Supporting President Trump

14 11 2016

“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.” ~ President-Elect Donald Trump, November 9, 2016

I will start by stating something that I feel very strongly about… Donald J. Trump is the President-Elect of the United States of America. And I respect that.

Anyone close to me – or anyone who has read my blog posts – surely knows how difficult it was for me to type that last sentence. Truthfully, it was equally difficult not to place quotation marks around the word United.

trumpwh03Many years ago I was sitting in pizza place with some friends, in a loud conversation ripping into then-President Ronald Reagan. A man sitting next to us interjected, “Gentlemen, I understand your points about these issues. You have every right to disagree, but do it respectfully. I’m a former Marine, and I will always respect my Commander-In-Chief. I will always respect the office of the President of the United States.”

One of the things that has bothered me in the past eight years has been the complete lack of respect for that office. Many of the attacks on Barack Obama were vicious, degrading, and had nothing to do with policies or issues. And some were offered by former and current members of the armed forces, which certainly struck a chord with me because of the previous story. I railed publicly against this behavior, and it would be hypocritical of me to behave in the same manner. So I will not. The name of our country describes our states – random sections of land – being “united”. But our people should be united, so I hope our new President does what is needed to make that happen. I want that more than anything, so I will give him that clean slate going forward.

That said… a couple of things I must note.

I’ve recovered from the disappointment of this election… mostly! I take some solace that I wasn’t the only one surprised… people more qualified than I are in complete shock. And that is a huge group!

I didn’t sleep much on election night. I was in Boston for a marketing conference, so I channeled some disappointment and a decent amount of anger into more positive efforts. On Wednesday night I was walking to my hotel after dinner, when I turned the corner and saw hundreds of people on the street. They were dispersing after a peaceful protest on Boston Commons. I immediately felt better that I wasn’t alone in my disappointment, but I felt discouraged later when I saw on the news that protesters in other cities were not so peaceful.

Protesting is fine, and I respect that. I don’t respect the violence that happened and those people need to be dealt with under the law. And I find it humorous that so many Trump supporters have spoken out against the protesters, as I’m sure some of them would have been on the streets if their candidate had won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College. But everything will calm down soon… if this election has taught us anything, the American people have a short attention span.

hoperopeI accused Donald Trump of a few not-so-great things in this election, and I still disagree with most of his positions. He successfully targeted a portion of the electorate that had lost faith in their government, and I certainly respect that. But his campaign and presentation over the past fifteen months revealed dark things about some of our people, and beliefs that I thought were less prevalent or refused to acknowledge. There is a small, but significant population of our country – some in public, some hiding – that embrace hate. It fuels and guides them. And I’m sad to say that some are people I know.

Their decision processes were very simple: Vote against the candidate who supports the LGBTQ community. Vote against the party that has the nerve to give us a President who isn’t white, and doesn’t have a Christian sounding name. And vote against the female candidate because of that one adjective, nothing else.

Donald Trump spoke to them and they stirred. Hillary Clinton called them a name, and it galvanized them. And it cost her the election.

Sure, there are many ways to analyze why this election was won or lost… many other things possibly determined the outcome. But ignoring this aspect is unforgivable, because the “positive” results have already emboldened these hateful people and groups. Discouraging their racism and bigotry should be our new President’s highest priority.

And while we are at it, let’s get rid of the two party system… and call out the media for their bias, ratings-based reporting… and stop the viciousness and hatred on social media… and severely limit the disgusting amount of money spent on electing a President! (Calm down, John… you are writing a blog post, not a novel.)

sealOver the past year I have spoken out against Donald Trump for his erratic behavior and divisive words. I do hope that I was as wrong about him as I was wrong about the election. I joked last week that I personally don’t have to worry too much. I’m solid middle class, and my wife works in healthcare so our insurance is not bad. I’m white, and though I am not religious I was raised in a Christian family. I also joked that President-elect Trump seems to be already softening his stance on some of the hot button issues, so maybe I should have voted for him!

Those jokes will only be funny if Donald Trump keeps our country, and my family, safe. I hope he disavows his most disgusting rhetoric, surrounds himself with good people, and works for solutions.

I will respect, as always, the office of President of the United States. But I will be watching President Donald Trump’s every move, and if necessary I will fight the fight.

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The Spare Tires of Justice

17 12 2014

“Not all cops are bad. Not all black people are criminals. Not all white people are racist. Stop labelling.” ~ Unknown Author

FergusonI have a fairly large network of social and business connections. Because I work in sales and marketing, part of my nature must be to cultivate relationships according to my various interests – marketing, social media, soccer, writing, etc.

These connections consist of friends, family near and far, business relationships and many other types of acquaintances. In social networks I try to connect with people and professionals I know, or can maybe enrich my network or career.

A quick study of my network shows that I am connected to very few people of color. This is probably because of my geography… born, raised and still currently residing in northeast Philadelphia, an area that has been historically white.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about race lately – relations, prejudices, etc. I recently found something called an Implicit Association Test (try it here). It’s an interesting exercise, designed to measure the prejudices that may be buried in your subconscious. Do you harbor a secret dislike of another social or ethnic group? How do you feel about that?

I was pretty sure that I had a good awareness of my values in this regard. But the test did show that I exhibited a slight bias toward White people versus Black people. According to the study that is a normal result for someone like me. There are a load of reasons, mostly dealing with environment and socio-economic status. My son used to call it “middle age racism”, and I bristled because I didn’t really understand.

ferguson-free-hugAll of this is to make a point… Although I have sympathy for the volatile situations in Ferguson and Staten Island, I will never have true understanding of the feelings of the people involved and affected.

But like everyone else, I have opinions. I will paraphrase from the quote above… The majority of police officers are good people, some are not. The majority of black people are peaceful, law-abiding citizens, some are not. The majority of white people are blind to race, some are not.

I have many acquaintances, neighbors and friends in law enforcement. I have the upmost respect for the police and the job they do to protect citizens every day. I’ve always felt safe and protected. But I’m also smart enough to realize that while the vast majority of police officers are solid citizens, some are not. They choose to shape their opinion of an entire group by a small sampling of behavior. Accordingly, similar biased conclusions are drawn by a small portion of white people and black people using the same process… “If one is bad, they’re all bad.” Remember when the teacher would punish the entire class because one or two students misbehaved? Did that ever make sense to you?

The wheels of justice hit some potholes in Ferguson, MO or Staten Island, NY, largely because the system allows instances for the truth to be suppressed. The details of “why” are too large and multilayered for this forum. I’m not saying that the police officers involved are guilty or innocent, but using a grand jury to decide in these cases clearly did not work. Evidence must be examined without agenda, and the implementation of an independent investigation process for incidents of police using force is the only way to determine the facts. These are obviously hot-button issues generating extraordinary passion – by all groups involved. It is vitally important that all incidents be investigated with complete transparency.

JusticeIf all of that happens… we would still have a long way to go. The media speaks about the latest terrorist “threat”, or the ebola “crisis” but these are small problems in comparison. Mistrust is the crisis, and a true embarrassment for the United States on the world stage. The continuing belief that every member in a specific group have the same behaviors is the largest barrier to meaningful change.

We all have choices… some easy and some difficult. We make them every day. I want to understand issues before I speak, so I choose to be informed and not divisive. And I also choose to disassociate myself from those who are misinformed and feeding the fire with hate… a difficult choice disguised as an easy one. So if I suddenly disappear from your network in the next few weeks or months, this will be the reason.

For years I’ve joked, “I hate the word ‘hate’.” It can no longer be a joke, and I’ve done my best to strike the word from my vocabulary. Ask either of my sons, who by example have taught me more about understanding people and being more open. It may be generational, but we cannot accept that as a reason for resistance to positive change. We shouldn’t accept any reason.

I will happily continue to be a work in progress. Peace and love… to everyone.