To be fair.

Caution: This is going to get political.

My question: is this all wishful thinking? Should I roll over for Hillary and her status-quo, dynasty style politics? Are African American voters seeing something I’m not? (Or again, is that too much of a sweeping generality?) I’ve been indirectly taken to task for being “privileged” (though I never thought I wouldn’t vote for one candidate if the other didn’t win, I learned some would). And there’s the other side, where those who take a stand make their voices heard.

So in the past week, I’ve been labeled as ‘demonizing, privileged, unrealistic, and lacking diligence.’ Were any of these said to me directly? Of course not. Then why do I hear it? Where does this guilt/conflict/defensiveness dwell? What dog whistles are these that are tuned to my inner ear? (Yes, not only did I just use the passive voice, but the passive-aggressive voice. RIMSHOT!) Probably the same tuning that I hear when a comedian equates a fat person or food with diabetes, or someone makes an ageist comment, as in the NCCE program one exhibitor had a session titled something to the effect “Not Your Parents…..(fill in the blank).” “Not Your Parents” is code for “your parents are old and don’t know how to work with technology, and you’re young and hip and get frustrated when you need to explain things to them.” We hear what speaks to us in that moment: I can safely tune out Pampers ads because those are not on my shopping list any longer. Or like when you get a coupon at the grocery store for cat litter because the past purchasing data shows you once had Mr. Muffins and he’s gone to the great litter box in the sky.

I can’t take on all the misconceptions or confirmation bias when it comes to diabetes or ageism. Not today. I haven’t even made it through a single cup of coffee. But I can report out some things I’ve learned about politics.

I. The Caucus

Yesterday I went to our local caucus, and I am so glad. It was transformative. The area we live in seems to be predominately conservative/red. I joked how our little enclave was keeping things a bit more ‘purple,’ and am still mad that someone stole our Obama yard during his first election. At the caucus yesterday were hundreds of voters –in my little town!! Our particular cohort comprised of about 15 people, and two independent voters began our session with seeking why we were supporting who we were. Both Bernie and Hillary supporters spoke, it was civil, engaged, and thoughtful. There was a range of ages and incomes, but race diversity was not represented. Some of the speakers were more or less educated or articulate, but all were impassioned. One speaker, an older gentlemen, said he worried about Bernie’s age, (74) but was not worried about Hillary (68). He also said he was tired of ‘old white guys’ being president, to which a young woman said gender was not a factor for her.

These were a rough draft of the cohort's resolutions.
These were a rough draft of the cohort’s resolutions. We met in the Spanish teacher’s room at a local school. Note: no one in the room discussed gun issues. Found that interesting.

One thing we all could agree on was no matter what, we would do what it took to defeat He Who Has Tiny Fingers. The delegates from our room were 1 Hillary: 3 Bernie. On the way to our car, a man in a big, white pickup truck asked us how it went and gleefully shared his cohort was 100% for Bernie.


I think this may be how Hillary’s side is feeling, and to be honest, I get it:


II. What is Happening

If I laid bare all my thoughts on a spectrum, to pure lizard-brain to perceived clear, rational thought, I would realize how utterly unqualified I am to think clearly, to move away from the lizard side. I feel stuck. Is it decision fatigue? of choice? Probably. Everything just feels too damn important not to get this one right. With the last election, we had no idea, at least, I didn’t, the levels of obstructionism and racism that would override all potential progress. A complicated mix of Obama’s “nuanced” negotiating skills (some would say terrible skills) and a Republican side majority in the House and Senate, with a clear directive from Mitch McConnell that nothing the President did would ever go forward, we all feel like there’s an old man with his blinker on in the fast lane. No matter how many distractor issues a politician can muster, it always comes back to money. Do we have a job? Can we get to our job? Can we feed our families? Can we live the American Dream?

My biggest issues: corporations are not people, our infrastructure is a disaster, and college loans or educational fees are part of the greater good for the strength of our nation and must be subsidized.

This is a photograph my husband took of a hole in the I-90 bridge that's been there for years.
This is a photograph my husband took of a hole in the I-90 bridge that’s been there for years.


She said it all.
She said it all.

In my previous post, Status, I am going to admit writer’s cowardice. Though the post focused on teacher and student status, what I was feeling behind the scenes talking about how I miss my friendship, how it’s changed over the years. And while I would like to have believed that friendships run parallel tracks, alas they run on varying degrees of negative and positive plot points that tend to veer away from one another, sometimes intersecting again.

And do we ever let go of who we think we know the person is, or who they have become?

But this is a very, very good thing: because we have different experiences and paths, we gain understanding from one another that is based on mutual histories, knowledge, and dare I say, love? This is the heart of love: learning and listening to one another. And I love my friend and know she loves me. And I do listen to her, and if she is leaning toward a politician, I listen.

In the post, The Inflationary Defeat of Skittles, I showed a boring little graph, in an antiquated font, looking like something from some 1960s mimeographed page, a chart from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics about how incomes have not only stagnated, but fallen behind.

It’s tough not to hear those inner voices as being personal, and this is why — all of this doesn’t feel objective any longer. I made clear-eyed choices with the information I had at the time, based on what I could see forward on the path. I can’t go back and tell my past self not to marry my husband, nor would I want to. If I had a crystal ball and it said, ‘your husband will have chronic medical conditions, and his career path will be fraught with unscrupulous characters and mismanaged equity funds,’ what would I have done? And if he had come to understand he married an art major with a deep work ethic and creative class shackles, and not uncanny business instincts, would he have opted out? Hard to say. We both hated Reagan’s policies in that moment, and we’re both black sheep when it comes to “I told you so” warnings. My husband is usually right about stuff. My husband is quite frankly, a genius. But geniuses don’t necessarily make over $300k a year. In our country, we often equate money with intelligence. Just look at the frontrunner for the other side.

Here is what my friend researched:

Our conversation prompted me to look a bit more as well, because I have these very intense mixed feelings about the whole issue of income in our country. I feel very strongly that things shifted in a very bad way for our generation, and wages did not rise relative to the cost of a home, healthcare or college. And I think this is very dangerous and wrong. But I also see that the reaction among some is to demonize people who acquire wealth through smart, patient “investments” in terms of post-college education, diligently saving for kid’s college from the day they are born and for retirement the day they start working in their 20s, etc. The “Top 1 percent” starts roughly around $400,000/yr for a household income. The top .01 percent makes $12 million per year. I don’t think we can lump those two households into one group called the Top 1 percent–it’s just not even close to the same experience. An income tax increase impacts people who are receiving income from working, but many of the very wealthiest get their money not from working income but from dividends–wealth investment, and it is taxed at a much lower rate. That’s why it’s possible for someone to make more money than me but pay less in overall taxes. That is a bit odd. But in reality, even the very richest can’t be taxed enough to change life for the bottom 50 percent of earners–the top 50 percent accounts for 97 percent of federal taxes already from what I read. To me, we have to get wages up for the lowest paid workers and we have to figure out ways to make things like housing, college and healthcare more affordable. But not free, in my view. Affordable. And a CEO making 300 times what their employees makes is not good. Those extreme ends need to shift inward. So I guess I am saying there are 3 factors that rise to my mind: some more modification of taxes among the extreme top wealth (not solely income) earners, policies that address housing, college and continued tweaks on heathcare though Obama’s health care plan is a start in the right direction. And then policies that impact the wage disparity and improving basic wages–raising the minimum wage helps but there is probably more in terms of business incentives for addressing wage disparity though I am not sure how that would work. Those are my thoughts {smile emoticon} Let me know what you find.

Okay. Next steps: research!

III. Information and Judgment

So here is the curated collection from me and my husband:

Bernie is unrealistic:

Start Making Sense: Bernie is Bringing the Reagan Era to an End

PDF of Economists who signed a statement of support:
Robert Reich (former Labor Secretary under President Clinton and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies):
Robert Reich: “I’ve known Hillary since she was 19…Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate for the government we should have.”
Senate Budget Committee (Sanders is Chairman):
Bernie’s numbers are actually Friedman’s numbers but Bernie’s being blamed and austerity should not be the new normal:
Closing the Racial Wealth Gap:
Here’s the thing: Hillary has not provided any evidence in her political career she would actually do something to change the economic structures in our nation. She has as much told us all she’s a “realist.”


IV. Oh, it’s happening.

In any case–when you find yourself in a political discussion with someone you love who sees things from another side, or articulates clearly and logically, and you’re left mumbling and confused–time for honesty and reflection. I still don’t know what to think. But my take-away is this: after listening to multiple points of view, change is coming, and change is here. To witness the de-evolution of one political party to a freak show, to the standard bearers of the other political party being questioned/challenged by everyone who’s newly voting age to their penultimate election, we all recognize much work needs to be done, and it’s going to be a fight. Not pretty, and not polite. I haven’t had a good, deep political conversation with my friend in years. We’ve been in touch with mostly superficial but loving, exchanges, full of good intentions. If it took two candidates to draw out more substantive reflection, at least on my end, then good. Really good. We live in a time where our confirmation biases go unchecked, and movements take root and suck up energy from wellsprings (looking at you, Anti-Vaxxers), but these movements act as powerful catalysts to get us to think. (And in my case, overthink.) So here’s to change, to thinking, and the grand conversation.

Next: hours of lesson planning for the week.


The work goes on.