Long time no see! Been a while since our paths have crossed. Good memories from twenty years ago :) Across this span of time, there are two things I observe, for what they're worth: 1) we probably have some philosophical divergence in the lenses we use in viewing the world and 2) we both have children who are significant and integral parts of our lives. Seems like you're a pretty awesome dad, which is...awesome.
A couple notes, and I'll try to be brief. Or not. :) One of my roles that I safeguard carefully is that of a conversation-starter. I start conversations, frequently with the analogy being episodic television, not a film. I'm not building up to a bigboom mic-dropping crescendo where I wow everyone with the validity of my point and humiliate anyone who may be in opposition. With that in mind - and this is intended to anyone who feels the need to jump on and dissect my position (or rather, divert from) - I am not looking to end this, and it is not important to me to have the last word. I will say what I say here, and I may or not respond, but I will say this ahead of time: my decision to not go back-and-forth on this with anyone is one I have thoughtfully and deliberately made ahead of time; and this is directed not at you, but to anyone wanting to get into a point-by-point analysis of the candidates: there are enough Facebook threads going with friendships ending and deleted comments and blocked people and all that that I don't feel a need to add to that. So feel free to respectfully pitch in, anyone with respectful comments, regardless of position, and I will do my best to respect them, if not understand or agree. And there is a strong chance I will not respond in this venue at this time.
My simple reason, amongst some complex ones, for speaking up now is really basic: I love history, and someday when my children are asking what I said, what I did at this particular juncture in history, as an American, as a patriot, as a citizen, as an entrepreneur, as a dad, as a Christian to improve the world and country, then I want to be able to say, at the minimum, that I stood up in solidarity for the freedoms and ideals I believe this country represents. Selfish and simple. I want to be able to look them in the eyes and know that I spoke up about something important. Something super
I have followed politics and government since I was twelve years old. Almost three decades. Doesn't make me any smarter or wiser, just means I've been paying attention for a long time. I have voted for a variety of candidates, parties, and policies. I have been devil's advocate an almost-infinite number of times. I have had many, many fruitful conversations with all sides of the aisle, and, despite common belief that people's minds don't change when it comes to politics, have had my mind changed at different points because of a willingness to listen, to be respectful, and to be open to opinions that are backed up by stronger evidence than mine. It is this last point that I think is particularly powerful: the power to change one's mind. This election (warning: obvious statement ahead) is like no other.
People who have advocated for the communities Donald Trump now claims - emptily - to represent are leaving. Have left. Siyonara. So many whose conservative credentials are bonafide. Not all, to be sure, but a significant enough exodus across communities and disciplines and sectors that it is, at the very least - the very LEAST - a significant pause in evaluating why this person, with a track record of failure in virtually every area of his life aside from his own self-promotion and survival, should be qualified to become leader of this country.
When Max Lucado, a long-respected figure within the Christian community, digs deep within his conscience to break his history of resistance to political involvement and speaks up, I would think that means something. At least to the community who has respected him.
When conservative politicians, when high-ranking intelligence officials, when generals and Republican advisors and longtime major donors and business titans and many (not enough, but many) in the faith community say, "something is wrong with this candidate in a way that eclipses any previous notion of what might be acceptable or normal," then...maybe it's worth thinking about and thoughtfully considering there may be some things to deeply reflect over that transcend longtime party affiliations, easy villainesses, and soundbites masquerading as strategy or policy.
I do my best to be respectful of divergent opinions, at the same time, some things are just not equal. There are enough evidence-backed dissections of the candidates' relative positions that I'm not going to go into them. It is not Sinner vs. Saint, but at the same time it is indefensible to continue the mockery that he is somehow more qualified on the basis of anything - of anything, other than vague promises and big threats - to be a better leader than her. Hold her accountable, ask her tough questions and don't settle for pat answers. But be consistent in your criticisms, do not ad hominem, do not demonize, do not compare apples with pitchforks, do not overreach or oversimplify, do not pull out of context, do not rely on anecdotal evidence and unreliable sourcing, and DO use the same - the same - metric for comparing successes, failures, promises, and transparencies. Does she get a gold star? No. Period. No free pass for her. But their abilities, experience, qualifications, actual policy strategy on the same stratosphere? It takes some impressive excuse-making ("yes he did that, but SHE did ____," "...he's a little rough, but he's not [fill in blank racist/misogynistic/ ," "...he may be bad, but not near as evil as her," "...he just talks that way cause he's tough and no-nonsense," ad infinitum) to place them on the same page, let alone continent. The only way he gets close is with an infinite series of justifications and excuses for his behavior. For representing a largely conservative orthodoxy, this is deeply disturbing behavior to condone, let alone support, from those who claim to be in favor of personal responsibility and individual accountability for actions.
I defended George W. Bush in certain situations because I believe in acknowledging every person's strengths and good things they do, and as divisive a leader he was, he still did some good things and deserved to be commended for them (yeah, that's you, eight billion dollar Africa aid package, etc.). When I look at Trump, in detail, and look at the language he uses, the disrespect he shows any adversary, the contempt he displays for reason and thought, and the unkindness, the UNKINDNESS! and total lack of empathy for others outside his chosen circles...I just hang my head, and cannot understand how anyone who values the strength of integrity, the strength of kindness, the strength of standing up for the powerless, the strength of honesty and character and compassion, can mistake his jingoistic machismo Velveeta version of strength as anything but fake. It's not built on any foundation that will last.
With that being said, I respect the fact that he finally said something I respect: his final comment at the debate where he acknowledged her ability as a fighter. I respect the fact that he was able, for the first time, to show some level of respect to someone who has stood up to him.
I have broken my independent, wisecracking-from-the-sidelines place I have occupied for 28 years, a position I have enjoyed immensely and never wanted to give up, because of what this one person represents in this election. I feel strongly enough about it that I have given up being Switzerland, not something I wanted to do, because I feel so strongly that it is the right thing.
But of course, feeling strongly doesn't make me right, so I will ideally let the course of common sense, evidence-based decision-making guide every voter next month. And someday, for better or worse, my tiny voice will have been at least a mosquito footprint fossil for history. And my kids will know where I stood.
Blessings and beautiful days upon you.
Feel free, universe, to quote me in entirety. Or not at all :)