Tearing Away the Fabric of Courtesy

The loss of civility in the USA is real and concrete and will worsen unless Donald J. Trump and his administration seek to lower the temperature of the country. I do not see evidence of that happening so far.

Being civil to each other is the fundamental principle of courtesy which for years now has been a fabric that is stretched and threadbare, now to the point of tearing. The political election and most prominently pushed through the threadbare fabric of politeness we held dear. Under the theme of political correctness, the veil is torn and the ugliness it hid or held back is now coming forth.

Examples of this ugliness are everywhere and undeniable, to everyone except the new president-elect and his administration. They do not care that the people of this country are free now to express prejudice. That discourtesy towards others based on differences is now acceptable behavior.

A white man with a history if racial prejudice verbally attacks a woman working at Starbucks.


A group of middle school students chant, “Build that wall.”


Any personally I was called “white boy” outside Safeway just yesterday but a triad of young black men. That hasn’t happened to me since I was in Richmond working as a educator.

The question is where does the lack of political correctness and civility lead us?

I was discriminated against as a white man in Richmond. When cuts were to be made in administration I was cut in favor of a black woman with less qualifications, except that she was black. This was not a figment of my imagination, it was real. I was told directly but the Assistant Superintendent and Director of Personnel that “White males are not in demand in the inner city.” One of these women was white and the other one was black. I was also told that my complaint about this treatment was “whiny”. So I took myself to an area where white males were in demand, a mostly white area of the state.

I am sure that black people would say, “Welcome to my life.”  A black person has a much narrower geographic option if in fact the statement that, “Black employees are not in demand here,” is a reality, if unspoken.

The anger about the discrimination I experience was real. I was angry that my skin color determined by employment status. But I remained polite. My anger didn’t go away quickly from that single incident but I did not take it out on other people. It is true that I looked a black people differently because I was surprised that having experienced so much discrimination that they would be to blatant about offering it up to me. I learned that discrimination is not a one way street.

But had learned that the way through discrimination was not to confront it with impolite language. It was to build relationships that were founded on politeness and courtesy. I knew from my years in Richmond that the way we speak to each other while we work through our anger, while we deal with our inner demons of bias, and while we suppress the impulses that do not represent who we want to be, is courtesy. It is politeness. It is political correctness.

I see politeness as a veneer that enables people to open conversation and conduct their lives in business, religion, and community. Courtesy is a form of patience that acknowledges that we may not always be the person we hope to be, the person we think we will become if we only suppress uglier feelings until they pass, or are replaced by new realities.

Has politeness become seen as an unnecessary custom that suppresses real feelings that people now feel the need and right to express? Perhaps courtesy is not to be replaced with coarse, direct expression of all prejudicial feelings and opinions. Perhaps we’ve lost patience with being nice to each other and somehow feel that the ugly side isn’t wrong and should be on full display.

I think we are in a dangerous time when disagreements often turn violent, and when violence often escalates beyond all reason in no small part due to the proliferation of guns.

I call on President-elect Trump to establish a norm of courtesy before it is lost, and the loss of self-control is out-of-control and leads to total disintegration of the fragile fabric of this society.

Electing a John Wayne Meme

I’m still trying to rationalize the election and why so many people, decent people, kind people, moral people, could cast a vote for Donald Trump who showed in so many ways that he is none of those things. All we know about him really is what came out of his mouth which at times was vulgar and all the rest (no need to rehash what didn’t ultimately matter).


I think this election is a hearkening back. I miss the 1960’s in terms of my personal life. I miss the time in my life before my parents divorce. That was a time when life was orderly. Things were OK and others were not and there were clear lines on the surface of things that for a kid made us all feel safe, that the world was understandable place with rules and norms and a way of doing things that was reassuring rather than jarring.

Enter the late sixities, well not that late in retrospect, before JFK’s assassination was the first seismic jolt to the normalcy of our little WASP world in the form of the Cuban Missile crisis, then the assassinations, civil rights, Vietnam.

Some memes stand out to me from those days and perhaps one of the central ones was the western. Memes for you oldsters out there my age and older is defined below.

(accessed on 11/13/2016 – http://www.urbandictionary.com)

1 : an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media)

2 : a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable

Westerns were central to who men wanted to be back in the sixties. As a little boy we all had our cowboy boots, our hats, our die cast cap pistols and leather holsters that we used to shoot each other on the suburban sidewalks.

Media portrayed the western as a glorified time of American manhood. John Wayne, the Lone Ranger, Marshall Dillon of Gunsmoke, Ben Cartwright of Bonanza, Crocodile Dundee, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon) are a few of the patriarchal characters that we all believed our Dads to be, or wished they were.

Us little kids loved those men. They were strong, tough, fair, kind, tender, and they always won. (remember win, win, win until you’re tired of winning).

Ronald Reagan understood the meme before meme became a word. Donald Trump understands the meme today; hell, even Putin understands the meme riding shirtless on horses. Hillary couldn’t compete with John Wayne. She raised her voice in rallies and sounded like my Mom late at night when I broke curfew. John Wayne wouldn’t raise his voice, he’d lower it.

For all the young, tech-savvy people in the Clinton campaign, they should have hired an older guy like me to advise them. They needed to pop the meme bubble of Donald Trump. Clinton needed to have her moment denouncing the meme, “I knew John Wayne and you’re no John Wayne.”

Trump may or may not be John Wayne but the older white people who voted for him wanted a Clint Eastwood as president. In this era of fear of everything from radicals and the rise of foreign powers to the internal fight from “crumbling” religious establishments, white people missed their John Wayne meme. There is no John Wayne and the attempt to replace it in the media with the likes of Katniss Everdeen hasn’t taken hold yet, at least not with males and older white Americans. A teenage, female John Wayne isn’t convincing to those of us who watched our heroes punch out a bad guy. Girls are who our memes protected.

Bullying as a national topic of concern today is a reinforcing of the meme, it reinforced the need for a Trump who many people saw not as a bully but as an anti-bully. Remember the political correctness thing, he was not a bully but a courageous truth teller who stood up to media bullies and foreign bullies and cultural bullies. The western meme says you step up to the bully and punch them in the nose and that is what Trump did. It also says that a bully on the right side, is not a bully at all but a hero. (topic for a future post) Facing a down a bully you don’t run crying to mom, you sure as heck don’t run crying to dad. You step up and throw the first punch and take your licks.

I think Clinton’s Campaign Team missed some key points in this election.

  1. There were not enough millennials willing to vote to elect her.
  2. People feel bullied by the changes, the shootings, the bombings, the beheading. And Donald stepped up and said, “I’m your huckleberry”.
  3. Clinton is not a male archetype and she failed to convince old white guys she could go toe-to-toe with Trump/Putin/Jinping.

Given the fact that enough older white people and perhaps younger white people wanted a John Wayne meme for president means there was no way a grandma playing the woman card could win without all the votes of people who did not grow up with the John Wayne meme.

I tend to think millennials sunk her ship a lot more purposefully than Comey did but in the end I think election of a comforting, if flawed, patriarch in the face of all the horror we’ve seen in the world over the past eight years should not be a surprise and perhaps, unlike Mike Dukakis, Hillary needed to climb into a tank and fire off a few rounds.

Who the Hell Voted For Trump?

Trump won. I can’t believe that almost half the voters in America chose him. Even in liberal California, one in three voters cast their vote for Trump. I’ve been noodling this ever since the results came in, much like the majority of voters in the election.

Since the election, I find myself passing other middle-aged white people and looking them in the eye, and they look back at me, and I think I can read their mind, are you a Trump voter? We all want to know who voted for him, we want to understand. It would really help me if they’d just wear their red hats in public.

I have to confess that there is some small part of me that feels perversely comforted by the thought of Trump in the White House, some part of the white male bias in me thinks Trump kind of gets what I get, that we’re on the same team, which is a totally unexpected and aberrant feeling and hits my stomach like a bout of food poisoning coming on.

As I walked this fine fall day through the falling leaves under blue skies and cool temperatures, I wondered who among my fellow walkers in the Farmer’s Market voted for Trump, and WHY.

Here is where my mind went.

  1. Bernie Voters Did Not Vote for Trump, They Pushed Their Parents into Voting for Him

I keep hearing pundits saying that Bernie’s people wanted change since Bernie was out, they voted for Trump instead. While there may be a few schizophrenic anarchists who could justify voting for a candidate that is the polar opposite of Sanders, I sincerely doubt that many of Bernie’s younger voters cast a vote for Trump. The pundits claim this is what happened but I doubt it. What makes more sense to me is that independent voters, white middle class voters, were pushed toward Trump because of Bernie’s positions and Bernie’s impact on Hillary’s positions. Bernie pushed a socialist agenda, some of which Hillary was forced to parrot in order to try to hang on to the Bernie voters. She was forced left, toward adopting some of Bernie’s positions.

I was turned off by Bernie and his gimme generation followers. I think a lot of older voters were turned off and disgusted by the freebie campaign of Bernie Sanders. Boomers have been on this earth too long to think that anyone deserves a free ride, to college, to health care, to anywhere. We went to college and we paid for it, or our parents paid for it, and it was supported by government but there was no expectation that it would be free, that it was a right. Boomers believe you have to work for what you want. The younger generation seems to want it all, now, and they think they deserve it at no cost. In the face of a Democratic party that seems to value the millennial vote more than sound economic policy, I think a lot of older people were pushed to hold their noses and vote Trump.

  1. Boomers Want Trump as Millenial Daddy

The reaction to Trump’s election is like a nation-wide millennial temper tantrum. Not too unlike their reaction to Bernie losing the nomination if you recall the convention tantrum. Millenials think they deserve to have everything their way, including the election, and NOW! Well our Democracy doesn’t work that way so they can march and make signs and make noise and vandalize, but they can’t have the election their way. They’ll have to work for it over the next four years, they have to get off their asses and vote when the next election happens, they have to donate time and money, volunteer, and know what they stand for and why it’s good for the country, not only for themselves.

  1. Boomers Want Monsignor Trump

On the other side of the fence, I see a generation that raised kids without church, and so millennials lack an internal moral code to live by and to guide their decisions and view of the world. The millennial moral code is me, me, me and to hell with everyone else. It is obvious in the way they tune in to their phones and tune out the world, their social ineptitude reflecting lack of empathy, their inability to carry on a conversation with adults. Their helicopter parents made them think that they deserve to be catered to in every moment of every day and it starts in the back seat with the video playing. Entertain me, please me, gimme, gimme, gimme.

  1. Boomers Want John Wayne Trump

The boomers were the me first generation and they raised their kids to as the gimme generation. Baby boomers wanted to get what they wanted when their time at the front of the line came to them, their children think standing in line is annoyingly anachronistic and disrespectful of their entitlement because they deserve to be first, they are owed the fast pass as Disneyland.

Now millennials are out of the house and out of control and boomer parents don’t like it. They need someone to discipline their kids.

It is possible that part of the boomer vote against Bernie’s millennials, the “Occupy crowd”, was a ceding of moral authority they never asserted with their kids. They want Trump to be the strong man, the Cesar, the Gladiator, the John Wayne. Trump will whip these little nose pickers into shape.

Trump will put millenials in the army that he’s going to grow by 70,000. Boomers want Daddy Trump to teach their kids what is important in America discipline, ambition, male dominance. Boomers want Trump to be their kid’s generalissimo, their priest and holy father, he will be their chaplain and father superior.

That is what I thought about as I eyed, and others eyed me, with suspicion the middle-aged people among the crowd. Who are the traitors among us I could hear them thinking? Or maybe I was projecting.

Are my thoughts right or wrong? Am I too harsh on millennials lumping them all into one deplorable socialist basket? Probably.

But if I wasn’t just on an apple fritter hallucination while I walked today, then perhaps Trump’s election makes a little more sense, even if I don’t find it any less unsettling.


Invitation to Lead by Lies

I watched the election since Donald Trump entered the race and I wondered at how Republicans could accept that he lies, constantly. I don’t appreciate or trust people who lie to me. But the Trump GOP supporters appear to eat it up.

I confronted one about a lie on Twitter and when I had him cornered and he couldn’t deny that Trump had lied his response was, “I don’t care that he lies.”

Last night on the news I watched Obama at a rally in North Carolina. A protester was ushered out carrying his Trump sign and jeered by the crowd. Obama stopped everyone. He told everyone to show respect for the man because he had served in the military, that he was expressing his right to free speech, that he was elderly and that they should all respect their elders.

Then I saw Trump speaking to a crowd about the incident at a rally somewhere. His description of Obama’s response to the protester was that Obama had yelled at the man. He told the crowd they won’t believe it when they see it. His GOP supporters cheered and jeered and he egged them on. All with a lie, a horrible, obvious, insidious lie. He said the President did something that he did not, in fact what Trump told them was exactly opposite of what Obama did.

Is there a lie that will cause Trump’s Republican supporters to stop in their tracks and say, “Holy shit he thinks I am stupid!” is there a lie that would force then to look in the mirror and ask, “If he tells such obvious lies to me now, why would he stop when he becomes president?” And if he’s willing to tell such easily disproved lies that try to tear down the character of people who oppose him, and if his staff and surrogates are so willing to support his lies to tear down other people, then what will the country become if Trump is president? How will he govern if his key strategy is to lie and destroy people who oppose his views? Isn’t that the strategy of a dictator? Isn’t that what leaders of the worst world governments do?

Is there a lie that breaks the camel’s back? It is after months and months and months of blatant lying, a question that haunts me and makes me fearful for our country. I was taught at University that people have the government they deserve. Perhaps a Trump government of lies is what we deserve and if it is, woe to us all.