Political Fix (19 January, 2018)

Is Tulare County Part of Trump’s Base?

On January 11, President Trump met with Democratic and Republican Senators about Immigration Reform. During the meeting he said, “Haiti? Why do we want people from Haiti here?” Then they got Africa. ‘Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries here?

“We should have more people from places like Norway.”

Most people, including everyone in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America, were shocked.

The reaction from one African country was that Pres. Trump’s statements are “really, really derogatory” and “hugely offensive.” The African Union has demanded an apology.

Pres. Trump, on the other hand, was reported as taking a victory lap around the White House that evening.

Why? Because he and his staff said his statements, which the White House denies, appeal to Trump’s base.

Are Tulare and Kings Counties part of Pres. Trump’s base?

Unlike the rest of Californians, who overwhelmingly voted for Hilary Clinton, Pres. Trump won by 10 points in Tulare County and by 13 points in Kings County.

I asked Amy Dickinson-Campbell, an Iraq War Vet and diehard Trump fan, if the president’s statements had any effect in Tulare County.

Ms. Dickinson-Campbell showed up at a political forum in 2016 with a “’Hilary for Prison” t-shirt, so I felt she had her finger on the pulse of the local Trump community.

She said it was a mixed bag. “Some people don’t care and some people don’t think he said it.” When I asked her if she felt he lost any support over the last few weeks she said, “No, I don’t think so.”

She added, “It’s just a big nothing burger.”

She said that most people she talks to just don’t care because the president “ends up being right anyway, like he was with tax reform.”

She said the feeling here is, “Just let the man do his job.”

To be honest, we all know someone (my husband) who has called one or two undeveloped countries shitholes. It doesn’t mean the name caller thinks that the people who live in those countries are inferior. It means, for example, those counties’ streets flood at the suggestion of rain or that the smell of sewage wafts through the air on a warm afternoon.

The Congressional Black Caucus had to say this about Pres. Trump, “We respect the president’s office even if he doesn’t.”

The Black Caucus, and a segment of the population, feels that Pres. Trump doesn’t understand acceptable decorum or the level of respect the office of the president holds.

To put their sentiments in context, imagine if Governor Jerry Brown was having a meeting in the State Capitol concerning the drought and said, “Why should we give those shithole counties water? Then we have Tulare and Kings County. Why should they get our water? Why shouldn’t we give more water to San Diego?”

To be honest, we all know people who have called Tulare and Kings Counties shithole counties (my husband.) It doesn’t mean the name caller thinks the same about the people who live here. It means someone living here is frustrated that they can’t find a decent book store or see Academy Award hopefuls such as “Call Me by Your Name” while “Baby Boss” and “Geostorm” linger in the theaters for months.

Pres. Trump lamenting the fact that more Norwegians don’t immigrate to the United States doesn’t bolster his “I’m not a racist” argument. Nor does it showcase his deep understanding of the geopolitical differences between the two countries.

Norway was ranked the happiest country in the world in 2017. The United States was ranked 14th, ironically behind a Central American country, Costa Rica.

In Norway, college is free. Everyone gets free healthcare and moms get 46 weeks paid maternity leave. Gun ownership is one of the highest in the world, which should make 2nd Amendment chest pounders happy.

But while the United States has about 33,000 gun deaths a year, Norway has 400. Norwegians have actually left the United States because it can be such a dangerous place to raise children.

The United Nations named Norway as the best country in the world to live in for the 12th year in a row, and also named Norway as the most prosperous country in the world.

Why? Because Norway does what Pres. Trump hates–the government takes care of its citizens. Norway is a socialist country and its people some of the most hard working and industrious in the world despite government “handouts.”

To quote the Twitter feed from one Norwegian with the same decorum as Pres. Trump.

“Why would we move to a country with a shithole President?”

To be honest, we all know people who have said the same (my husband.)

It’s Complicated

Maya Angelou’s advice was, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

This refrain has been repeated about President Donald Trump since before the election. It made me think of my own extended family.

What if the person showing you who they really are is your own sister? In the complicated, messy world of sibling relationships, should we heed Ms. Angelou’s advice?

A typical example of my sister “showing who she is” was during a family trip.

Then 40, she brought along her old and visibly scratched gameboy. My two oldest sons, Chuck and Alex, had just received as a gift the same gameboy and shared one unit between them.

When the trip ended my sister “accidently” took my sons’ gameboy, and the boys soon discovered hers didn’t work.

She wouldn’t mail it back, so when she planned to visit six months later, I implored her to bring the boys’ gameboy. It wasn’t something at the time we could afford to replace. She did bring their gameboy when she came to my house for dinner. But when she saw the condition of hers, she refused to give the boys’ unit back.

In light of the fact that they no longer owned a gameboy, Chuck and Alex ran upstairs to get all of their games and gave them to my sister. They then stood behind her dining room chair, and excitedly watched over her shoulder as she played their games, just as excited as when they watched each other play those few weeks they owned one.

She left that evening with my boys’ gameboy – and their games.

Chuck and Alex were seven and eight years old.

I don’t know if I was more upset about my sister keeping their toy or how quickly my boys rolled over to my sister’s demand.

As young mother I still wasn’t prone to stand up to my siblings, so I didn’t say anything either. It was an uncomfortable flashback to my relationship with my sister and brother when I was my sons’ age.

Sibling relationships are complicated. While I have almost nothing in common with my sister in terms of our personalities, she is the most closely related person to me in the world. We look like each other, our builds are similar, and we share a few idiosyncrasies.

I can see her when I look in the mirror, and I can see my brother when I look at my youngest son, Manny.

My brother, sister and I know pieces about each other that no one else knows, not even our parents. Before my brother hit adolescence, those long evenings while my parents had their nightcaps and watched T.V., were spent playing on the other side of the house, out of earshot.

A long hall connected our bedrooms and we used it as a sports arena to play hours of dodge ball hiding the detritus along the way. We turned off the lights in my bedroom and put a towel under the door to make it completely black and played Dark Tag. I had two beds in my room and we would roll around on them while listening to music. My brother would wheel in his record payer and put on our favorite album, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

We knew each others’ habits, had secrets, and were the keepers of our childhoods. So when my siblings die a part of me will die with them.

But maybe that has already happened.

I was the youngest by several years and a doormat. As we grew the gulf between us became larger. As young adults, while most people were raising a family, my brother and sister spent their time on their own pursuits and their money on themselves.

It’s like we lived on different planets.

“America first means America alone” is another statement swirling around Pres. Trump.

Always looking after number one might yield the same result for my brother and sister – alone.

My siblings haven’t talked to me or their nieces and nephews in four years. They quit talking to us when my dad and stepmom kicked us out of our home.

The reasons are not as complicated as deciphering sibling relationships.

They were bought off.

My brother and sister are not too fond of each other and I wonder if they have reflected on what it is going to be like after our parents pass away. Who has their power of attorney if they become disabled? Who are they going to call from the hospital if they break their hip? Where are they going to spend Christmas?

Alex was too sensitive for this world and drank himself to death after we told him we definitely have to leave our home. While my son struggled with depression, had repeated mental break downs, and then finally died, my brother and sister sat on their hands.

Martin Luther King said, “You will not remember the words of your enemies but will remember the silence of your friends.”

I agree. Silence is complicity and I have to admit the ugly truth that since my son passed away, I’m at peace with my current relationship with my siblings.

But should I be at peace?

Elections and climate change, legislators and access to healthcare, national politics and home politics, the leader of the free word and the people most closely related to you.

We are all connected.

So when is it time to call it quits?

4 thoughts on “Political Fix (19 January, 2018)

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  1. We don’t get to pick family, we are born into them. The ties that bind which were once strong and tight as children can, given the right circumstances, become weak and loose to almost nonexistent. One can choose to move on. One can choose to let go of the anger. One can choose to keep a politely held distance which could allow room for a possible emotional reunification if the opportunity ever arises. We rarely ever quit thinking and emoting about them so we never totally quit on them. When it comes to elected officials we can quit on them at any time we wish for whatever reason they give us by their action/inaction and/or deeds, especially the politicians who have no real loyalty toward the people who elect them but who are extremely loyal to the lobbyists who buy their votes. We do this by standing up and speaking out, getting actively involved in getting them voted out.

      • “A muse is that spark of inspiration that stirs within writers, musicians, and artists helping them to tap into their creative juices. Everyone is creative. Everyone has a muse.” You are a muse Catherine so keep on writing the columns and I will keep on commenting whenever you inspire me to do so. 🙂

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