Relief: The Politics in the U.S.

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Today, Elizabeth’s Creativity Challenge asks the question, among others, about what would cause relief for the current distress in our fellow citizens given the current situation in the world. To provide my take on that question, I’m going to narrow the question to the United States.

The American Psychological Association actually coined a term for the stress many of us felt during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election — election stress disorder. The APA cited people who were terribly distressed after each debate and then more than distressed after the election and who are having trouble recovering from that. First, a disclaimer. I personally believe we have reason to be distressed. But, we can’t have an entire country walking around unable to function for however long Donald Trump is in office. We have to be productive for ourselves and our country. That said, here is the APA’s prescription for at least some relief.

None of us in the U.S. have ever witnessed anything like the Republican primary debates nor the debates between President-elect Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. My highest stress moment (and there were a lot of them) was watching Trump stalk around on the stage (Debate 2) right behind Clinton but in view of the camera looking very predatory. Perhaps it didn’t affect men as much as women. It affected me a lot. I knew then that he should not be President. There were various high stress moments for all of us who were not Trump supporters.

What do we do for election stress disorder relief? First, the APA asks us to consider what actually happens in our brains to cause such stress. The primitive parts of our brain are associated with safety, security, and other factors cave men and women had to worry about. Those are the parts of the brain that came to life when I saw Trump stalking Clinton on stage, obviously to intimidate her. Other things might have caused  your primitives to spring into action.

Other parts of the brain react with empathy, compassion, and more adult emotions than the primitive emotions. Some of us have been able to access these emotions regarding the political situation in the U.S., some haven’t. The APA found that a full 52% of the U.S. population is suffering from election stress disorder, including both men and women.

What do we do to find some relief? The same things we do to find relief for anything that stresses us. Turn off cable news! Now! You can’t do anything at all about what’s happening. Practice relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, for example. Get some exercise. Aerobics helps me more than anything because it burns off that stress. Go about your work and your life. Read. Preferably fiction. Something that will take your mind to another place and time. See your friends and don’t let politics get in your way. Who cares if they are Trump supporters? They are still your friends. Don’t talk politics with them.

These things are all we can do in the short run. There is one more thing. Run for political office. There aren’t enough young politicians out there and I’ve noticed a real scarcity of young politicians, particularly Democrats. If you don’t run, you can’t make a difference. If we saw young, dedicated politicians ready to run for office, it would be a relief for all of us. #amblogging #amwriting #writing #creativitychallenge #politics

 

*American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, Election Stress Disorder

Post in response to Creativity Challenge #38

 

 

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Election Day in the U.S.

Never before in my life have I felt a need to make much of a comment on a Presidential Election Day in the U.S. This Presidential Election Day seems different. I don’t know if it is because it has been such a hard fought and acrimonious campaign. Could be it is because we have two rather untraditional candidates – the first woman candidate in the history of the U.S. and a rather bombastic private businessman? Maybe it’s because the rhetoric has been ramped up to a level I’ve never heard before? Perhaps it’s because every one I talk to is very apprehensive about what will happen after this election, even though the U.S. has always had a peaceful transfer of power.

Perhaps it is because the Democratic candidate for President has been under some sort of investigation for 25 years, since her husband, Bill Clinton, was President of the United States. The Republican candidate for President has not been in the political limelight for very long but since he has been, he, too, has been under investigation.

I hear Americans constantly ask why we could not have done better in picking our political candidates. I have a question to pose to you. Would any candidate who we picked have been subject to some sort of investigation because we, as Americans, can’t seem to get our fill of dragging skeletons out of our candidates’ closets? I’ve noticed a real lack of viable political candidates at the next age group point, 10-20 years younger than Trump and Clinton. That is true, I think, particularly on the Democratic side of the aisle. Why is that? Are the good people who would normally run for political office simply tired of facing the possibility of their families being subject to the unbelievable amount of scrutiny we subject our candidates to? It seems at least to be a possibility.

Who exactly is responsible for all this skeleton dragging? Is it truly the news media? Or is it principles of the opposing party in trying to win the election? Or a combination of both? Every single person who might run for political office has done something wrong at some point in their lives and careers. It is simply not possible to live a squeaky clean life just in case you might go into public service. We are going to cause ourselves to literally have no candidates by our behavior regarding their behavior if we don’t allow them to have a life, business and professional and governmental, if they are already in government service. Can we really feel good about what we have allowed the news media and the political parties to do to these people’s families? Don’t say it isn’t our fault because it is. We watch the cable news shows or they would not be on the air. We buy into every word the talking heads say. It is, indeed, our fault.

Our propensity for finding each and every little fault in our candidates may be our downfall this time around. We have two candidates that no one seems to much like, putting many of us in the position of voting for who we consider to be the lesser of two evils. That is not America! That is not the way America handles its business. We find two excellent candidates and choose between them in a democratic process. Not so much this time.

Now we have a situation where, if Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency, rumors are swirling around that state militias will get involved and that she will not be supported. On the other hand, if Donald Trump wins, rumors are that he will not win wide support of the American people for a variety of reasons. In a day, we are going to vote for these two people under these circumstances?

Here is the deal. We, the people, caused this ourselves. We have encouraged the talking heads on cable news to do anything and say anything for ratings. We have expected candidates to be perfect people. Instead we got the least perfect of candidates. We have allowed senators and representatives to stay in Congress for 30 plus years and build up power bases so that their only concerns were money and power and not the good of our country or our democracy. Term limits anyone? Even the Supreme Court allowed for huge Super Pac’s to fund candidates’ political campaigns. We can’t say one candidate or another is corrupt. What is corrupt is the entire system and do you know where it starts? With US, the American voters. We have allowed these things to happen.

This is OUR government. OUR democracy. Have we forgotten that? We can get rid of the entire Congress if we want and we SHOULD want. We can push the reset button. Almost all the Congress is up for re-election on Tuesday. DO NOT RE-ELECT THEM. Elect a new Congress. One that is responsive to the people and to the President. One that will work with all parties involved.

Stop listening to the talking heads on any channel on cable news television. Buy a newspaper again. Read the newspaper. Form your own opinions. Don’t let some person on television whose credentials you don’t know form an opinion for you. Read, study, think. Decide what YOU think. Don’t take what they think at face value. That is one of the reasons we are in this mess. Knowledge is power.

It’s too late for us for this election cycle. I hope we can make it intact as a government for the next four years. I hope we can have a peaceful transfer of power. Let’s make it different in 2020. #2016PresidentialElection #realDonaldTrump #HillaryClinton #politics #amwriting #amblogging

The Snollygoster Politician

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“Oh, he is a snollygoster, all right. That Donald, he is a right snollygoster,” the old man said as he stood on the street corner talking to a group of folks that had gathered round him.

“What’s a snollygoster, mister?” Asked a young fellow who was part of the group.

The old man replied, “We don’t want to vote for a snollygoster, young man. A snollygoster is a right unprincipled fellow. He can be anyone, but is usually one of those unscrupulous politicians. Ha! In the old times, they smoked big cigars, carried carpetbags, wore flowered waistcoats, and were very shrewd and loud and proud in getting their point across to the public.”

The old man continued, “I think they are a bit more in disguise now. They are still loud and proud, but if they are politicians, they wear expensive suits, give speeches that promise the world, but they are really out for themselves and not for the people they are trying to represent. They are shrewd, however. You have to be more shrewd to spot one. You can usually spot their egos before you can see them.”

The young man nodded his head and started talking softly to the other people standing around the old man who was obviously holding court on that street corner. There were rumblings in that crowd. It was hard to tell if they were with the old man or against him. The crowd was growing.

The place was a street corner in New York City in the U.S. The time was October, 2016, only a month before the U.S. Presidential election. The candidates for President of the United States were probably two of the most disliked candidates ever running for President and it was clear that the old man was talking about one of them, Donald Trump, the businessman turned politician. There were rumors about both candidates, but new information had just popped up about Mr. Trump. Disturbing information. This information had apparently sparked the discussion on the street corner that day.

A middle-aged woman in the crowd spoke out. “Donald Trump is a snollygoster. We should all be able to see it. He says he is supportive of women’s issues, but look at the new information we just learned. Trump has even admitted that it’s true.”

Someone else in the crowd asked, “What information? Tell us.”

The middle-aged woman said, “Donald Trump made extremely lewd and sexually aggressive comments about women, citing that he could do anything he wanted to women because of his “star” status before a television show in 2005. His words were captured on tape because he said them on a hot mic pinned to his lapel. He had been married to his current wife, Melania Trump, only a few months at the time. Mr. Trump admitted the remarks were made but was not apologetic.”

There was a louder rumbling in the crowd after that explanation.

The middle-aged woman continued, “How can we, as a society who professes to give equal opportunity to everyone, vote for a candidate for President who has such disregard for such a large segment of our population?”

A cheer went up from the crowd surrounding the old man. Obviously, the crowd was an anti-Trump crowd or at least a crowd eager to hear the information the wise old man was imparting to them.

The old man said, “There have been many other revelations about this Donald that make us wonder how he can deal with foreign leaders who are women, governors and senators and representatives who are women, staff who are women, and women’s issues that come across his desk. He obviously has a blatant disregard for women and only values them in the bedroom.”

A loud male voice said, “But what can we do? He is very close to the other candidate in the polls. He may win!”

“We have to stop this carpetbagger, this snollygoster,” the old man said. “Do what Americans do best. Revolt! Go to his rallies and demonstrate against him. Make him drop that snollygoster cigar out of his mouth and lose his cool. Don’t vote for him and tell everyone you know!”

The old man said, “Remember the stories of the Old West where a covered wagon would pull up into towns and everyone would gather round because they knew there was a salesman on it selling products that might help their ailments? A salesman would appear in a flamboyant costume and have all kinds of products — elixirs to help their rheumatism, potions to cure whatever ailed them? Those elixirs and potions all turned out to be nothing more than snake oil. Nothing at all that would help and the people paid good money for them because they were desperate.”

“Yes,” the crowd, that had tripled in size, cried.

“That Donald is offering us snake oil if he becomes President. What he offers sounds good to some of us who are desperate but it will turn out to be nothing that will help us and will probably hurt us instead. He is the snollygoster in the flamboyant costume and the loud voice,” said the old man.

At that point, the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. Someone had gone into a local store and had gotten material to make signs and posters. Everyone was down on the ground making anti-Donald posters to carry. The crowd numbered at least 500 people.

The old man slipped quietly away. He had done his work on that particular street corner. He was off to another street corner in another part of New York City. You see, the old man was not as old as he seemed. He was a Viet Nam veteran who loved his country. He was also ill and did not have long to live. But, he and some of us buddies from that war were not about to see their beloved country taken over by a carpetbagger. They were spread out all over the U.S., doing exactly what the old man was doing. They were on street corners all over America, holding court, telling the truth about the snollygoster determined to highjack their beloved country. They were not going to let that happen.

The old man trudged on.

#blogpropellant #amwriting #amblogging #writing #realDonaldTrump #politics

TBP’s On-Line Writer’s Guild #33

Random Number 3

 

 

2016 US Presidential Election: Pneumonia or the Economy and Foreign Policy?

 

imageI am discouraged by American journalism. I am also discouraged that the American people don’t demand more from their journalists and their Presidential candidates. I will certainly be interested to watch the upcoming Presidential debates although we cannot forget that early voting will have already started in some states. It seems this Presidential race is a slog,  toward, at best, mediocrity.

Let’s look at what’s important. Hillary Clinton’s very temporary, very common bout with pneumonia is not important regarding this election. This is an illness any one of us could contract and recover from very quickly. THe press and her opponent have made a much bigger deal out of it than it is, probably to deflect attention from the other issues that they should be discussing. However, since these two candidates are the oldest ever running for the White House, it is appropriate that they release their health records.

Our biggest economic problem is jobs. We hear wholesale promises of jobs from Mr. Trump but he has no plan to magically manufacture them except he talks about bringing industry home. Home to what? Dilapidated plants that are light years behind technologically? In some cases, no plants or factories are left at all. Clinton has a jobs creation plan that will add about 10 million jobs during her first term. However, she also talks about the revitalization of the manufacturing sector and this writer thinks that is dreaming. She does plan to put people to work on the infrastructure which is desperately needed – if she can get funds from Congress.

It is a little more difficult to figure out Donald Trumps’s plan for jobs. He says he wants to bring back jobs from China, Japan, Vietnam, and other countries but he is not clear what he wants to bring them back to. WIthout a manufacturing and technology sector, Trump’s plan to bring back jobs seems to fall flat. He is also not in favor of raising the minimum wage.

WIth regard to foreign policy, Mr. Trump has very little experience. He is a nationalist. He is not in favor of many trade agreements with other countries or is for very strict terms. He wants to appease and support Russia while doing the opposite with China, seeing China as our enemy.  He does not support the Iran deal and does support strong men ruling the Middle East.

Mts. Clinton has been a diplomat for many years. Her foreign policy is based on diplomacy. She is very well-schooled on the issues facing the US from other countries in the world and would be one of the most knowledgeable leaders in modern times in foreign policy due to her background and her experience gained as Secretary of State.

One of the problems with this election is that the candidates nor the media are focusing on these or any other issues. Instead they are talking about Clinton’s illness or Trump’s medical history or tax returns. The American people should want to know these candidates’ stands on issues, not their personal extraneous issues. OTherwise, we cannot make informed voting positions.

If you understand the issues, get out and vote but educate yourself first so you can make an informed voting decision. #dailyprompt #2016presidentialelection #realDonaldTrump #HillaryClinton #amwriting #amblogging #writing #economy #foreignpolicy

 

2016 Presidential Election

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I hate the U.S. news media. I’m not sure it would be better in any other nation, but in the U.S., you only hear what the powers that be at the major news organizations want you to hear. I did not intend to watch the Democrat and Republican party’s conventions last week and this, but, like so many others, I got sucked in. I’ve been horrified at the Republican nominee for President of the U.S.  I thought Donald Trump gave one of the worst acceptance speeches I’ve ever heard. I can remember back to the acceptance speech given by John F. Kennedy, though it’s vague as I was a tiny girl.

This post is not about Donald Trump. It is about the failure of the U.S. news media to inform the American public. The Democratic National Convention is coming to a close with Hillary Clinton the nominee for President. As I have watched the convention, I have become aware that the news media has been virtually unstoppable at                eviscerating Clinton, focusing on her mistakes and none of her considerable accomplishments.

I have not been a Clinton fan. I have been a real detractor of Donald Trump. For the first time ever, I’ve considered not voting in this very important election. Listening to the convention speakers last night, without the filter of the news media, I did not exactly become a Clinton fan but I became convinced she is, far and away, the best candidate of the two running for President.

Has the news media ever shared Clinton’s accomplishments with us? They are too busy repeating the mistakes she has made – over and over. By listening to the speakers last night and ignoring the talking heads of the media, I got to hear of Clinton’s accomplishments and they are legion. As first lady of both Arkansas and the United States, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State, she has touched our policies in many ways, most of them quite positive. She has touched the hearts and minds of children all over the world, her mission as First Lady. She tends to have a personal touch with people. The type of thing not newsworthy enough for the news media to bother with it. The average American who has contact with Clinton on the street loves her and sings her praises. Her Democratic colleagues, at least, sing her praises.

Hillary Clinton is not good at singing her own praises or advancing her own causes. She is not a braggart like our friend, the Republican nominee. I was impressed with what I heard from those who know her best, personally and professionally.

Most of all, her colleagues discussed her vast knowledge of the U.S. Government and its innermost workings. Does Donald Trump have this knowledge? No. I’ve decided that I’m with Hillary, warts and all. Of course, it helps that she has shattered that largest of glass ceilings, but that isn’t the reason. She knows more than he knows. Down deep, where it counts, she is a better person than he is. That has won me over in the end. #amwriting #blogging #writing #PresidentialUSA #dailyprompt

 

Does America Really Vote Against our Own Self-Interests?

 

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In the 2015 Kentucky Governor’s election, some of the results of the voting seemed astounding. For one thing, Kentucky elected a Republican Governor for only the second time in four decades. Most were shocked when Governor Matt Bevin was elected, having fully expected his Democrat foe to prevail as Democrats usually do in the race for the Governorship in this usually red state. The results were even more shocking when officials looked at the county-by-county breakdown of the voting.

Matt Bevin had made his platform clear. He was going to repeal Obamacare in the state. Kentucky has one of the most successful Obamacare programs in the U.S., called Kynect, which has been particularly helpful to some in the poorer Eastern Kentucky counties located in Appalachia. Bevin also planned to considerably roll back Medicaid, the welfare program that so many in this poor state relied on. Yet, in Owsley County, Kentucky, the ninth poorest county in the state, voting results showed that 70.5% of the voters cast their vote for now-Governor Matt Bevin, despite his position on these policies. In Magoffin County, Kentucky, also in the Appalachian region of the state and the eighth poorest county, 54% voted for Bevin.

Did the voters in these two counties vote against their own self-interests when they voted for Matt Bevin for Governor? In Owsley County, 66% of the population is enrolled in Medicaid and 47% in Magoffin County. Yet, they voted for the candidate that stated he was going to dismantle the health insurance part of the program and considerably roll back the welfare benefits. Why?

There are many opinions and varying answers to these questions. On the surface, some say that the average education level of the voters in Eastern Kentucky is low and these low information voters cast a ballot without full knowledge of the candidates’ positions. I personally know that is true in many cases.

There is a second issue which quite possibly trumps the issue of the low-information voter. This issue is not one you hear the talking heads spout on Fox News or any of the news programs. Some people actually vote principle over pocketbook

Eastern Kentucky is in the region we call the Bible Belt. Many people rely on their religious values to determine their actions. The conservative movement has hijacked religion and made it a part of secular politics. They have somehow painted the Democratic party as the Anti-God party though this is blatantly not true. The Democratic party has simply respected the separation of church and state. Many voters have cast votes for candidates who espouse their own religious views even if the very things they promise to do are against their own self-interests.

There are many examples of voting principle over pocketbook. Gun control is another. Until the mid-1970’s, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was a moderate organization supporting moderate gun control laws. Then, it adopted a strict original interpretation of the Second Amendment and bought and paid for many members of Congress. In 1991, in an interview, Chief Justice Warren Burger, who was appointed to the Court by Richard Nixon and was a conservative, accused the NRA of fraud on the American people and said it had far too much influence on the members of Congress. He ended the interview by saying, “and I am a gun man.” Imagine what Burger would think today!

The NRA supports the Republican party and has convinced gun owners that Democrats want to take away their guns, which is foolishness. My family, Democrats as far back as our genealogy can be traced, have been gun owners, though we have felt no need to carry them in holsters on the street. Voters cast votes for candidates who are supported by the NRA because they fear anyone else will somehow take away their guns.

These are only two examples of many. Other issues that fall in the “principle over pocketbook” category are abortion, drugs, affirmative action, racism, and taxes. But those are topics for other blog posts. The Tea Party branch of the Republican party has been particularly effective at encouraging low-information voters to vote principle over pocketbook with Fox News being their media tool.

In our 2016 Presidential election, it will be interesting to watch this phenomenon. Unfortunately, in this writer’s opinion, the presumptive Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has not yet taken definitive positions that allow anyone to make decisions based on their pocketbooks or their principles. #amwriting #writers #blogging #BlogHer