Encore

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a show by David Byrne. I have seen him perform many times before, and he always put on a great show. He didn't let us down this time either. After the last number, they bowed and walked off-stage to a standing ovation. The applause continued for a few minutes, and was then rewarded by an encore.

Did I worry that my applause wouldn't be the decisive amount of noise to ensure that there was an encore? Of course not. When you are a member of the audience of a performance, it's not about you, it's about everyone. Of course if I didn't clap they would have done the encore anyway, and if I had clapped twice as hard it wouldn't have changed anything. The problem is expecting individual effects in a group context.

Voting is the same thing. It isn't about you, the voter. It's about everyone, the voters. When an election is held, vote your preference. Odds are, sure, it won't make a difference. Your vote won't be the single event that changes history. But it's not supposed to be. Assuming that unless it is, it doesn't matter is completely missing the point. Just as applauding (or not) for an encore, it is the response of the group that matters, not any single member of the group.

If you have the privilege to vote, and haven't done so yet, make the effort to do so tomorrow. The collective action of those who might feel that they are powerless wields a hell of a lot of power.

My Electoral Dread

With the mid-term elections coming up in a few weeks here in the US, many of us are hoping for the "blue wave" that will help to counteract the extreme direction that the Trump regime has pulled this country. But having observed how things have been operating for the past two years, I can't help but feel a sense of dread about what will happen.

One thing that has plagued politicians is being involved in a scandal. But in the Trump era, there are new scandals every day, sometimes so many at once that it's hard to keep up. And I think that's the plan: overwhelm people so that no single scandal gets any attention.

So this dread I feel is that on Election Day, there won't be a few irregularities about the vote; there will be thousands and thousands. There will be so many that it won't be possible to investigate them all. We will have no certainty about the results. There will be cries of fraud, but instead of taking them seriously, they will be met with the standard "you lost; get over it". And as a result, the political arena will become more extreme than ever before.

I have never hoped that I am wrong as strongly as I do now.

Handling White Supremacists

This is a thought experiment, not an actual proposal, so hear me out. Let's take one state (Alabama and Mississippi come to mind as front-runners), and make it white-only. There will be a national relocation service, and within a period of say, two years, all non-white, non-Christian (can't have Muslims or Jews here!) people will have to relocate to anywhere else in the country they want. Similarly, all white supremacists, including KKK, Nazis, "alt-right", etc., will have to relocate to this newly-whitened state. For convenience, let's assume that Alabama is selected, and renamed Alabaster.

Once that is done, it will be illegal to espouse those views outside of the state of Alabaster, but it will be completely legal within. We can follow the Chinese example and create a Great Firewall around Alabaster, so that all social media posts made in this state cannot be seen outside, and posts from non-whites cannot be seen within. Inside Alabaster they will be free to fly Confederate and Nazi flags and erect all the statues to Confederate figures they want. Anyone caught promoting white supremecist messages in the rest of the country will be forced to relocate to Alabaster. And, of course, Fox News will only be able to be seen by residents of Alabaster (and it will be the only news station).

We could also make it more comfortable for these racists by eliminating some of the other things that bug them. Obamacare will not apply to residents of Alabaster, so they can enjoy being excluded for pre-existing conditions and the like. There will also be no federal taxes: income tax, social security, medicare - none. Of course, no federal funds will be given to Alabaster, so they'll have to maintain their own roads, feed their own poor, care for their own elderly, all out of their own pockets. In other words, Tea Party heaven!

Having set the stage for this thought experiment, I'm wondering what the population of Alabaster would eventually be. In other words, how many people in the current USA would volunteer to move to such a white-only state? And for those who did, I wonder how happy they'd be, now that all of the things that they are currently so angry about have been removed from their lives. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Trump Is Not The Enemy

Are you numb yet? To all of the outrageous, dishonest, and self-serving things that Donald Trump does? Or does your blood still boil every time his name is mentioned? I find myself in the latter camp, but I'm here to remind you of something very important: Trump Is Not The Enemy.

He is an enemy, of course, but by focusing on him, we miss the bigger picture. Thought experiment:  imagine that tomorrow morning you wake up to see that Trump has tweeted his resignation. He's gone. Not only that, but Bob Mueller also announces indictments of Trump Sr., Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump. They're all going to prison for a long, long time. Would that mean that things will be all right again?

Hardly. The Republican party controls all 3 branches of government, and they have been more than happy to ride along with the Trump populist train in order to achieve their goals. They have confirmed nominees to cabinet posts who are not only unqualified, but who have expressed views that are 180° opposed to the office they occupy. They have tried to take away health care to millions of people, and are currently planning on redistributing even more of the income of the masses to the extremely wealthy. They have wantonly ignored the truth, and instead parroted Fox News talking points. If Trump were to disappear, we'd have President Mike Pence, who would gladly continue, if not accelerate, the decline of our country.

It is not Trump, but the Republican party that is the true enemy. The only way we can progress as a country is to remove them from power.

How do we do that? My suggestion is to tie everything that Trump does to Republicans. If Trump hints about nuking North Korea or killing gay people, don't place the blame solely on him. Place it on the enablers. Place it on the Republicans. Hold them accountable.

There are several Republicans in Congress who have expressed privately that they feel that Trump is unstable, but instead of acting on that, they just let it continue. Hold them accountable.

There is an overwhelming track record of violating the emoluments clause, and personally profiting from government use of his properties, but the Republicans turn a blind eye to that. Hold them accountable.

If in the weeks to come, evidence of Trump's collusion with Russia surfaces, or any of a number of other  potentially impeachable offenses are revealed, the power to impeach is 100% in the hands of the Republican majority. If they don't act as swiftly and as thoroughly as they did investigating Hillary Clinton for Benghazi, they are excusing those acts, and thus complicit. Make that the headline, and hold them accountable.

We need to constantly tie our outrage to the Republicans, and not just to Trump, if we ever hope to move this country back to a positive direction. We need to stop focusing on winning the White House, and focus instead on winning state legislatures so that we can undo the gerrymandering that has allowed them to control the House with a minority of votes. We need to be sure to target every single Republican who is up for re-election in 2018, and tie them inextricably to Donald Trump. Trump is going down in flames, and we need to bring all of his enablers down with him.

Presidential Prediction

With less than 24 hours until Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States of America, I've been thinking about how this is all going to play out. So here's my prediction: he will last in office for a few months - no more than a year - and then resign. Mike Pence will finish the term.

Why? Because Trump has no interest in running a country. His only interest is himself, and he sees being President as an opportunity to have two things: for people kiss up to him, and for him to line his pockets. The problem is that since the Republicans control the House and Senate too, they have their own expectations, and they don't necessarily overlap with Trump's. As a result, he'll start to veto things the Republicans want, just because he can, or because he feels that someone has unfairly criticized him. He's shown his vindictive side again and again, and that matters more to hin than any party loyalty. Pence, on the other hand, would be more than happy to play ball, since he's firmly on the side of the Republicans. So in the days following inauguration, Trump will continue to appoint unqualified people, and propose and say outrageous things. At some point, "something" will surface that will force the House to consider impeachment, most likely a business conflict, and rather than face that embarrassing option, Trump will resign and storm off, like a little brat taking his ball and going home when he doesn't win. He'll have proven he can beat everyone, and will have become richer as a result. Then Pence will take over, and the real damage will begin.

Don't get me wrong: I don't like Trump one bit. But I believe that he is going to be so over-the-top that when he leaves, people will sigh with relief, because things will no longer seem so outrageous as "normalcy" returns. People will not even notice that the Republicans are taking away their health care, Social Security, Medicare, financial protections, environmental protections, etc. - all the things that the Republicans have told us they would do for so many years. And since Republicans know that they will likely lose their majorities in the mid-term elections after the Trump debacle, so they will want to get Trump out of the way sooner rather than later so that they have time to get all of this done before they lose the House and/or Senate.