Category Archives: politics

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Rest In Peace, Tom Petty. I remember this song and these lyrics as being a mantra in my head during a couple of very difficult periods of my life when I just had to grit my teeth and push through; “you could stand me up at the gates of Hell / but I / won’t back down.”

I think, well and truly, this American life has gone crazy. Our society, led by an egomaniacal narcissist and sponsored by the NRA, angry white men, and rape culture, has reached a boiling point. Here’s a clue – why don’t we stop worrying about peaceful immigrants and monuments and the NFL and start worrying about white men carrying automatic assault weapons? I’m beyond sickened by the enormity of this tragedy and yes, I’m a libtard, but I think the GOP and the politicians currently in power are willingly sacrificing human life for their own glorification and political agendas and that’s inexcusable. I hope all of these Christians have to speak to this when they stand before their proverbial pearly gates. 

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pugilist’s moon

The Native Americans might have called it the Snow Moon, or the Hunger Moon, but last night I decided that a more accurate moniker would be the Pugilist’s Moon. Last night’s full moon and lunar eclipse, possibly exacerbated by the “close” passing of Green Comet 45P, wreaked a fair share of havoc on us.

Yes, I do believe somewhat that the lunar cycles have an impact on our human behavior. We really are just big sacks of liquidy stuff charged with some mysterious electrical current and I’ve been friends with enough teachers, social workers, and emergency medical folks throughout my adulthood to know that many of them dread full moons. Especially full moon Fridays. My teacher friends on FB started expressing concern several days ago.

So this week:

I got into a huge fight with Jax. This isn’t actually unusual because Jax & I are both very opinionated, strong-willed people and even when we agree on a basic issue, we can still argue over semantics or the details of it. Normally I don’t mind this much because I always know where I stand with him and vice versa. There’s never any hidden undercurrents of dissatisfaction – it’s all out there, even the minor stuff. But this week’s was a little vehement and nonsensical even for us. Neither of us were really sure what it started with. We made up but post-fight I was laid low with a stress migraine the day after.

My credit card got hacked (AGAIN) for the third or fourth time. I always know what it’s about when the company calls me – “did you authorize such-and-such an outlandish charge in Florida [[Texas]]?” It’s always either Florida or Texas. And it’s almost always either a gas station or Wal-Mart. Sigh. “No, I did not try to charge $564 at Wal-Mart in Fort Worth.” “Can we Fed Ex you a new card to your home on Monday? Will you be home?” “No, I work full time.” “Okay, we will put it in the US mail. Good luck paying cash for everything over the next 7-10 business days!”

It’s a damn chip card too. But I guess I should just be happy that they catch it so quickly that I’ve never had to open a bill and find a charge for Skoal, Budweiser, and a flat screen television from a Wal-Mart in Bumfuck Arkansas.

The last and worst was Miss L’s elementary school dance last night. The PTA worked so hard to decorate the school and it looked lovely. They had cake and photo booths, a DJ and dancing, all the kiddos dressed up in their Sunday best. The joint was jumping and I was trying to knit in the darkness, humming along to Gangnam Style, when I became aware of a change in the atmosphere. I could sense it like a drop in air pressure. When not knitting, I was trying to keep an eye on L amidst all the crowds of kids and parents, and being told off roundly every time she caught me “following” her. Anyway, I packed my sock and needles up into my Moomin bag and set off into the hallway to scout things out. I quickly realized there was a very unfortunate argument between three sets of parents and two crying children, and it was devolving with lightning speed.

My fear, ever-present these days, is that the environment is so highly charged, and so toxic with resentment. So many people now feel emboldened to say whatever despicable xenophobic Go Back to Whatever Country You Legally Migrated From For No Good Reason thing, typically beset with racial epithets, this so-called president has inspired them to, and so many on the other side of the issues have quivering antennae set to pick up on any hint of that even when it’s not there and immediately leap into I’m Going to Punch a Nazi Resistance mode,  disagreements can turn very ugly very quickly. In all fairness, I doubt this had anything to do with any of that. But add a crowded hallway full of children and the only thing I want to do is grab my girl and head for the nearest exit. The principal did an excellent job of containing the dispute in her office, but the content was serious enough that the police were called. This was, as you can imagine, the Most Exciting Thing to ever happen to a school full of sugar-hyped elementary kids, who goggled out windows and raced up and down crowded hallways spinning ever more ludicrous tales and only contributed to the surreal atmosphere, the disbelieving feeling that pervaded me of “this can’t happen here”.

It was an extremely unfortunate way to end the dance, which people worked very hard on and was only meant to inspire joy and happiness and a sense of community for our little ones, and I’m appalled at the behavior exhibited by adults. It is completely uncharacteristic for the beautiful, diverse, multicultural environment that our elementary school exhibits.

I can now only hope that that ol’ Pugilist’s Moon will let us recover from this upheaval. I will be hiding in my bedroom with Emmett madly cleansing my chakras until it’s over.

principled dissent

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It might be a little late to post about the Women’s March on January 21, but I’ll do it anyway. Like millions of others – literally – I have been dismayed and disappointed about the results of the 2016 election and have made no secret about that. I’m sure I’ve lost friends (who probably weren’t real “friends” anyway, if they didn’t know where I would stand on these issues) and pissed off many of the more conservative members of my own family, but I can’t bring myself to say (or feel) sorry about that. Instead, I have struggled to understand how people can support this administration and although I try to practice kindness, love, and empathy, it’s not always possible for me to see how we can bridge our differences.

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I felt a wave of darkness and tension descend on Inauguration Day. Even during the darkest days of the Bush administrations, I never felt that sense of utter trepidation at what the future could hold. This Inauguration Day was different. My cousin, who has attended several inaugurations, summed it up in a post on social media that remarked how angry and bitter and rude the crowd was “even though their guy won”. She said she was shocked at some of the hateful and intolerant comments she overheard and I think that atmosphere pervaded all of the ceremonies. That sense hasn’t dimmed for me. (Particularly when I see the shots and video of Trump’s demeanor towards his wife -and the look on her face- at various points in the ceremony. Can I just say how proud I was to be a Democrat that day? I thought Hillary and the Obamas and Joe Biden conducted themselves with dignity and grace and basic class.)

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This guy was the bright spot of the ceremony. God Bless ya, W, never change.

I got up on Saturday unsure of what was in store for me and my best friend Kit. We’d decided to go to the Lansing, MI march (and I knitted us matching hats – yes, Michael D. Cohen, our hats WERE made in the US,  with love and care and respect, unlike those ubiquitous money-making red trucker hats that are made in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam). I didn’t know if the tone would be angry, if we’d be opposed, if I’d come home feeling worse than when I went – but so many of the issues are so important to me that I felt I needed to be there, no matter what.

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I’m so glad I went. The atmosphere was convivial and friendly, very chill. The signs were funny and clever and outraged but there wasn’t a single incident that made me feel anything other than proud to be there, and relieved that so many others feel the same as I do. The speakers were excellent and focused on issues – Gretchen Whitmer, who has declared herself an early candidate for Michigan governor in 2020, and Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk were standouts. Our speakers didn’t drop f-bombs or do strange raps (I really wish Madonna and Ashley Judd had stuck to issues) – they discussed the importance of Planned Parenthood, their concerns over healthcare and the impact to communities when the ACA is disassembled. They discussed the rights of women to govern their own bodies and not have their reproductive rights politicized and legislated. They expressed deep concerns over the enormous conflicts of interest, nepotism, and ethics complaints with the new administration, and its stance on climate change (Chinese hoax?!). They spoke at length about the troubling lack of qualifications (and far worse) displayed by nominees like Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos (Michiganders have an especial interest in DeVos as her particular brand of stupidity has negatively impacted education in many of our communities). Our diverse speakers shared what it is like to be a member of a group targeted by the new administration – an immigrant, a Muslim, someone of the LGBTQ community. There was a lot of intersectional feminism.  And they talked about what we could do to share our concerns and make sure our voices are heard in appropriate and constructive ways.

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Sadly, our efforts have been received by the administration’s supporters in some typical yet disappointing ways. I see people commenting on FB  that they want us to shut up, that people’s minds aren’t changed no matter how “righteous” the message. There are memes about how great it is that Trump got a bunch of “fat women” to walk more. A Republican senator from Mississippi, who I won’t link to because he shouldn’t get any more attention than he already has, commented that if we have money for all those tattoos and piercings, why do we want someone to pay for our birth control? Pretty standard, unoriginal stuff – not exactly incisive wit here, people. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that our detractors can’t address our actual issues, they have to fall back on completely irrelevant and superficial issues like how we look. Echoes of the Trump’s emphasis on “Perfect 10’s”, maybe. However, there are those whose tone turns quite ugly, such as the Indiana GOP rep who posted a picture of women being pepper sprayed with a comment that we should all get this treatment as our “participation trophy”. Apparently not a lot of experts on the amendments to the US Constitution in that bunch, either. I’m sorry about your politicians, Indiana and Mississippi. Really.

And of course all of the Tweeting and “alternative facts”. SAD

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I think if anything, this toxic political season and my deep disgust for what this president stands for have taught me that there is still a lot of intolerance, ignorance, and hate in our country, and even in a lot of us. I know that I frequently feel a rise of venom in my heart when confronted with these attitudes. There’s a lot of people I’d love to punch. But instead I’ve already spent more time writing my senators than ever and I guess if there’s a silver lining in this it’s that Trump has made an activist out of me – and, it seems, a lot of others.

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in which i’m away for awhile

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I’m simmering down about the election, or perhaps the right way to describe it is ‘becoming resigned’. I’m repulsed and disgusted but not shocked at the people he is choosing to surround himself with – why be shocked when they echo the vile rhetoric he has engaged in throughout the campaign? I’m disgusted but not shocked by his outright lies and spin about things like Ford’s business in Mexico, and terribly distressed about topics like a Muslim registry. I’m resigned to continuing to stand for my beliefs. I know what I’m for and what I’m against, and will continue to try to live it and speak it.

I spent the week in Florida at a resort in the Happiest Place on Earth for a professional Compliance & Ethics seminar and recertification exam. I was initially annoyed at having to be away from home, family & friends, and felines for several days, and at the start, being at Disney without Miss L was a real bummer. It’s so much more fun with her. But in the end, the little break from real life was just what I needed. Truthfully, I viewed this week as a bit of a vacation, since I have gone through this academy before, and passed the exam without much worry. Even the seminar was rejuvenating in its way. As news continues to come in of hate and fear and violence spreading in the wake of the election, it was really nice to sit in a room of like-minded professionals and discuss topics that we are interested in. Things like the intersection of law and ethics, helping our employees understand the bright line of ethical business conduct, and the First Amendment, to name a few. But I have a high tolerance for being alone, I hate networking, and so I spent a lot of time doing solo things. I took naps and went to bed early and got some running mojo back, and wrote. NaNoWriMo was derailed with my extreme emotional reaction to the election, and I’m way behind the pace of 50k words in a month, but I’m over 10k words, and going strong. Full report in a near-future post.

I also took pictures.

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evening spent with knitting and tea in my hotel room

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a post-seminar drink in the small, quiet hotel bar watching news of winter weather in the northeast

 

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ice cream on the boardwalk

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a familiar face on the espn cafe windows ❤

 

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enjoying the sunshine on my breaks

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and just like that, the elves worked at night and in the morning, the hotels were decked for christmas

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an early morning flight home

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and back home to miss l and these whiskers

election (part 2 of 2) – in which dan rather tells us not to opt out.

So, Dear Reader, when we left off, I was angry. Maybe you remember.

To continue, the day after the election, after I dropped Miss L off, I cried on the way into work. My eyes watered spontaneously all morning and despite keeping myself locked in my office, I eventually had to slink out to go to the copy machine. My CEO was standing there, looking a bit perplexed and jabbing at some blinking buttons, and asked me somewhat absently what I thought about the outcome – the question I was dreading.

I told him I couldn’t talk about it yet.

He and I go way back, and since the backbone of our discussions is usually a shared sense of humor, I’m sure he thought I was kidding. He laughed and then  saw by the tears trickling down my face that I was serious. I said to him, “I don’t know how to be anything other than sick that we just elected someone that gave the United States free rein to grab my pussy.” (Yes, I said “pussy” to my CEO.) He stopped laughing and then horrified, I apologized.Welp, I thought, now I am fired and have a president that is a pussy grabber. That’s just GREAT.

However, he just laughed again and said that I never needed to apologize to him, that we were friends, and I said, “I’m apologizing because I would never speak to anyone like that, much less a friend,” and he acknowledged my apology. He said somberly, “I owe you an apology, too. I should have seen how upset you were, and not laughed.”
“You didn’t know. It’s okay. Being upset is no excuse to use language that I don’t condone. But I am upset,” I said. “I feel so sad, and I feel unsafe, and I feel as though we now have a president that disrespects and abandons huge portions of the population that are already disenfranchised. I can’t believe that so many people think his rhetoric is okay, or even no big deal. If he even had a plan as to how to go about accomplishing the grandiose things he says he’s going to do, then maybe – JUST MAYBE- I could understand. I know you probably voted for him,” and he interrupted me.
“I didn’t vote for him,” he said, startled. “Why would you think that?”
“Because you’re a Republican, and very conservative, and you are in a very elite position,” I told him. He shook his head and told me that in fact, he had not voted for him, and had never in his wildest dreams thought that he could win. “I gave a speech in Japan last month, ” he told me, “and I was asked to give my opinion on the US election. I said then that there was no chance that he could be elected.”
“I guess we were both wrong,” I said. “I’m sorry again, for jumping to conclusions.”

My CEO is a working class man who was raised in the Rust Belt by religious, blue collar parents. He started out working in an auto shop when he was thirteen and paid his own way through a second-tier college, where he got an engineering degree. He worked for some major automotive suppliers, both in manufacturing facilities as well as in engineering departments, and is as tough as they come.

I spent years working directly for him in my last position with Widget Central, and he is as tough, disciplined and thorough as they come. If he gave us a task, he would leave us alone to do the work, but he would want to know how we did it, how we got to every number. He would tape slides and charts around his office and pace for hours, absorbing, going over them and over them. He is dogged and unremitting in his work ethic and his expectations not just of himself, but his employees.

And he’s conservative. We debated about a lot of things in the days before his promotion to the C-suite and usually ended up laughing and agreeing to disagree. He called me Lisbeth Salander more than once (which, if you know me, is ridiculous because I’m bland – no mohawk or piercings – maybe he saw through my conservative costume.) But he is also exceptionally courteous, calm, and thoughtful. I’ve never seen him speak out of anger or bully, abuse, or disparage anyone, no matter how angry he is. He weighs his words and treats others with a deep, gracious kindness that is completely unforced – it radiates from him. I remember once having to go into his office to tell him that I had screwed something up. It was a big something. It made him look bad. I was miserable and apologized. And he said to me, “Stop apologizing. You told me up front that you didn’t know how to do it, and I had no choice, I had no one else to do it. I saw you slave over that for hours and yeah, it didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. But you know what? You tried. You might not know this, but it means something to have an employee that will try their guts out. Sometimes you will fail, but you don’t know how rare it is to have the will to keep trying. I can take a few mistakes, if that’s the case.”

After we parted ways at the copy machine, I realized that I had unfairly judged him out of the anger and the grief in my heart. I’d assumed that I knew him, his values, and his reasoning, and I used those assumptions to lash out using words that I would never advocate. And then, I reflected, even if he *had* voted for Trump, wouldn’t he still be the same person that has been my friend and excellent, trusted boss for all of these years? He is still the same person. How could I hate him or think that he would deliberately put someone in office that he thought would hurt people? He wouldn’t. He would have his reasons, but they would not be those reasons. And if he did vote for Trump,  wouldn’t he still be worthy of being treated with the same respect and kindness that he has always shown me? And if I can’t  treat him as such, how am I any better than the people I blame for supporting Trump and getting us into this mess?

It’s difficult to explain the fall of the dominoes that gave me a change of heart, except to say that I am the kind of person that has to know what I can do to fix something. I have to know what work I have to do to get the outcome I want. And then – I’ll do the damn work. Right now, I’m tired of being angry. I’m not tired of being angry with Trump – I hate him and all he stands for – but this week there has been an escalating tone of rage and hatred, in the violence in the streets as well as in the press and, more personally, on my social media and in my workplace. I’ve gotten in arguments and debates with people I like and respect because they won’t see my viewpoint and I can’t see theirs. Personally, I feel that the Trump campaign is responsible for it, and I want to opt out of the conversation. I want to fight everyone and be full of rage at people who voted for him. I want to blame them. But violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering, as Parker Palmer so wisely said, and there is no blame that can be laid without equal shares of responsibility and accountability. None of us can opt out of this conversation. We own it. We are living it. And if all I can do to fix this is work on myself, then, motherfucker, I will work on my own damn self. I have to find a way to turn my tone from rage and hatred, from lashing out at people based on my assumption of their situation, to reaching out and trying to understand. I have to find a way to respond to reports of violence, racism, sexism, hatred, not with my own lightning rage, finger-pointing and screams of “It’s YOUR FAULT” (as I am so prone to do) but maybe as Bernie Sanders did. He said, “To the degree that Mr Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment practices, we will vigorously oppose him.” I can get behind that. I can look down this dark street and see that light in the black and follow it. Support the good. Vigorously oppose the bad. Stand up for the rights of all and be unfailingly courteous, kind, and protective of those who need my protection until I’m too old to protect anyone anymore. When Dan Rather says “don’t opt out,” maybe that’s what he’s asking me to do and if that’s my work, I will do it.
I don’t want to do it.
It’s easier to be pissed and hateful.
I want to lay down and cry instead of doing it.

But that’s life and that’s the work and maybe I’ll find a lot of people like my CEO, who surprise me.

election (part 1 of 2) – in which i am very very angry

I don’t really want to talk about the election, and I am sure that no one wants to read about it, but because this is my journal, I have to use it to help myself sort out my feelings. And Facebook is an absolute suck ass minefield these days, it feels like a den of vipers waiting to bite your heel. Feel free to read on or stop, it’s up to you, Dear Reader, but I warn ya, this is a RANT. This is everything I’ve wanted to say, and haven’t.

On Wednesday I had to wake my daughter up and tell her that someone that she considers to be a bad person was just elected president. I watched her turn over and bury her face in the pillow. I’d warned her, and tried to explain the voting process when we were walking down to the voting booths on Tuesday, but I explained to her (again) that this is part of living in America; sometimes we get to see the candidates we vote for take office, and sometimes we don’t. I explained (again) that sometimes the president-elect says things and does things that are not acceptable, and that just because he says and does them doesn’t mean that she or anyone else should. I said that if anyone says anything to her that she doesn’t understand, she should ask me, but I explained that we will continue to do what we do – respect each other and our neighbors and friends, be kind, stand up to bullies, protect and love and look after each other.

I said that she would probably hear some things at school today, and that everyone would have an opinion. Everyone gets a vote, I said, and that vote is private. No one has to justify their vote to anyone – that is the beauty of America. I told her that no matter who people voted for, that was their business. We were just going to do what we do and that it was all going to be okay, that her family loves and will protect her, and that if she has any questions, concerns, or fears, that she could talk to me about anything.

I know that she will be digesting this for awhile, and processing it as she does, and we will have more discussions. But for the moment, she was okay. I held her hand when we walked into school and the kids in Y-care were having a dance party and everything felt normal.

Those are the things that I needed to say to my child, and she needed to hear.
The minute I left, though, I could drop my mask, and sit in my car feeling all of the feelings. I pounded on the steering wheel. I cried. I screamed. I wanted to punch the world. I wanted to punch myself for feeling this so deeply.

I need someone to explain this to me, because I don’t understand.

And I am enraged.

I watched Van Jones in a CNN clip and it made me cry. “You try to teach your kids not to be bigots,” he said. “You try to teach your kids not to be bullies. How do I explain this to my kids?”

So many people in this country thrown away by our president-elect, our lazy, corrupt, hateful president-elect. People with disabilities mocked. People beaten and abused at his rallies. Women disrespected. Sexual assault approved of and dismissed as a joke. Nonstop bigotry and intolerance. I’ve had presidents I didn’t agree with before (“W”) but I’ve never dreamed that someone who didn’t respect huge swathes of the American population could ever become its leader. And the most baffling thing to me, the thing I feel the most betrayed by, are the women who voted for him. I had several female friends on FB who proudly said that they were voting for Trump because Hillary is “evil” and voting for Trump is their “Christian duty”. Can someone please explain that to me? How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian vote for someone with so much hatred in his heart?

I understand that both the candidates were deeply flawed, but we have a president-elect who believes that he could walk in and grab a woman “by the pussy” and that’s okay. Even if that’s dismissed as locker room talk – and that’s a big IF in my mind, because I believe firmly that he believes it, has done it, and will do it again – what about the crazies out there who are listening to him? What about the unbalanced population just looking to pop off at an immigrant, or rape a woman, or punch a dissenter? Suddenly, this world seems a lot less safe to me.

There will be violence, and there has been already. There are already swastikas and racial epithets and mobs and women being abused for wearing hijabs. I’ve seen on Facebook people telling “whiny pussy liberals” to quit their crying and acting like we’re crazy for sharing articles about these abuses already being perpetrated. “It’s probably not real and even if it is, it’s not a Trump supporter,” someone said on one post today. Um. Yeah. Because it’s TOTALLY OUT OF THE REALM OF FEASIBILITY that someone would take Donald Trump’s hate speech over this election to heart. Let’s see – in case anyone has forgotten – the last time I checked the running list that the NYTimes was keeping – 281 people our oh-so-respectable president elect has insulted, denigrated, or abused. Actual quotes from his mouth:

“I’d like to punch him in the face.” – about a dissenting protester

“I’ll beat the crap out of you.” – about a dissenting protester

He’d “love to fight” 74-year old Joe Biden

He called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”, mocking her Native American blood.

He said Mexican immigrants were “rapists” and “sexual assaulters” – never mind his own glorification of his own sexual assaults on women.

He has said that he would force American soldiers to kill the families of terrorists – including children – and when former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden indicated that they may refuse – since those are war crimes, Trump’s response was: “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. If I say it, they’re going to do it.”

He has called women pigs, dogs, disgusting animals, and slobs. Someone said that about me? No problem. Been called worse. Someone says that in front of my daughter because “President Trump” says it and it must be okay? Game over. Someone grabs me by the pussy because Trump said to do it, that you have to treat women like shit, that we like it? Game over.

All of these things are documented. They’re not made up. He said them. And I know, I know – I hear it all the time. “He’s putting on an act.” “It’s a SHOW. He won’t be like that in office!” “It’s locker room talk!” Eye roll. “Whiny libtard, you are overreacting. Settle down. Don’t take it to heart. Here’s your head pat.” *pat* *pat* *pat*

Yet it’s so unthinkable to red America that his supporters might take that hate speech to heart and do terrible things in its name. It is gobsmacking to me to see anyone say anywhere that they doubt a Trump supporter is responsible for an act of violence. No one should be surprised. It’s going to be happening all the time now. Keep telling yourself that he isn’t really like that, red America, it might make you feel better but no one else believes it.

I don’t know what else to say. None of this is organized or makes any sense. I wish I could put myself together to write a more coherent, data-driven post. But right now all I can feel is sad and outraged. I just really don’t understand it.