Food for thought: Is it wrong to bring up famous artists’ and humanitarians’ foibles? MLK, Jr. and JFK were notorious womanizers. The poet Wallace Stevens and writer Virginia Woolf were racist pro-colonialists. Gandhi tyrannized his wife and children. Marion Zimmer Bradley, who wrote the masterpiece novel THE MISTS OF AVALON, allowed her husband to sexually abuse their children. Mother Theresa schmoozed with dictators without challenging their committing of cruelties. The list goes ever on. Ultimately, no famous person was truly a saint. For many, they were far from being so. But, sometimes I feel more readily neutral and able to still engage with the contributions of a person more easily than another’s. It all depends, case by case. However, I generally can and do eventually get to a place of appreciating someone’s work regardless of the individual’s shortcomings in their lifetime. That all said, I don’t think any messengers conveying the wrongdoings of a famous contributor to society should be shamed or vilified. It is important to learn from the mistakes of others so as not to repeat them.
Colonization, among other things, is mass predation. Over-predation by humans is a core problem. Peaceful, reciprocal coexistence is a worthwhile alternative, even if achieving this may seem impossible. I live to be a part of such a vision, even if I never see it manifest much in my lifetime.
The timing of Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona leaving the Democratic Party and registering as Independent is note-worthy. Three days after Democratic Senator of Georgia Raphael Warnock wins re-election, she makes this big announcement on television and other media of her plan to register as Independent. My initial reaction was of surprise and to think of her as a “spoil sport.” My surprise has since faded away. I already long understood her to be a turn coat sell out. Ms. Sinema has certainly (d)evolved quite a ways, a social worker (which I am too) who once belonged to the Green Party earlier on in her political career. I remember initially having hope for Arizona and, by extension, the rest of the country when she was running for Senate. This federal legislator is such a clear, current example of corruption, yet another person who drank the Kool-Aid of power and succumbed to its addicting taste. Apparently, Senator Sinema’s campaign accepted about one million dollars in corporate Wall Street donations, for which she turned around and did good by those special interests by not voting for more fair, progressive changes to the tax code for us non-wealthy working folk. And she voted against raising the national minimum wage requirement to $15.00 an hour– with her being trained as a social worker, no less. These are only a few examples of her downward change that come to mind. It is sad and frustrating to witness a person in power move so far away from their own humble, human roots.
I sincerely hope someone who is comparatively more progressive than Ms. Sinema will run against her in 2024. I am no political analyst, but I read that one likely reason the senator switched her party affiliation is to avoid the possibility of losing her primary against a Democrat in the next election cycle. I have also read that this switch could work against her. Some Democrat will win in the primary, without Sinema having participated in it, and very possibly gain momentum against her, especially given the legislator’s very mixed voting record in the Senate. We shall see.
While I myself recently re-registered to vote as an Independent or, as it is actually called in Massachusetts, Un-enrolled, I continue to vote mostly for Democrats and never Republicans. In MA, we voters are largely Un-enrolled and tend to vote Democrat more often than not. Hence, MA is about as Blue a state as there is in America.
In the U.S.A., I, and many, long for a system where more than two parties have power and corporate interests stop dictating so much (or probably all) of national policy. So many Democrats in all branches of the federal government continue to kowtow to the corporatocracy right along with pretty much all members of the GOP. Until, and if ever, we have a multi-party system, and big money out of electoral politics (which I have not completely given up hope over this happening someday), I’ll simply vote for, donate to, and root for more progressive political candidates wherever and whenever I can.
I woke up from a dream in which I was doing Brainspotting with Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, the “spot” being his intention to win re-election. The imagery was interesting, as I had Mr. Warnock focus inward on a circular image representing his achieving this goal. I felt confident and focused in the dream.
I just made my fourth small donation to his campaign. I hope I can help make this dream come true.
I say term limits for all federal level political offices, set up in this way:
SCOTUS- One 12 year term, with the requirement that a justice retires by 70 years of age (which is the case for Massachusetts SJC justices). This means that, if a judge is older than 58 when appointed, their term will be shorter than 12 years. (Just think, Justice Thomas would have been gone from the bench over four years ago already.)
All other federal justices- One 12 year term, with the possibility of 70 years age of retirement requirement as well.
U.S. Senators- Two 6 year terms, then no more time in the Senate.
U.S. Representatives- Five or six terms of 2 years each, then no more time in the House.
U.S. President- Leave term limits as is. I used to think of changing this office to being one 6 year term, but now I think otherwise. Having Trump in office for another two years would have been that much more disastrous. Let voters continue to decide if a president should have a second 4 year term.
If someone wins a special election during mid term of a newly deceased or outgoing senator or representative, that remaining time counts as a whole term. No tagging on an extra partial term to a whole 10 or 12 years of term limits.
Add at least a four year lag time rule for how soon a former U.S. senator or rep. can join a lobbying firm after leaving office, if they are allowed to join one at all.
Short of implementing a Constitutional amendment for all of the above to be enshrined into law, I don’t think there is any other way to make these changes happen. Still, I like to dream.
My impression of the physically adorable looking Christian Walker, one of the GOP U.S. Senate candidate’s (for GA) Herschel Walker’s children, is that he’s pretty mixed up inside. He’s out as gay but hates Queer pride. And he passionately supports Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a man he says he “loves.” Hmm, me thinks I detect some self hatred going on here. Well, after his life being “destroyed” (Christian’s own description) by his absent, narcissistic (my added descriptor) father, along with whatever else he grew up enduring, no wonder why this cute kid comes across as a hot mess. All that expression of beauty and joie de vivre is being so misguided and misdirected, imho.
I hope Christian Walker gets some serious psychotherapy and/or other kinds of life interventions that wake him the hell up. I empathize with and hold compassion for his hurt and rage at his absentee and lying parent. But, similar to his unhinged dad, Christian appears to be in the throes of a narcissistically driven political media frenzy. Sure, he’s young and on a journey to find out who he is. However, what an unmindful, hurtful way he’s doing so out on social media. Others’ lives (such as queer lives, including the true wellbeing of his own) are in the crosshairs of this obnoxiously manufactured culture war Christian has appeared to join the wrong side of. I guess this is yet another example of how apples don’t fall far from the tree. So sad.
Since the recent death of the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II (QE2 or the queen for short), there has been a flurry of positive and negative posts on social media about her and the British monarchy. I am admittedly not deeply informed about British history, including during the seventy plus year reign of QE2. In a broad sense, I know the British monarchy and the royal family wealth have benefited directly from colonial and post colonial capitalism, which was once extremely, and is still somewhat, exploitative and oppressive around much of the globe, such as Africa. Also, a lot of the Irish do not like the government the queen represented, so they did not like her either. Hence, for example, there are a share of Black identifying voices not mourning her death, due to her enabling of oppressive colonizing of them and/or their ancestors. It is arguable, as some have made the case in great detail, how QE2 in her role may not have caused or even did not directly cause such extensive oppression and exploitation. However, it is easier to point out how she allowed or enabled such unfair, inhumane treatment on a mass scale to continue. For many, including myself, enabling harm is viewed to be just as bad as directly causing something harmful.
Personally, I have neither vilified nor glorified QE2. But, I have expressed supportive acceptance of the varying feelings people have shared over her death, which have not all been warm and fuzzy. I’m fine with that. There can be, and naturally is, whether one likes it or not, room for all the range of feelings and emotions over such a world figure. I’m neither a fan nor ardent detractor of her. I do personally wonder about the need for a monarchy to be supported so much by English taxpayers in comparison to how a counterpart monarchy in, say, the Netherlands is more leanly funded by that country’s public. I honestly do not carry much investment in people’s responses about the queen, who embodied a powerful archetype for sure, a crowned female ruler (albeit symbolic only) over a prominent land. She was a living fairy tale character for a lot of people.
I do think there is a slim distinction between the institution of a monarchy and the person filling that role. On extremely rare occasion, people in high places are heroic and undo oppressive power from the inside out. Gorbachev in the former Soviet Union comes quickly to mind here, though he was elected and not in a far more ancient, entrenched position like QE2’s, which has developed so much awe, wonder, and protection around it, several centuries in the making. A part of me admittedly wishes more individuals would sacrifice their and others’ mass power when they are in positions to do so. Alas, it is easier to go along, make incremental changes here and there, if any, and still enable large parts of an institution’s harm to continue over others than to take larger, more radical risks. QE2 was no such daring person, no sacrificial heroine for deep systemic change. She was human, and a fairly conservative one at that, an upholder of layers of tradition valued by many, enabler of classism and racism, also valued by many, sadly.
Those who are more directly affected by an institution’s, such as a government’s, harm, including ancestrally, are going to feel pain from that legacy of harm. That pain can and does often present as raw and ugly, not thought out with rationality. The public discourse occurring seems natural to me, even if rough and downright toxic in places. Well, the way social media works these days, many jump on the opportunity to post extreme and uninformed memes about anything, and most certainly when the topic is political. But, much of that mean-spirited, extreme, polarizing language is a reflection of a larger problem than how QE2 is currently being discussed online, such as the deterioration in more intelligent, civil, and nuanced discourse.
Over time, history will judge the queen however, probably in a nuanced way. She certainly was no tyrant and couldn’t be if she tried, though I don’t believe she spoke out against all tyrants in the world when she could have. She does not seem to carry a wide reputation for being nasty. She was a grande dame in her own way, stoic to a degree we may not ever see again in public figures. I think this is both indicative of some healthy human evolution and also a unique loss.
QE2 had to know that she was stepping into controversy when agreeing to become a monarch, albeit a figurehead one. I’m sure she rolled with the punches as best she could and undoubtedly still is, wherever her life essence may happen to be.
I try to be vigilantly mindful around stopping my automatic habit of “othering” people here and there, including whole groups of individuals. It’s part of an overall mindfulness practice for me to maintain and improve upon. This is something for everyone to consider doing.
I’m for term limits across the board for every federal office holder, including those who are appointed. I’ve also long been for electoral reform, such as getting private money out of politics and neutralizing the Electoral College. We’re not living in a true representative democracy any longer. Some would say we haven’t for a while. I think the Citizens United SCOTUS decision basically killed the vestiges of that. Call it what it now is, an oligarchy. And there is no “united” like our country’s name suggests. (I’m not sure how “united” America ever really was.) There are alliances among states, a patchwork of sorts. Not so great, but rather realistic in such a large country with a steadily increasing plurality of peoples.
The desire by a sizable, active and vocal minority to “unite” the country by authoritarianism (with a uniquely so-called “Christian” brand here) is historically predictable. The oligarchs at the top like this occurring among the comparatively poorer masses, as it enables them to further consolidate their stranglehold on resources and power. Again, we have arrived at an oligarchy. Yesterday’s SCOTUS decisions on abortion access and gun ownership reflect this. One is extremely, nonsensically restrictive while the other will add to even more dangerous chaos (though both outcomes will do this, sadly). The oligarchs are surely smugly smiling over these further diversions away from their societally damaging means of functioning. Let’s all be honest with ourselves and each other about the reality we now live in.
The Mexican-American War (April 25th, 1846-Feb. 2nd, 1848), provoked by U.S. troops on Mexican soil (now in Texas, if I read Howard Zinn correctly), was covered so briefly in my U.S. History classes, which I find both pathetic and appalling. What an enormous, awful mess, as all war is. It was just another example of an empire ruthlessly expanding on the backs of soldiers and innocent civilians, in this case Mexicans especially but also economically disenfranchised Americans (e.g., family members and friends of soldiers, themselves largely disenfranchised).
I humbly admit that, as a preteen and teenager, my interest in U.S. History was virtually nonexistent, sadly. I’m glad that has long since changed. The whitewashing and abridgement of whole chunks of America’s history, which appear to only be ratcheting up in several if not likely all– to varying degrees– state school systems, is deeply concerning. There are so many people who, like defiant children sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting and kicking at anyone sharing painful but relevant information, do not want our collective history known. Heaven forbid we actually learn from the past and grow from it.