I woke up this past Saturday morning filled with dread about possible outcomes that seemed feasible for later that night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As the dominoes fell that evening, I was thrilled that my fears of Tulsa being a “powder keg on the brink of exploding” turned out to be unfounded. Last week was, in fact, a pretty good week for democracy in America. Let’s take a moment to briefly recap and celebrate some of the good news, and then focus in on why we must remain vigilant regarding what it bodes for the future.
“Take that down off your Facebook page!!!”
That’s the admonishment I received from a friend of mine the other day after I posted a graphic informing people about the March for Justice taking place near my home today. She told me how unsafe she felt in her own city in the midst of all the protests and accompanying police presence.
The violence is, of course, horrible. But it is temporary… it shall pass. The racism and the injustice, however, will not pass so quickly. It is pervasive, and has been broadly emboldened by a President who seems to enjoy exacerbating it, along with white nationalists and other outsiders who have infiltrated the protests in a deliberate effort to exploit them, turn them violent and incite racial division. I was pleased that the protest I participated in today was a peaceful outpouring of love and passion from hundreds of people who were dedicated to making their community a better place for themselves and their families.
In a world in which our activities have been abruptly curtailed by the novel coronavirus, warm weather, relaxed restrictions and boredom stemming from months in isolation are already enticing many people to engage in behaviors that put their lives, and the lives of others, at greater and unnecessary risk. We can expect that such behaviors will continue and even increase.
We might observe others choosing to take high risk actions that could result in the spreading of COVID-19, like enjoying a meal inside a crowded restaurant. We might infer that if the government allows it, and that if these people think it is okay to engage in these behaviors, then it is also okay to engage in these activities ourselves. We might feel that if we don’t take such actions ourselves, we are “missing out” on what everyone else is doing.
Times of instability provide valuable lessons for how falling dominoes can drive extensive societal changes in very small periods of time. The past few weeks, and the coming few weeks, have and will illustrate this in exceptional fashion. Those of us who choose to do so have an opportunity to be self-aware as it all happens, and we can learn valuable lessons from observing the process.
The Race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination
Let’s start by looking at the Democratic primary race for the presidential nomination. The early results from Iowa and New Hampshire were clear… the majority of the democratic party was supporting candidates who were more moderate (including Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Biden). On the more progressive side, Sanders ran as a populist progressive, while Warren ran as a pragmatic progressive, trying to appeal to both the center and the left. But even together, the vote for Sanders and Warren didn’t match the vote totals for the more moderate candidates.
On Thanksgiving this year I am profoundly thankful for so many things. I am thankful for having amazing friends and family in my life who love and support me, and whom I love and support. I am thankful for the extraordinary freedoms and privileges I have living in America, even if they are quite imperfect. I am thankful to be in good health. I am thankful for all the majestic beauty around me… I am so lucky to be able to look out my living room window, past my rose garden, and see the morning sunshine reflecting on the ocean beyond.
A man walks into a football stadium.
The man has been credibly accused of the sexual assault or sexual harassment of well over twenty woman; several have credibly accused him of rape; one was just 13 years old at the time.
The man has an extensive history of betraying, in a truly traitorous manner, the national security interests of the United States of America and its allies in deference to supporting the interests of Vladamir Putin and Russia.
And he gets an ovation from a significant segment of the 101,821 people attending the football game.
Where’s the Whistleblower?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019
I am the Whistleblower because I have seen you engage in the extortion of a US ally, holding them hostage by withholding U.S. military aid unless they further your personal political ambitions by falsely defaming your opponent.
I am the Whisleblower because I have seen your actions in Syria lead to the unnecessary slaughter of our former Kurdish allies, the release of more than 100 key ISIS prisoners, the dropping of all sanctions against Turkey in spite of the war crimes they have apparently committed, and your ceding control of that part of Syria to Russia and Turkey in betrayal of American interests.
Watching this shithole presidency self-destruct in real-time as the rats that have enabled it start devouring each other is already proving to be one of the most amusing things to happen in a very long time. Karma is a bitch.
Yet it is not a time to rejoice. The public spectacle of all of this happening is hardly a source of pride for America. As the dominoes fall, the destruction of American values and interests triggered by this administration’s actions will cause disturbing negative repercussions that will be felt for generations.
Racists don’t like being told they are racists.
Those who support politicians who refuse to enact gun safety legislation don’t like being told they have blood on their hands when so many people needlessly die.
People who support or remain silent to the rise of fascism in the United States don’t like being compared to those in Italy and Germany who supported or stayed silent when Mussolini and Hitler engaged in nearly identical behaviors.
But these people ARE racists. They DO have blood on their hands. And they SUPPORT the END OF AMERICA as a secular, capitalistic democracy.
Fifty years ago today Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first members of mankind to land on the surface of the moon. I was nine years old at the time. Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” inspired me to try to follow in his footsteps. It gave me a sense of vision that guided my career in first earning a Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from M.I.T., and then going to work in the commercial space industry in Houston.
America in the 1960s was filled with challenges, including a cold war with Russia, protests over the senseless loss of American young men in Vietnam, and injustices related to the rights of minorities and women. Yet, despite those many challenges, it was a time of great optimism. Racism had the prospect of dying off as those who held those viewpoints from the past aged into oblivion. Education and science was embraced. Economic growth was rampant. The quality of medical care and life expectancy in America were steadily increasing. America was the world leader in technology. Gene Roddenberry filled our minds and our TV screens with a vision of a Star Trek into the future in which mankind left behind it’s pettiness to boldly become something far greater.