Antonia’s Opinion

Runners run, artists create, and when this writer gets filled with thoughts that don’t clear out of my mind, I write. That’s what this is:  my opinion, my road map for the future, and hopefully enough said for me to let go.

How can we be surprised and aghast at what is happening?

Trump has said repeatedly, almost daily, since early last summer that he planned to ban Muslims (and other “bad hombres”), build a wall to crack down on illegal immigration, kill the Affordable Care Act, scrutinize social security, and defund Planned Parenthood. We’ve elected a tyrant, yet we’re surprised when the tyranny begins. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m having trouble looking to the next four years to see how to move ahead without walking around scared and wondering if and when my social security will be whisked away or my health care suffocated.

We got what we asked for.

I know, I know, most of you didn’t ask for these things and neither did I. We didn’t ask for this ill-equipped narcissist, the very embodiment of a “bad hombre,” to be in office at all, but our current election system put him there. I have, however, woken up to the fact that I’ve got to quit being surprised at Trump’s actions … any of them.

Equally troubling to me as Trump and all his craziness, which he flaunted well before the election, are those who support him. I personally feel that most of these people are disenfranchised citizens who have felt ignored by the democratic regime for too many years. They’ve seen too many jobs and industries leave and never return to their towns. They’ve experienced real fear of immigrants they’ve never seen or known. They truly felt the possibility of four more years of being ignored by a political world that glossed over their problems, catering instead to the liberals in bigger cities.

These people don’t appreciate or want more of Trump’s ineptness or showboating antics, but they certainly don’t care if he is tactless or lacks compassion or decorum. They’re after one thing and one thing only:  confirmation that their government cares about and serves their needs. They were preyed upon by the GOP, which kept them off kilter, scared, and uninformed as to the realities of their representatives’ voting records or investigative research that pointed out the lies of people like Trump, Cruz, and McConnell. They were eager to grasp at anything that might awaken the rest of us to their woes.

Talk about being uninformed, I never had a clue – and I’m not alone here – that so many U.S. citizens were dissatisfied after eight years with Obama. I could hear the collective gasp on election night as the reality sunk in that a significant portion of our population had chosen Trump as their leader of change.

What made me see things differently.

One woman who identifies with the GOP spoke recently about why she voted as she did. She didn’t think about how Trump might be an ill-equipped non-politician at best and a deranged sociopath at worst. All she cared about was shedding light on possible changes to her plight, which she believed could be accomplished by getting him and his agenda into office. People all across the country voted right alongside her:  whatever it takes to shake up the “old guard” of liberal thinking, which they firmly believed was serving someone other than them. These folks don’t get constructive analysis on FOX News; they turn to FOX to fuel their fire. The reports they read and then share on social media are fed to them by ultraconservatives more concerned about control than freedom.

Do you think these citizens seek out and read objective, scientific or economic-based exposés on the wall separating us from Mexico? Do you think they contemplate the facts (not the alternative facts) about climate change or care that Planned Parenthood does a boatload more than provide abortions? They are not likely to be exposed to in-depth analytical reports that show the damage of a radical shakeup. Their education comes from FOX News and Republican pundits who, through thinly veiled authoritative voices, guarantee them their actions are motivated by homeland security, and portray fake climate change and godless Planned Parenthood as evil forces working to undermine our well-being.  They see their “billion dollar” president as having their best interests in mind and, despite his many private failures, as having the ability to solve their problems.

Will our actions make a change in the right direction?

We liberals are kidding ourselves if we think our call-to-action messages on social media or our marches in protest are going to make an impact. Don’t get me wrong. I agree that the marches send out a powerful message to citizens and political constituents about the level of resistance we’re willing to show. In terms of making Trump and his leadership team change their course of action, however, these displays only fan the fire, giving our Commander in Chief (heaven help us) the attention he craves and distracting him from more critical issues. I don’t believe our demonstrations will change points of view or educate those who have desperately followed the GOP, and I worry that they might even create civil unrest. This, I believe, would only benefit Trump by keeping us all a little off balance and living in fear of chaos within our communities. This POTUS doesn’t hear the message or see the crowds. He tweets that we’re small, when we’re large, happy when clearly pissed, and unimportant when we carry signs quoting the Constitution.

We should replace the time we spend pointing out all of Trump’s incredible and unjust actions with getting to really know and understand his supporters. We think we know them:  “stupid,” “uneducated,” “racist.” But there’s more to our country’s Trumpists to try to understand.

Trump supporters will never change their minds until they understand the big picture of any issue.

It’s a waste to expend so much of our time, money and energy in protest marches and rallies that solidify our stance. For instance, when DeVos was one vote down for head of the Education Department, liberals rallied for a huge call-in and e-mail campaign even though we all knew Vice-President Pence was the tie-breaker. What happened? He voted in her favor, of course. Duh!

It’s also a waste of time to talk about and mount an impeachment campaign. Who controls the Congress that would bring such an action? I’ve even heard talk (in jest, I hope) of having Trump assassinated. This kind of chatter is not only morally bankrupt, but it serves no purpose, as right behind him are a gazillion other GOP politicians ready to do his work – perhaps a tad more tactfully, but all the same.

We need to stop going for the:
~I’m right, you’re wrong
~I win, you lose
~I’m smart, you’re stupid

What to do instead.

Watch and listen to what conservatives are absorbing. National FOX News is an entertainment program that presents the biggest load of non-factual “news” I’ve ever seen. I forced myself to listen to its news commentators for several days, and now I’m not surprised at all at the amount of misinformation that flies around. FOX News is much more sensational and less boring than real news. I now only watch PBS or BBC News, both of which report the news as it is versus jazzing it up to be a ratings venture.

Attend pro-Trump events. Learn what those citizens are being told and which of their sources of information to scrutinize, and then debunk any knowingly false, fake, or alternative reports. I think we’ll make more headway by listening to conservatives talk about how they feel. They want to blow things up in hopes that a change for their point of view will rise from the ashes. They want change, change that touches them … at all costs.

Huddles. Have you heard about group meetings that arose within communities across the country after the Women’s March in January? Small follow-up meetings took place the first three weeks in February to address goals such as how to ensure a stronger political party in four years and how to deal with the fallout of the current regime. These huddles are ongoing; they are well-organized and structured on a unified format that keeps us focused on the issues and allows only a minimum of just “griping and being shocked.” I encourage you to Google “Women’s March huddles” and find out where in your community they are happening.

Shifting thinking and educating others takes time and effort, but I think it’s a good approach to going forward in the current political era. I am reminded how, years ago, when I thought climate change was a politically-created event, I avoided sources that confirmed its reality. Over time, however, as I was inundated with fact-based data to the contrary, I slowly began to accept that I was wrong, and I shifted my thinking accordingly.

I believe that with strong support of facts from multiple sources showing and emphasizing and supported by people like us – educated thoughtful responsible seniors — the realness of the issues surrounding race, immigration, big business, voting and reproductive rights, social security and health care, will be realized, and peoples’ thinking will shift.

Education should start with frank conversations about us as a nation being so much further away from embracing people of different color and ethnicities than we thought we were. I’m not the only one surprised by that fact. And that’s a conversation/class/forum for the future.

As republican supporters become disillusioned because promises are broken and things explode rather than improve in their favor, the tide will shift but, if it’s anything like me and my belief in climate change, it’s going to take awhile.

I don’t want to be a depressed sourpuss for the next four years, but you won’t find me out on the streets in protest (mostly because I’m not physically able). I had to find my own path for the near future and, so far, this approach of listening, learning and educating myself and others is what I hope will work for me.