why I’m a bit pissed.

Make Donald Donald Again

So, back in February, John Oliver had a segment on the history of Donald Trump’s last name. He ended with the suggestion that we start calling him Donald Drumpf.

I loved that segment, but it didn’t really catch on except as a snarky signifier of people who had already made up their minds. Which is fine, because it was a snarky suggestion. Still, there was something true in what was said. The name Trump was invented specifically to send a message of power and prestige, and it’s attached to a man who doesn’t deserve it.

Monday night, watching the debate, I noticed how Hillary Clinton kept calling him, “Donald,” and the way he winced at that. How odd. He doesn’t balk at calling her “Hillary.” None of us do. We called her main opponent “Bernie.” But somehow it’s unpleasant for him to be called “Donald.”

When you think about it, Donald has an absurd sound. It sounds like a cartoon character. It sounds like Ronald’s petulant, unintelligent punchline of a little brother… which is incredibly appropriate in this situation. And it’s a name that you could conceivably pull off with some dignity, if you had reasonable amounts of humility, eloquence and common sense. The fact that the Republican frontrunner can’t is a spotlight on his incompetence. It’s like his tiny hands all over again; an innocuous, irrelevant detail that any decent person could shrug off, but his grandiose ego makes him explode at even a reference to it.

Donald. Donald. Donald.

When you think about it, it’s fitting that all of the serious candidates –

*coughing, hacking noises*

Sorry, couldn’t finish that sentence. Let me try again.

When you think about it, it’s fitting that all of the party frontrunners in this debate be called by their first names. It’s fair, for one thing. It sounds belittling and sexist to say “Hillary” but “Trump,” or “Mr. Trump.” Yet, in the primaries we called Bernie Sanders “Bernie,” and besides it was helpful to distinguish her from the other political Clintons. We’re all in the habit now.

And don’t the names fit perfectly?

Hillary. Distinctive. Individual. You never forget a Hillary. She strides the boundaries between feminine and masculine, in a way that makes you love her or hate her, depending on your feelings about gender conformity. Her name means happy but feels like steely optimism rather than a party. It’s a name full of energy, but not peppy cheerleader energy. It’s the name of a marathon runner.

Donald.

Fuckin’ Donald.

Seven New Questions to Ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

If you’re a newscaster, and have been kept awake by the nagging feeling that there’s more going on in the nation than racist gaffs and emails, but have lost sight of what, this is for you. Apart from immigration, the political discussions have been remarkably short on politics. I’m not sure why. It’s not like the world today is short on, you know, actual issues. Yet for some reason you all seem to be reporting on this election with all the seriousness you would reserve for a reality TV show.

  1. With increased spread of the Zika virus and the previous Ebola outbreak, the spread of infectious diseases is clearly a major global concern. What will you do as president to combat pandemics?
  2. President Obama has established a policy of scientifically studying the effects of government programs, with the stated goal of only continuing ones that work and replacing those that don’t. Do you think this policy has been worthwhile? How would you evaluate the effectiveness of your own laws and programs?
  3. There has been much attention drawn to the problem of police shootings and particularly the disproportionate death of Black citizens at the hands of police. Very little, however, has been done to address this. Do you have a plan to tackle this problem?
  4. In rural areas, many are struggling to find the opportunities that America has traditionally promised. How would you meet the educational and vocational needs of this population?
  5. One of the most pressing concerns of young people today is the rising cost of college. Many feel trapped between jobs that can’t pay their rent and education they cannot afford; others must put off starting families for years while they pay off college debt. How would you address this problem?
  6. Now that gay marriage has become the law of the land, the next big battleground for LGBT rights seems to be transgender people in bathrooms. Do you side with those who would ban them from public restrooms, or those who would let them use whichever one they find most comfortable?
  7. Citizens of Flint, Michigan still struggle to provide their children with clean water. Many cities across the nation have lead pipelines that leave them vulnerable to a similar crisis. What is the most effective way to solve this problem?

Feel free to use these to interview the presidential candidates, their spokespeople, or research prior statements each campaign has made. The latter may be difficult, given the gossip rag tone your peers have collectively taken, but you never know. Occasionally the candidates will drop a crumb of substance, between apologizing for the seventy-eighth time for her private email server and promising to never do it again/using sentence fragments to sort everyone into “evil enemies to all that makes America great” or “sensible person who rightly recognizes my fabulous greatness and proves it by letting me do whatever the hell I want.”

Warning; this line of questioning might be called biased, because one of the candidates will have an easier time giving you straight answers than the other. The correct response is to repeat the question until you get a straight answer. If you don’t get it, it’s because somebody forgot to put on their grown-up pants today this month this election cycle ever.

The Long Fight For Progress

Dear Bernie Sanders Voters,

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Riots kicked off what most historians see as the modern LGBTQ movement. We had roots going back before that, but this was the moment that set us on fire. It was the day we found our power. It was the day we said “enough.” After decades of work from that movement, I was given the right to marry my boyfriend, only a year and a month ago. We are now like any other couple, wondering if the finances are right and whether we’ve waited long enough to not be “rushing it,” not wondering when our country will be willing to recognize that I’m his and he’s mine.

And even with this landmark crossed, I feel the fight for my extended queer family is nowhere near over. I still see my little brothers, sisters and non-binary siblings harassed, beaten, killed or driven to suicide. I still have to mourn fallen trans comrades every November 20, on Transgender Day of Rememberance, including far too many beautiful trans women of color. As a trans man, I experience the humiliation of hearing people debate whether or not I have the right to use a bathroom.

I think Bernie Sanders was for leftist socialists what the Stonewall Riots were for the LGBT movement. The ideas were there before, but this year I saw people taking action on these economic policies in a way I never have before. I saw unity and passion. Bernie lit a fire for you, and it warmed my heart to see it.

Now when I see disappointed Bernie supporters, I feel a range of emotions. Part of me honestly sympathizes. It’s hard to see yourself come so close, to imagine you are about to hit a goal that once seemed unbelievable, to feel momentum pushing you forward and then realize it wasn’t enough. I’ve been there. It sucks.

Part of me also feels a little bemused. I shake my head and think, “did you really think things were going to change that fast? Have you not looked at the history of progressive movements? Progress has never been a sprint. It’s always a marathon.”

But most of me fears the movement being put out too soon.

It has taken the LGBT movement so long to hit even the landmark victory of marriage equality. That doesn’t mean we were stagnant for forty-six years. We took small achievements when we could. We didn’t want civil unions, but they gave couples rights that they needed. There were people whose life partner was dying in a hospital, and they couldn’t visit, because they “weren’t family.” Those people couldn’t wait for us to make some all or nothing stand. So we took what we could get, then we got up and kept fighting. The same thing goes for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It wasn’t the acceptance we wanted, but it gave LGBTQ people in the military at least a veil of privacy. We took it. Then we kept fighting. We elected gay leaders. We saw them shot down. We survived an AIDs epidemic. We kept fighting.

You’ve done some truly awesome things this year. You exposed issues with the system, showed that progressive socialism isn’t toxic to a campaign, and, in Bernie Sanders’ own words, forced the Democrats to adopt their most progressive platform in generations. You got the Democratic establishment’s attention, and just because your candidate didn’t make it to office, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage that attention to push the party further and further to the left. 

But if you let the Republicans take control of the government, those victories will mean nothing. We can’t put that progressive platform to action if the man we have in the office spends all his time boasting about an imaginary wall while handing out tax cuts to the wealthy. 

I only just got marriage equality. More than that, I only just got the ability to go back to college. My parents kicked me out and I’ve been struggling on half a degree ever since. With my testosterone prescription and my anxiety disorder, I can’t go back to school without insurance to cover my medications. I can’t pay insurance without help. Obamacare is letting me get ahead. If Trump is elected, he will steal my hopes of marriage and college in a heartbeat. Along with that he will destroy environmental regulations, a diplomacy-based approach to foreign relations that keeps us from constantly declaring war, the whole concept of raising taxes on the wealthy, Roe v Wade… Even when he’s gone, the Supreme Court Justices he elects will remain. Those of us who have been fighting for basic human rights, as women, as racial, religious or ethnic minorities, as disabled people and LGBTQ folk, we will all experience setbacks. We will experience repercussions for years.

You can avoid that setback, for yourselves and all the rest of us. You can use this moment to move forward, not backward. Unite to put that progressive platform into power, and if Hillary Clinton disappoints you, take her on again in 2020! Elizabeth Warren, anybody? I’ll be right there with you. 

So what do you say? Were you just in this fight for a sprint, or are you ready for a marathon?