Politics and Social Media (or, an exercise in futility)

Perhaps I’ll designate Tuesdays as being the time of the week that I’ll make political posts, considering this is when I’ve felt like posting something political recently…

It’s kind of sad seeing the same arguments being made by the same people in favor of their designated side of the aisle; talking in circles at each other and nobody walks away satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing people who share my point of view speak up (often eloquently), so I’m not saying stop it, but this post is just exasperation that it’s essentially the same argument at its roots that everybody’s been having since about June of 2015. I see a post that’s political, then I see the names of people commenting and I immediately guess (correctly, every time) what they’re going to say. It’s safe to say we are all pretty deeply entrenched in our professed point of view.

What’s my point? Knock yourself out, speak up for what you believe in…but don’t expect to change anybody’s mind who disagrees with you. At best, you might encourage those who do agree with you but are too circumspect to speak up (you know who you are out there 😉 ).

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Trying to take a sabbatical from the political posts…

A couple of thoughts before I (attempt to) take a break from the political posts (HOPEFULLY; fingers crossed) for what I’m intending to be a good long while; I’m not getting off FB completely, just steering away from the politics:

I’ve always tried to be fair with my political posts and in my interactions with people who comment on them. Key word, “try”; I know I’ve been abrasive and terse from time to time, but not often and never outright malicious, and certainly not “hateful” like I was accused of being just this morning; you’re mileage on that statement may vary, probably depending on your political point of view. But I’ve ALWAYS accepted everybody’s sincerity when it comes to their beliefs. I just realize there comes a point where you reach an impasse with somebody on a given subject to where it’s useless to continue talking about it, because then you’re just talking in circles.

I get enough people who tell me publicly, or privately via Messenger, and quite often when they see me in person, how much they like and enjoy reading what I write…even when they disagree with me. And I get that last a lot more often then you’d expect. That tells me that I AM being fair and respectful with what I’m saying. And I take that very much to heart.

Finally, try a little empathy. It’s easy to demonize people who don’t share your point of view and to make them into this monolithic “Other” to be despised and disdained, as I KNOW I have friends that tend to do this. Accept other people’s sincerity. I have black friends, gay friends, Jewish friends, and Hispanic friends among others who are genuinely scared about what the forthcoming Trump presidency means for them and their families. They are NOT being sore losers who need to just “get over it”. Assuming that you’re a white voter who supported Trump, understand that while it’s tempting for you to just chuckle and hand wave away their concerns and to say that they’re just being silly about it all, this is a very real concern for them. YOU as a white person are generally not going to be subject to these same fears, so it’s not “real” to you and it’s easy to dismiss it. We’d all be wise to stop seeing the world as Us versus THEM and to see it as being that we’re all just trying to make our way in the world.

Post-Election 2016, cont.

My biggest fears about the forthcoming Trump presidency, Part One: What impact will his actions have on our First Amendment rights. I worry very much about the press, which he’s so vilified and which many of his followers have become hostile towards, and how they’ll be able to cover his administration effectively. Will journalists be intimidated, threatened, and brow-beaten into treating him with kid gloves? And how soon will his followers start calling his critics like me “traitors” who should be jailed for “treason”? I’m calling it right now. It’s disturbing that his followers who are oh-so-dedicated to the Second Amendment might have absolutely no problem trampling on the First.

And what does it even mean when people say we all need to “come together” now? Does that mean we can’t question the new President? Does that mean that those of us who didn’t vote for him—and who outnumbered those who did nationwide, never forget—need to shut up and go to the back of the room? Just seems like a hollow thing to say. I’m willing to give Trump a chance, but I’m not willing to fall in line if I think what he’s doing is detrimental.

Post-Election Musings

I was told recently by someone that if they see “Continue Reading” at the end of one of my Facebook posts that they ignore it and scroll on…so this week I’ve started posting paragraph sized snippets in order to retain readers on FB…so what you see below are those chunks in order. 

I unfollowed the majority of Trump supporters a long time ago, so I’ve been blissfully sheltered from what I imagine to be all the gloating right now. But you’re all entitled to be happy today, because you earned it. I don’t believe you’re stupid, or racist, or sexist for supporting him, the way most liberals are lamenting right now. I’ve always accepted the majority of Trump supporters’ sincerity in their beliefs about this campaign. I do want to say, however, that there is no “making America great again”, because America has ALWAYS been great.

And I never unfollowed Trump supporters out of spite or simply because I disagreed with them; it was just that so many have been obnoxious and would post the same old shit and stupid memes over and over that it got predictable and old. I’m tempted to name drop some of the Trump supporters who I have kept on my feed, because I always felt they were thoughtful and sincere, and have tended to have a more insightful commentary that made me think.

I made no secret of my opposition to Donald Trump. I think he has enabled and emboldened a new generation of racists and white nationalists in a way that’s very disturbing to me, and I maintain they permeate the Right in a larger proportion than those sincere Trump supporters I mentioned previously should be comfortable with. And don’t pull Black Lives Matter on me as your trump card (no pun intended); I’m not talking about the Left here; I’m talking about the Right.

And before you go crazy at my last post, I am NOT calling all Trump supporters racists; I’m saying that white nationalists make up a larger portion of his support than you should be cool with.

Having said all that, I was heartened by the graciousness of Trump’s victory speech last night. It’s true that’s considered the norm at the end of a presidential campaign, but he could easily have gloated and played to his base, but instead chose the high road. I think perhaps now he’s beginning to realize what he’s gotten himself into.

And remember, the President is not a king (despite the Right’s accusations of Obama allegedly abusing his power with all of his Executive Orders), and Trump by himself cannot turn back the clock on minority, LGBT, and women’s rights; not and expect to be re-elected in four years. It’s true with a Republican House and Senate for at least the first two years he’ll be able to affect things like Obamacare and the Supreme Court, but Justices have been known to buck expectations. This Republic was designed with checks and balances that still hold, even today.

I didn’t realize that the vote totals still aren’t completed, and that there is a solid chance that Hillary may actually still win the national popular vote; she leads by over 200,000 votes right now with 92% of the total vote tallied; the bulk of her votes are probably coming from California. Liberals, don’t turn this into a rallying cry for Trump’s supposed illegitimacy; our Electoral system is designed with the States being the ultimate electors of the President; our country’s very name demonstrates that, the United STATES of America.

And conservatives, temper your elation with the knowledge that your guy might not win the popular vote and understand how that shows just how divided this country is, and that while you will have full control of the government for the next two years, if you overreach you could easily lose it starting with the 2018 mid-term elections.

My main hope going forward, is that Trump ends up governing closer to the middle than he’s let on during the campaign; he was admittedly a Democrat for much of his life before this. I fully accept him as my next President, and I hope my previous worries that he’d be a disaster get proved wrong.

Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Runoff

This is going to be a long post, but it concludes with my Official Endorsement for 2016, so before you move on once you see the “Continue Reading” button (I’m looking at you, Pat) please take the time to at least click the link below to read up about Ranked Choice Voting and find out how it can potentially change the way our elections are ran.
I was thinking about writing one last epistle tonight about why I’m opposing Donald Trump. But while I’m not sure I’ve made my actual reasons completely clear already, it won’t change anybody’s minds and would only serve to alienate people and risk starting a flame war (namely with my brother, heh). Instead what I want to write about this Election Eve is something I’ve already mentioned the past couple of days. Something that I’ve become convinced can be a force for positive change in our political discourse. It’s this voting method called Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Run-off.
The gist of it is as follows: Instead of voting for just one person, you would rank the candidates in order of preference, or omit somebody you really don’t like completely. Say you were agonizing under the current system about voting your conscience and voting third party, but you don’t want to “waste” your vote and you really don’t want Trump to win so you feel compelled to vote for Clinton (or vice versa). Under RCV, you could go ahead and vote third party as your first choice, then the so-called “lesser of two evils” as your second, and if there was yet another third party candidate maybe them, and if there’s that one guy you absolutely DO NOT WANT to see win, just leave them out.
So what happens next is that everybody’s First Place votes get tallied up, and if nobody gets at least 50% for a definitive majority, then the vote goes into an Instant Runoff; the candidate with the fewest First Place votes is eliminated, and that person’s SECOND PLACE votes get divvied up among their designated recipients; i.e., say the ousted candidate’s Second Place votes went 60/40 for the top two, for example; those votes then get added to the remaining candidate’s current totals. If there were more than three candidates and the second round still didn’t produce a 50% winner, then the next candidate with the fewest votes is out and THEIR Second Place votes get divvied up. Eventually you’ll see a candidate reach the 50% threshold and win.
How does this benefit the process? Think about it: you’re not only campaigning for voters’ FIRST PLACE VOTES…you’re campaigning for the SECOND PLACE VOTES of those you know are likely to give their First Place vote to someone else. You’re not going to be as obnoxious or negative in your campaigning. You’re going to make an effort to reach out to as many people as you can, and you’re going to have to tailor your policies to be as broad as possible; being the proud moderate that I am, in my admittedly idealized vision of this scenario, our political discourse would no longer be about two extremes that turn off the majority of voters who are traditionally moderates, and it would serve to moderate and alleviate the polarizing nature of our current poisonous political culture.
This is a system already in place in parts of the country, usually localized city elections like the Mayor of Minneapolis; there’s a really good video clip on the website linked below where the current mayor discusses exactly what I wrote about in the paragraph above. It’s a real thing with support from prominent personalities including President Obama from back when he was a Senator, as well as John McCain, and Bernie Sanders among others. I’m sure there are drawbacks to this method, but it certainly can’t be any worse than what we have now.
While I realize that as a whole, both Democrats and Republicans on the national level would be opposed to this in a Presidential election as it would potentially empower third parties and give them greater prominence, I believe this is a worthy cause to get behind for the sake of improving our contentious electoral process. So if you want to know my Official Endorsement for 2016…it is for Ranked Choice Voting.

Hillary’s corruption vs. Trump’s corruption

It is all about the narrative: Hillary is “corrupt” while Trump is “tells it like it is”. Sure, he’s a little “rough around the edges” and “uses bad words”, but at least HE’S not CORRUPT. Yeah, I’ve seen you on FB making this argument, that Trump’s seemingly only vice is that he “uses bad words” and “says mean things”. Well. I can only imagine the fever pitch with which his supporters would be slathering and gloating and showcasing his own examples of corruption—Trump University, anyone?—if it were Hillary involved in these schemes and not him:
“…you’d have to work incredibly hard to find a politician who has the kind of history of corruption, double-dealing, and fraud that Donald Trump has. The number of stories which could potentially deserve hundreds and hundreds of articles is absolutely staggering. Here’s a partial list:
•Trump’s casino bankruptcies, which left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money
•Trump’s habit of refusing to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses
•Trump University, which includes not only the people who got scammed and the Florida investigation, but also a similar story from Texas where the investigation into Trump U was quashed.
•The Trump Institute, another get-rich-quick scheme in which Trump allowed a couple of grifters to use his name to bilk people out of their money
•The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) that involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins
•Trump Model Management, which reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did
•Trump’s employment of foreign guest workers at his resorts, which involves a claim that he can’t find Americans to do the work
•Trump’s use of hundreds of undocumented workers from Poland in the 1980s, who were paid a pittance for their illegal work
•Trump’s history of being charged with housing discrimination
•Trump’s connections to mafia figures involved in New York construction
•The time Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company
•The fact that Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment. According to the allegations, Ailes’s behavior was positively monstrous; as just one indicator, his abusive and predatory actions toward women were so well-known and so loathsome that in 1968 the morally upstanding folks in the Nixon administration refused to allow him to work there despite his key role in getting Nixon elected.”
Now, if you’re going to comment and dispute any of the above, I CHALLENGE you NOT to invoke Clinton as your equalizer. I want to see if you can actually defend Trump on his own merits. I’m sure some of you will whine and pout about me “oppressing” your First Amendment rights, but any invoking of Clinton in any response will simply be deleted; we all know all about Clinton and her baggage…but the NARRATIVE that she is the corrupt one while Trump simply “uses bad words, get over it” has sheltered him from more thorough examination of his own (non-sexual harassment related) past.
And yes, this article is TWO WHOLE MONTHS OLD, let it go Brian, sheesh…well, dumbass, it’s still relevant. And before you try the “At least Trump hasn’t made decisions that killed people!” line, he simply hasn’t been in a position to have to make those decisions; that’s part of what holding public office entails.
EDIT: I will accept a response that effectively acknowledges the above while still maintaining Clinton is worse. I just don’t want to see a litany of her shit as a counterweight in my comment thread. I know all about her shit. But you can’t say Trump doesn’t have his own corrupt shit going on.

Election 2016

Just a few more weeks until this clusterfuck of an election is over. Hopefully. I mean, hopefully it’s clear cut and indisputable, and HOPEFULLY the loser—AHEM, cough, cough—concedes and doesn’t incite violence acts—AHEM, cough cough. I was talking to some friends at a party last week, and something got said that was very profound: If it was ANYBODY else but Trump, the Republicans would probably have this election in the bag.

Despite some who claim I’m a liberal—on the apparently damning evidence that I don’t like the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, nor do I like Trump—I am actually pretty moderate in my politics. You don’t get to define me, jackass. I’ve said this before, but 20 years ago my politics would have been solidly center-right; remember there was a time when Colin Powell was considered a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination in 1996. That’s my round about way of saying if the Republicans had nominated someone like John Kasich, or even Marco Rubio (Ted Cruz remains a stretch for me)…I’d seriously be leaning into the Republican column.

I’m sure some of my reasonable friends on the right will now try to sway me with Trump’s policies being similar to Kasich’s or Rubio’s, etc, yada yada…save it. Bottom line is, I can’t trust him not to fuck this country to holy hell, nor rely on the “grown ups” in the Republican Party to rein him in. I don’t even think he really WANTS the job; it’s just one gigantic ego trip he’s been on and I doubt even he thought he’d get this far. Now he’s too far in it to quit, but since he doesn’t really want the job, he just keeps playing to his base without even trying to bring swing votes in. At least with Hillary, I feel she can actually do the job competently, flaws and all. Not the most resounding endorsement, but there you have it.

Unfollowed, cont.

So I just unfollowed several people from my FB feed, some of whom I’m actually friends with in “real life” and who I think well of, or at the very least I am personal acquaintances with. I mean, I get that you feel the way you do about current events and politics, and you have every right to post what you do…but I really don’t need it clogging up my newsfeed, especially since the posting has ratcheted up feverishly as we enter the final weeks of the election, but it’s the same old predictable shit over and over and OVER—yes, we get it, you hate so-and-so with the fire of a thousand suns and you have no shortage of memes and links to share to prove it…but more importantly, I just don’t want to be tempted into posting some kind of rebuttal and end up down the rabbit hole of a fruitless debate.

My question is this: How many of you take the view that it’s better to just unfollow and still stay FB friends, or do you think unfollowing defeats the point and should you just unfriend that person and be done with it? How many of you would feel insulted to find out I unfollowed you because of your political posts? Remember, I got unfriended by that very reasoning before. To me, unfollowing is just a prudent way of avoiding unnecessary conflict with a person, while unfriending is kind of like burning bridges and saying “fuck you, asshole”. If I run into that person who unfriended me out on the street—who once upon a time was a close personal friend—I’m not sure how I would act toward them…”Uh, hi?”

So, what do you think?

Political Posts on Social Media

I’ve seen a few people make posts to this effect recently, and I agree with them: We all realize that none of our political posts ever changes anyone’s minds, don’t we? I’m starting to see a more frenetic pace of political posts from those FB friends I haven’t unfollowed but whose politics I don’t share. But if what you’re posting is meant to “educate” people about the vileness of such and such a candidate, you’re wasting your time.

I mean, I’m not saying don’t bother, because everybody should post about the things that matter to them. I have and will continue to do so. I’m just not deluded into thinking I’m making a difference when it comes to those who disagree with me. The most I hope for is that people who DO agree with me are encouraged by seeing someone articulate what they believe—I get quite a few private messages saying so—and maybe I can get people who are on the fence to think. (And I brace myself against those who disagree with me trying to hijack my comment thread with bombastic talking points, lol.) Having said that, I’ve been struck by the number of people who’ve told me privately that, while they don’t agree with everything I write, they still enjoy reading what I have to say. Maybe that means they think I’m being fair? Or am just articulate and write well? Whatever it is, it’s nice of them to say. 

I was criticized this past summer and de-friended because I wrote about unfollowing people whose posts were too obnoxious. I don’t unfollow to disrespect people, or to shut them down, or to deny them their right to speak; I just prefer to avoid being tempted by their posts into getting into a long-winded debate that sucks up my mental energy but ultimately does nothing to change anybody’s minds or even to make them consider a different point of view. Tell me that when you see somebody post some obnoxious claim that you don’t hover the cursor over the comment box to refute them. I call that circling the rabbit hole. Gotta make a saving throw versus Wisdom to avoid diving in (you D&D nerds will get that reference, heh). Just better not to have seen it to begin with, right?

So long story short, knock yourself out with the political posts, but understand that in most cases we’re all just preaching to the choir.

Undecided Voters

Because what Facebook needs is yet another political post:

I do wonder how many people are still genuinely undecided between Clinton and Trump, to the point where the debates (both the actual presidential ones and people arguing on social media) might influence them one way or the other. It seems to me that everyone who is voting for Trump has already committed to him, and the undecided voters are really just conflicted about whether to hold their noses and vote for Clinton, or vote third party or even write in, say, Bernie Sanders. I just think it’s hard to believe that people at this point are still weighing Clinton vs Trump per se; it’s really got to be Clinton vs third party/write-in for the undecided voters. That’s just my intuition on the matter; I haven’t really researched who the undecided voters are.