Guest contributors run the gamut, but they all pretty much rock.
People often ask me "Why do you call yourself a conservative?"
Around 2005, when Facebook was a college-only social media site, they asked you upon completing your profile what your political views were. The choices back then were Very Liberal, Liberal, Conservative, Very Conservative. I thought to myself (having been indoctrinated in the group think that usually exists on college campuses) "Well, I'm gay and I'm black, so obviously, I'm very liberal.” I had no issues with conservatives or Republicans at all; in fact, many of my friends in college identified as conservatives and/or Republicans if political issues came up.
A few months later, a couple of girls (both of whom were black) added me after seeing me at karaoke and I accepted their requests. Under political views, I saw they put "conservative." I thought to myself, "Black conservatives? Does this mean they're Republicans? How can that be?" I saw these girls at the Union (or maybe the computer lab) a week or so later and struck up a conversation to ask what they meant by that label. One mentioned that, while she is a Democrat, she labels herself a conservative as a representation of her personal values. Our conversation became the genesis of my political awakening. And it made me begin to think about what “Very Liberal” and “Liberal” people believed and how those views personally clashed with my fiscal views, my views on religion, and also what I retained from my Christian upbringing.
The biggest struggle in college (and in this world) was never identifying and defending myself as a gay male who also happens to be black. That was easy. The biggest struggle was allowing myself to publicly define my own set of beliefs and values beyond the assumed liberal parameters. Here are a few examples if you’re curious:
-I scoff at the idea of long-term entitlements for those who are able-bodied and nowhere near retirement age.
-I don’t believe in the concept of “paying your fair share.” Why? Because one day, you’ll go after the multimillion dollar CEO of a company and the next day (when you’re done wasting his money on bridges to nowhere and people who refuse to work) it’ll be the single guy with no kids who makes 25K a year with a health plan from his place of employment.
-I get angry at the idea of sanctuary cities that go against ICE and the federal government, many who knowingly harbor multiple violent offenders at the expense of our nation’s safety.
-I believe in business owners having the right to refuse service and allowing the free market to decide what becomes of those businesses.
-I don’t think a five-year-old has the mental capacity to formally declare any sexual orientation or gender identity. And I don’t think it should be taught in anyone’s public school.
-And while we’re at it, I don’t think anyone should feed their kid (or their teen) a bunch of hormones to delay their natural response to sexual maturity. I think that decision should be made once a child reaches adulthood.
-I believe that law-abiding citizens should have every right to own whatever gun they like. The anti-gun mob should have no business telling private gun owners what they can and cannot own and any law that tries to restrict it is unconstitutional.
-Planned Parenthood has become a fetus/baby killing factory that promotes abortion over carrying to term or even preventative measures. They sell body parts for “overhead costs” and many locations refuse to highlight additional options for pregnant women. And they absolutely should be defunded until they can divorce themselves from those services.
The views I’ve presented here are not views liberals possess. They bother liberals. They expect me not to have the views because of how much money I make, the way I look, and who I entertain in my bedroom. Liberals often become dismissive, rude, angry, and even violent over anyone having these views. Some liberals don’t bother asking me why I’ve come to these conclusions even though I consider myself pro-LGBTQ rights, pro-choice (or pro-abortion as many of my Misfits would call me), pro-entitlements for kids and seniors, pro-immigration/path to citizenship, and anti-discrimination.
But what I do agree with them on doesn’t matter. They instead feel some need to preach to me, tell me that I’m not in “the right income bracket," not of “the right race” to have these views, and when none of those work, ostracize me or think of me as a bigot or an enemy. And that’s what Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, and everyday black Americans are currently facing as they tweet or publicly state support for President Trump, Candace Owens, or even saying that you don’t have to label yourself a Democrat.
Look, I want Trump to succeed. A successful Presidency is a successful country. He wasn’t my pick. I think he’s incredibly divisive, tweets before he thinks, and is likely doing some shady ass shit behind the scenes to line his pockets. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting him to do a great job for America. There’s nothing wrong with black people “liking” Trump anymore than there was something wrong with “liking” his opponent, whose campaign staffers put kerosene on the Birtherism fire, called kids “superpredators” who we need to “bring to heel” based on their looks and associations, and said in 2008 that she was more interested in “Working Class Americans, White Americans” when she was thisclose to contesting the primary at the DNC convention.
Most black conservatives are not like Candace Owens or Diamond and Silk, who worship Trump as if he’s some sort of deity. Hell, most of them aren’t even like me. A lot of black conservatives believe in working hard, keeping what they’ve earned, being free to express their belief in God, being treated fairly, and keeping the government out of their homes. Black Democrats (particularly conservatives in southern states) have been told for years by the party that they are valued and respected. But for the last decade, they’ve taken that for granted. They’ve focused more on pronouns, giving health insurance and entitlements to non-seniors who have no interest in ever working, putting the rights of noncitizens ahead of theirs, and heavily taxing their paychecks, among many other things.
What you are seeing here is not necessarily a group of black people who are “fed up with the Democrat party.” You’re not going to see an uptick in black people registering as Republicans (despite what you may see on Pro-Trump Facebook and Pro-Trump Twitter). You’re not going to see a bunch of black people suddenly following Candace Owens or subscribing to Diamond and Silk. You are witnessing a group of people who are, at long last, free to think and be beyond the parameters of what liberals and the media believe and have told them to believe. We’ve had these thoughts for years. Either you weren’t paying attention or you didn’t care.
So, again, “Why do you consider yourself a conservative?” Well I can't speak for anyone else, but I consider myself one because, above all, less government and personal responsibility are always the best bet to a successful existence.
Regular Contributor Chad Felix Greene
In a world that embraces progressive intersectionality, no one is safe. Even an LGBT icon like RuPaul is vulnerable to the irrational outrage of the social media mob. RuPaul, the cultural definition of ‘Drag Queen’, recently discussed his hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race and its influence on the culture. He described his own ambition and experience being a Black man in America stating, “‘First of all, let’s talk about the black rage.’ So one of the ways that I’ve been able to dilute that perception is to dress as a character that says, ‘Look I’m fun, I can have a sense of humour about life because I’m in drag. I acknowledge black rage, but we’re going to have some fun.’” It is true, RuPaul became a powerful image in film and TV as America watched him in stunned awe, holding back giggles and dancing to his catchy music, and found themselves embracing him as their own.
RuPaul was one of the first gay people I ever saw and I remember how much I loved his sassy persona, exaggerated hair and make-up, and over-the-top old Hollywood style dresses and mannerisms. His catch-phrases, wide eyes and toothy grin broke down more barriers to gay acceptance than all the LGBT legislation and marches combined. People simply loved him for who he was. To this day when people talk about their enjoyment of gay culture they routinely refer to RuPaul as their go-to queen.
But in the last few years, progressivism has caught up with him. Despite redefining what ‘drag’ meant to an entire generation of gay men and introducing gay cultural language into the mainstream lexicon, he is facing the inevitable consequence of the progressive mindset. He is becoming obsolete and quickly sliding into the ‘bigoted conservative’ category everyone will eventually find themselves in with enough time. What offense could have sparked such a backlash that a living icon could become the target of anti-hate outrage and scorn?
Without realizing the impact, when asked how a transgender woman could be a drag queen he stated to the Guardian “Mmmm. It’s an interesting area. Peppermint [an openly transgender pre-operative contestant] didn’t get breast implants until after she left our show; she was identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t really transitioned.” Would he accept a contestant who had? He hesitates again. “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.” When asked if women could also be drag queens he argued, “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”
This admission created a firestorm of accusation that RuPaul was engaging in transphobic discrimination and undermining the ‘inclusion’ of the LGBT community on the show. He issued an apology on Twitter pleading, “Each morning I pray to set aside everything I THINK I know, so I may have an open mind and a new experience. I understand and regret the hurt I have caused. The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers.” But LGBT fans insisted on remaining angry with him despite the apology, sternly lecturing him on his Twitter feed and in replies to his message. But was his statement really so outrageous?
For a while now, trans activists have insisted on demanding that transwomen are women. They have argued that transwomen were always female, and that physical transition is both medically necessary and irrelevant in defining gender identity. In another Guardian article titled, Who can be a drag queen? RuPaul's trans comments fuel calls for inclusion, the notion of physical characteristics defining gender was deemed ‘harmful’ and a source of the outrage directed against him. But, as has become far too common, their current argument conflicts with their previous and equally passionate arguments.
For starters, drag itself is something that used to be fairly easy to define. Men dressed as women and were known as ‘female impersonators’ and either created the illusion of being a woman or exaggerated female characteristics and mannerisms for the sake of humor. They became ‘drag queens’ indicating the over-the-top flamboyance of the culture. Lesbians have a similar culture in which they dress as men and are called ‘drag kings’ but it tends to lack the same humor and outrageousness that drag fans love. RuPaul describes it as, “We are wearing clothes that are hyperfeminine, that represent our culture’s synthetic idea of femininity.”
By defining clothing, hairstyle, makeup, and mannerisms as ‘hyperfeminine’ or ‘synthetic femininity,’ it requires a recognition that there is a universally understood way in which women in our culture dress, style themselves and behave that is being exaggerated. It is silly to pretend there are no gender norms in clothing and style despite our culture embracing women dressing in traditionally male attire. More importantly, all efforts to argue in favor of transgender children, medical surgery and hormone treatment, bathroom access and name and pronoun usage require this same recognition of clearly defined female and male characteristics.
If it is harmful to argue that physical characteristics define gender identity then how is transgender surgery ‘medically necessary’ and if denied by a doctor, an act of discrimination? Why do LGBT activists demand that without physical transition and acceptance as the other gender, transgender individuals will be driven to suicide? If gender is 100 percent self-perception, then why physically transition at all? Why not remain in your natural body and just identify as the other gender? In truth, there is no rational answer, as the basis of the question is itself irrational. Transgenderism requires clearly defined gender roles and norms in order for the individual to appropriately adopt them in order to validate their sense of gender. The two cannot be separated no matter how much LGBT advocates wish to argue otherwise.
To ask if a transwoman can be a drag queen is to ask if a woman can participate in the culture under the LGBT standards of gender identity. Obviously, if a woman were to ‘go in drag’ she would dress as a man. For a male who insists he is female to enter into a culture and competition that celebrates men dressing as an exaggerated version of women would be to validate the notion transwomen are just men in dresses. The LGBT community is very clearly opposed to such a notion. Professional drag queens go through a great deal of effort to mimic every aspect of female physical beauty through padding to give them shape, extensive makeup, and even facial plastic surgery. The enterprise is so ridiculous it is often a source of on-stage humor. The concept of ‘tucking’ which is simply ensuring no unsightly bulges are apparent in tight-fitting dresses, is constantly used as a running joke.
RuPaul is correct in assessing that the point of drag is men rebelling against society by embracing the extremes of female physical and social attributes and then laughing in everyone’s face thus disarming criticism. It is the polar opposite of what trans activists insist gender means to them and what transition entails. For a transwoman to consider herself a ‘drag queen’ would be to override everything trans activism insists is true about transgenderism or gender identity.
The line drawn here by RuPaul is the physical transition. Many transwomen begin their journey as a drag queen because it offers them the opportunity to dress as a woman in public. Many decide after years of drag they wish to be female and undergo transition. RuPaul does not have a problem with physical males who identify as female participating in the show. His only concern is that if some are taking female hormones or have undergone surgery in a competition that judges one’s ability to mimic the female form artificially, it is an unfair advantage and begins to blur the lines of what the show is really about. It has nothing to do with ‘inclusion’ as biological women also cannot participate for the same reasons and male-impersonators are equally disqualified.
The purpose of the show is to allow gay men who professionally impersonate women to compete on a reality game-show and celebrate drag culture. It is a gay male cultural outlet that does not translate to any other cultural reference. The language, the games, the style, the dress and the drama are exclusively gay male. There is nothing wrong with limiting participation in the show to this specific cultural identity. The seemingly never-ending demand to force all people to participate in all things is destroying cultural identity and the very foundation LGBT advocates for.
I have argued for a long time that gay culture and transgender culture cannot coexist. Gender identity erases sexual orientation and gender non-binary or fluidity erases both. The community is undergoing an identity crisis fueled by victimhood and entitlement and no one is safe from its outrage. As I tweeted to RuPaul in celebration of my own wedding with friends in the conservative movement, which enjoyed a controversy-free experience, the Left has become toxic to the gay individual.
If you value your identity and wish to simply live in peaceful coexistence with a truly diverse group of people, you have to move to the Right. Progressivism will eventually condemn everyone who ever supported its movement as hateful, bigoted, backward conservatives. You might as well enjoy the freedom away from judgment now. RuPaul: You are welcome here and you have a lot of fans, and we won’t make you apologize for being yourself.
For more from Chad, visit chadfelixgreene.com and follow him on Twitter @chadfelixg.
Guest Contributor April Joy
My mother always says that God gives us what we can handle, and I’ve started saying this too. Not so much because I’m becoming my mother — that’s my sister’s job — but more out of a deep cynicism that can only be eased by the dark humor of this phrase being applied to certain circumstances. Example: The woman I used to know who went on at length about her darkest moment, the moment she depended on God entirely — the day her nanny moved away. She had to figure out what to do with these kids she’d never really related to before. Thank God she found another nanny soon afterward. Literally. Thank God. I mean, he totally came through for her there. (Did I mention that she was a stay-at-home mom? People are fun.)
Me, to her: Well, you know God gives us what we can handle.
Her, to me, serenely: I just wish he didn’t think so highly of me.
Me: Uh, yeah.
I think of this as I read this article about the now-iconic woman who removed her hijab in protest during the recent uprisings in Iran. She’s been sentenced to two years in prison, which seems egregious, considering the average sentence for removing one’s headscarf is about two months, but the chief prosecutor won’t let this corrupt woman get off easily. The thugocracy in Tehran isn’t full of pushovers, you know.
More than 30 Iranian women have been arrested since the end of December for publically removing their veils in defiance of the law.
Most have been released, but many are being prosecuted.
Why does this obvious example of hardship and oppression make me think of a phrase I’ve sarcastically muttered when the beta male in front of me at Starbucks is lamenting the lack of whatever seasonal sugar beverage he just ordered? (No, I can’t be more specific — these people sound like Charlie Brown’s teachers to me.) I think it’s obvious: We live such coddled, bubble-wrapped, reality-free lives that I’m not entirely convinced we are capable of understanding the abnormality of our predicament. Third wave feminists, awash in a sea of microaggressions, have the luxury of choosing which outrage they will wear for a week, or until their hashtag stops trending — whichever comes first. I am aware of the millions of characters that have been devoted to the mocking of slacktivism or hashtag activism, but it still is not enough. While women in Iran go to prison for showing their hair, women in this country debate whether “eye-raping” is legitimate sexual assault and if maybe we should just give women the ultimate safe space — an option to avoid interacting with men entirely in public.
Maybe God gives us what we can handle, but are we just in decline? Does the fact that I have the freedom to sit up, late into the night, scroll through social media and the news on my tiny supercomputer make me less capable of hardship? Yes and no. Life is difficult and unpredictable, and what is hard for me is not necessarily a big deal for someone else, and vice versa. But when I’m as disconnected from real life as we in the West are to an extent, it makes it more difficult to put things into perspective. What if we tore ourselves away from gazing at our navels and instead focused on people in the world — women in this world — who could use our considerable clout?
The included slideshow from Reuters features several arresting images of women throughout the world — Mexican women protesting cartel violence, Venezuelans standing on line overnight for diapers — alongside pussy-hat wearing, upper middle-class white girls and “handmaids.” There are no pictures of Yazidi women who have endured and escaped sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS.
Don’t misunderstand. This is not a game of trauma oneupmanship, but merely an attempt to remind us in the West that we’ve got it pretty good. Last week, Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote a short, precise piece for WSJ entitled, “Will Saudi Arabia Free Its Women?” briefly examining the reformist promises of Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. He seems determined to modernize the Kingdom, having already allowed laxity in the guardianship laws, but there is a long way to go.
Saudi women do not have freedom of movement and never become fully independent legal persons. Regardless of age, they need permission from a male guardian to travel overseas, apply for a passport, marry, or be released from prison. The guardian is usually a woman’s father or husband, but can also be a brother, cousin or even son. Imagine the humiliation of a middle-aged woman having to ask a young son’s approval for important and mundane life decisions.
Guardians’ reach doesn’t stop at the border. Last April, 24-year-old Dina Ali Lasloom was held up by Filipino authorities as she changed planes at Manila International Airport. Ms. Lasloom had left Saudi Arabia against her family’s wishes. Her Saudi uncles appeared and whisked her back to Riyadh. An airline official told Human Rights Watch he heard Ms. Lasloom begging for help before being carried out in a wheelchair with duct tape on her mouth, feet and hands. The Saudi government said this was “a family matter,” and she has not been heard from since.
We are very, very blessed to have such freedoms to take for granted. I can’t imagine asking anyone for permission to go to the store, let alone the doctor’s office. Having a guardian at 40 would be absolute hell.
Having been raised in the age of third wave feminism, I had always assumed that Western feminists would take up the cause of women in truly oppressed parts of the world. After 9/11, when I started paying attention to these things, I waited for the articles chronicling the treatment of women as property in other countries. I waited for the prominent feminists decrying the fact that women are punished for their own rapes unless men had witnessed it. That the testimony of women is only worth half that of males. There were some, to be sure, but eventually, these became so sparse as to be basically nonexistent and we settled back into talk of wage gaps and the lack of women in STEM being examples of institutionalized sexism.
And now, after Weinstein and MeToo, we get talk of women-only train carriages. Separatist feminism seems to have taken hold, and it’s baffling.
But if you look beyond the current hysteria, something sinister is happening. Barriers between men and women that had been knocked down by feminists are being resurrected — in the name of feminism. Whereas it used to be religious groups that enforced sexual morality, in our modern, secular culture, the loudest voices on the internet are taking over that responsibility.
Culturally, we are now witnessing the pendulum swing from freedom of expression toward a sort of self-censorship at the urging of a small but strident number of alarmists. Regardless of where one falls on the social spectrum, this has to be disturbing. Modesty and situational awareness are wonderful things, but being ruled by fear is another.
Giving up our liberty in the name of “safety” from the possibility of the uncontrollable nature of man is the sort of thing used in the past to deprive women of rights in the first place. It is the argument used in places with some of the worst human rights records imaginable.
Are we really considering giving up the rights our forebears fought for — rights that women all over the world dream of — voluntarily, based on fear and alarmism? Or should we fight for women in these dark places, while seeking to change the behavior toward women in the West that is obviously abhorrent? Giving up our rights isn’t a step forward, it’s a step toward making our handmaid fever dreams a reality. One Mike Pence and Donald Trump would have absolutely nothing to do with creating.
For more of @hyacinthgrrl’s writing, be sure and visit her blog, The Hyacinth Girl.
Guest Contributor Bryan O’Nolan
The memory is firmly set, finely attenuated: he sat across the room from me, the room simultaneously coldly clinical, stale and bland. It was a room never intended to be recognized as a space or remembered as a place one had ever been. The chairs must have been tolerably comfortable once, now they were faded and worn. By the door a white noise generator hushed. I remember it well.
In that room -- that beige, impersonal room: that empty, impersonal space -- we sat, and we spoke. We had done the same many times: he in conflict, divided; I, a caring, directed influence trying to help him cope and grow and manage.
He had made some progress, I recall, but there was more.
He is there, in my memory; his eyes are cast down: they are grey, as I remember them. His shoulders are slumped, if only ever so slightly, in a momentary, melancholy sag. He is a man, a young man: a tired, young man, haphazardly enveloped in his clothes; it is as if his laundry pile had accosted him in ambush that morning and won. He is exhausted, directionless and empty.
He would be dead in the next twelve hours.
He would be dead in the next twelve hours, but in my memory he is alive and breathing. We speak: I, in this memory, a mental health counselor, working with the severely mentally ill, which I was: he, in this memory, is a man in his mid-twenties, a man just realizing that the diagnosis I and others had given him -- schizophrenia, paranoid type -- might be real, which it was.
He would be dead in the next twelve hours, asphyxiated.
The moment I remember most is not the one I failed to recognize in the moment. It is one that after the panicked phone call came and the tears came and my breath came short and dark and terrible, came then and many times thereafter.
This man I embraced and welcomed and cared for and cheered for was gone.
He was dead.
He was dead and it had been my job to promote his health and to help him circumvent this end.
He was dead and it will stay forever with me. I regret that the clearest moment of our time together is not our last meeting, but the phone call: I am panicked and ashamed and falling into an armchair, or I’m calling, all thumbs, to his family.
I failed them; I failed him.
Yes, he was mentally ill.
He was a young man: his illness was young and still yet new-formed. A celebrity had been in contact with him; his supposed friends bullied him and fed his delusions. He was given to my care after he had spent an unwilling stay in an institution; he met with me as a condition of his freedom.
He struggled, he suffered. He was alone and scared. He fought. His world made little sense and it made complete, troubled sense. He loved his cat, his only friend. He worked for his father, which gave his life regular if insufficient meaning. His past -- his terrible, traumatic, offensive past: his deeply troubled, unsettled and offensive past -- bore down upon him.
He was mentally ill.
It was my job to help him, though little could I help him.
He was mentally ill, as am I.
I am alive because the intervention of my family caused me to seek help and live. Most days I am well, happy and productive; I have my down days, days my wife can see coming because she knows me better than I know myself. I am simultaneously better because of and better than my medications.
Mental illness is a struggle, but I fight. My client did; my clients did.
He died alone and ashamed, with a plastic bag and a tank of gas intended for children’s birthday parties, celebrations of living his final companions in death.
He was mentally ill.
I miss him every damn day.
* * *
The term “mentally ill” has been used frequently in recent times as a stand-in for some hated territory beyond “crazy” and “insane.” Alleged comedian Jimmy Kimmel recently called the president “mentally ill.” Joy Behar recently described Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith as “mental illness.” Qualified to formally diagnose a mental illness neither Mr. Kimmel nor Ms. Behar are; in fact, though I was once certified to do so, I can not -- nor ever could, as I have not met, interviewed and formally assessed him -- lay a diagnosis upon President Trump.
The problem here is not the speaker’s assessment of the president, but rather their use of a term with a formal definition. The term “mentally ill” has been codified as a formal, technical term. There is a governmentally recognized distinction between those who are severely mentally ill and those who are severely and persistently mentally ill.
By using the term as an insult, Kimmel and Behar and anyone else so speaking are stigmatizing a great many conditions of which sufferers and their families are often already ashamed. When shooting survivor David Hogg asserts that the mentally ill should not have guns, he is equating all people with mental health diagnoses with the evil young man who killed seventeen people.
This is ill-informed, unfair and stupid.
Reinforcing the stigma of illness also reinforces the stigma of treatment. This costs lives.
Kimmel and Behar were most likely too caught up in their partisan rending of garments to think much on those they hurt, but they are foolishly and coolly allowing millions to be disparaged to score points partisan political.
* * *
We have this strange myopia in our culture when it comes to words. We are taught about sticks and stones as children but then treat words as violence as adults. Too often, our allegedly thick skins shrivel to mere paper armor when the insults fly. What is seen as an actionable insult is so often countered with the word snowflake that civil discourse might soon be couched in formal terms like a 19th-century duel. The constant tension between denotation and connotation, between the dictionary definition and the emotional color we bring to words, threatens to tear us, as a people, apart. Too often we find our struggles fought in pointed barbs.
When I was a kid, the words retard and retarded were tossed around pejoratively. These words were derived from the technical term mental retardation which, stripped of its negative connotation, is a reasonably accurate description of the condition. Naturally, people with the condition and their families did not like the stigmatizing effect this use of the word had.
So far, so good.
The next step is where it gets strange. A movement arose which resulted in a change of terminology. What had been called mental retardation became intellectual disability. Instead of changing the underlying problem (people who have intellectual problems are still inherently endowed with human dignity and should not be a tool for insult or an object of derision) the term used was changed.
This is a dangerous pattern.
When we take technical terms and, through a kind of linguistic alchemy, make of them an insult and then, instead of challenging the underlying stigma, we change the technical term we create or continue a futile linguistic spiral where the terms of hate are changed but the hate lives on.
* * *
I would be in great error if I made so great a show out of what should not be done about mental illness and then did not put ink to a word or two about what can. Mental illness is, often by its nature, isolating. Sufferers isolate, sometimes out of shame, sometimes because the symptoms themselves drive people away. Many families of sufferers isolate as well, sometimes out of shame, sometimes because they do not themselves understand how to begin to answer the questions others will ask.
There are times when a person with a mental illness just needs to be alone.
This is the exception.
What people with mental illnesses, of any severity, need most of all is companionship. They want someone to be with them out of common humanity, caring, or love. With many illnesses, particularly those most severe, this may not be easy. It may even be difficult.
The answer to this -- the answer to all of this! -- is understanding.
If you are diagnosed with a mental illness, consult with your doctors and counselors as to the specific reasons for it, and know that mental illness is as unique as the person diagnosed with it.
If you have a family member who you believe has some sort of mental illness, get them to a doctor or emergency room.
If you have a family member who has a diagnosed mental illness, get all the information you can about the diagnosis, the prognosis and the treatment. Consider whether or not a support group, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness is right for you. Find out how best to support and help your loved one; a new diagnosis is a difficult time for all involved and you will be having your own struggles coping and managing. Take care of yourself, as well.
If you and your family have not been touched by mental illness, I am happy for you. (No, really!) I would, however, ask that you keep an open, curious mind when you hear the term mental illness in the news, in conversation or on social media. There’s more to mental illness than shooting up schools and ranting naked on park benches, trust me.
Bryan O’Nolan is a former mental health counselor. He can be found on twitter @BryanONolan. He has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety.
Guest Contributor @hyacinthgrrl
“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
I must admit, I haven’t read Julius Caesar in a very long time, so when a fragment of this quote broke loose and floated to the surface of my memory as I was chasing toddlers in the snow, I had to stop and Google it. I had been thinking about the Parkland shootings, (as we all have), pretty consistently and I was becoming more horrified as each successive story broke detailing the failure on local, state, and federal levels. When I started this essay, we had just learned about Scot Peterson. As I pick up where I left off, we’ve learned that a total of four law enforcement officers did not enter the school as Nikolas Cruz murdered his former classmates and teachers, and that first responders were initially prohibited from entering the campus. What initially began as an essay on courage has become something entirely different. Let’s see where this goes, shall we?
Several years and a lifetime ago, I wrote a blog post elsewhere about courage and fear, and how examining certain scenarios in our minds before they happen can lead to less indecision if the worst ever came to pass. I’d recently experienced an onslaught of pretty heavy anxiety brought on by the loss of my daughter, and was experiencing what would later be diagnosed as PTSD.
Hypervigilance has always been my coping mechanism, but in a life free of the stressors I had experienced for the previous several years, I’d started having anxiety attacks. There are lengthy psychological explanations for why this happens with which I will not bore you, but long story short, I began to run scenarios in my head as a way to calm my mind. It helped, immensely. Even if nothing went the way I’d expected, knowing that I’d considered as many of the situational possibilities imaginable made me feel like I was doing something.
Basically, I made the decision to do something before I was presented with the choice. This can be extrapolated out to situations of varying degrees of danger and violence. Not armchair quarterbacking, not laboring under the delusion that you will turn into John Wick during a crisis situation, but the simple decision to help those in need if the situation ever arises.
Coming back to these deputies at MSDHS who decided to shelter in place rather than doing their jobs, I know that they have at some point made the decision to risk their lives for the people they are supposed to protect. Or they should have. I mean, it’s their job. And they chose to do nothing. The people in that building—the teachers and students who gave their lives to save others—may not have made that decision consciously, but they valued human life, so much so that they did what needed to be done, giving their own lives for others. They were undoubtedly afraid, but courage is being afraid and doing the right thing anyway.
Some commentators and others on social media have said that men respond this way, that men are wired to protect the weak, but I posit that this is a human response. Some women have never had the luxury of being able to depend on anyone, let alone a man, to protect them from harm. Some women have had to make these decisions on their own to never let anyone be victimized on their watch, because we know what it’s like to be let down and treated as not worth protection.
Humanity is possessed both by better angels and their opposing counterparts, and yet many have chosen only to expect the former while viewing the latter as aberrations. But to do so is folly.
Historically, there has been a limited expectation of government’s ability to protect the individual—in fact, quite the opposite. Moving away from the excesses and unreliability of monarchy, our Founders drafted a document of negative rights. And yet, western civilization has moved away from this healthy mistrust of the governmental leviathan, and has come to view it, paradoxically, as some sort of benevolent, parental entity. And when government fails us, as it did in the Parkland shooting—the authorities on every level had numerous warnings regarding the shooter—people respond with fear, clamoring for something to be done to prevent this from happening again. With more laws.
But what good are more laws if the people we’ve placed our faith in to uphold our existing laws fail to act? Banning bump stocks, placing more restrictions on whatever type of gun is deemed the evil du jour—none of this will keep us safer. And if new laws enacted out of fear take away the rights of law-abiding citizens, then we become less safe as a society as a whole. Let’s have honest debates about certain weapons and arming teachers and mental health—but let’s not forget that placing one’s personal safety in the hands of others can go spectacularly wrong, especially if we make the assumption that some bureaucracy has our best interests at heart. Individuals are invested in community, governments are not, in any meaningful sense.
Identifying bureaucratic rot, holding government officials accountable for their actions, (or inactions), and those of their subordinates is a good start toward preventing another Parkland. Falling for hyperbolic obfuscation initiated by an incompetent, (or corrupt), sheriff, a handful of oddly disconnected high school students, and the anti-gun crowd is not.
For more of @hyacinthgrrl’s writing, be sure and visit her blog, The Hyacinth Girl.
As Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan ramp up efforts to take on entitlement reform in 2018, you will hear several takes along the way about how the GOP doesn’t care about hungry kids, the elderly, and folks who actually need assistance from the government. Wading through these responses from far leftists and Democrat politicians sound like an episode of The Dr. Oz Show, where everything Republicans vote on or propose can “literally” kill you.
My views on entitlements cause many disagreements between myself and many of my Republican friends and counterparts. It’s one of many things that I feel justifies the self-identifying “Conservative Democrat” label. My Republican friends in college believed that helping others is never fully achieved through taxes, rather it was the role of private charities (nonprofits, churches, etc.). While I don’t disagree with that, I also think it’s incredibly important for the government to step in where those charities cannot. In some regards, we have a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves, be it in the form of SNAP for the family that’s having a tough time after the loss of a job, in the form of disability assistance for those who have a legitimate ailment that requires lots of medical assistance and renders them unable to work full capacity, and helping our seniors, many of whom were promised those social security benefits at retirement age from the time they started working. I get the point: it’s our own responsibility to help ourselves and largely, I agree with that. But unfortunate situations and circumstances happen and for those exceptions, our government should be there where private charities are not.
The Card With No Limit
There are many who wonder where I cultivated any sort of fiscal conservatism as a Democrat. It all started when I worked at the town grocery store through my last few years of high school. I worked about 40 hours a week, minimum wage, and there were great and not so great things about it. But it was where I learned that many people (not all, but many) who utilize EBT were able-bodied Americans who relied solely on the government to help them. Not the senior citizen who bought into the New Deal. Not the mother who worked 40+ hours a week who had a little extra help to do what she could for her kids.
For those who wonder where the term “entitlement” came from, you would have to be behind that cash register to fully understand it. While there were those who did not make a big deal about utilizing the SNAP/EBT program, there were several others who strutted about, flashed their cards like they were holding American Express Black; as if they were actually proud of being permanent recipients of a program that is meant to be a temporary fix. These weren’t Americans who needed a small boost to get them out of a hole; these were Americans who had officially given up on finding gainful employment. They succumbed to the belief that their role in life was to sit back and allow their government to control every aspect of their lives, including how much food their family was going to eat for the next two weeks. These were Americans who believed the American Dream was something they couldn’t provide for themselves. It used to make me angry as that sixteen-year old-cashier in small-town Arkansas. Looking back on those stories, I’m less angered and more heartbroken.
Sitting Alone At The Party
Those problems I listed are legitimate problems I have with certain entitlements and that is where the disconnect with many in my own party start. Democrats usually lie to themselves when they ignore these stories and others about people who claim SSI disability at ages nowhere near close to retirement caused by years of drug abuse, extreme obesity, “a bad back,” among other things. There is a sense of entitlement many people (not all, but many) on these programs have: it’s there, the government gives it to me, and I deserve this for [insert absurd reason here]. They don’t care what someone else earned and was taxed so that they could have food on their plate, be it the One Percenter up in the tower with their name on the building, the nurse making over 100K a year who squirrels most of her money away in 401K to keep the government’s hands off of it, the middle class family whose insurance went up post-Affordable Care Act, or the grocery store employee who stood there all day scanning groceries, struggling to eat ramen and pay bills while they arrogantly grin about the goodies in their basket.
I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a recipient of government programs. I utilized Pell Grant, loans, and other programs in college. I cashed out unemployment around the time I was fired from a stressful job in higher education. I’m not against help; it should exist for those who need it to get to the next part of their professional lives. But it amazes me that there are those who pay into these programs and “make too much money” to utilize them, usually those families in the middle class or single individuals who did the right thing and may actually need that temporary fix EBT or another program can provide.
Whenever anyone attempts to have a rational discussion about the long-term effects of creating a welfare state on the backs of others, an immediate shutdown occurs, followed by a play of identity politics. I actually had a young white millennial tell me one evening, “You’re black and you’re gay, how can you want a change in these programs?” when I stated how millions of Americans staying on entitlements long-term can harm our country.
For years, I would sort of dismiss or roll my eyes at my Republican friends who told me for years that Democrat politicians support these programs because it creates a voting base dependent upon them for survival. It seemed crazy to me that a party that claims to pride itself on help as needed (civil rights, LGBTQ rights, safe-legal-rare abortion, EBT, disability) would want people to remain dependent on the government exclusively for its survival. But witnessing how the last eight to ten years has created the worst sort of sense of entitlement and the worst sort of hyperbolic replies, (#ItsMyBody, #BakeMyCake, #EverythingIsRacist, #TaxTheRich) those Republicans begin to make a lot of sense.
Leave My Stuff Alone
I always believed in the mantra, “We help our kids, we help our seniors, we help those who have legitimate disabilities that render them unable to work, and we offer temporary assistance for those who need it. And everybody else needs to hit the pavement and work for the wages, their food, their health insurance.” For many on both sides of the aisle, that is unreasonable to ask. The far left says that’s not enough and everyone should have these things whether they can afford it or not, regardless of the reason. The far right believe “we” don’t help anyone but ourselves. But for many who share some of my line of thinking, these are things that we can negotiate and really explore. Having a rational discussion about a reasonable birth year to raise the age of Social Security or completely eliminate it, deciding a cap on SNAP/EBT programs in a lifetime, putting restrictions in place to keep those receiving these programs from abusing drugs are not unreasonable.
Democrats like California Senator Kamala Harris like to grandstand on entitlement reforms and ending government mandated healthcare by claiming the Republicans are “taking it from us.” What she and those who agree with her fail to realize is that Republicans can’t take something away from you that technically wasn’t yours to begin with. We talk about how we can cut military spending or cut multiple things funded by the government to provide food, clothing, and healthcare to millions. I agree that there is a lot of spending we should assess. But just because we can afford it, doesn’t mean that we should provide it. Attitudes like these slowly create societies where people feel financially and emotionally handicapped. It creates a society where programs aren’t temporary fixes but are permanent leaks and cracks that become too much for anyone fix. It eventually creates conditions like the ones you hear about in Venezuela, where the government rations your food and controls your money.
We need to strongly encourage an overhaul of government programs so those on entitlements who are nowhere near retirement age can jump into the workforce again, to be competitive in the workforce, to have income that is earned. The only way we can encourage that is by restricting or even eliminating programs designed to encourage those to rest on their laurels and forever enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor.
Regular Contributor Chad Felix Greene
It appears a major LGBT advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, is intentionally misrepresenting a now discredited claim that the Trump administration instructed the CDC not to use a series of words important to the Left. As Yuval Levin detailed in an article for National Review titled No, HHS Did Not ‘Ban Words’, the concern began when the Washington Post reported “The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.”
As Levin explains, however, “In other words, what happened regarding these other terms (“transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based”) was not that retrograde Republicans ordered career CDC officials not to use these terms but that career CDC officials assumed retrograde Republicans would be triggered by such words and, in an effort to avoid having such Republicans cut their budgets, reasoned they might be best avoided.”
The Left-wing media leapt to many conclusions ranging from demands of censorship to intentional targeting of LGBT Americans. On December 17th, 2017, the director of the CDC made a clear and public statement denying the assertion there were any banned words or that the Trump administration was interfering with research or reporting. On December 18th, 2017, the Human Rights Campaign tweeted: “After attempting to erase transgender Americans from CDC documents, we're now seeing the Trump-Pence administration refuse to disclose public comments on religious exemptions to #LGBTQ health care coverage.”
Nevertheless, the thought of the CDC refusing to use the word ‘transgender’ sent ripples of worry and anxiety through the LGBT world, mostly validating what the Left already believes about president Trump. The Washington Blade quoted Daniel Bruner, senior director of policy for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, saying, “For the CDC to be told when you’re submitting budget documents, don’t talk about transgender people, or even use the term is potentially horrifying.” The Blade further stated, “In the view of many LGBT advocates, the report reinforced the widely held belief the Trump administration is seeking to eliminate any mention of LGBT people from public life…”
Strangely, the HRC continued its efforts on December 19th, 2017 tweeting the list of words with the headline: HRC Projects CDC’s ‘Banned Words’ Onto Trump Hotel. The linked article contained an image of the phrase ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ projected onto the hotel. The article states, “In conjunction with the enormous light display, HRC has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for any and all records, including communications with the CDC, relating to the banned words from November 2016 onward.”
On the same day they tweeted, “Our message for the Trump-Pence Administration is this: you cannot erase us. We will meet attacks on our community with a resolve to be louder and more visible than ever before.”
The Director of the CDC, as stated, clarified this as a misrepresentation a full two days prior by tweeting: “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs.” And as Levin pointed out, it appears to be nothing more than members within the CDC presuming to know what Republican’s might react to and attempting to protect their budgets accordingly. This does not appear to be based on any evidence other than political prejudice. It is patently absurd to take the assumptions of politically-minded individuals within the CDC and determine it as evidence of motivation from the administration itself.
More baffling is that there is nothing to investigate here. Levin was easily able to verify the details and none of it is particularly nefarious. How could a massive organization representing the LGBT community stage a public protest two days after what they are protesting was proven to never have happened by official sources? From an outside perspective it seems the motivation is either purely blind dedication to a political narrative or intentional deception for the same goals. No honest, respectable organization would so blatantly deceive the public over something so easy to prove incorrect.
Unfortunately, the troubling truth is this organization is catering to an audience eager for protesting what they are utterly determined to believe is an oppressive government bent on their destruction. President Trump is arguably the most pro-gay president to ever walk into office and despite the hair-on-fire panic over his Vice Presidential choice, there is absolutely no indication his administration has any anti-LGBT goals in mind. The audacity to demand ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ has the same nonsensical pattern as the ‘You Will Not Replace Us!’ chant at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally earlier this year. Both groups seem profoundly lost in their own hallucination of events and are filled with outrage and intense emotion over absolutely nothing.
When ideological groups begin gathering to chant in defiance of their existence being threatened by an imaginary force, it becomes greatly concerning. What we see here is a series of confirmation bias events that appear to demonstrate a pattern. The HRC sites several Trump administration actions that provide evidence of this attempted ‘erasure’ of the LGBT community. They began in January of this year when they panicked over Trump ‘removing’ pages from the official White House website that included the words ‘LGBT.’ This, of course, was merely a transition from one presidency to another and Trump did not ‘remove’ anything. The next panic was over the accusation Trump ‘removed’ LGBT from the upcoming 2020 census report, a claim quickly proven false as sexual orientation and gender identity were not asked on the 2010 Obama-approved report previously.
More recently the HRC claimed the “…Trump-Pence administration refuse to disclose public comments on religious exemptions to #LGBTQ health care coverage.” This claim appears to be nothing more than speculation as the comments provided were selected to present a positive light on the proposal. However, it assumes religious exemptions would somehow impact LGBTQ healthcare. Beyond refusing to perform transgender surgeries, there is no currently demanded religious objection to providing the same care to LGBTQ individuals as everyone else. There is nothing for the Trump administration to disclose, which is likely why nothing was.
Lastly, on December 18th, 2017 the HRC tweeted several times in regard to President Trump’s National Security speech demanding to know why LGBTQ issues were not specifically addressed. They stated, “As #LGBTQ people are under attack in Chechnya, Egypt, and elsewhere, this National Security Strategy doesn't even acknowledge LGBTQ people and the threats that they face.” Strangely, the Left appears to now be highly concerned about the treatment of LGBT people in Islamic countries and controlled areas, something President Obama never addressed and which they never demanded previously. The primary theme of President Trump’s security speech was security in the United States. LGBT do not face any significant threats in the United States.
What the LGBT Left has done is collect the above examples and pieced them together into a narrative which confirms their belief in an intentionally anti-LGBT administration. The latest outrage, despite being disproven, fuels this fire. They react to the lack of evidence, or in this case the refutation of their claims, by concluding that the disproved narrative is, in fact, true enough for their current emotional outrage. If challenged they will simply ignore the claims or create further narratives of conspiracy or media deception etc. to maintain the view. They simply do not care that it is false.
It is profoundly disturbing that an organization of this size and influence, however, would be so willing to participate in such dramatic deception. It legitimately appears that the HRC is dedicated to pushing a narrative of an oppressive and dangerous anti-LGBT Trump administration by any means necessary. Sadly, the majority of LGBT individuals will accept it as true because it already fits what they believe must be true. Has the LGBT movement fallen so far that they must fabricate outrage in order to stay relevant? Is this what LGBT individuals want in representation and advocacy? From a purely objective point of view, these types of stunts only discredit and hurt the movement as a whole.
We must never cease in calling out deception and demanding truth from our media. Powerful voices are openly deceiving millions of people with grand acts of propaganda and theatrics and the simple truth that none of it is real does not matter. The only weapon we have against this type of campaign is repeatedly shouting out the truth and exposing the lies. To stay quiet and recognize defeat in the face of a remarkably dedicated and overpowering enemy is simply not an option.
For more from Chad, visit chadfelixgreene.com and follow him on Twitter @chadfelixg.
I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet. -Rodney Dangerfield
As we approach the end of first year of the Trump Administration, I thought it would be fun to review the impact that President Trump has had on my life and the country’s life, as I see it, both the presidential and the unpresidential.
The first thing that comes to mind is the improving economy, which is showing signs of life after 8 years in a semi-conscious state. For many, especially young people, the impact of the Obamacare economy was largely part-time employment. Because anything over 30 hours a week required an employer cover their health insurance, we got hourly workers who had to work 60 hours at two jobs with zero benefits and zero free time, or others, kids mostly, who had to commit to one part-time job exclusively or lose it. This put moving out of their parents’ nest beyond reach financially, and gave them wasted unproductive time largely spent eating and playing video games. Of course, Obamacare allowed them to stay on their parents’ insurance (assuming they had any) until they were 26, but the period after that was apparently not considered important enough to give any attention to, so they languished.
But now, under Trump, it seems like more and more “Help Wanted” signs are showing up, and not just part-time. I’m not sure about where you’re from, but from where I sit, opportunity is starting to knock again and full time jobs are becoming more available. I hear the unemployment rate may even go below 4%, which would be interesting, considering it never did count those who gave up looking for jobs. I wonder what happens when they all start getting hired again. I suspect the move from part-time to full-time jobs is making a difference in real dollars, and I can certainly attest to that in my world, as my own kids have better jobs now than they did last year. A new sense of confidence seems to be wafting over things, and even if President Dangerfield continues to moronically tweet his way through the Halls of Government for the next 3 years, his overall impact on the economy so far is proving to be a positive one. Even his detractors have to grudgingly admit that stocks are up and things look brighter, economically speaking.
I’m not saying these detractors don’t have anything to complain about when it comes to the sometimes juvenile Trump. He is one of the most thin-skinned and transparent man-children I’ve seen in years. That said, I still get a chuckle from watching grown adults attempt to deal with being so wrong last year, especially the ones who can't see any redeeming qualities in him at all. Like those dealing with a death in the family, these Trump haters now range from resigned bitter acceptance to continued rage at the man, even after all this time. On both the Left and the Right, people still wail and moan about how ‘unpresidential’ he is, and how so-and-so would have been so much better.
We were taught that the President of the United States was to be gracious and genteel...quick to laugh and slow to anger, at least in public. We were taught that the President should be always patient and kind, and whether blessed with a sharp wit or dull, to be temperate in his speech and manner. The President was to be a gentleman (or woman) and wise...deserving of the respect of the Office as well as deserving of the respect for the character of the person holding it. The President must have the heart and will to do good for the sake of the country, with humility and modesty, to shine as an example of what any American could achieve.
At least, that’s what we were taught.
In reality, we've had our share of cads and scoundrels living in the White House, and a Free Press more than willing to hide their sins from the public for the Public Good. In Trump, we have the opposite...an orange, bumbling big mouth and media on both ends of the spectrum that are more than willing to showcase every flaw this president has, which are many.
In the past, we’ve had presidents who were vicious, vindictive, and violent. With sometimes temperamental egos and much arrogance, these men thought nothing of stepping on anything that kept them from power. But the public at large was always shown the softer side. The Statesman, the Calm Leader with the serious demeanor of resolute wisdom, at least for the most part. But Trump is the layman president, and while being wealthy and mostly respected before being elected, still comes into meetings like a Regular Joe, with a comfortable easy-going humor that, by all accounts, immediately breaks the ice. Of course it also occasionally backfires as he tosses both good taste and tact out the window for the sake of a cheap laugh, usually at someone else’s expense. His enemies leap to showcase these moments, hoping to bring him down for being a lout.
Politics has always been messy. George Washington may have been the last person to occupy the Oval Office with so much distinguished high moral character and so few political enemies. However, even Washington probably had moments when he would have rather been fishing than dealing with the realities of the political process he was burdened with.
With Trump, we have two things most presidents had: his ego, which is massive, and, I believe, the heart and will to want to do good for the country. He wants to be the best President he can be. On the other hand, while he may be a very smart man with good sense in many ways, he has also proven that he's an adolescent in many others. No one can mangle a comment or phrase like he does when he's riffing at the worst of times and places.
Remember, even he didn’t think he was going to win the election. So while he makes mistakes and shoots his Twitter mouth off like a WWE trash-talking wrestler, I figure he has the heart to try to fix what he sees as broken, and is learning to have sense enough to listen to people he trusts who may know more than him. That doesn’t make him less of a gaffe-prone diplomatic amateur, but it does make him redeemable. I remain presidentially optimistic, but realistic enough to expect mistakes as he plods along wanting to be right all the time.
Yet amid all this distraction, his administration is not standing still. His appointees and Cabinet are burning through regulations, enforcing laws, and filling judge positions at a quick rate, undoing much of what the narcissist Obama and his corrupt bunch were trying to advance. Sure, the next bunch can undo this activity if they gain power, but Trump has at least 3 years to make permanent what he can, and hopefully Congress will soon start making some good moves in that direction as well.
On the world stage, Trump’s global trips have been successful, despite media ill-will and unflattering spin to make him out to be more of a President Dangerfield than he actually is. He’s charmed various leaders while alienating others, but we expected that. At home, he continues to keep his base happy while his chagrined enemies fester and fume at his latest ‘mistake’ as they see it. As of this writing, Mr. Mueller could not be reached for comment, but even with an investigation under way, Trump is not letting it or ‘Fake News’ stop him from doing what he thinks is right.
Like Rodney Dangerfield, Trump gets no respect, no respect at all. To many, he could easily fire off a nuke and blow us all to Kingdom Come, but he probably won’t. He could easily offend world leaders potentially causing global mayhem, and probably already has. He could also do some good and listen to people that others still ignore, and he probably is. None of these are mutually exclusive.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but President Dangerfield, imperfect but amiable, is doing pretty good so far if you ask me.
Classic Rodney Dangerfield:
The concept of Federalism, as envisioned and created by our Founders, is not something modern Americans have experienced. It exists only in the minds of a relatively small number of idealists and scholars. The United States of America as they exist today do not reflect the vision of our Founders or the clear wording of the United States Constitution. Instead of a union of free, independent States, we are merely vassal states paying homage and tribute to a distant overlord.
With the States losing their Constitutionally derived authority and duty to check the power of the federal government, it has been allowed to grow far beyond its original purpose, usurping the States’ role in direct governance and assuming the role of moral compass. This transformation was, by turns, violent and insidiously innocuous. To return to our Federalist roots, We the People must be bold, retaking our rightful role in the hierarchy of power, stripping undue power and authority from the federal government and returning it to the States.
From 1789 to 1860 the way in which power was exercised in America by and large adhered to the framework given in the Constitution. The federal government was given well-defined and limited powers, while the power of the States was intentionally broad and virtually unlimited. It was accepted that the legislatures of the several States were in a better position to determine what was best for their own citizens. However, a long unsettled and contentious issue brought forth a serious moral debate in regard to the federal government’s authority to regulate governing practices within the individual States. Slavery, contrary to popular belief, was not accepted or endorsed by all of the Founders. While viewed as morally wrong and even an affront to God, by many of these men, they placed the ratification of the Constitution first. It was widely believed that slavery would, over time, be viewed as the moral stain that is was, and that the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of the newly written Constitution would eventually push slave owners into an ideological corner, forcing them to abandon it. While we can criticize this “Three-Fifths Compromise” ad nauseam, ensuring the ratification of the Constitution and the formation of a union of states was not only the logical path, but the only path that assured the issue of slavery would be confronted and resolved.
After years of compromise, heated rhetoric, and the occasional violence committed by both sides, the election of Abraham Lincoln was viewed by many as the catalyst that divided the Union. In response to the election, South Carolina issued the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” After the secession of six more southern States, the governing body of South Carolina ordered federal troops to leave their position at Fort Sumter and quit the State. With their refusal to comply and the Civil War that followed, Constitutional Federalism was dealt the first of many grievous wounds. The principle of State sovereignty was erased with fire and blood.
Following the war, the assault on republican Federalist ideals continued unabated. Reconstruction, the systematic dismantling of existing power structures in southern States, put legislative authority behind the idea that the national, or federal, superseded the will of the sovereign States and the people residing therein. Contrary to Constitutional limits on federal government power, Congress took on the role of moral and political arbiter for the States, supplanting the reality of a union of free States with the illusion of homogeneous national identity.
While doing a more detailed study on the legal history surrounding the passing of the 16th amendment to the Constitution and the events that preceded it, the obvious obfuscation and weird political / Constitutional theory made one thing abundantly clear: This was the most obvious and immoral power grab in US history up until that point. The individual income tax remains the largest single revenue stream for the federal government.
Until 1913, the federal government existed primarily on revenue from “consumption” taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs. As the federal government slowly expanded its power (as governments of men are wont to do), they expanded the encroachment upon the rights and powers of the People and of the several States. As they left the realm of “general welfare” and ventured into “specific welfare,” the size, reach, and cost of running the federal government began to increase. In order to fund this, the United States Congress amended the Constitution to change or “clarify” Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4, giving them a virtually unlimited stream of revenue. Additionally, by taking away the power of taxation from the several States, the federal government was able to further marginalize the State governments by becoming a funding source for State revenue / budget shortfalls, using tax dollars that should have been collected by the State to begin with.
Along with the federal monies came regulations, rules about the way certain programs would run, and unprecedented federal oversight of overall State government function. The State legislatures had essentially turned into subordinate entities, as opposed to the semi-sovereign, independent governments they were intended to be, and citizens became subjects of the federal government. Taking a portion of people’s income and wealth to fund the very institutions that only exist to control and regulate them seems especially cruel, considering we are now told that we need the federal government and its overall control for the good of society and that to remain safe from *fill in the blank,* we must abandon freedom for the protective embrace of the benevolent ruler.
Such is the power of taxation. The money goes up the ladder, a slightly smaller amount of money in the form government services comes back down, but with conditions attached. Constitutional republican Federalism had received another major blow, but still another would land the same year, ending the charade the federal government had made of it.
The founders were very clever men. When creating the Congress, they left the appointment of Senators up the the legislatures of the States. This brilliant move gave the States yet another tool with which they could keep the federal government in check. The States knew that they could use their leverage in the Senate to ensure the interests of the central government would not overshadow the rights of the citizens. By changing the manner in which Senators were chosen, they removed a huge piece of insulation between the individual and the federal government. The various reasons given did nothing to justify undermining the last levee holding back the tide of federal intrusion. It was as if the federal government saw it as their job to police corruption within the state legislatures, step in to break deadlock, and force them to fill vacancies.
None of these things are within the proper Constitutional authority of the federal government. Furthermore, this system was never meant to be efficient. The ways in which the President, Representatives, and Senators are elected differ to reflect the jobs they do and the way each offsets the other.
Senators were not elected to represent individuals or constituents. They represented their entire state. With the 17th amendment, the power of the fifty individual States passed from reality to imagination with the States themselves pulling the trigger, having been duped by the romanticism of the popular vote. Senators, once unhampered by public will, had now become panders who never really solved anything, letting issues fester so they would always have a platform for reelection. It became a smaller version of the House, rife with petty disputes and vendettas. With the first Senators elected by popular vote, Federalism breathed its last and The United States became America.
We have watched the federal government grow, take on debt in our names, dictate what should be personal decisions, and legislate liberty into submission. It seems as if the beast is too big to stand against, too powerful to oppose. People must remember where the true power lies: With them.
The Constitution is a contract. The federal government has not upheld its end; instead, it perverts and destroys this contract under the noses of the oblivious citizens, who were duped into believing this is the way things were meant to be. The solution is clear: We must set a date for a Constitutional Convention. Give the States time to select delegates. All non-essential functions of the current federal government must be immediately suspended, while the essential, Constitutional, functions shall fall under a civilian council selected from among the delegates. All federal courts would be abolished and all federal laws suspended unless they fall within the bounds of the Constitution. The delegates will then return it to its original form, excluding anything that violates the principles of this country's founding. We cast off this illusion of powerlessness and regain what is ours.
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered one of the most powerful and moving speeches in our history. His words should ring in all of our ears and remind us of the duty we have to the cause of liberty: "This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment for this country. For my own part I consider it nothing less then a question of freedom and slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions for fear of giving offense, I shall consider myself guilty of treason towards my country and of an act of disloyalty towards the Majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings."
Being a Mexican-American is not like being a German-American, an Italian-American, or even an Egyptian-American. For some Mexican-Americans, it is not enough to be of Mexican lineage. One must pride themselves for having come from Mexico and being descendents of the murderous Aztec Empire. Most importantly, they must not forget their mother tongue, Spanish.
Earlier this month, I was annoyingly reminded of these individuals who feel they have a right to demand other Mexican-Americans speak Spanish. They also feel it is their moral imperative to inform me that I am not a real Mexican. I know right? Real a**holes. After leaving this less-than-pleasant individual, I could not help but think of my family history and what brought them here.
My father does not know Spanish. My mother only speaks ranchero Spanish, which is more slang than actual Spanish. I am a 4th generation American, and my ancestors came from the poorest regions of Mexico. They did not come here for vacation, or even temporary work. They came to make America their home, as their lives were largely fated for agrarian poverty if they did not.
A Mexican’s social status, income attainment, and even education, have mostly been determined by the color of their skin and by their pedigree. It is very easy to see this disparity today. One only needs to look those at the fore of Mexico’s government, commerce, and even television personalities versus those who work the fields in the rural states. Who looks more white and who looks more moreno (non-pejorative for “brown”) determines who is at the top in Mexico. My ancestors have all been moreno, and therefore poor.
In spite of this, many 3rd and 4th generation Mexican-Americans fly the Mexican flag with pride. They believe “the border crossed them” and America owes them for their grievances against the gringos. They demand all Mexican-Americans know Spanish fluently. For them, a Mexican-American who does not speak Spanish is not worthy of the designation.
Other Mexican chauvinists I have encountered have literally said my parents did me a disservice by not teaching me the Spanish language or Mexican culture. As if I needed a critique from a man with neck tattoos or another who was looking for the nearest bus stop.
They fail to recognize the racial injustice many Mexicans fled and the opportunity America continues to hold. For many morenos, including my ancestors, a life in Mexico meant grinding poverty and a judgmental society that looked down upon them for being more Native than Spaniard. They would never be invited to dine in the walled villas of the Mexican elite, but they could clean their dishes. Why would anyone do that in Mexico, when you do the same in America and have indoor plumbing?
A moreno in America could earn enough money to send his children to school instead of having them till the fields for subsistence in Mexico. A moreno could live a more comfortable life in America and with less discrimination. The United States even 30 years ago was not as discriminatory as Mexico is today, yet many Mexican-Americans ignorantly deny this claim and argue that it is America which is more racist.
That is not to say Mexicans have not experienced racial prejudice in America. An ignorant American once shouted a racial epithet at my grandfather, but he would go on to tell me, “They’re only words. F**k them. They don’t control me, mijo. I control me.” My grandfather ignored both ignorant Americans and ignorant Mexicans who wanted America to become more like Mexico. He let them live in their ignorance while he worked hard and cared for his family as best he could.
My great-grandfather worked until his dying day, but some his children went to college, others got good jobs, and some joined the U.S. military to fight in World War II. He learned six languages (including English) to become one of the best-paid Mexicans in his town. He even earned more than some of his white peers. My grandmother wanted for nothing as a child and the family was comfortable. In Mexico, that would have never happened. It is not that well-paying jobs did not exist, but rather the best jobs only went to people who were not moreno.
I will never feel badly for not speaking Spanish, and I will never feel Mexican pride. Why should I speak the language and cherish the culture of those who treated my ancestors more like serfs than citizens? I have pride in my ancestors who have done what all good parents do: ensure their children have a better life than they did.
I have often desired to engage those who ignorantly espouse the tribalist tenets of La Raza and selfishly demand Mexican-Americans speak Spanish. I have wanted to ask those who criticized my parents, “Why don’t you return to Mexico if you have such pride for it?” But to do so would give credence to their ignorance. Instead, I will follow the lessons of my ancestors and remember: “They don’t control me. I control me.”