Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

This Is Not A Political Post

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My first political debate took place in the back of the school bus in First Grade. My friend and I had started arguing about the upcoming election. We were going at it pretty hard over Reagan v Carter. We were spitting out words and throwing around phrases we had heard but didn’t really understand. But we both sat firmly in our separate corners, glaring at each other and sizing each other up.

It got a little intense. Other kids joined in and took his side. I was alone. It became clear that I was the only person on team Carter. They were yelling at me about the Iran Hostage Crisis and the gas shortage. I felt myself shrinking into my seat. Mercifully the bus brakes squeaked and I was able to make my clumsy exit. I walked home with tears stinging my eyes.

The next day I got on the bus and sat next to my friend and we were back to making plans to catch crawdads in the creek that weekend. The harsh words and heat of yesterday’s debate was forgotten as we compared scuffs and scrapes from our most recent bike accidents (that were accidentally on purpose to get the scars that we wore like a badge of honor.)

I still care about politics. But these days I avoid the debates. College was the last time I felt free to engage in the healthy exchange of ideals and positions with anyone outside of my innermost circle.

I’m a liberal who’s lived in the South my whole life. In the Bible Belt.

I’ve had a lifetime of listening to listen to viewpoints I disagree with. And that’s completely fine. In fact, I think it’s been healthy for me. It’s made me realize that sometimes it’s better to just listen. Sometimes I can learn from someone who holds a radically different view from me. It’s shown me that political disagreements are just that. I can have many other more important things in common with someone and care about them even if we disagree politically.

But sometimes I’ve also had to hear things that grated my senses, things that were known falsehoods and sometimes things that  were tinged with racism or homophobia but passed off as political opinion. I usually held my tongue except for the few occasions where I trusted a healthy debate could be had. I sometimes seethed that others could just spout off when I had to stay quiet for the sake of not ruffling feathers, being of minority opinion and all.

I’ve marveled at how freely people would speak their mind, not concerned that they might be speaking to someone who disagreed- not inviting debate or discussion- just spouting off because it feels good to unleash a little political fervor every now and then. I’ve found myself a little jealous of the people I would encounter at school/work/in my neighborhood/on the playground/at the store who felt entitled to go off on a political rant without any concern.

Such is the privilege of living some place where your politics are the widely held ideology. The privilege of majority opinion.

I’ve become an expert at changing the subject. Or smiling politely. Or redirecting a red faced diatribe. Or just calmly walking away because I don’t need to listen to anyone’s one-sided viewpoint when they only wanted an audience, not a discussion.

So when I started this blog three years ago, I vowed to never write about politics. I knew it would only bring drama and that is not what I wanted.

I write about the things that matterto me. My first post was a response to a blogger who slut shamed her son’s social media girl friends. My second post was about a 7 year old girl who got kicked out of her school because she had dreadlocks. And I wrote about grief and life and a random assortment of things. Not political, but sometimes still controversial. And sometimes I get a fierce backlash. Hateful comments. Private messages saying vile things. I have learned to ignore them. I’ve had to delete violent comments attacking me or other readers on my blog. My skin has developed a tough shell.

Writing about the things I care about has caused plenty of drama, even when politics aren’t involved.

I’ve always said that writing about social justice or inequality isn’t political. At least it shouldn’t be. These issues definitely seep into politics sometimes, especially when racism or homophobia or sexism motivates legislation.

But this year, this election, is different. I’m no stranger to my “team” not winning.

This isn’t about liberal vs conservative.

This isn’t Reagan vs Carter.

This isn’t politics as usual.

This is about racism and homophobia and fascism. We are faced for the first time in our political history with someone who threatens everything our country stands for. There is an enormous swell of people, conservative and liberal, politicians and pundits, academics, historians, economists, psychiatrists… who are all ringing the alarm bells.

People who have never come together politically are saying This man is dangerous.

Telling us that this is repeating, eerily repeating, the things said and done in Germany while Hitler was climbing to power. This is not exaggeration. This is not people just offering political opinions. These are people from all walks and all persuasions trying to warn the rest of us that history, the absolute worst of our world’s history, is repeating itself right here, right now, in the United States.

So, yes. I will write about politics this time. Because this time it IS about racism and homophobia and civil liberties and the very life we all know. And because I am still intent on keeping this blog politics free,  I will be publishing political posts on other sites.

This week, I am at the Good Men Project, where I will be appearing weekly as a columnist.  This one is a dating advice piece, having a little bit of fun with a serious issue. More specifically, why you should not date Donald Trump.

I hope you go over there and read it. I hope you like it. If you don’t, that is fine. I am comfortable with people disagreeing with me. I’m kind of used to it. And I don’t mind if you want to have a debate either. As long as tomorrow, when I get on the bus, you and I are still cool.


32 Responses

  1. The Man is dangerous and The Woman is goddess? Just because one person said Hitler , everyone says he is like Hitler. By the way he is thousands time better than disgusting woman. Literally she is like queen of hell. But feminist & lib-retards can’t it. How can they ? Political correctness is their second nature. Listen to the speech he gave at convention. DId you notice cheer for LGBT community in the speech ? At Republican speech , they cheered when he said he will protect LGBT community. That is the kind of man he is. No political bullshit. No appeasing politics. He speaks his heart. He is not fake. On ther hand. Clinton lies like after every second sentence with straight face. I hope liberals realise this before it’s too late.

    1. Yes. Yes he is dangerous. And the false equivalencies between Trump and Clinton are a worn out tactic. He is not just some guy running for president who I disagree with. He is dangerous on a different level from what we’ve seen in the past. And it was not just one person who said “Hitler.” Scholars and experts respected world wide are saying this. People who study history and international affairs. Countries who are our allies are saying they will not allow him in their country. NONE OF THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED BEFORE. This is not Bush vs Gore or Obama vs Romney or ANY OTHER election we’ve ever had.

      Hilary has been the most scrutinized and investigated presidential candidate ever. She has been raked over with a fine tooth comb since the early 90’s. She has been cleared of any wrong doing. You may not like her, I said nothing in this post about voting for her. But I have to say that your use of certain phrases lends me to think that your issue with her is beyond political. “Disgusting woman” “Queen of hell,” and bringing feminists into the argument. Methinks you might have an issue with women. If you don’t, using phrases like that will definitely paint you as a misogynist with anyone you are debating.

      Last, the LGBTQ mentions in Trump’s speech… I would LOVE to believe that he meant that. I actually hope he did. But the RNC platform (which as the candidate he has a big say in) is very clearly anti-LGBTQ. Sadly, Trump is in all likelihood speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Doing one thing and saying another. Approving a platform that is dangerous to the LGBTQ community and offering platitudes in his speech. He changes his tune depending on who he’s speaking with. His inconsistency is the most consistent thing about him. The only thing Trump is loyal to is himself. As are most narcissists. I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt personally with a narcissist in your life (a true, clinical narcissist) but they are insidious, destructive, dangerous people. Trump exhibits all of the classic narcissist traits. People who have worked closely with him, the man who wrote Art of the Deal, as well as respected psychologists have all said he is a classic narcissist.

      One more thing. A healthy debate doesn’t include words like “libtard.”

      1. No. I don’t hate women. On contrary I support men & women equally and like everyone else I would love to see a woman , well deserving one , as a president of USA. My use of words ” Queen of Hell” ” Disgusting” are directed towards Hillary only. And I think , she deserves it. And no she has not been cleared by the law. It is just that FBI is too afraid take any action. When Mr. Trump comes into power , FBI will take care of her case. Imagine another person in place of her , do you think they would have given same soft treatment to him/her. Just because her last name is Clinton , she is treated like she is above law. No one wonder common man having hard time trusting such a crooked system. She is establishment. She is puppet of wall street. Her poor judgement is evident in middle east. You can see my blog , I already said too many times, if you don’t like Trump then vote for Bernie Sanders. But liberals didn’t. Regarding Trump what Pundit says, What Liberal media says I am aware of it. I even saw of CEOs so called “open letter” too. However, given choice between Hilary & Trump , 110 times out of 100 I will vote Mr.Trump. He is different. He is anti-establishment. He loves country. He is patriotic. And more importantly he is not afraid of say a word “Radical Islam” unlike liberals. Ok, no more use of lib-retards word.

        1. You realize that Colin Powell recently released a statement saying that both he and Condoleeza Rice handled their emails in exactly the same way when they were Sec of States? But no one is screaming to lock them up.

          More embassies were attacked under Bush and Reagan. 13 Embassy attacks under Bush, 3 diplomats killed, 22 embassy employees killed. 10 under Reagan. Killed: 1 US Ambassador, 18 CIA officers, 254 Marines. Under Reagan we had Iran Contra. Under Bush II we had outing of CIA agent. No one shouted “Lock him up.”

          Trump has very troubling ties to Russia. Most of his business investors are Russian. (he’s been blackballed by U.S. banks because of his dismal financial record) His campaign manager worked for pro-Putin Pres of Ukraine (who’s since been ousted) And now the DNC emails were hacked by the Russians. Why is that? What motivation would they possibly have to “hurt” Hillary and “help” Trump in this election?

          Trump. A man who has said he would get rid of the Geneva Convention (putting our service men and women and greater risk on the battle field) has said that he “knows more” than the Generals. Has been said to have little to no attention span by people who have worked with him. To be POTUS you need to come into the job ALREADY knowing world affairs. There’s no time for catch up. It’s the most intellectually demanding job on the planet. And we are *this close* to giving it to someone who (by his own words) gets the news from the Internet. I have a teenage son. He will turn 18 two years into a Trump presidency. I am truly fearful of a war. WWIII level war.

          1. I understand your concern. Mr. Trump needs to work little bit on his style & make it more appealing, more presidential. Meanwhile let’s wait & listen what they both have to say at presidential debates and then decide who is more suitable for the job.

    1. You know, I’m a ridiculous optimist. I had this hope that Trump would bring many of us together. That even though we may be traditionally Dem or Rep that we would agree that this is different and scary beyond politics. And actually, I have seen that in real life. I have friends who never agree with me politically, but we agree on not Trump.

    1. Awww, thank you Shari! I would love that too! I can’t tell you how much it means when people tell you that what you wrote appealed to them. It really helps the insecure neurotic writer in me. <3

  2. I really appreciate your sane and intellectual approach in this post.

    I too have very firm opinions on things but I tend to not voice them (either on my blog or verbally) because it is so rare to find people willing to engage in rational discussion. I tire quickly of emotional rants, pointless name calling and political correctness.

    Should you ever want to engage in a stimulating and healthy debate, I will be one to read and try to reply in kind.

    Take care!

    1. Thank you so much Vic! I love a good, healthy debate. The kind that makes you think or rethink your own positions. I abhor the mean spirited and hateful debates that end up in insults. So, yes, I normally just avoid them altogether. The people who’ve known me for decades, old friends and family, are just about the only people I get into political discussions with. We love and know each other enough to not get personal.

      I appreciate you being here. I welcome your thoughts any time, even if you disagree with what I say at some point!

    1. Yes! This is no time for sleepwalking or keeping our heads in the sand! I saw a Tweet that said, “If you ever wondered what you would have done in 1930’s Germany, here’s your chance.” That pretty much summed it up I think.

  3. Your First Grade experience oddly mirrors mine in a way. For a while that year I had to wait for my TV shows when I got home from school (Howdy Doodie, Kookla Fran and Ollie, etc.) because my Mom had something on. It was The Army-McCarthy Hearings. There, i saw my first real bully, a man who, cloaked in political fervor, destroyed people just because he could. I didn’t understand the political issues. I just saw a bad man in action. Later, when we moved to the suburbs from comfortably Democratic Chicago, I ask my Mom why we had an “I Like Ike” sticker on the car when they were clearly going to vote for Stevenson. She said, “Because of where we live.” Now, I see another bad man encouraging others to follow him with the promise he will set them free to follow their worst impulses driven by fear. And, we do not really know what he wants other than to win by any means, by whatever words bring the cheers he feeds on. Yes, that is dangerous.

  4. His speech at the convention was clearly fear-mongering. VERY scary. Yellow journalism and Wall Street advertising at its best. I’ll say one thing for Trump, he knows marketing.

  5. I’ll share my seat in the bus, as long as we don’t have to talk politics. (Unless we are making fun of a certain orange-sponge-faced candidate.)

  6. Thank you for being brave enough to post this! I agree with you in all regards. I am terrified that enough bigots will vote their hate that Trump will win. I heard on NPR today that liberal Democrats tend not to vote. If this is true, then our country and our citizens will pay the price.

  7. I think this is a perceptive, and personal, post. But, I disagree in the context of American history. I can, without much study, identify three cases in which much of the present day poison, or something similar, was a part of American politics.

    1. the controversy over the “corrupt deal” which got J Q Adams elected. It continued into Jackson’s election and to some extent during his Presidency. In fact, the thing (at this point the only thing, though if I think about it perhaps I could come up with something more) he did which benefited the country was to make clear to S Carolina that, should they secede (as they were planning to do), he would personally lead the Federal Army into the state and reverse their choice. He was enough of a wild man (and probably a good enough general, though there are some problems with his behavior) that they took it seriously and reversed course.

    2. the decade or so before the Civil War, in which the vitriol and both rhetorical and real hatred reached levels which we are likewise. Decades of Compromises had put off the collision over slavery, perhaps making it more severe than it might have done otherwise, and the South especially, seeing its control of the national government eroding — both naturally and by deliberate Southern policy, became more and more rabid. Alexander Stephens (gov of Georgia and Confederate VP) Central Statement is appalling to read, and Senator Toombs said much the same if a little more calmly. Recall that Cong Brooks, disliking some statements made during Senate debate by Sen Sumner of Massachusetts, went onto the floor of the Senate, approached the seated and writing (and much older) Sumner from behind and beat him senseless with his cane. He was not stopped, nor censured by the House, nor arrested. He resigned, went home to S Carolina, was reelected to fill the now empty seat, and returned to Congress. He received several hundred canes from admirers (mostly in the South as I understand it) to replace the one with Sumner’s blood and hair on it. Sumner survived, was bedridden, and didn’t return to the Senate for 2 years. Brooks was not arrested, nor charged, nor expelled from the House, nor censured by the same on his return. There were many church denominations which split on the slavery question; the most prominent is the Southern Baptists. It took the Civil Wat to break the logjam of southern blockage at the national level. And it took a corrupt deal between the Republicans (with the connivance of Supreme Court Justices, and the states of Florida (!) and Louisiana) to award the Hayes Tilden election to Republican Hayes, in return for a commitment to let the South (meaning the well to do and otherwise powerful) run its own affairs. This was the beginning of the Jim Crow laws and such, approved by the Court in Plessey v Ferguson.

    3. the poisonous movements in the interwar period here as evidenced by such as Father Coughlin (the first of the radio right), perhaps forced during the 30s by the terrible economic conditions, but certainly beginning at least with the Palmer Raids (during Wilson’s incapacity) — Jedgar got his start at the Justice Department with them, and with Pres Hoover’s mass deportations (largely in the west and to Mexico) — many American Citizens were in the thousands and thousands deported. Henry Ford’s newspaper in Dearborn publication of the grossest anti Semitic garbage (for which he was sued and forced to recant and pay damages!!) and so on. The rise of red baiting at the end of the war (McCarthy was a prominent but largely incompetent and hard drinking blowhard — see the comment above for a child’s perspective) and that episode was taken to heart by many. Victor Navsky’s book on the blacklisting should be an eyeopener. To the extent any of the scandal / blackmail sheets (and McCarthy) had any facts, they were largely from jedgar under the table. Nixon and his crew got their start in S Cal politics in this period, and Tricky became famous for “uncovering” the Pumpkin Papers. His influence has extended long past his death. See Mayer’s The Dark Side for its perfusion of the W White House and government. The John Birch Society, about as wild in spraying accusation and evil conspiracy around as anyone or group began in this period as well; and found some big money to support them amongst the newish rich (oil and gas mostly it seems). And note that Roger Ailes got his start in politics as Nixon’s TV image guy, and when Murdoch was willing to fund him, got Fox News up and going and has continued until now, to pit the mainstream media (i.e., everyone else) against Fox (the only source of truth and balance), thus poisoning the very fount of information available to the citizenry.

    Nevertheless, your sense of something uniquely dangerous in the rise of Trump and his influence is well taken. Hitler was innovative: he was the first politician to use airplanes to travel, and the first to rely heavily on broadcasting to reach voters and others. I think Trump is likewise innovative and for similar reasons. He can casue so many controversies so quickly that it is impossible for the more responsible (media or not) to keep up. It is in some sense more and faster, what the politics of personal destruction (pioneered by the right, by Nixon and crew, and by the Reagan’s spin meisters, and more recently by Rush and the talk radio folks, and Ailes’ version of news at Fox).

    We do not know whether this content free but dramatic (the definition of reality shows, as there isn’t even a comedy / drama involved) demagoguery will be sufficient to bamboozle the voting public. And, because I agree that Trump’s policies — to the extent they can be discerned behind the bombast and narcissism — would be bad on toast from any general welfare (see the Preamble to the Constitution) consideration for this country and for the world too. No wonder he admires Putin, also a bombastic strong man who acts without much concern for Russian welfare or world welfare.

  8. Gretchen this is a great post! It was about 10 years ago, I received one of those polling calls asking questions about which side of the political line I was on. One question that struck me as funny was “do you think the candidates are honest?” I couldn’t help but laugh… my response was that no candidate is honest, at least not completely.

    Here is what I think… I am not pleased with either candidate. Trump has spent his entire campaign insulting the vast majority of the American people. He rarely takes a stance on important issues besides immigration and terrorism. Women’s rights, education, foreign relations, mental health, etc. One minute he supports it and the next he has no clue. He makes blanket statements about the poor, race relations, Muslims, and women. He does not support peaceful protestors at his rallies, but instead has them thrown out. I truly believe that if he is elected, countries that have been our allies will leave our sides. I understand making the focus on our country first, but making sure our allies are happy and safe is just as important. When George Jr. was running for president the first time, his platform was similar… telling us that his main focus was making our country great and that foreign relations would be pushed down on the list of importance. Than 9/11 happened and he had no choice but to deal with our foreign friends. My fear is that these terrorist groups are watching Trump and crossing their fingers that he is elected. His ego, I believe, could send us into war on our own soil.

    As for Clinton, I do not trust her either, however her relationships with other countries makes her more qualified. Do I think she lied about the emails… yes! However, show me a candidate that has not lied… Not that it makes it okay, but her experience and knowledge of the inner workings of our government gives her a leg up. She also takes a stance on several issues, which tend to side more towards my beliefs, even though I am an independent.

    Just one more thought: Trump claimed he will protect the LGBTQ community, but never said how. I would like to know what that protection consists of.

  9. My sweet, sweet friend. As ever, I’m going to stand behind my “if you want my opinion, Gretchen has it” card.

    Why can’t YOU run for prez?

    I’m trying to understand the people who support him, but so far the one person I’ve tried to engage doesn’t seem to want to explain. And others seem a bit razzy for me to try. But I want to listen. I want to understand the appeal (beyond guns and charisma) and the WHY?!

    I also worry for my people, even if Trump says he’s in support.

  10. As a fellow-blogger who writes primarily about politics, global affairs and social injustices, I have to tell you that I LOVE both your post and your article on the Good Men Project! Both are great pieces! Would you mind if I re-blog this post? Keep up the great work!

  11. Writing from the UK. I take an interest in US politics.
    I agree with Anonymous as to the parallels with the 1850s. The distressing aspect is the manner in which rhetorical differences and simplistic notions of how to run a complex and large nation have resulted in a legislative log jam in which the Art of Compromise has been ignored.
    Ironically one of the most derided presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson was the skilful operator who broke one in the 1960s to move social & civil rights legislation through. Of course he was a very experienced and tough political animal.
    Donald Trump is a business man. With no experience of the complexities and nuances of the operation of your federal government, or the external influences which can affect that operation.
    If he is voted into Office, I suspect he will find himself faced with a process which will not react to simple bluster and bullying, nor will he find all of his current republican supporters so amenable once it comes down to the day-to-day grind. (All politics is local- I believe is the quote). Nor will he find it easy to deal with the entrenched holders of high office in the military, treasury or intelligence services who are not voted into office.
    To return to Johnson, he fell to hubris over Vietnam and he knew how to play the game.
    Trump may become President. Trump may also become seen as an ‘Old Fuss and Feathers’ sort. (Although the analogy with Wingfield Scott is not a true one as it was his ‘Anaconda Plan’ which eventually proved successful in the American Civil War).
    In short Trump may be only be able to bluster.

  12. Thank you for posting my thoughts on the subject. I had a similar experience when I was a child ‘voting’ in elementary school. I was the only 5th grader who voted for Henry Ford against Jimmy Carter. (I lived in Michigan and so was voting for ‘our’ candidate, was my entire reasoning.) It certainly is hard to hold a minority opinion–regardless of how tenuously based, in that instance. I find political discussions daunting and exhausting. But, I also believe if we say nothing, do nothing in the face of this year’s election–we deserve the president we get.

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