Just My Opinion...

 Deconstructing Donald
As someone who likes to think of himself as a politically middle of the road moderate kind of a guy, I am dumbfounded by the unhealthy divide that has developed in this country. I mean Democrats and Republicans have always disagreed on a few key issues but we always shared a common ground that we just wanted what we felt was best for the country. And if you think about it, this is a country who’s very foundation was built on political compromise. Maybe things did not change quickly but inch by inch, by having thoughtful debate and compromise when one side made a stronger case, we moved a little but closer towards a better country for everyone.  

 In a nutshell, that sums up the great American experiment the founding fathers wisely thought up.  

 But this experiment only works if both sides enter the debate in good faith. That they would listen to arguments with an open head and heart and decide while doing their best to represent and inform the people who voted those officials into office. 
With this in mind, can we all agree that politics… Democrats, Republicans, whatever… are really screwed up today. 
Feels good to agree about something, right? 
I had a civil but short conversation with a Republican friend of mine the other day. He expressed concerns about the strange turn the Democrat Party had taken and how he was dumbfounded how people could fall for all the corruption and lies and thats why he was voting for Trump again.  Which I found bizarre because I thought the exact same thing about the Republicans and those same things were basically the reasons I was voting for Biden!  How was that even possible?  How could we be diametrically apart but have identical feelings about our contempt for each other’s political choices? 
Ok, here is where we are probably going to part ways though. But in the spirit of America and what our founding fathers wanted, please continue reading.
While the Republicans brought a stonewall, do-nothing form of politics to a new low level during the previous President’s terms. And the Democrats can only seem to offer up people from the same very small stale pool of candidates to run for President despite everyone in the world calling out for new ideas, that was the formula that allowed Donald Trump to slither out of the world of swindling real estate sales, questionable deals with Russian mobsters and television game show hosting into the even stickier slimier mud of Washington politics. 

 Other minor celebrities had risen up to become mostly harmless politicians, so what did we have to lose by voting Trump into office? After all, the government runs itself because it’s filled with competent people in support positions so all the President really needs to be is a hand-shaking, baby-squeezing, campaign machine. Right? 

 But what if that mostly harmless game show host ended up firing or offending all the skilled professionals in those vital support roles and replaced them with yes-men, family members and people with nothing but bilking and dismantling the system in mind?
Well, welcome to the world of Trump.
There is a reason job-one for Trump was to start lying and calling the press the real liars. Who could forget Inauguration Day where the turn out to welcome the new President was a fraction of the crowds that had showed up for previous Presidents? Yet Trump had his Press Secretary boldly announce the plaza had never hosted so many people. Ever. That was the start of so many lies coming from that podium and the President via his mouth and the previously teenage girl gossip platform Twitter; His preferred pulpit for revealing all his “kingly” thoughts. So many lies. So many lies that he actually wore out press secretaries and had to replace them every few months. Kind of like we should all replace air filters regularly.
The problem is, this epic shit storm of lies… Provable, stupid, blatant, lies… caused the press to misstep. How does anyone clearly report anything about Trump when he says stupid things with the volume of a firehose?
And this never-ending flood of mistruths confuses everyone. While we’re all calling “bullshit” about his claims to protect Social Security, he has already moved onto lying about the severity of the global pandemic. While we’re fact checking that he has started bragging about this being the best economy in US History. But as we’re pointing out historic unemployment, he has moved onto claiming there are 300 miles complete of his border wall and Mexico is paying for it. In that blizzard of misinformation the press did make a few mistakes which gave a little credibility to his whole “fake news” agenda. None of us can keep up with this prolific lie machine and the sad fact of the matter is we never had to before. Oh I am not saying all politicians before Trump have been saints. That would be a lie in itself. But the honorable position of the Presidency used to demand a certain level of respect. Trump has thrown that out the window. There is no world leader that respects the US Presidency these days. Oh they fear him as a proven loose cannon who has access to nuclear launch codes. We should all be losing sleep about that. But aside from that he has become a global punch line. Yet one side thinks Trump is an amazing leader and the best president ever, while Progressives see he has us all on a ruinous path to a dictatorship and the end of America as we know it.
How did we get here? How did we become a nation so divided? How did we get to where Trump supporters refuse to listen to main stream news reporting in favor of wild and frankly insane conspiracy theories demonizing Democrats as baby killing enemies of the state rather than the peaceful advisories that are just trying to give people free healthcare and education? I have given this a lot of thought. And I think the blame lies firmly on FOX News. Well the partnership that exists between the Conservatives and that broadcasting media giant. 
Back in the 90s FOX News was kind of a fly-by channel. The broadcast networks were still where most people got their nightly news but CNN had distinguished itself during the first Gulf War. This was the first war where we could watch it like a football game playing out 24-7 on television. Reporters and cameras were embedded with the troops and we were brought right into the battles. It was a boom to cable news. Viewership skyrocketed. 
After the war subsided lots of questions came out that were skeptical of the Republican Party, those in charge of waging the war and the reasons for America’s participation. There were some embarrassing revelations discovered by investigative reporters and George Bush Sr. and Republicans were forced to answer a lot of uncomfortable questions. Conservatives got more and more defensive of their actions with the media.
When 9/11 occurred and war was declared on Afghanistan and Iraq and immediately the press noticed that none of the hijackers were actually from Iraq, the Bush Jr. administration sought early to control the narrative. Thus better access was granted to Conservative slanted FOX News. While other networks complained about access, FOX News was granted a front row seat to the front line units. And this meant they were getting more interesting exclusives to report. This drove up viewership and made FOX News a cable powerhouse with more viewers than they ever had before. FOX news was always conservative leaning, but I assume they truly sold their soul to the Republican Party to get expanded access during the wars and they have never stopped being a mostly unapologetic mouthpiece for the Conservative agenda ever since. 
This political split offered something we had never seen before in American media (Well it was brewing in AM conservative radio too but FOX main-streamed the content). They offered a second flavor of news. There was the standardized who, what, where and when type of stoic reporting offered by the major network newscasts. Maybe once a week or so they would allow their anchors to express an opinion which often reflected a moralistic correctness of the times. FOX flipped the formula. They offered a commentary heavy narrative where actual news reporting took a back seat to political spin. In effect, offering an alternative narrative to the truth. Or at the very least a Conservative spiked offering based on what might really be happening in the world. This split was the small crack in the foundation of our society, what caused the chasm where we are today?
Social media. 
The same programming algorithm that feeds you all the puppy gifs and TikTok dancing videos you can stand is the same mechanism that notices you were shopping for a new spatula on Amazon and starts to feed you a strange amount of spatula advertising wherever you go on the net. That algorithm also starts to learn your political affiliations and how you feel about vaccines. It takes note of the posts you post, the posts you share and it decides other related posts and videos you might like. The problem with this is that the computer is not one of your friends though you might think friends are the only people you really interact with on most social platforms. It is assembling a profile of you based on what you show interest in. Right or wrong. It continues to feed you what it thinks you should know. It groups you with people with whom it thinks you have commonality. Should you really be identified by the things you buy, the things you read, and the people with whom you associate? Does that make up the entirety of who you are? I hope not. But the algorithm doesn’t really give you that choice. It feeds you what it thinks you want to know and it associates you with the people it thinks you want to know. And in doing so, it has shaped your world in ways you are not aware of because you assume everyone else must be seeing the same things you are, right? When in fact they are being shown their own version of reality too. This has amplified and magnified the divisions between us. It’s why Conservatives and Progressives are so sure each side holds the high ground on reality. When in fact reality exists somewhere in the middle of what we all believe.
Former Senator Al Franken once said it best, “The truth has a liberal bias.”  

 I know you’re thinking but you, Mr. writer, you’re progressive. You’re liberal. Of course you think your side is the truth! (remember how I opened this article? I identify myself as a moderate and I do not necessarily affiliate with either party, but for this moment in time, sure, I am leaning liberal). I am trying to unravel some of your weird core beliefs. I know I am trying to calmly convince people who believe there is a organized effort embedded in Progressive America called the Deep State, that some mysterious character is spinning bizarre conspiracy theories on human trafficking, pedophiles and Hollywood celebrities and that we have spun up a terrorist organization who’s very name should give you pause to at least think for a moment about what you believe (ANTIFA is supposed to be an abbreviation for “Anti-Fascism”, right?) I know its a scary word but here is the definition in case you had not bothered to look it up:  

 Fascism:  a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.a political movement that employs the principles and methods of fascism, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43 

 And you do know that the word anti means “against” right?  So you guys are up in arms about a mythical liberal terrorist organization who professes in its very name to be against a dictatorship form of government? Are Conservatives FOR a dictatorship? Do you love all the things listed out in that definition? And yes I am calling both ANTIFA, Q-anon theories, and the so called Deep State mythical because quite honestly we progressives are not that great at organizing at that level. You’re giving us way too much credit there. But it you want to get mad at us for an organization that rejects the idea of a dictator over the principals our founding fathers wrote into the constitution of a representational government, I guess we will stand by that.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself. We were talking about what caused this split in American culture where once Democrat and Republican politicians could respectfully debate an issue on the floors of Congress and continue on over a friendly game of golf to the name-calling, hatred and open contempt both sides show for each other today? Their reason for being in Washington seems completely lost. They have forgotten they are OUR employees, not the other way around. They should be arguing in a way that actually reflects the wishes of the people who elected them. And not just one party. ALL the people in their home districts, cities and states. That’s how it is supposed to work. 

 Anyway, and I think we can all agree to this, FOX News started to give more and more airtime to more charismatic commentators. Even less time to hard news. Nah, charismatic is being too generous. More like loud-mouthed and belligerent. The partition of opinions had long since been made, but now blow hards like Bill O’Reilly and the long list of others who were hired and then subsequently fired for sexual misconduct up until we ended up with the current crop of Trump on-air yes men, Hannity, Dobbs, Carlson and whoever else they need to stick in to fill their airtime between the 30 minutes of real news they offer on any given day. All these angry white men (and a few angry women) were ramping up the name calling and the rumors and the divide between Conservatives and Progressives. And with Trump adding fire daily to this sticky flammable glop, they gave the impression of permission that it was ok to show hatred towards your gay neighbor or the black family up the street. 
FOX News and Conservative radio had been spreading mild under-the-breath hatred and racism and sexism from the start. Thats almost a whole generation of (mostly white) audiences bringing up their kids on an endless drumbeat of privilege over poverty. Religious favoritism, a belief that education and healthcare is a privilege not a right, and that women are best kept in the kitchen raising babies. They masked racist messages in economic or geographical terminology. But we all know what words like “urban” mean, right?  
And the social media algorithm separated us further. Feeding people more and more of what it thought we wanted. Making us think everyone we know must be getting the same messages we were getting. When in fact they were getting their own infusions of what they “liked” over what might be true. Remember the algorithm does not know what is true. Its only function is to keep feeding you what it thinks you like.  

 In a big way FOX News created the monster that became Trump.  After all, Trump is their target audience. An affluent (or at least someone who believes himself to be so) white aging male who may or may not have reasons to be fearful of the world progressing without him. Everything on FOX News is geared to his demographic. So the idea that one of their key viewers became their favorite topic is almost expected. During the early days of the Trump campaign Donald used them as much as they used him. FOX saw their ratings jump every time the candidate said something controversial and they defended it. For both, the privilege, the racism, the sexism, the divisiveness became far less subtle. This gave implied permission to people who were inwardly racist, sexist and felt their religion more viable than anyone else’s religion to feel more comfortable showing their true self in public. Thanks to the internet they even spent some time organizing. Thanks to social media they felt like they were supported by the masses when in fact it was just lots of little bubbles of mildly interconnected links the algorithm created for them.  

 So when it is reported from ALL our intelligence agencies that our elections and our very society is under attack by Russians and other foreign bad actors, knowing what you know now about how social media algorithms work, can you see how ripe the US has been for outside manipulation? The Russians are not printing fake ballots and having secret agents infiltrate voting locations. They can do everything they need to do by just creating Facebook and Instagram accounts and flooding our feeds with posts designed to use the algorithm to feed us what they want us to see. 
They use the same formula cult leaders have used throughout history; Create a mistrust of the status quo. Recruit those who feel they are not being represented. Create a false narrative that is more comfortable for these people to follow. Something that fits in more with their misguided narrative. Convince them that the majority are the misguided ones and their way of life is somehow a threat. Convince them to refuse anything that might undercut their narrative. When possible apply your own weaknesses to your adversary to put them on the defensive rather than facing their own flaws.  
Sound familiar? Welcome to the world according to Trump.  Welcome to a world where the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet has no difficulty at all lying nor worries about the consequences of being called on it because his people make all the excuses for him. 

 The problem behind all this is whether you believe the truth or not, the truth does not stop being the truth. Remove opinions from the equation and the facts remain unchanged.   

 And as I have hinted at, Conservatives have long been fed some massive lies that they just accept to be truths without questioning them. And when you do not question things… even just a little… well that’s how they get you. That’s how you get sucked into the vortex of Trump’s America. Lets address a few of these things head on right here, right now… 

 Democrats hate the military.  
Not true. Not in the least. Statistically the military is mostly populated by minorities these days. That means a lot of amazing Black, Latino and Hispanic service people. And statistically those sectors of the population are overwhelmingly Democrat. While the atmosphere in serving in the Military is often conservative, statistically half of service people are Dems. Now while Democrats often campaign on or end up cutting back some funding for the military once they are in office, its the most obvious place to cut. If the economy is ever going to recover from Trump spending trillions of dollars we don’t really have, yeah taxes might have to be raised and some cuts to some organizations are probably going to need to be trimmed. But consider this: We have the largest military on the planet by far. We spend more money than the next 26 countries combined. 25 of whom are our allies (thank you Newsroom), in that fact you can hopefully see that there is some wiggle room to save a little money. Don’t think for a second that Democrats are not serving or supporting their children in serving in this nations armed forces. You are just plain wrong. And you can damn well bet that in battle none of these fine people are worried about the person next to them’s political affiliation. They get it. They are all first and foremost Americans. 
Can we talk for a moment of the incredible money suck that Trump created with the US Space Force? Now no one you know is as big a fan of space exploration than I am. I grew up under the amazing Apollo missions and I think this nation has gone a little lame by moving funding away from the space program. That said, who exactly is this new space branch of the military protecting us from? The US Air Force already had advanced space capabilities in place. All of our armed forces partnered up with NASA, already a fully funded space agency. Why did we need to start a whole new military branch to do what was already being done? Where did all this extra money come from?  
Democrats are baby killers.   
Sigh. This one kind of breaks my heart. Because it’s the most ugly kind of propaganda used to hard stop what should be an intelligent conversation about abortion. Even the identifiers used are misleading. Conservatives call themselves Pro Life. Does that imply by default Progressives are Pro Death?  It shouldn’t, because it over simplifies a complex issue. To have a rational conversation about this topic we have to first agree that a woman’s life has at least the same value of an unborn child. We might never agree in the end but maybe we can all admit that the world is far from perfect. Despite what you may have heard, NO ONE is pro abortion. But understanding the medical and emotional difficulties of a high risk pregnancy, a pregnancy due to a rape, an unborn child with chronic health issues or any number of other heart breaking impossible situations that requires a woman to make an unfathomably hard decision of her own life over the life of her unborn child. Can we agree none of us outside of that woman’s family have a right to say one goddamn thing about what she might decide. If you are male, what possible say do you have in this issue whatsoever? The world is filled with terrible situations and to eliminate or criminalize abortion, as difficult this might be to accept, is taking away a woman’s right to her own body and her own wishes. If you cannot see that your own wife, daughter or girlfriend may have to make this hard choice sometime in their lives, and that it should not make them criminals, then maybe we cannot find common ground here. And maybe you can consider that even when the Republicans have held the majority in Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court they stop pushing to make this law. Why? Because it is more important they have this divisive issue to split voting groups than it is for them to actually finalize the debate. They care more about splitting the vote than they ever did about the actual life or death of unborn children. I know thats a bold statement but the facts line up.  

 Democrats support Black Lives Matter. 
Yup. We sure do. There is a lot of muddling of the meaning of this movement that happens over the Conservative side of the internet and media. To say Black Lives Matters is not saying black lives matter more than anyone else’s lives. It just means Black Lives Matter also. If you cannot acknowledge that things have been less great in America for black people than it has been for white people over the last 2050 years or so, then you are probably part of the problem, It is sad that it took the development of a video camera in everyone’s pocket and space on the internet to broadcast it before we all started to see the problem that black people had been experiencing for many decades. How sad is it that we all had to witness the emotionless murder of a black man being suffocated with a knee on his neck to get us all to listen to what black people have been trying to tell us for so long. Through fist pumps on Olympic medal stand, to kneeling during the national anthem to protesting in the streets of our cities. Each time being told thats not the way to protest. After many many attempts to be heard in a peaceful way in response to a brutal situation; black men and women being killed unnecessarily again and again and again by overly aggressive police officers and then having the issue covered up by the other police in their departments. How many times would you protest peacefully while nothing changes before you lose your composure and start taking to the street?. Now I would never condone looting and rioting. But I can understand how deep the frustration must be after so many lives lost and nothing being changed. 

 Blue Lives Matter 
Trumps political ads would have you believe Democrats want to completely defund police everywhere and leave the country in the hands of torch carrying mobs. Yeh, Trump is a guy who doesn’t want to create a panic? Please. Of course common sense and a little bit of fact checking would tell you this is completely false. It is possible to understand that black lives matter and still support the role of law enforcement in our neighborhoods. Most of our nations police officers are noble men and women who are answering a call to serve and protect their communities. But recently what we have been seeing, time and time again, is that there are some bad actors within some police departments. And things are made worse when good officers protect the bad officers within their own departments. Most cops will admit they are not trained or equipped to properly approach or de-escalate social issues like drug abuse, domestic disturbances, youth violence and community disputes. Yet these are the kind of calls that often keep them from doing the things they are more designed to do. Protect the community and investigate crimes and bring in dangerous criminals. Right now police departments are usually well funded. In most cities police departments gain the lion share of city budgets by far. But how do they spend the money? Does your community have an armored vehicle? Most cities and even smaller towns do. Do you know how much it cost to purchase and maintain a small tank? What do you think your community needs more, a community social response unit or a tank? In many cities “defunding” might just mean a simple rethinking of more effective ways to use the money they have.  

 Oh and since I live in a suburb of Minneapolis/St Paul, I can confidently assure you that Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and Seattle are not completely lying in ashes from endless rioting and looting. People did protest and yes there was some rioting and looting but the damage was to a relatively small part of the city and it should be noted provocateurs were caught from white supremacy groups who were starting the fires and breaking the store windows. Making a volatile situation worse. Thats not a conspiracy theory. Charges have been made. Would these situations have been different were there not people coming in prompting violence and destruction? Think about that for a while.  The over-exaggeration of these unfortunate situations to rile up fear in the rural areas and suburbs of the nation before an election and the ignoring of some of the underlying factors that led to a flammable situation igniting is shameful. But again in part, thats the social media algorithm feeding you what it thinks you needed to hear and ignoring what you might not. 
Trump and Science. 
One thing that is particularly concerning about the Republican Party is how they see science. They see science in nearly the same way they look at a news story: It is a good thing if it positively supports something they like. But it is a fake news heresy if it proves they screwed something up. Let’s use a simple recent and kind of embarrassing example. Remember when Trump declared (for no known reason anyone can find) that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama. The National Weather Service quickly put out their most recent prediction map which showed Florida was going to take a fairly direct hit but Alabama was not expected to be affected. This is important because declaring a massive hurricane is going to hit a specific place can cause mass panic, businesses to close, and millions to evacuate. Especially when it comes right from the President of the United States. So it was important for the team of experts at the NWS to be clear about their prediction. When Trump was questioned about his verbal misstep, rather than just saying whoops. I misspoke, sorry everyone. He produced a cardboard copy of NWS’s prediction map that included a Sharpie marker pen extension scribbled laughably badly into the map which now showed Alabama was included in the prediction. Sigh. 

Oh, how I wish this was the only moment that I could come up with to show Republican contempt for Science despite decades and decades of data. The Hurricane Dorian foible was a laughable little moment but the bigger problem is Republicans still resist the idea of Global Climate Change. Hurricanes are now coming faster, more furious, and much more frequently than we have ever seen in recorded history. We know (its not theory anymore) that the warming of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico’s water is allowing storms to whip up and regenerate with deadly results both on the east coast and on the west coast. This past week (when this was written) there were two active hurricanes in the Gulf and two in the Atlantic all at the same time. Four hurricanes at once! The amount of damage from severe weather (add on tornados, floods, record heat, and related fires) is also at an all-time high and yet the Republican Party is actively seeking the elimination of environmental protection measures put in place by previous administrations. They continue to ignore global change as it wreaks havoc everywhere across the country right under our noses.  

Now the "Science Denier and Cheif" claims the wildfires consuming the entire Western United States (also setting terrible records for destruction every consecutive year for the last decade) is a result of “not enough raking.” After a California environment expert challenged a weird prediction that the wildfires would just go away. That things would get much nicer and cooler soon. Trump’s response, “Science doesn’t know.” Smugly acting like he was privy to some secret bit of related information that he was not willing to share with others in the room. Of course, the fires are still burning and people are still being forced out of their homes. I hope he reveals what he knows soon. 

 Think about how long scientists have been telling us climate change is coming and think about how many times the Republican Party has dismissed this as job-stopping economic-harming hogwash. I can remember back to Jimmy Carter’s Presidency hearing world-renowned scientists reporting the first signs of global change. Remember the thinning of the Ozone? Thank God we had a Democrat in office and some Republicans in Congress that listened to the warnings as we did something about it. But it demonstrated in a big obvious way that we did indeed affect the planet and the climate. Where might we be today if we kept working towards positive environmental changes? Four decades of lost opportunity to fix things. 

But Republicans were still out there spewing counterintelligence by not being intelligent about it at all. Remember the Republican US Senator holding a snowball on the floor of the senate to show that winter was still happening therefore global warming was a myth. Meanwhile the polar ice caps on either side of the world are melting away. Ocean levels are rising. Carbon levels in the atmosphere are reaching dangerous levels.

I remember one climate denier reason that if every human on earth gathered together in one spot they would only occupy a space the size of the state of Florida. So there is no way humans could have an impact on something as large as the entire planet. Of course, this silly factoid ignores that all those people standing elbow to elbow in Florida need to eat, they need shelter, they make things and go places. All those things eat up massive areas of the planet’s surface. Of course we affect the planet. 

Oh, remember Republcians reasoning that volcanos spew carbon at a rate many times that of automobiles, and since carbon clearly comes from the natural processes of the earth itself, how can carbon from our cars be bad for us? It’s a naturally occurring element. Ugh, of course, this ignores so many very easy to understand factors like you cannot INHALE carbon without dying and we’ve been lucky that volcanos do not erupt continuously, nonstop for decades upon decades, while cars sputter out carbon non-stop since the first cars hit the road 130 or so years ago. 130 years of little mobile volcanos all over the world. Think about that. And besides that natural occuring things create lots of deadly things. Like viruses…

Now we are facing the biggest threat to the welfare of the nation: A global pandemic. A time when being in lock-step with the scientific community could not be any more vital. Yet we have a president who has been ignoring the recommendations of scientists and medical experts… often his own appointed experts… if their determinations make him look bad. He has ignored hard medical reporting to push forth weird treatments he read about on internet conspiracy sites. He publicly pondered the idea of inserting bright light or bleach into the human body to clean the virus away. Twice now he has backed unfounded drug claims. In several public statements Trump claimed he took Hydroxychloriquin because “some very smart people” told him it was a cure. In an even more bizarre move, he promoted a pillow inventor's "miracle cure" which did not even qualify as a nutritional supplement. 

Oh, and let us not forget perhaps the biggest crime of all, encouraging his supporters to not wear protective masks despite the entire established medical community pleading for simple courteous measures being simple proven ways to slow the spread of the virus. Trump made something that could save lives a political lightning rod. Causing more and more divide between the American people.

200,000 people have died in this country alone making the United States the worst country on the planet for its handling of the pandemic. More cases. More deaths. We are the worst in the world. A country with the finances and the resources of the United States has the worst record for responding to a health crisis on the planet. Let that sink in for a moment. Now consider that the Woodward tapes prove Trump knew the severity of the virus before cases were reported on our shores. He knew the virus was dangerous to young people back in March while he was declaring that only older sickly people needed to worry. And even today (in fact in a rally just yesterday as I write this) Trump told his followers that hardly anyone but old people catch the virus and young people have nothing to worry about. This literally while college campuses, high schools, and even elementary schools are reporting record outbreaks. Kids. He is insisting kids are marched off to school knowing the chances of them getting ill are more than just a possibility, it is now a probability. Kids. 

By the way, fuck you, Mr President, for continously implying that America's senior citizens are a disposable part of moving this country forward again. 

Now while younger people are less likely to die from COVID 19, it is also true that there are residual side effects to the disease that we do not fully understand like lasting heart damage and a horrific inflammation of the brain that happens to some very young people. Including toddlers and babies. 

How many people have to die unnecessarily before this country wakes up to the crimes that are being committed against them while MAGA hatted unmasked supporters cheer it on?
Trump is better on the economy. 
To find common ground on this topic we need to try to agree on this very difficult fact for Republicans to swallow: Government, particularly the Federal Government, cannot be run like a business. Electing Trump because he is a self proclaimed “business genius” was a wrong headed idea from the start. Not just because it’s not that hard to prove he is a stunning failure at business. Many failed real estate deals, probable Russian mob ties, failed Trump University, Failed Trump casinos, Trump airlines, Trump vodka, Trump mortgage, Trump the board game, Trump steaks, Trump magazine, GoTrump (a luxury travel website)… Shall I go on or have I proven my point? Even if Trump were the success he wants you to think he is, governments cannot and should not be run like businesses for one simple reason; Governments should not be run as a money-making endeavor. Governments need to be the underlying infrastructure on which society can build upon. You can call it socialism but its the way it’s been done successfully for decades in the United States and dozens of other nations in the world. Having roads, sewers, police, fire departments, running water and yes, the post office, lays down the simple necessities we all need to flourish in America. Imagine trying to start a business while having to pay for  all these things in full out of your pocket? Crazy, right? It’s the collective power of government, something we all pitch into with our taxes, that gives us the safety net we need to overcome the unthinkable. Tornados, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and yes pandemics. 

 This whole pandemic thing has laid bare massive problems within our economy. Most people cannot endure a short term loss of work. Most people who lost their jobs also lost their healthcare plans. Can Trump really claim to have the strongest economy ever when we have the worst unemployment stats in recent history? When people are being driven out of their homes because they cannot make their house or rent payments. When they fear the cost of seeking treatment when they might be sick because they lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs. And then the government pumped out multi trillions of dollars of relief in the form of financial support to “key industries”, unemployment benefit increases and direct checks to many US citizens. Now I am not going to debate whether or not the American people needed this relief. Of course we all did.  But it’s hard to maintain the argument that America cannot afford a good national health care system or a free college system when in a moment of crisis the government is able to hand out trillions of dollars to try to keep us afloat. You might not believe in “socialism” but if you accepted the check and accepted rent/mortgage assistance and accepted unemployment bonuses along with your unemployment benefit. Your butt was recently saved by a pretty overt demonstration of socialism… and the country did not implode, did it.  Now granted, printing up that many relief checks when the country was already trillions of dollars in debt was not the most conservative way to go, but it does prove my point: You cannot run the government like a business. 
The main problem with Trump and the economy is he uses the stock market as the only indication of success. What a weird thing for a president to hang their reputation on. He has been lucky. The stock market has been climbing for months until recently. But the trouble with using stocks as a measure of the successful economy is that so many outside factors can effect the stock market. If there is a flood in Indonesia it effects the manufacturing of hard drives. And the whole computer industry suffers because they cannot keep up with production demands. Tech stocks can fall. Thats just one of a million reasons stocks can rise or fall. Trump is now still bragging about being responsible for the greatest economy in US history which is patently untrue. The stock market has tanked again, millions and millions of Americans are out of work, without health insurance and at risk of losing their homes. But what measures has he taken to try to make things better. He sounds like a hero to senior citizens when he proclaims he is lowering the cost of prescription drugs! This would have been great if he had any power to do this. He doesn’t. And thus prices have not budged. He has claimed this throughout his four years and even more during his campaign. Have you noticed any of your medications go down in price?  Me neither. He recently offered an emergency action which included temporary hold on payroll taxes. Think about that for a minute. The people who are truly suffering are the unemployed. How will a payroll tax reduction help people who are not earning a paycheck right now. Besides that, for most of us the benefit would only be a few hundred bucks a month. But again this is temporary and the plan demands that these missing taxes are repaid at the end of the grace period in essence doubling payroll taxes at the end of the year. Should that money not be paid back, he has essentially defunded Medicare and Social Security. Thankfully most of American businesses opted out of this terrible plan. But next time you hear Trump claim he will protect Social Security and Medicare, remember he already made this covert attempt to bankrupt them. 

 Speaking of promises never kept. Let’s talk about your taxes. Trump loves to talk about how he has lowered your taxes “bigly”. You’ve had three tax seasons with Trump as your president. Did you see any significant change in your taxes? No. Me neither. You did if you made more than $500,000+ a year though. You know, the poor suffering folks in America who can barely afford their yacht payments. Oh and how about that Trump healthcare plan. He has been promising a better plan than Obamacare since his campaign in 2016. Trump recently was asked in a town hall setting by uncommitted voters if he would promise to protect the pre-existing condition clause that is a globally agreed upon positive part of Obamacare. Trump again lied to the faces of these people as he claimed he would always protect this feature of Obamacare meanwhile he is suing in Federal Court to remove this from the plan. Not only is he intending to remove it he is actively pursuing removing it in court. Thus this is a bald face lie he says at every campaign stop. 

 Guns. Democrats are coming for our guns. 
I am a middle of the road moderate voter who is currently leaning liberal, but I am also a gun owner. A grew up hunting with my Dad in the fields and woods of Northern Minnesota. As a responsible gun owner I do not want to see any more school shootings, theater shootings, mall shootings, vigilante shootings, etc. In all of these cases maybe adding a few speed bumps in the process it takes to purchase guns and ammo might have led to calmer heads prevailing. I cannot prove this but I know it’s just common sense that we should not be allowing people with known mental health issues, criminal records or who are on terrorist watch lists to be freely arming themselves. I think you might have to have a mental condition if you disagree with me on that simple concept. The thing is, Democrats have been in office many times and never once did we move to take guns away from you. Sure we introduced some common sense legislation about automatic weapons and how many bullets should legally be allowed in a clip. But again if this means I have to single fire an assault rifle with a short clip when I go target practicing its a sacrifice I am willing to make as a responsible gun owner to keep the chances for mass shootings down a little. I know I know the NRA wants to argue that these measures won’t keep all the crazies from getting guns. Ok, but what if it stops a few of them. What if it stops the one shooter from reloading after a mass mall shooting where your daughter loves to go shopping every weekend? If it only saves one life, isn’t that a step in the right direction? And please don’t try to tell me that you need a machine gun for hunting or home protection. And if your reasoning for keeping a stock pile of fire arms to protect you from a government who might want to come take them all away. Who’s going to be more likely to take your fire arms away? A Democrat who respects the constitution or Trump who is teasing the idea of not leaving office if he is voted out? Who has been open to Russian interference in our free elections. Who admires Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. Dictators famously do not allow their underlings to have weapons  How long do you think it’s really going to be before Trump and his dictator tendencies realizes a gun toting population is a threat to his vision of a “great America”. Just saying… This is another one of those key issues that may never be resolved no matter how many mass murders there might be. Why? Because again, it’s a reliable way to split the voting public. Just like abortion.
Well if you made it this far, thank you.  Maybe you learned Democrats (or at least non-Trumpsters) are not all that different from you. We have both been force fed notions about each other that may or may not be true. Maybe a little research into the wildest claims would do us both a lot of good. Maybe you really don’t have to fear what we think might make America great again. Maybe we could learn a few things from each other if we just took a moment to calm down, understand what has been causing this great divide between us and start working towards a better more unified country together. When you think about it, Uniting America is really how we make it great again.  

-Joseph Pillsbury, (c)2020