Tom Being Tom

Just me, talking about stuff.

Donald Trump

roll tide, jones wins

Roll Tide

By on 13 Dec 2017

Last night, the people of Alabama did a good thing. The right thing.

It was entirely unexpected and, anyway, by a very narrow margin. But enough people in the Heart of Dixie had the courage of conviction to place country over party, and elect Doug Jones to the Senate. A Democrat. In Alabama.

Alabama voted for Donald Trump, in 2016, by a margin of 28 percentage points. They last put a Democrat in the Senate two and a half decades ago. They are the very definition of a Red State. But, last night, that went out the window, as 670,151 Alabamans cast their votes blue.

But this wasn’t about party. This race was not about Republicans vs Democrats, not in the state of Alabama. In the press, it was. To the president, it was. But for the denizens of the Cotton State, and for many of us watching from the outside, it was not. It was about character. It was about an alleged pedophile, a clear bigot, and a devout racist, battling against a man who, by all accounts, is a good man. And the good man won. Despite all odds.

It was not easy. 650,436 Alabamans still voted for Roy Moore. 650,436 Alabamans chose party over character. The party liners made it clear that, if the allegations were true, they’d still rather have a child molester than a Democrat in the Senate. That is sad.

The president of the United States of America made that clear, too. Donald Trump himself made similar comments, imploring those who would listen to forget the allegations against Roy Moore on the sole basis that the Senate needed a red vote for his ambiguous tax bill. It is not a surprise. The entire country had to rally behind a man of bad character, the president himself, to win the vote in 2016 by a negative margin.

But win, he did. The final tally in 2016 was a vote for intolerance. Like Roy Moore, Donald Trump represents bigotry, misogyny, and narrow-mindedness. They welcome all religion, as long as its Christian. All color, as long as its white. Any gender, as long as it knows its place in a male-dominated society.

The election in Alabama was a referendum against such shallow thinking, however small the margin. 670,151 people in the deep south stood up and said “enough.” Enough prejudice. Enough xenophobia. No more free passes. Enough bad behavior. Enough.

Last night, the people of Alabama did a good thing. The right thing.

And I wake up this morning feeling a little bit better about human nature; and about the future of the United States of America.

On Giving the Man a Chance

By on 12 Jan 2017

“Give the man a chance.”

Politics are an amazing, blinding thing. A couple of months ago, the US  elected to president an egomaniacal, authoritarian demagogue. Followers of history might compare this man to Joe McCarthy, a similarly divisive and pompous politician. McCarthy, like Donald Trump, had a run of public success deriding his enemies in the public forum. In the end, however, McCarthy was condemned by his peers for conduct unbecoming. The man had no sense of decency, was exposed as a charlatan and a fraud, and was run out of office.

In other words, he was a putz.

“Give the man a chance.”

Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in November of 2007, and took office during one of the worst recessions we had ever seen. By no means a perfect leader, he nevertheless guided America from that purgatory into better days with a stable and reassuring hand. He has many documented successes. But throughout his scandal-free administration as the leader of the free world he was besieged with animosity by those who identify with the opposition party. They never gave him a chance.

“Give the man a chance.”

Eight years later, America is in a better place in almost every statistical category. And although there is much to chagrin about in the course of history there is a likelihood that the centuries will be much kinder to Barack Obama than to his predecessor or successor. Whatever the causes of success as a country, the leader during a recovery gets the credit while the president during a collapse – this time George Bush – gets the blame. As for Donald Trump, demagogic con-men are rarely remembered kind.

“Give the man a chance.”

Lest you decide, dear reader, to decipher the data above in an unkindly light, remember this: you will be measuring the successes of Donald Trump by the same values. Already the followers of the great charlatan of our time are touting his successes. “He has saved a 1000 jobs.” “The stock market has hit new records since the election.” Never mind that Barack Obama is credited with saving 1.2 million jobs in the auto industry in his early days and never mind that the stock market rebounded during his presidency from a historical fall to record heights. He deserves no credit whatsoever for such things. Barack Obama happened to be there when it happened; Donald Trump has (somehow) ensured that it has, by rhetoric alone.

“Give the man a chance.”

But almost nothing is true the way we see it in politics. Barack Obama deserves more credit than he is given by the opposition and Donald Trump less, already, than his partisans would like. And in the years that come it will undoubtedly ring true the other way. The biggest difference to my nonpartisan eyes is that Barack Obama, by all appearances, is a decent man and Donald Trump, by all evidence, is not. It matters very little to me what each espouse politically – politics is a game of lies, and the players of the game serve anything but the people. It only matters to me whether they are worthy human beings.

“Give the man a chance.”

Quit saying that now. The answer is no. The answer, in your heart, was no eight years ago when Barack Obama, the leader of the opposition party, took the oath of office. You never gave the man a chance. Instead of asking Donald Trump’s detractors to give the man a chance ask yourself why you have to ask that, and ask yourself with all honesty why you could not give that same graciousness before, in return. Politics is a fool’s game. You are being dragged about by your elephant trunks and donkey tails. In the world of politics, truth means nothing compared to zealotry. In your fervency to be the winner now you want to rewrite the rules of partisanship. The answer is no. Democrats will not give Donald Trump a chance any more than Republicans gave a chance to Barack Obama. We all root for leaders to fail when we disagree with their rhetoric.

I am neither Republican nor Democrat, though I tend to favor the platform of the left over the right. I wish that Democrats did, too, because then things would be easy. They do not. Politics, as I said, is a fool’s game. But although I am an affiliate of neither American institution I root for Donald Trump to fail. His blathering is the rantings of a buffoon. His policies are decadent at best and dangerous in all likelihood. He will set the cause of economic and human equality back half a century if he has his way. As a general rule I tend to root against anybody who reigns against the greater bulk of humanity.

Plus, he’s a putz.

So I won’t be “giving the man a chance” so much as combating his public stupidity with the marshaled forces of truth, accuracy, decency, and fact. The entire campaign was short on those four elements and, to me, they are more important than politics. If Donald Trump is the same president that he was a campaigner – that he has been a businessman or even a human being – he deserves no chances from me. He deserves none from you, either.

My eyes will remain opened for as long as this administration holds power. I only ask that you open yours as well, and keep them open the whole time. All presidents do great and terrible things, but let us not judge them any longer on what they do for your particular party, but instead judge them for what they do, or do not do, for the bulk of humanity.

All I ask is that you give that idea … a chance.

%d bloggers like this: