A Tribute to the Commander-in-Thief

I was listening to the news on Wild102 out of Roseau recently and heard that the Social Security Administration announced a cost-of-living adjustment that will increase the average monthly check for social security recipients by $39 per month. An elderly lady was interviewed, and she was excited about the news, though she admitted most of the increase would likely go towards her husband’s medical care.

I felt the tears welling up with the unfairness of it all. So many people are barely getting by.

And yet … the entire country glossed over a critical tidbit in the news cycle a couple weeks back. Airtight evidence revealed that Trump and his family have defrauded the US government of more that $500 million in taxes over the years.

Half a BILLION dollars.

Stolen from our veterans, our teachers, our elderly, our kids.

And you and me? We had to make up for that $500 million that the Trump family didn’t pay. We paid what they wouldn’t, because we’re honest, hard-working folk, and we have higher expectations for ourselves than we do for the man 49% of us put in the White House.

Our grandparents get a $39/month raise and they are excited.

Our president and his family stole $500 million and we don’t blink an eye. In fact, based on the 2016 election, it’s likely that more than half of the people eligible for that $39/month boost will vote for Trump again.

Our kids have to sell frozen food, raffle tickets and magazines to participate in after-school activities. Our local small businesses pony up to sponsor the schools in myriad ways. Our teachers supply their classrooms with countless items out of their own pockets. Our farmers are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate. Our veterans are languishing in under-funded mental health programs. Our local seniors sell lefse to put a new roof on their senior center. The Meals-on-Wheels programs get stretched ever tighter every year. Even our Angle fire department had young girls painting faces to help them raise money for a new fire garage.

But our president and his family steals $500 million from all of us, and our community still lines up for their Trump 2020 bumper sticker.

He’s a liar. He’s a cheat. And he’s a thief.

Half a BILLION dollars.

He couldn’t name one single Bible verse when asked. He made fun of a reporter with physical disabilities. He promised that children separated from their parents at the border would be reunited by July 19, but he jets around to political rallies spewing his hate-language to his worshiping flock all while the number of babies behind bars continues to rise. His tariffs will cost American auto-maker Ford over $1B in profits resulting in 24,000 people losing their jobs. His trade negotiations have hurt farmers across the country so drastically, he had to implement a $12B aid package.

Many families in our area, including mine, have loved ones helping with the seasonal sugar beet harvest in western MN. They work away from home for 12-hour shifts in cold and dirty conditions to make an extra bit of money for the coming winter.

And most of them vote for a man who stole $500 million dollars from us.

He stole from you and me.

He stole from my 86-year old grandmother who still works 10-12 hour days running her resort.

He stole from my daughter who goes to the last one-room public school house in Minnesota which has had to scrape and save and beg and plead for recent funding to finally make changes to the aging structure.

He stole from my sister’s father-in-law who should have had world-class veteran’s care as he bravely fought and lost to cancer.

I have no patience for a thief and a liar, and you shouldn’t either.

When I hear an elderly woman tickled pink about $39 extra a month from a standard-of-living increase and juxtapose that against the proven fact that Trump stole half a billion dollars from us, first I get sad and then I get angry. He doesn’t deserve the support of the hardest working people in this country. He doesn’t deserve my family and neighbors sporting his name or his slogans on their beat-up vehicles. He doesn’t deserve your campaign contribution pennies.

He does not deserve you. You are good people. And he is not.

He steals from you. You are honest people. And he is not.

He sits in his golden tower or at his green golf courses with ocean views or behind the Oval Office desk that has represented the honor and dignity of our nation for centuries, and he laughs at you.

Don’t give him anything else to laugh at. And don’t let him turn you into another weapon in his arsenal.

Remember that $39/month vs. the $500 million he stole.

Remember.

He does not deserve you.

(Published in the October 16th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)

Letter to the Editor – October 2

What an utter surprise and (selfish) delight to read in this week’s local small-town newspaper a letter supporting similar beliefs to mine! We are few and far between, we blue progressives, in this land of vocal and volatile Trump supporters.  And no where could feel more divided than the rural locale. At least that’s my opinion and perspective of the moment.  Her paragraph “I am not afraid…” literally gave me goosebumps. Continue reading “Letter to the Editor – October 2”

Left-handed Lives Matter

My guy and I got into an argument at the breakfast table early one morning. I had asked the four-year-old at the table to please use her fork. She scrunched up her nose at me, picked the fork up with her un-practiced left hand and accidentally flipped scrambled eggs everywhere. “Sweetie, try using your other hand,” I suggested.

Since birth, she’s shown predominantly right-handed tendencies. I’m left-handed, and while it would have tickled my lefty-bone for her to have been also, I’m quite happy that she won’t have to deal with being left-handed in a right-handed world.

“Life is just easier if you’re right-handed,” I said nonchalantly while cleaning up scrambled eggs. I honestly believed the entire human species, or at least the people at the breakfast table, would concur disinterestedly.

Surprise. No.

My normally agreeable, right-handed partner became immediately defensive, and we had a heated volley with a little blonde referee interjecting as she could:

“Mama, don’t be mean to my papa.

“Papa, don’t yell at my mama.

“We’re not supposed to be loud at the dinner table.”

I had to stop and smile at that one; she still messes up the names of meals.

It wasn’t an ugly fight, more of a passionate debate. I was stunned to the point of silence that a right-hander would try to tell me what it was like to be a left-hander. (“Right-splaining?”) He doesn’t believe there’s any real difference or hardships, and as proof, he knows other left-handers who have never complained. In essence, he was calling me a whiner, a pessimist, and overly-dramatic. He assumed it must simply be my negativity and propensity to play the victim while blaming others that made me believe life was so much harder for lefties.

Of course, I hadn’t said that life was “so much harder”, but when I suggested righties might have it easier, that is what he heard.

Right-handed privilege may seem paltry, but it is in fact real. Lefties deal with uncomfortable school desks, unavailable or more expensive sporting equipment, our dominant hands being “unclean” in certain cultures, not to mention the countless everyday items built specifically for right-handers that often cause accidents and even death for lefties attempting to adapt. Lefties don’t live as long for this exact reason. Approximately one in ten people is left-handed; we are not a mass market. But our lives still matter, don’t they?

After the exchange ended, I felt slyly excited about what I had just witnessed. This was a cut and dry case of a societal privilege so ingrained that it had become invisible to someone who benefited from said privilege. And when it was called out, the privileged one basically exploded in defensiveness, blaming the minority who doesn’t benefit from said privilege for any discrimination they might face. My character, my beliefs and whole way of being were called into question simply because I dared to suggest he might have it a little bit easier.

See where I’m going with this?

We’re hearing a lot more about “privilege” these days…male privilege, white privilege, Christian privilege, heterosexual privilege, cisgender privilege, and so on. None of these ideas are new, of course; it’s just that people of all walks of life are finally finding their voices and a more equitable platform on which to be heard.

But in large part, the comfortable majorities don’t like to talk about these kinds of topics. I get it. Hearing that others think we come from privilege makes us feel uncomfortable. We love our cozy bubbles and if we’re forced to look at those who aren’t so cozy, then darn it, we don’t feel as good about our cozy bubble anymore. We’re quick to pipe up about our tough lives while discounting the hardships of others. We all want the disadvantages we face to be recognized.

In truth, everyone falls somewhere along the broad spectrum of privilege, and frankly, it’s time to listen with compassion to those who don’t benefit where we do. On all fronts.

Acknowledging that I benefit from white privilege makes me feel, well, white. I haven’t had to “feel” my skin color before, and that’s exactly what privilege is. Simply being aware helps me see that there are a million examples throughout daily life where someone with a different skin tone would very much feel “not white”, not to mention be faced with pure discrimination. Especially now in the “get out of my country” Trump-era.

Speaking of male privilege, I am not male. Every single day I feel, in some minor or major way, the disadvantages of being female. This is not self-pity; I absolutely love being a woman. An unbroken woman has the fire and fight of a roaring lioness, beautiful in her power and cunning. Yet, undomesticated women are often vilified in their freedom, in their audacity to lead. They are torn down with a level of hate and vitriol male leaders simply don’t experience. (By the by, did you know that some research shows it is actually the alpha female who is the true leader of wolf packs observed in the wild?)

Women are turned into objects, possessions, and domestic role-fillers. We are diminished, discounted, and passed-over in ways that men will never have to worry about. We are abused, assaulted and killed by those closest to us in numbers men will never match.

The patriarchy is very real and often overwhelming in both its overt and invisible oppressiveness.

If you’re dismissive of this idea right away, slow down and ask yourself why you might be resistant. If it’s true for some, does that make it generally true or generally false? Remember the Women’s March earlier this year? My Facebook feed was full of derogatory comments from both men and women who were mistaking benevolent sexism for gender equality. Putting a positive yet patronizing spin on how women are treated as compared to men still points to privilege.

The idea of Christian privilege is sure to set some of us off like errant bottle rockets in a dry field. Mind you, I’m not saying you don’t have it rough, but faith-based persecution does not disprove Christian privilege. Your religion gets away with making laws out of your beliefs while other religions do not have that luxury. You get your religious holidays off, while Jews, Muslims and basically all other religions don’t. Your places of worship (except black churches) don’t get bombed, set on fire, surrounded by people openly carrying guns, and many other forms of targeted hate. Your religion isn’t seen as radical or inferior by school teachers who often openly normalize and subtly preach their own. You aren’t viewed by the general public as needing to be saved.

Before you fire off another Letter to the Editor cancelling your subscription because some woman dared to have an opinion, please know that I’m not saying it is wrong or bad to have privilege. All I’m saying is that life would be easier if you’re a right-handed straight white male who calls himself a Christian. Wouldn’t we live in a better world if we recognized our privilege and helped make it easier for those who don’t benefit where we do?

Perhaps you could let yourself sit in your discomfort for a little bit. Pray, maybe. At least just feel it. Hopefully own it. The unprivileged have to. Every day of their lives.

Or, you can bash about angrily, displaying your fragility for all to see, railing against the inevitable tides of positive change all these types of conversations point to. We all have a choice.

As for my family and me, we’re uncomfortable a lot. And that’s perfect; we want to grow in love and compassion. Even though it’s still a right-handed house, in doing research for this column, I learned that female cats are largely left-handed and since we have two, lefties are now the majority. Take that.

(Published in the April 2nd issue of the Warroad Pioneer. 120th Year, Issue 34)