Patriots or Demagogues?

RIP U.S. democracy. You’ve been made a mockery. You’ve been knocked out by people who know better–those who are and who will be leaders of our country.

The precious right you, democracy, gave to U.S. citizens to choose their President by “one man, one vote” was summarily dismissed when several states enacted procedures intentionally designed to obstruct voting by African Americans. We don’t know how many citizens’ votes were eliminated, but we do know that it worked.

The questionable validity of razor-thin vote counts in just enough key states to tip the electoral balance was a “one-two” punch against you, democracy. Lleaders in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania challenged the right to hold recounts and proposed laws to make recounts more difficult. Michigan simply declared it could not recount because of improper handling of ballot boxes in highly-populated Detroit. The state leaders simply denigrated you, democracy, rendering you useless.

The Russian cyber hacking designed to influence our election to benefit their chosen one, and the fact that we don’t know whether it was successful, was a death blow to you, democracy. While we haven’t determined whether their hacking made a difference, we do know the Russians are happy about the outcome.

The great majority of voters chose for their leader the one who lost the election, making a farce of you, democracy. Why? Because the electoral system twists you from “one man, one vote,” to some other peculiar kind of thing. It’s an oddity, created by the scourge of race-based slavery and it’s progeny, racism, which our country has not yet overcome: “There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.” (Records of the Federal Convention, p. 57 (Thursday July 19, 1787))

But here’s the thing, democracy— it wasn’t the obstruction of black voters, the validity of the counts, the Russian meddling or the faulty electoral system that took you down. What finally broke you is the seeming inability of some of our leaders and the clear unwillingness of other leaders to do anything about all of the above. Some leaders who are unhappy with this tragic election seem to feel their hands are tied and their mouths are bound because there is no protocol to address such an anomaly. Shame on them!  Real leaders should never feel helpless or hopeless.

And even more shame on those others who call themselves leaders, who don’t want to repair the damage to you, democracy, because they feel your death is to their advantage. Their desire to have their own way is more important to them than your existence. And they have the nerve to call themselves patriots, to claim to speak for the “American people.” Double shame on them! They are in no way patriots. They are demagogues. Because of their desire for power, salted through with greed, you, U.S. American democracy, have been fatally compromised. That compromise is so deep, so unparalleled in our history, so devastating to who we are as a people, that it raises the question whether our country can ever fully recover.
And isn’t that just what the Russians want?
Our forefathers are turning over in their graves.

You see, democracy, real patriots would protect you, because you are the one thing that truly made this country great. The one bright, shining thing that gave dignity and hope to those without money or influence, to those of us with only the power to vote, who love our country and who deeply treasure you. You made the United States the light of the world. You were the bright exemplar shining the way to a better way of governing for all. You were created by people who fought against tyrants for your existence–people who believed that you were worth dying for.

A new group of tyrants, false patriots, have taken you out, democracy. Can you be resuscitated? I believe you can, and I believe you will, because there are multitudes who, like me, also believe you are to die for. Yes, you can, because we can make it happen.

So on Inauguration Day, when the person who I cannot and will not accept as the winner will be sworn into the office of President of the United States, I’m hanging a black cloth across my front porch in respect of your death, democracy. And I will leave it there until he’s gone from that position. I hope and pray that other real patriots will do the same.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

Call Me Bonhoeffer, part 2

Thanks to all who responded to Saturday’s blog with so much encouragement.  I hadn’t planned to add to this blog so soon. But today’s Washington Post confirms so much of what I said that I want to share some quotes with you. I’m hoping that you will go online to find and read the articles.

Bannon choice draws flak over ties to alt-right. By Jose A. DelReal--“President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist in the White House has drawn a sharp rebuke from political strategists who see in Bannon a controversial figure too closely associated with the alt-right movement, which white nationalists have embraced.” The “alt-right” is defined as “a fringe conservative movement saturated with racially insensitive rhetoric and elements of outright white nationalism.” In my words, the “alt-right” is too gentle a word for people who believe in white supremacy.

Global perspective: After Trump’s win, a worldwide populist deluge? By Griff Witte, Emily Rauhala and Dom Philips–“The populist wave of 2016 that carried Trump to the pinnacle of international power and influence didn’t start in the United States. And it certainly won’t end there. Instead, the biggest prize yet for a global movement built on a seemingly bottomless reserve of political, economic and cultural grievance is likely to be an accelerant to even more victories for people and causes bent on upending the existing world order.”

One issue I didn’t mention–Trump’s plan to greatly increase “defense” spending. Increased defense spending anticipated. By Karoun Demirjian.“Trump and congressional Republicans are on the same page on a host of defense priorities, including increasing the number of active-duty troops in the Army and the size of the Navy; modernizing military facilities and the nuclear arsenal; and focusing more on missile defense.” Trump plans to send more of our citizens out to fight wars. Combine that with white supremacy and a global mission……

Trump taps skeptic of climate change to oversee EPA transition. By Brady Dennis–“The man planning how a Trump administration can obliterate Obama’s environmental legacy is Myron Ebell, a Washington fixture who has long been a cheerful warrior against what he sees as an alarmist, overzealous environmental movement that has used global warming as a pretext for expanding government. Ebell has argued for opening up more federal lands for logging, oil and gas exploration, and coal mining, and for turning over more permitting authority to the states. And he has urged the Senate to vote to reject an international climate accord signed last year in Paris.”

Trump’s mission impossible? By Robert J. Samuelson. “Near the top of Trump’s to-do list is a pledge to double economic growth from its recent desultory rate of 2 percent a year to 4 percent–through massive tax cuts, the relaxation of government regulations and measures that curtail imports.” (emphasis added.)

This stuff is real, folks. Keep the faith and remain strong in the Lord.

Call Me Bonhoeffer

Dear Friends,

I’m restarting my blog because it’s time and because I have a lot to say. This first one is about the disaster of a Trump presidency. Please know that I have other more hopeful thoughts to share with you, but this one needs to be shared right now.

CALL ME BONHOEFFER

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran priest in Germany during Hitler’s Nazi regime. A great theologian and scholar, he was best known for his staunch and open resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. He vocally opposed the genocidal persecution of Jewish people. He was arrested, placed in a concentration camp and executed by hanging on April 9, 1945, just a few weeks before the Germans surrendered. His writings are a continual source of deep Christian encouragement and faith. Please click on the above link (in green) to read his biography, which shows that he was likely influenced by spending time in Harlem in 1930. Call me Bonhoeffer. I may not agree with everything Bonhoeffer said or did, but I admire his willingness to stand against the major evil of his time, even to the point of death.

Hillary Clinton won the majority of our votes, but the Electoral College twisted that into a victory for Donald Trump. His power over our country will be solidified by Republican control of the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court. Based on what Trump has said and who his allies are, here is a list, in no particular order of priority, of some things that we can expect to happen. These are things that we must challenge with Bonhoeffer-style courage and faith.

Racial Hatred and Inequality. Trump is enthusiastically supported by the Arian Nation, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.His call to “Make America great again” was heard by many to return this country back what it was like in the 50‘s, when segregation was legal and racists could comfortably and openly display their hatred towards African Americans. Include now Hispanic Americans, Muslims and who knows who else.

Gun Proliferation. ‘nuff said. His support by the gun lobby is clear. Expect more gun violence in our country.

No Equal Pay for Women. Gone.

Limits on Immigration. Forget about the statute of liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Will he really try to build a wall on the Mexican border?

Repudiation of Black Lives Matter. Those who don’t understand how important this movement is will do everything they can to stop it and other grassroot efforts to make our country more fair for all people.

Cutting Back on Prison Reform. The facts that our country incarcerates more citizens than any other nation in the worldand that our penal system is biased against people of color, will no longer be seen as a sin and a shame.

Failing to Protect and Conserve Our Natural Resources. Trump doesn’t believe in global warming, and he has promised to “get rid of” government regulation of big businesses. This means that the Standing Rock protest of the pipeline through the Dakotas will be under attack. Just two days after the election, Mitch McConnell asked Trump to approve the Keystone pipeline through the Rockies. The global warming accord will no longer be strongly supported by the U.S.

Decreasing Consumer Safety and Protection. Again, Tump has promised to “get rid of” governmental control over big business. That includes businesses like food manufacturers, giant drug companies and banks. So scary in so many ways. Can you imagine?

Rescinding LGBTQ Rights. All people ought to have the right to choose who they will love, and that includes the benefits that come with marriage. The hard fight that led to marriage equality will likely give way to legalized discrimination and hate crimes.

Limiting Women’s Right to Choose. Abortions will become illegal again, like in the 60’s, when my 18-year-old friend died from an illegal effort that was fueled by her being kicked out by her parents and having no where to go. This doesn’t happen to rich folks who can just go somewhere else. It only hurts and criminalizes poor women–again, disproportionately people of color.

Wage Decreases. I say it a third time–Trump has promised to undo governmental regulation of big businesses. Yes, the big companies may come back to the U.S.  and create more jobs. But these companies will only come back if they can make the same margin of profit, or more, than they make in third world countries. The rich will get richer, which is what big business is all about, and will prove once again that trickle down just doesn’t work. Greed is a very effective tool of the evil one.

Religious Discrimination. This is one of the bedrock concepts of our great nation. Fear, th-1another great tool of the evil one, can turn people into paranoid fanatics, and the threat to Muslims in our country is now very clear.

Killing Affordable Health Care. Trump has vowed to end Obamacare (and replace it with what)?

I’m sure I’ve missed some things we must challenge as faithful followers of Christ.  If there are other issues you would like to add to this list, please let us know!

To put this all in a global perspective, please read this article by Anne Applebaum, published in the November 6 Washington Post. We ought to be aware that Trump and Putin are not the only ones in this collusion–also included are leaders of Brexit and other countries who threaten to bring back the white domination of the past “by force.”

This would be really scary if I were not a person of faith. From Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ….. I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

I will always believe in the hope that is at the heart of our Christian faith. This hope activates and strengthens us. I believe that we are now facing challenges that will help us identify what is most important for people who really want to follow Christ, and not just claim the name “Christian.”

I believe that we will listen to Jesus more closely than we listen to Donald Trump. We will stand up for the poor, the hungry, the children, the immigrants, the outsiders and all of God’s people. We will learn how important it is to love all of God’s creation, and all the people who God has created. We will learn how to stand against the works of the evil one, and we will learn not to worship Mammon.

Call me Bonhoeffer. I hope you’ll join me in this, we can use more Bonhoeffer type faith!