Monday, September 26, 2016

How is this Trump Thing even Possible?

It really concerns and worries me that Trump is doing as well as he is in the polls, and that Hillary is struggling as she is. It causes me to worry about the character, insight and values of the American electorate.

I understand that Hillary Clinton is not an ideal candidate, that there are things about her candidacy, past errors in judgement, and the Democratic party platform that one can question and oppose. What I don't see is how anyone can look at her lifelong record and doubt that she has a deep and long-standing concern for regular people, and that she's worked hard over the decades to promote change that helps them.

But looking at Donald Trump, even supposing that one feels strongly about the "Republican values" he supports, how can one not be troubled by the character and personal values of the man? What has he ever done that hasn't been about self-promotion, about accumulating "personal" power, wealth and influence?

I'm stunned by those who say they distrust Clinton and yet ignore the chronic posing, distorting, misrepresenting and outright lying of Trump? I'm incredulous that people seem to think he will be a good manager of the economy, when all evidence shows that, as a businessman, he's all about lawsuits and intimidation, image and bankruptcies.

I've been asking myself what the explanation could possibly be, for millions of Americans actually wanting the presidency to be in the hands of such an immature, narcissistic and uninformed person. And I haven't been able to come up with any explanations that aren't depressingly cynical.

That so many Americans are just so fearful, that they are soothed by the bragging and bluster of Trump, whether he demonstrates any capacity for backing up his promises or not.

That so many Americans are so hateful, that they simply cannot acknowledge the decency of a Woman who would be commander in chief, any more than they accepted the decency of a Black Man as commander in chief.

That so many Americans are simply that stupid, that they really believe that the entire world (and American liberalism) is out to take advantage of, or even destroy, America, and that we have to attack and beat them down before they succeed.

I seriously fear for my country. This whole movement behind Trump strikes me as the kind of lunacy I see in my paranoid clients, who manage to either distort every fact that would poke holes in their delusion, or simply ignore it. It appears that Trump's supporters are able either to explain away the endless proofs of his unfitness to hold high office, or to ignore them.

I can't understand and I can hardly believe what may be happening.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Watching Over Dad

I’m fighting with my father.  He refuses to drink water. Sometimes he won’t eat. He often refuses to acknowledge people, to answer questions, to cooperate when I or others are trying to get him up out of bed, to get clothed, to sit at the table, or in his wheelchair.

My father is 92 years old and suffering from dementia.  He has aged remarkably well, but three years ago he started showing signs of dementia, and then he fell and broke his hip a few weeks ago and has dropped off substantially. For weeks, in the hospital and in the rehab center, he refused to do anything. Since coming home, he’s improved somewhat, but hasn’t made the efforts that we all know he is capable of making.

Today, he’s refusing to drink any water. He lives in Dimona, Israel, in the middle of the vast Negev desert. It hits thirty degrees Celsius every day, even as Equinox approaches. And it’s dry. Dehydration is a constant threat. Drinking water is a must, if he is to sustain life, and he fights it constantly, biting and chewing the end of the straw until it’s useless, blowing instead of sucking through it, refusing to hold onto the glass, keeping his lips pressed together, becoming fearsome and belligerent, or pretending that he’s less in control of his faculties than he is, insisting that he’s already drank the water, or saying he’ll drink it later and later and on until the never-arriving later.

He’s a hard-headed old man, and right now, I’m so frustrated and annoyed with him that I’d almost pack up and go back home and be satisfied if I never saw him again. But I know this will pass, and that however difficult this three and a half weeks becomes, I will treasure it. I remind myself daily that if this is not the last time I see my father, it may well be the last time he sees me and knows who I am. It was wonderful walking into the room in the small ‘House of Life’ last week and having his face break into a broad grin at seeing me. He was so unmistakably happy. He’d been told that I was coming, but in his state, it was a surprise he got to experience more than once.

The water thing is difficult. He must drink, but won’t. I’ve fussed and threatened to the point where I’m wondering whether I’m sliding toward elder abuse. I’m Aries, but he’s Taurus, and a battle of wills can last a long time.

How did I come to be in this situation? Being childless, it was looking like I was going to be one of those rare individuals never to have to concern myself with care of either a child or an elder. That is still the likely case – my father’s is a spiritual community to which he’s belonged for 43 years, and it is caring for him now, and will continue to. But I’m getting a sobering taste of a life that so many friends have endured, with parents, in-laws and others, sometimes two or three at one time. I’ve never imagined I could do what they’ve had to do. I feel even more doubtful of that now.

But I’m grateful for this time with my Dad. Grateful even for the experience of changing the diaper of he who once changed mine. It’s humbling, stirs up all kinds of memories and emotions, and makes my own mortality palpable, and oddly, somehow less threatening.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Donald Tweet

I haven’t been political enough in my blog. I’m so disturbed by the blind partisanship I see running through American politics that I’ve wanted to present my arguments from as non-partisan a position as possible. I've argued in this space against political attacks, and for greater respect for other points of view and the candidates that represent them. I've argued for keeping political discourse on high ground. Well, forgive me. But enough of that.

Donald Trump’s candidacy has me more disturbed than any I can remember, at any level of government. On many levels, Rob Ford’s term as mayor to Toronto was a joke. But as much as I disagreed with most of his policies, his rhetoric, and his presentation of himself as a man of the people, I at least credit him with a degree of sincerity in his desire to be of service to others.

I can grant Trump no such benefit of the doubt. I believe that his commitment to service, to the working class and to America go no deeper than his vanity and self-serving allows. He is the worst kind of opportunist, one who seeks to convince himself and others that his self-aggrandizement, his branding, and his bullying, blustery style are in the interest of the people. And the thing that pains me way more than his narcissistic immaturity is that so many Americans are falling for it.

Watching the Republican party implode over his candidacy has been infinitely fascinating and a little bit satisfying, and after being witness to how it has done everything in its power to smear and sabotage every effort of the Obama administration, I’ve felt like it represents karmic justice. But my satisfaction is tempered by fear that this cancerous candidacy, that has grown out of the eight years of lies and distortions directed at Obama – and now at Hillary Clinton – is not done eating away at what’s left of the mind and soul of America’s electorate.

Can there really be so many thinking Americans who believe Trump has any of the intelligence, the character, the interpersonal skill to occupy the office of President? Apparently there are, and that scares the hell out of me. But even more frightening is the vast number of people who must know how unqualified he is, but who will vote for him anyway, excusing their action with the claim that Clinton is no better.

I’ve never been a passionate Clinton supporter, neither of Bill nor Hillary. I see them both as politicians, a little too willing to compromise on policy and philosophy in order to secure position. But in looking at their history of service, at the issues they have chosen to fight for, over decades, I have no doubt that public service is the driving value behind Hillary’s run for the White House. Yes, personal profit and prestige figure into the equation, arguably more than one would hope for. But ego – elevation of self – appears to be the key motive force behind Trump.

I was really annoyed by Donald Trump’s recent visits to Detroit, his so-called outreach to Black Americans, and his talk in front of a Black church group. I trust that the vast numbers of Detroiters and Black church-goers, and citizens to Detroit and other struggling, inner-city communities will see through the paper-thin veneer of empathy and populism that Trump represents.

But what’s needed is for Americans nation-wide to wake up to the hoax that Trump is. I won’t even dwell on the bigotry, the divisiveness, the intolerance he spews and supports. I think that it all stems from a fundamental lack of depth in the man. He seems to have a character as superficial and as lacking in substance as one of his famous tweets. But however ignorant and offensive as his statements are, his die-hard supporters deflect by saying he doesn’t really mean it, or that he’s just positioning himself to bargain, or just keeping himself in the spotlight. Doesn’t that alone tell us everything we need to know about him?

On some levels, this election seems to be coming down to a sequel to 2000, when Bush’s no-substance, good-old-boy manner prevailed over Gore’s dull but substantive intelligence. Then, it was ultimately politics and the courts that decided things. What will decide it this time? Will enough voters see through Trumps straight talk bluster and strong man posing to see how he’s built a career out of bankruptcies, law suits and showmanship? Will enough of us acknowledge that as unhappy as we may be with the status quo, and as suspicious as we are of political dynasties and elites, there are minimal standards of maturity and awareness that are required in the Presidency?