The Lost American Dream and Trump’s Base

Whoa, amigo … where you been? I’ve been waiting on your American Dream article. Should I sit myself down and prepare for your thoughts about the often mentioned but rarely encountered phenomenon referred to as the American Dream? Well, dear friend, yes, you should sit yourself down, and I’d suggest more nourishments than normal. That statement cries out for recognition, amigo. Are you hinting at a lengthy “chat” that I must endure before understanding your thought trend? Yes, yes, that’s an accurate statement. There are many layers of the onion one must expose before truly understanding why the American Dream now resides in solitary confinement, and is allowed out of its cell, periodically, for political rallies as an attention grabber and vote securer. Whoa, that’s a mouthful, writer-san. What do you really mean? I’m not sure if the American Dream as defined in the nineteen-fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties really exists for the blue-collar, lunch-pail American worker anymore. I believe it’s presently more akin to an urban legend than it is to a cultural reality. Much more on this later, compadre. More so, I believe every two years, naïve and/or fraudulent politicians drag the poor concept out of its cell, pretty it up, and take the American Dream on the campaign trail with them, hoping to win votes by promising to unshackle the iconic, cultural goal and bring it back into the light of day. Amigo, that’s a whole lot of negativity packed into a couple sentences. Where’d that come from? Simply put, suppressed guilt, dear friend. I watched the clubbing of the American middle class and did nothing to stop it. What could you have done, amigo? Good question, compadre. One thought comes to mind, quickly: we marched in the streets in the sixties and seventies to bring about Black equality and to stop overt American imperialism. We should have marched in the streets in the eighties to stop large corporations from taking a wrecking ball to our country’s middle class and the American Dream lifestyle that they enjoyed.

I heard that marching band again, amigo. Are we on our way? Yes and no. That’s not a good start, writer-san. Sounds somewhat contradictory. Could you reply with a more confident, reader-friendly statement? Well I’d like to, but there are a few qualifiers to acknowledge before we can really get into the “meat” of the article. You’re not listening, amigo. I am, I really am. Now just bear with me for a few more minutes. I see you’re comfortably seated, with nourishment at hand. Buckle up. We’ve a long and winding road ahead of us. Love that phrase, writer-san. As do I, compadre, as do I.

First qualifier: As the article’s title suggests, the loss of the American Dream has much to do with Trump’s base. A large segment of his voting bloc falls into the undereducated, high school diploma or less, category. Historically, this group has made up the lion’s share of the blue-collar demographic. Fifty years ago, it was mostly a white, socioeconomic stratum. The blue-collar workers of today are represented by all ethnicities. In this article, unless noted otherwise, when I refer to the middle class, I’m referencing the undereducated, white, blue-collar segment of this social class. Trump’s political rhetoric has appealed to this group. This white segment, in recent history (1950 to the 1980s), when they left school, had the likelihood of getting a living-wage job and its associated American Dream. The possibility of this happening now, for the most part, does not exist.

Second Qualifier: The Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities for all practical purposes, were never part of the American Dream equation. Systemic racism kept their participation at a minimal level. Of course this is unacceptable, but my article does not attempt to address this issue. It focuses on explaining the “who, what, and why” of Trump’s undereducated, middle class, voting bloc.

Third qualifier: Trump’s complete base is a smorgasbord of people and personal philosophies: Which person or group is the most influential? Is it the far-right fringe group looking for a fascist leader? Is it conservative businessmen and women who believe the Dems will tax away their profits? Is it the racist who’s afraid the tables just might get turned? Is it big industrial players who want all federal regulations to go away? Is it the average conservative who believes in the conservative mantra that states, “Dems will take all your guns and personal freedoms away from you”? The best answer is Trump’s base is a huge, conservative stew, flavored with all of the above. For the sake of this article, I’d like to focus on Trump’s conservative, undereducated, white, blue-collar demographic as being his most significant, most populous ingredient and/or voting bloc; we could liken them to the meat and potatoes of our stew. Why focus on this group? Well, for one, I believe these Trump followers have suffered incredible losses over the last fifty years, and their plight along with all Americans in the same economic stratum should be improved. Second, and most importantly, I believe this demographic, with focused and appropriate aid, can be steered away from the far right, aka Donald Trump, and become open to a democratic, unified, and inclusive America.

I’ll offer a word of caution here. For some, it will be hard to feel sympathetic toward Trump’s white, undereducated, blue-collar voting bloc. I totally understand your position. Please try, for the sake of this article, to shelve your biases, and view my writing in an impartial manner. If we can see this demographic’s journey, we’ll better understand their anger and frustrations with the American system, and be in a better place to help them improve their lives; the ultimate goal, as I already mentioned, is getting them to once again believe in the democratic process, and moreover, believe in a unified, inclusive America.

Fourth: This fourth qualifier allows for a reader’s choice of sorts. For those of you who liked “Choose Your Own Adventure” books in elementary school, this option will feel familiar. The writing you’re presently addressing is an historical, informative piece that is very academic in nature. If I’d written this article for a college professor, there’d be footnotes, ibids, and all the other sundries associated with research papers. Thank God those days are way back there in the rearview mirror. In examining and confirming what my memory suggested, I used numerous sources to endorse my long-held beliefs: data from the Department of Labor, newspaper articles, and academic papers. Please forgive me: I also used some information from Wikipedia sites. Most of the numerical statistics come from all the aforementioned sources. A quick sidebar: those of you who occasionally deal with insomnia, and haven’t found a suitable remedy, listen up; I promise that if you would just read a few Department of Labor publications before bedtime, your sleep issues will become a distant memory. Straight up … guaranteed cure. Anyway, back to where we started. If you feel that reading about corporate paradigm transitions and the union busting that occurred in the eighties is “old news” to you, you might want to jump ahead to the last four or five pages of this article. For those of you nodding your head in agreement to what’s been suggested, a word of caution: I certainly felt knowledgeable about what occurred in the eighties to the American middle class. After all, I had a front row seat. After researching for this paper and delving into the era’s history with critical optics, I unearthed much that was new to me. You “conspiracy theory” advocates will find that some of the shoveled dirt just might float-your-boat. Okay, I feel better now that I’ve given some of you a free pass to this article’s last few pages, and much more comfortable about continuing on with describing the history and causal factors behind Donald Trump’s avid and angry undereducated, white voting bloc.

Fifth … Whoa, amigo … enough with the qualifiers. Do you expect anyone to read this article? If’n you do, you’d best be getting to some substance here. Well, like I said, this a complex … Yeah, yeah … we heard about the onion layers and all that. Get to peeling, writer-san. You are so correct, compadre. I’ve probably covered all the disclaimer ideas. Is the “probably” a rhetorical type idea, amigo, or an exclamation of uncertainty? It’s rhetorical, yes rhetorical. We can definitely move on. I’m holding you to that statement, writer-san. Okay, compadre, this ride and its cars are ready to fly: recheck your seat belt, hands in the air, and let’s roll.

                                               The “Good Ol’ Days” 

Historically, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, what made America so different from most other countries was its large middle class. This phenomenon was made possible for many reasons: Huge natural resources were abundant. Christian denominations championed hard work. The industrial revolution was in full swing producing plentiful jobs. In my opinion, the most influential factor encouraging the robust middle class our country enjoyed was the many wealthy families in America who believed that a healthy middle class would provide the best workers and most stable citizenry. The Rockefellers, Kennedys, and Fords were several such families who championed the American middle class. Their influence on American business and how it dealt with and perceived its employees cannot be overstated. Our country’s middle class hit its zenith in the twentieth century from about 1950 to roughly 1985. During this time, the term American Dream was synonymous with the middle class and its associated, blue-collar demographic.

The term American Dream, simply put, described a lifestyle which became synonymous with the middle class families of the aforementioned era. Specifically, these families consisted of the breadwinner, usually the father figure who held down a living-wage job. His significant other was the domestic caretaker of the house and their children. That was the basic family dynamics. Once all the children reached school age, the “lady of the house” would, likely, take on an hourly wage job to add extra income to the household. (Wow! What I just wrote is so unimaginable for most Americans in this day and age.) Now, keep in mind that Trump’s present base has fifty-, sixty-, seventy- … year-olds in it who were a part of this cultural phenomenon. Back to our history lesson. On the economic side of the American Dream, the monies earned by the male, household figure, provided immense security to the Family. A living wage back in the fifties through the early eighties provided enough wealth to pay for all the monthlies, a family home, the family cars, family vacations, all the medical bills a growing family would incur, and all the college expenses the children would amass. It also provided discretionary monies, which often allowed for a savings account. Sometimes, but not always, families used second mortgages to help pay for college expenses. Also, Dad’s living wage, via savings and/or investments, would provide an income safety net for the couple’s golden years. By the time most middle-class families retired, they were nearly, if not completely, debt free.

I can imagine the exclamation uttered by the Millennial or Generation Z reader after interpreting the above description of the American Dream. It would go something like, “What the hell has this writer been smoking?”

 I can totally understand the disbelief and suspicions one might harbor upon hearing what was just described as the American Dream. So I’ll provide some factual data to, hopefully, dispel any younger generational doubt regarding how the above could actually happen. First, let’s look at actual wages and benefits a high school–educated adult could expect from a union job. I chose the “union job” category because of how these wages tended to buoy all paychecks, particularly during the era of interest which is 1950 through 1980. (Also, later in this article, union jobs, in particular, are noted when discussing how the American Dream was finally sent packing.) Excuse my sidebar … Back to the narrative. In the seventies, a senior International Sawmill Worker, yard laborer, could expect $26 an hour, with time and a half for overtime. Plus, full medical coverage for the family, two to six weeks’ paid vacation, and a pension which he and his employer paid into. Without overtime, this equates to roughly $55,000 a year. During the same time, a senior teamster member could expect almost the exact wage and benefit package as described for the sawmill worker. They received roughly $55,000 a year with benefits. My data comes from personal experience; during the sixties and seventies, I worked with mill workers and teamster members and garnered the above information by conversing with the older employees that I knew.

Wow! We all know individuals who would, presently, give their first born for such wage and benefit packages. Even more remarkable is that the above packages were enjoyed by undereducated individuals, high school graduates and/or drop-outs. Throw into the mix the cost of living differences between then and now, and the economic superiority of the union wages from the seventies as compared to the average wages earned today is astronomical. Let me depict a few examples to fortify what was just said: A new Volkswagen Beetle in 1970 sold for about $2,000. Its counterpart, today, sells for about $30,000. A pair of Levi 501s sold for about $4. Now, you expect to pay about $45. The price tag for a four-year college or university degree, back then, (take a seat, younger generations, and maybe hold onto something stable) was about $10,000. That price includes tuition, room and board, books, and a little weekly spending money. Now, well, sadly, it’s about $100,000. “Holy, jumping bejesus! What the hell happened?” I feel your pain, youngsters. One more example, this one targeted for the forty- to fifty-year-olds. The cost of a custom-built, 2100-square-foot house in 1970 was about $21 a square foot. Now, you’d be lucky to get such a home built for $200 a square foot. Writer-san, I get it. Things were a lot cheaper back then. What’s your point, amigo? Well yes, dear friend, what exactly is my point? You know, compadre, you’re making me get a bit ahead of myself with your inquiry. Yes, yes, my point … okay, my point, simply put, is in the fifties through the eighties, America’s blue-collar middle class, due to good wages and low consumer prices, had a much healthier and more stable lifestyle as compared to present-day conditions. What happened in the last forty years to this demographic’s economic strength should be a national embarrassment, one that is never forgotten nor duplicated. The remainder of this article defines and illustrates this theme, providing crystal clarity regarding how and when middle class America’s economic stability was derailed and train wrecked. Well put, writer-san. Your concise verbiage and noted article direction calmed me down, along with my meditative breathing, and I’m ready for more of your history lesson.

Your interruption, compadre, although, somewhat untimely, provides a nice segue into the next portion of this article’s historical journey. Remember, we’re trying to understand why Trump has such a large, angry, avid base. Well, the undereducated, blue-collar voting bloc that supports Trump so emphatically was thrown under the bus by corporate America, starting back in the early eighties. Many Trumpers, those in or near their seventies, literally had living-wage jobs yanked out from underneath them by corporate America in the eighties, and these good-paying jobs never came back.

             Corporate America Brings Out the Hatchets

The circumstances by which this employment theft happened and the consequential story about how the American middle-class workers lost their living-wage jobs is as sad and frustrating as any that I’ve witnessed during my lifetime. It cries out for recognition and reconciliation. To understand what happened, the post-WWII corporate America paradigm must be explained. After the war, the US economy had to transition back to a peacetime business model, one that targeted the American consumer and not war armaments. Production once again focused on appliances, automobiles, electronics, and all the other products the basic consumer and American household required. Factory production revved up and along with its expansion, so did the abundance of jobs. In the process, corporate America chose to develop a regional economy that focused on trade with Canada and Mexico. US businesses also continued trading with our WWII European allies. In the fifties, sixties, and seventies, as the years progressed, wages and benefit packages became better and better. Worker unions in the United States, by bargaining for larger wage and benefit packages, year after year, greatly aided our country’s blue-collar, middle-class economic level and stability.

As the western industrial countries were transitioning from war economies to peaceful economic models, so too were the larger emerging world countries. India and China began developing manufacturing sectors that competed with the West. These economies could produce merchandise for less because of their inexpensive labor force and/or corporate models that relied on government assistance. At some point, prior to 1980, the big corporate players in the United States, behind closed doors, sitting in rooms dimly lit by Tiffany lamps, while sipping brandy and smoking Cuban cigars, made a decision that would forever change the lives of the United States’ middle class. They decided that American corporations needed to join the “world economy” and go head-to-head with those countries that had cheaper labor pools. A new American corporate business philosophy was created: the United States entered the “Global Economy” paradigm. How was this accomplished? American corporations began to outsource jobs to countries with cheaper labor forces and began busting up the labor unions that had helped create the American middle class and its brother, the American Dream. By doing this, they could lower finished product costs by utilizing a less expensive workforce and thus become competitive with the emerging nations.

How could American workers lose the wage packages and incomes that had taken decades to create and maintain? The answer to this is complex. First, and foremost, corporate America had to desire such a change. By choosing the “global economy and marketplace,” they needed cheaper labor costs. Second, US corporate leaders decided that company profits and shareholder dividends were more important than the American workers and their families’ well-being. (How yukky is that, dear readers?) Third, a politically friendly environment was needed for such a business model transition to succeed. Ronald Reagan’s influence during the eighties provided such an arena. I’m not sure how much Reagan truly understood about his presidency. Historians have discussed dementia regarding his tenure, and this might explain how Reagan, the previous president of the Screen Actors Guild, the union that represents the film industry’s employees, would become the initiator and champion of the union-busting movement. But, that’s what he became. By breaking up the air traffic controller union in 1981, he set the stage for a government friendly to union dismantling and everything that followed.

As the eighties progressed, Corporate America revved up offshoring jobs to cheaper labor pools and gave the boot to union workers. Outsourcing jobs became a standard procedure for many industries. Easy peasy … For instance, GE would simply state their refrigeration subdivision couldn’t compete with foreign manufactures because of their high labor costs, and after setting up the needed production plant overseas, they’d shut down their refrigeration facilities in the States, thus causing lost jobs and incomes for all those displaced workers.

Upon reading this article’s description of union busting and jobs being sent abroad, one might question why undereducated blue-collar workers didn’t rebel against corporate America’s disregard for their well-being. Simply put, Big Business did and does a great job of blaming others for its treacherous ways. Corporations didn’t say, “We’re throwing you blue-collar workers under the bus because of your large wage demands.” No, no … Their PR personnel repeatedly stated that huge, government, corporate taxes and cumbersome, costly federal regulations were driving them overseas. Big Business continually said that they had no control over taxation and federal regulations. In the public arena, they figuratively threw their arms into the air, demonstrating their frustrations and inability to protect the American middle-class worker from Uncle Sam, and exclaimed their hands were tied. Big Business adamantly claimed the only option left them by the Democrats and “Big” government was to lower labor costs.

Corporate America has spun its narrative about the need to reduce labor costs, hence, production expenditures, year after year, decade after decade, and generation after generation for some fifty years. Like any good propaganda machine, their message is relentless and doesn’t deviate. “Big government and the Democrats destroyed the American middle class and the American Dream with excessive taxation of our country’s businesses and unnecessary corporate regulations.” Every two to four years, during political races, this same mantra is repeated over and over again. In the interim between electoral races, conservative talking heads continue this message ad nauseam. Undereducated white blue-collar workers have totally bought into corporate America’s “blame game.” Democrats have not been able to effectively rebut Big Business’s blame-shifting propaganda, and consequently, the ruse continues.

 I stated earlier how the unions were attacked, weakened, and/or busted to help businesses lower production costs. One could ask, “Was it really that big of a deal to dismantle the union labor system? How much did it really hurt the American middle-class worker and the American dream?” These questions are worthy inquiries, and should be addressed. A few good statistics and examples will do just that. Let’s start with some general union membership data. In 1960, there were approximately 184 different unions in America with a participation of roughly 18 million laborers. One in four American laborers, at this time, were unionized. By 1980 this proportion would reach one in three American workers being union members. This next point is relevant when comparing 2020 union statistics to those from 1960. In 1960, our fair land’s population was roughly 180 million people. Now back to union membership facts. In 2020, there were only 78 unions left in America and the membership numbers had dropped to 14 million. Obviously, a lot of union busting has occurred since 1980. If you consider that our country’s population is now roughly 330 million people, you’d expect a whole lot more union workers, but when taking note of how few unions survived the corporate purging, the lesser union membership is understandable. Now, approximately one in ten American workers belong to unions. Another statistical fact puts an interesting twist to the union stats that I’ve just portrayed. In 1960, the lion’s share of union membership belonged to the private sector: millwrights, sawmill workers, truck drivers, meat-packing employees, shipyard workers, longshoremen, electricians, carpenters … Union membership today is mostly found within the public sector: this group consists of teachers, municipal employees, first responders, such as firefighters and police officers, government workers … When one considers this shift, it becomes apparent how few undereducated laborers are in unions.

Before I roll out some specific vocational, union membership facts such as wages, then and now, I’d like to share some pertinent facts about immigration laws, which in my opinion helped aid in the dismantling of America’s unions. You conspiracy theory advocates may appreciate this information. Also, this information is relevant to our article’s theme, which focuses on the “who, what, and why of Trump’s base.” During Trump’s presidency, it became apparent that many of his supporters were biased and prejudiced against the BIPOC community. The next couple paragraphs will shed some light on these biases.

One of the most effective union-busting methods was to completely shut down a plant or factory for a period of time, and then reopen by hiring nonunion employees at a much reduced wage. It worked time after time. To succeed, this technique requires a willing, unemployed labor group to step up and accept those lower-paying jobs. The US corporate model always kept about 4 to 5% of the country’s workforce in the unemployed category. Such a phenomenon was very helpful for agricultural harvesting and other seasonal production. This group of laborers, during the union-busting era, partly became the employees who replaced those workers jilted by corporate America. The perennial unemployed, however, were only a portion of those needed for rehiring. The other groups of workers were provided by the national immigration acts of 1980 and 1986. The Refugee Act passed by Congress allowed about one million Asians to legally immigrate into the United States. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 presented about three million illegal, Hispanic, US residents a legit path to American citizenship. Some data suggests that the relevant number of Hispanics affected by this act was closer to five million individuals. These two demographics added a large group of laborers to the American workforce. The Hispanic population had already been utilized by corporate America, especially in agriculture, but now with their legitimization, these laborers felt comfortable in branching out into other jobs and vocations. One thing both ethnicities held in common was the value of work and an appreciation for weekly paychecks. These two groups helped break the unions by becoming part of the new labor force hired by closed plants and factories. (The Hormel meat packing plant strike of 1985 and 1986 demonstrates this phenomenon completely, and I’ll briefly touch upon this episode later in the article.) The Asian immigrants and newly legitimized Hispanic workers were eager for regular employment and willing to accept the reduced wages offered them by reopening previously unionized factories and plants. Voilà, there you have it: the formula by which union membership and their high wages could be dismantled. All the equation needed for success was a ready workforce willing to replace fired union members, a group receptive to reduced wages. The perennial US unemployed workers with the addition of Asian immigrants and the recently legitimized Hispanic workforce offered just such a labor unit.

I mentioned earlier that the next two paragraphs would shed light upon the prejudice of Trump’s base toward Asians and Hispanics. Well, there you be. The above provides an obvious narrative as to why the undereducated American laborer harbors anger toward these ethnicities. Is this anger really justified? I don’t think so, but again, this article is not about right or wrong, it’s about understanding where Trump’s base “comes from.” The older people who advocate for Trump lived through the union-busting era. They lost good-paying jobs and watched people of color take their place and work for reduced wages. This fact, among others, created the animosity we now see from them regarding people of color. They passed on their experiences and anger to their children and grandchildren, creating a multigenerational demographic with similar biases and attitudes. We must also remember the far right’s continual mantra proffered on a daily basis by conservative talking heads, journalists, and politicians that blame all the problems faced by undereducated Americans upon the “left,” big government, and people of color. This particular voting bloc, the undereducated blue-collar worker who favors Trump, has been bullied and lied to for forty to fifty years. It’s not hard to realize how deeply their biases and prejudices are entrenched.

How severely damaged was the white middle class by union busting? It was significant. Today’s undereducated families attempting to reach the American Dream have both adults working, and even with both partners employed, they are up to their ears in debt. Many families can’t allow for retirement because of this enormous debt. Let me describe a few examples of the “before and after” union wages in regard to several specific vocations to help illuminate just how much was lost to the undereducated white laborers. You’ll recall from a previous paragraph the senior yard laborer sawmill worker’s wage and benefit package. They received $26 an hour with medical completely paid for by their employer and a retirement pension paid into by both parties, employee and employer. In 2020, these same yard laborers can expect a top wage of $20 an hour, shared costs for medical, and a retirement package comprised of a 401k account paid into, again, by both parties. The sawmill worker has slipped backwards, significantly in both their wage and benefit packages. My previous example portraying a teamster, long haul, tractor trailer driver and their wage and benefit package showed a senior driver averaging about $55,000, or $30 an hour. In 2020 after corporate attacks and manipulation of this union, a senior teamster driver can expect $22 an hour and a greatly weakened benefits package. Again, this vocation, like the sawmill worker, has lost significant ground when comparing wage and benefit packages from the seventies to today’s present packages.

Present-day workers in the above noted vocations have lost considerable buying power because of their reduced wages. It is abhorrent to me that such a situation exists: literally, workers today in many vocations, those not serviced by “minimum wage,” are being paid less than their counterparts of forty to fifty years ago. This is unconscionable, and when you consider the “cost of living” now as compared to then, you really begin to understand the inexcusable nature of this phenomenon. All of this backsliding occurred because corporate America changed its marketing and “bottom line” philosophies in the seventies and eighties: First, American business decided to join the global economy, which required it to reduce costs. They chose to achieve this by reducing labor costs. Second, a new business modus operandi was discussed and accepted by corporate boards. This new working order stated that business operations functioned solely for corporate and shareholder profits. One can’t forget the “hands off big business” approach fostered by the Reagan administration when determining how and when the backsliding occurred. Without this political “look the other way” environment, corporate America could never have pulled off its “hatchet job” of the middle class. Because of these three concepts, a perfect storm was created that threw the undereducated American worker under the bus.

Amigo, compadre, am I sensing an article closure drawing near? Please answer with an affirmative. My concentration abilities are waning, along with my at-hand nutrients. Well, yes and no. Not the answer I wished to hear, writer-san. A simple “yes” would have been perfect. There is more to be discussed, dear friend. My outline shows another historical example to be noted, a quick look at affirmative action and other sundries, a conclusion to the history section of this article, then a section devoted to how we can help Trump’s white undereducated voting base turn their lives around and begin creating a meaningful life for themselves, one that will allow them to once again believe in democracy. Okay, writer-san. I see that a break is required by myself in order to finish this marathon. Of course, dear friend. Get up and stretch. Take the dog for a walk, replenish your supplies. This article will await your return. Gracias, amigo. I’ll return in a moment, ready to hear more about Trump’s base and how to steer them toward a more centered, less angry path.

I’d like to offer up one more example of union busting before we transition into the reconciliatory portion of this article. This one perfectly illustrates all that has been discussed regarding union busting. A quick sidebar, please. When I decided to write this article, I felt knowledgeable about how the American Dream was undone. After all, I had witnessed, firsthand, its destruction. Of course, over time, one’s memory can rearrange details into an inaccurate representation of the past, and this piece, in particular, since it covers a period from roughly 1970 to the present, could certainly have been fraught with such misrepresentation. I solidified the accuracy of this writing by researching most all of the article’s significant pieces and/or any part which I felt uncertain about. In doing so, I discovered many facts and details which caused “Oh, yeah?” type moments.

Reading about the Hormel meatpacker’s strike of 1985 through 1986 was one of those “oh yeah?” moments. This strike, as I mentioned, perfectly depicts what my article has discussed. After reading about this tragic and ruthless corporate maneuver, I felt like simultaneously, crying and hitting something. How any human entity, such as a business, could knowingly force their fellow countrymen to endure such pain, anger, frustration, and humiliation, all for the sake of corporate profits, is totally beyond my comprehension. Here’s a synopsis of the Hormel strike. Wages had stagnated for Hormel meatpackers for nearly a decade. When contract negotiations reopened, the union asked for a raise and management offered a cut in hourly wage. Other factors played into the negotiations, such as working conditions, but the bottom line was management offered a reduced wage package. Due to an impasse in negotiations, the plant was shut down and when it reopened, management offered returning workers reduced wages. During the negotiation period, the small town of Austin, Minnesota, was engulfed and embattled by the antagonistic arbitration proceedings. As the negotiations continued, neighborhoods became fractured mini-battlegrounds because of the various stances individual families adopted toward the negotiation process. The town witnessed strikers being beaten by police, the National Guard called in to restore order, curfews, and at times, ruthless chaos. When all was said and done, about 500 of the Hormel plant strikers returned to work for less money. They were joined by about the same number of Hispanic immigrants. This total number of employees allowed the plant to reopen. Austin, Minnesota, changed drastically because of the unsuccessful strike. In 1985, the plant workers and the town of Austin was comprised, mostly, of white, undereducated, blue-collar workers. Now, in 2020, the demographics of Austin and its plant workers have completely changed. People of color hold the lion’s share of the plant jobs, and the town’s homes are mostly occupied by the same ethnic groups. In finalizing the “Hormel story,” I’d like to offer a note about wages and employee demographics regarding the meatpacking industry. In 1980, the average wage garnered by meatpackers was $13.50 and the employee ranks were nearly 100 percent white. In 2018, the average wage was $13.76 and most of the vocation’s employees were people of color. I guess one could say, “At least the wages haven’t gone backwards.” Even with that slight positive notation, the overall reality of the average meat processer’s wage is abysmal. If you factor in how forty years’ worth of inflation has weakened this wage, you begin to see how dreadfully dire the average meatpacker’s economic reality is.

Trump’s backers know of these 1980s radical plant closures, and subsequent rehired workers, which going forward, labored within weaker unions if in unions at all. They also know about the reduced wages such activities always produced, and that often people of color replaced some of the previous white workers. Their continued misplaced anger toward the Democrats and the BIPOC communities can be explained because of the relentless far-right, conservative dialogue that squarely places the blame on the “left” and their allies for the undereducated white middle-class worker’s misfortunes.

             Executive Orders from the Sixties Set the Table

Does losing living-wage jobs and the American Dream completely explain Trump’s conservative, irate, undereducated following? For many people this act by itself would, certainly, have been enough, especially with all the finger wagging toward the villainous Democrats. But, there’s another chapter to the story that precedes, chronologically, the one I just discussed, and needs to be fully illuminated before the complete narrative can be understood. This history lesson begins in the sixties and is a direct result of the civil rights actions of that decade. Much of America watched the civil rights movement of the late sixties and seventies with a certain amount of trepidation. To some white Americans, it meant that Black Americans would soon be competing for their favored jobs. This competition was not welcomed. The fear of job losses was further exacerbated by Affirmative Action executive orders signed in 1965 and 1967. These executive orders were meant to give muscle to the Civil Rights acts that had just been legislated. The 1965 executive order required all federal departments and agencies and companies employed by the federal government to have the BIPOC demographic gainfully employed within their ranks in a proportionally appropriate manner. The 1967 executive order introduced gender into the equation, stating that women needed to be properly represented within these realms, also. The far right immediately attacked these executive orders as being un-American because they gave advantage to one group over another. (Yes, you heard me. OMG! Does one smell hypocrisy in the air?) The unflinching racists simply said these orders were anti-white and totally unacceptable. For decades now, conservative talking heads and writers have been debasing these executive orders as being undemocratic and examples of how Dems have systematically been dismantling the white American middle class. Throw into the mix the 1972 legislation that created Title IX (in academia, women’s sports must have the same prominence as men’s sports,) and the undereducated middle class perceived an avalanche of democratic, executive laws and congressional legislation designed to dislodge their economic stability and their predominant position in the middle-income job market. Title IX was mostly an “insult to injury” type irritant to Trump’s ancestral base. It didn’t drastically hurt their economic position like the 1965 and 1967 executive orders did, but remember, in this era, men were the family breadwinners, and any advantage given to women was considered threatening to their economic stability. One can’t dismiss the predominant sexist/chauvinistic beliefs held by many men of this period as another reason for their disdain of Title IX. One more development from this era needs to be mentioned: Pell Grants came into existence. These monies were considered to be biased and un-American by the right because they favored the lower classes and in particular, the BIPOC demographics. The US government created Pell Grants in 1965. These grants were designed to help people with limited monetary resources gain access to college degrees. In theory, Pell Grants were available to any low-income person, but in practice, when first introduced, they mostly went to the BIPOC demographic. Once again, the conservative talking heads and writers called foul, and the undereducated white laborers were a ready audience for such dialogue.

All of the above, Affirmative Action, the Executive Order of 1967, Pell Grants, and Title IX were perceived by Trump’s ancestral base as threatening, and they had a decade and a half to fume about them before the eighties arrived, bringing with it an era of union busting. How much could one demographic take before they became uncontrollably angry toward their perceived tormentors (the Dems) and irrational in their behaviors and beliefs? I think those of us who’ve lived through these times have witnessed the answer to this quest

There you be … the “who, what, and why” of Trump’s base laid out in a somewhat logical fashion. I enjoyed coining the term “Trump’s ancestral base” because his base is all about past perceived attacks upon the undereducated white middle class, as well as numerous less significant irritants, one after another, piling up and creating a road block, causing their historical caravan to detour into less stable economic conditions. The phrase “less stable economic conditions” doesn’t adequately describe the severity of this demographic’s loss. They had their legs cut out from underneath them by corporate America and for the most part, an ignorant, irresponsible American government. This voting bloc’s buying power, today, is a minuscule fraction of what it once was, and basically, just allows them to pay their monthlies and not much more. The American Dream, with its adornments of owning your own home, economic stability, affordable college degrees, and retiring with a comfortable income and most importantly, debt free, is simply a myth to most undereducated blue-collar workers. Those living-wage jobs this demographic once held, allowing for such economic security, are long gone. Those that still chase the American Dream do so by incurring huge amounts of debt. The conservative older voters, and their children and grandchildren, know about the losses the white, blue collar worker has endured during the last half century. Granddad and grandma have passed down the story of their personal losses and their entire demographic’s losses via oral history. They’ve mentioned immigration acts that flooded America with workers willing to toil for less. They’ve shared stories about union busting and horrendous strikes that tore their community apart. They’ve talked about executive orders and legislation that favored the BIPOC demographics over the white undereducated population. Because of these shared memories, and politicians who ransom the return of living-wage jobs and the American Dream for votes, we now have an angry and confused uneducated voting bloc. Generation after generation of conservative, white, lower-middle-class and lower-class voters who at one time made up a large white middle class have been frustrated and angered by their economic position and lack of improvement. Like that snowball, rolling down the mountain’s slope, picking up volume as it goes, transforming into an avalanche as it crashes toward the valley floor, so has Trump’s undereducated white base’s anger grown. Year after year, decade after decade with the aid of conservative talking heads and writers continually agitating the waters, this group’s anger has snowballed until now we see their rage expressed toward the left and those who favor it.

                                        Back into the Light of Day

When I began writing the rough draft of this article, I had no satisfying ending in place. The compiling of information required to fortify my original thoughts and in some cases, delete previous perceptions, helped construct a positive end game. And, after discussions with my wife and friends and more contemplation, I feel confident that the suggestions I’ll offer you, now, are worthy of your consideration.

Creating better-paying jobs in America will take time. Some of my suggestions would help workers, especially young workers, get better wages right after high school. There’s nothing better for an ailing demographic’s pride and hope than seeing their children and grandchildren receiving preferential treatment from the “powers that be.” This factor could cause some Trump supporters to immediately leave the fold. Others of my suggestions will require time before they will bear fruit, especially those thoughts directed toward corporations and big business. In any scenario, it will take decades for a viable blue-collar middle class to once again “hold court” in our fair land. The following suggestions, I believe, will greatly aid in the resurgence and reestablishment of a strong middle class and the American Dream.

First: The present corporate American paradigm, “Business and shareholders’ profits come first. Damn the guardrails, full speed ahead, and anyone in our way, look out,” has to change. There must be a corporate philosophical transition from what exists presently to a worker-friendly, family-friendly, and community-friendly business paradigm. If this does not occur, there will be no resurging, strong, American middle class. How can such an entrenched business model be replaced? Well, first, from every American household’s rooftop, a mantra stating the above theme, “worker, family, community first,” needs to be shouted out, loud and clear. Second, those politicians who refuse to accept this worker-oriented position need to be voted out of office, and those corporations that disagree with such a stance need to be boycotted. Of course this corporate dogma transition is easier said than done, but it’s time to get a-going. With the American working class insisting upon such a transition, it’s totally possible.

I believe a new worker-friendly nation is a distinct possibility. My enthusiasm is buoyed further by the latest generation of corporate leaders. Let me explain. When the Rockefeller, Ford, and Kennedy families’ political and corporate influences waned, a corporate power vacuum of sorts developed for a brief moment. It was quickly filled by more aggressive, profit-oriented entrepreneurs like Warren Buffett, who were mostly concerned with company bottom lines and not so much the workers who allowed for that. This transition was not beneficial for American middle-class workers, but more recently, we’ve seen new, wealthy capitalists come into their own. This group includes players like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. They, I believe, are much more open to reviving the American middle class.

Second: While we’re viewing corporate America’s possible contribution to the resurrection of middle-class America, let’s look at another arena within which their influence could be helpful. It’s time, actually way past time, for US businesses to stop treating third world countries in the Americas and their citizenry as lesser entities, only to be used as cheap labor and as a marginal marketplace for American goods. This racist reality is an embarrassment, totally dysfunctional, and honestly, hampers the success of our national business interest. More on that in a moment. What needs to happen in these emerging, third world countries is American corporate investments. These monies should target avenues that bolster the working-class wages. The ultimate goal would be the creation of a viable middle class in all these countries. A middle class with buying power. I mentioned above, “more on that later.” Well, there it is. We need a healthy middle class in our southern, neighboring countries with the discretionary money provided by such a socioeconomic level. Their buying power would strengthen our own export economy, allowing for more jobs in America, and if done properly, allowing for more jobs with better pay. I’m not an economic theorist or strategist, and I’m sure the naysayers within these groups, after reading my comments, would be shouting, “Impossible! Can’t be done. Never will be done.” To their remarks, I’d respond with this: our present economic ties with our southern neighbors appear to be half-baked, business models at best, which slightly help us and do very little for the participating emerging countries. It’s time for American businesses to move away from this inefficient, one-sided arrangement, and begin to help develop a middle class in our southern neighbors.

Third: A quick fix for many blue-collar laborers would require big business to take a portion of their annual profit and shift it into increased wages for their employees. This is totally possible because of the huge amounts of “black ink” our businesses’ accumulate annually. Here are some, recent, industry corporate profits as derived from government statistics. These figures come from 2018 and 2019 records: Oil industries, $11.8 billion. Airlines, $26.4 billion. Automotive (worldwide) $94.05 billion. Agriculture, $83 billion … It’s time that a portion of these profits are turned back into the companies as increased wages. All of these businesses will talk about how expensive research, development, and marketing are until the cows come home to milk. Bottom line, most of these businesses have been keeping the stock market very active over the last few years by buying back their own stocks and in general, playing the market extensively.  Corporate America needs to stop stuffing their portfolios with “good buys” and begin reinvesting in America’s blue collar, working class by creating better wage scales and benefit packages. They need to create that economically stable, middle class the Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Ford families of the early twentieth century realized was best for a strong, healthy, and viable America.

 Fourth: I believe another business goal needs to be created in our country, one that focuses on the production of high-end, quality products, much like the system West Germany developed after WWII. Up until roughly 1980, West Germany focused on creating products of superior quality and marketing them to upper middle class and upper class buyers. West German merchandise like automobiles, optics, flatware, cutlery, audio/stereo equipment, furniture … were world renowned for craftsmanship, dependability, and durability. German companies charged consumers a hefty price for their superior commodities and consequently could pay their workers good wages. Interestingly and totally understandably, unemployment in West Germany at this time was roughly one percent. This was much lower than their other Western world counterparts. After German reunification, the unified German corporate paradigm changed somewhat, and it now mirrors more closely the US business model.

The United States’ corporate world should remember the success Western Germany achieved with its post-WWII economy and duplicate it. They should ramp up the production of high-end products and best their competitor’s similar commodities. “American made” should be synonymous with the world’s best high-end, well-made, durable, and dependable products. This philosophy would allow for increased profits and if addressed properly, would allow for better wages paid to American laborers.

Fifth: Our country’s secondary education system needs to discard its singularly formatted, college-bound curriculum and develop a two-pronged instructional approach that offers both college-bound classes and a strong technology curriculum. This approach would provide students who are not interested in higher education, upon completion of high school, a jump start toward living-wage employment. With our existing education model, those students who don’t go on to college end up in retail and service industry jobs. These kids work for minimum wages and become the first to be laid off and the last to be rehired in unstable economic times. Our young people deserve much more than this. Selling burgers to each other is a dead-end, fruitless lifestyle.

I’m presently enrolled in a welding class at a small, coastal high school. Because of this school’s partnership with a local community college, its students have access to a large array of technology classes. They have at their disposal an automotive shop, a welding shop, and a “Three D” fabrication table, as well as available trade classes like carpentry, electrical, and plumbing. Also, small engine–repair classes and basic woodworking classes, like cabinet production, are taught. All American high schools should have access to these classes, and the vocational courses I’m suggesting should not simply be electives. They should be required programs. Each student, upon graduation, should have taken a wide variety of vocational classes and/or bundled several courses into a discipline and completed that course of studies.

Sixth: Education, education, education! The quickest way to help our undereducated labor force is education. High school vocational training should start the process. The process should culminate at the community college level. To make this transition possible for all Americans, community college should be free. National, state, and municipal governments should all help pay the bill. Corporations and wealthy financiers should also pony up revenues for this endeavor. After all, this host of financial backers will benefit greatly from a well-educated American blue-collar workforce. Upon completion of a vocational course of studies, the graduated community college student should have in hand credentials accepted by all corporations and small businesses. He or she should be allowed to jump into a job with good wages and benefit packages immediately upon graduation

 My treatise describing how the American Dream was lost, and how this action helped create Donald Trump’s avid and irrational voting base, is nearing its end, dear reader. Before completing my rambling, let me state one more qualifier. Oh no, amigo! You’re not thinking properly. Please consider the mental state of those readers who are still with you. Compadre, dear friend, this one last qualifier must be shared. Bear with me. The American Dream from the fifties through the eighties that has been described herein, in all likelihood, will never again be duplicated. So much has changed in the last fifty years. For example: most young couples with children today would not feel comfortable in the Leave it to Beaver, Ward and June Cleaver household of that early era. Women today, wish to be, and rightly so, equal players in household dynamics and economics, and would never feel comfortable in June Cleaver’s role. Unfortunately, what I’m seeing, and we’re witnessing this as I write, are households that have two wage workers pooling their money, and in so doing, are still, barely making it. Our country’s hourly workers need better entrance level wages and in general, just plain better wage opportunities. This must improve. Like I said, we, as a nation, cannot be satisfied with many of our workers selling burgers back and forth to each other. This is an abysmal waste of innate intelligence and talent. 

For all you dear readers who have completed this marathon with me, I wish to extend my sincerest words of thanks. If I could, I’d give each of you a hug and a much deserved participation award. Knowing where Trump’s base has journeyed is the only way we can truly understand them. With this knowledge, we should be able to help them live a better life, one without feelings of betrayal and illogical anger. In my opinion, if we do not amend and fix this demographic’s lifestyle, the unified, inclusive, democratic America that I believe in will never exist.

I mentioned earlier that this article was not about the BIPOC demographic and truly, it was not, but there are many members of the BIPOC community who dwell within the lower middle class and/or lower class stratum that much of this article described. They too must be part of the middle class’s resurgence. We must all be observant and vigilant, making sure that no ethnicity is left behind as the American middle class and the American Dream are reborn.

Amigo, you’ve outdone yourself. I had to take numerous breaks to make it to the finish line. Do you think anyone else survived your marathon? I’m not sure, compadre. Honestly, I barely did. Maybe the email responses and the like will give us some perspective as to how many readers crossed the finish line. Hey writer-san, I heard as you wrapped things up that marching band thing, again. Did you hear it, too? No, dear friend. Once again, I heard “Imagine,” my go-to melody. Where to next, writer-san? I can only speculate. Ah, I see, amigo. This statement allows for much wiggle room, doesn’t it? Ha, ha, ha … yes it does. I’m not getting much past you, compadre, am I? No, amigo, your actions have trained me to always take notice of even the simplest passage of words. Well, I’ve been thinking about the BLM movement and where it’s going. My friends and I have continued our weekly rallies at Highway 101 and Laneda Avenue. Participation numbers have dwindled, but the overall response by passersby has continued to be positive and reinforcing. I’m wondering if our little group’s loss of participants mirrors the national narrative; also, I’m thinking about writing several articles with particular Oregon themes. If this is the case, I’d like to apologize now to my reading audience that does not dwell within Oregon’s borders. Although, sometimes regional situations can have much broader, analogous extensions. Hopefully, this will be the case with my Oregon pieces. Amigo, we’re all a little weary at this point, and you’re rambling. Time to wrap ’er up, writer-san. Well, I didn’t want to leave you, compadre, with a vague … Wrap ’er up, amigo. Andale … Certainly, dear friend, certainly. Once again, dear readers, thanks for your companionship on my writing journey. Be safe, stay healthy, hope for the best, and accept nothing less …


          Whoa, amigo, just like you said, you jumped right back into the saddle. Most certainly; guess I have too much spare time on my hands. The housing market’s a little tight. Not much to look at, so I’m thinking about life in our “fair land” rather than location, view, potential, tax liability, lot size… I’ve been musing about vaccine hesitancy and personal freedom, versus societal needs and well-being. Whoa, whoa, whoa, compadre, this doesn’t sound like what you mentioned last; you talked about shedding light on “the American Dream,” the loss of, and how this created what’s his face’s political base. You know I get up for your next writing, and when you throw curve balls, I feel a personal loss. Also, this has a déjà vu feeling, amigo. I’m thinking you’ve done this “switch thing” before. Well, yes I have, and honestly I thought “writer’s license” would allow me minor transgressions when choosing subjects to write about and the sequencing of said articles. So, I hear you saying, “My mind wanders from here to there, and whenever I get the itch to write, I write about what’s rolling around inside my head at that particular moment.” Ha, no, no, no, my dear friend. No, no…that’s not the case at all. Well, kind of “not the case at all.” Okay, yeah, a little bit so, but I like to think my topic choice is influenced more by relevancy and immediacy rather than pure random mental hijacking. Think what you like, amigo. I’m just hoping that in the time it takes me to gather up some nourishment, and get comfortable in the easy chair, you haven’t chanced upon another, even more important topic and, once again, left me wanting. I hear you. I’m focused and will not diverge from my stated path. Gracias, writer-san, so let’s hear it; what are your thoughts about personal freedom versus societal allegiance?

            I’m concerned about our culture’s use of the “lowest common denominator” in regard to creating rules and regulations we must all adhere to. By doing this we inflict restrictions upon the “common good” and everyone’s personal freedoms. Bear with me; I’m steering toward vaccine hesitancy and how a few are directly interfering with the majority’s well-being. My pet peeve (no pun intended) example of limiting rules created because of a few individuals’ poor choices deals with dogs and all the restrictions placed upon them. I’m sure that all you readers have your own personal, annoying regs that shouldn’t apply to you, but do, which makes your psyche want to scream, “But, that’s not me! I wouldn’t even consider doing that.” Anyway, the first such situation that comes to my mind is dog regulations, aka “leash laws.” In most cases, the movement of your family pet is restricted to one degree or another, or in some cases, they are simply banned from areas completely. This became abruptly apparent to me when I arrived in a national park two winters ago and set out to hike a trail with my leashed German Shorthair Pointer. Kiva, my GSP, loves all people and dogs. Putting her on a leash is a travesty, not only because of her warm personality, but also because of the breed’s inherent love of running and exploring. To my dismay, dogs were simply banned from the trail and for that matter, from all trails in the park.

            Leash laws became, well, the law-of-the land several decades ago because a few individuals began buying aggressive dog breeds, an unfortunate fad that gained a small yet ardent following. This small group of dog owners tried to rein in the natural instincts of these animals and make them into family pets. Consequently, with these breeds in much closer contact with the general public, instances of people and pets being bitten by man’s best friend increased sharply. The immediate response by municipalities and other organizations frequented by the general public was the creation of leash laws.

            Therein lies the problem for all of us. Because of a few people’s choices and their desire for aggressive pets, restrictions have been placed on all dogs. Pit Bull Terriers and German Shorthairs are treated the same by governing bodies. When the rules are posted, breeds are not mentioned. For ease of interpretation and enforcement, the generic term “dog” prevails, so that all of us must abide by rules that a small percentage of dog owners have forced into creation; “lowest common denominator” prevails, and even those who have chosen friendly breeds and trained them properly have their freedoms restricted, and the “common good’s” reality is once again modified because of a few people’s inconsiderate choices and behaviors.

            Before continuing, let me state that of course not all members of aggressive dog breeds are hostile. We’ve all patted and loved up our friend’s affectionate Pit Bull Terrier. These animals tend to emulate their owner’s personalities and abilities to train them. Poorly trained, aggressive dogs are the real problem. For the sake of discussion, I choose to ignore the other causes of aggressive dog behavior such as canine abuse, which produces emotionally depressed animals in physical and mental pain.  For this article’s sake, my concerns were, simply, “leash laws” and their creation. Their development was a direct result of aggressive breed dog numbers abruptly rising.  

            Whoa, amigo, you’re off and running with the dog analogy. You going to rein it in, and move on with the vaccine hesitancy concept? Ha, ha, ha…Well, the above paragraphs did come to an end, and I told you it was a pet peeve of mine, although now, in retrospect, I probably should have chosen another example to discuss, not one quite so personal. Seemingly, years of frustration and bottled-up sentiment equated to a lengthy and possibly counterproductive diatribe that might have sent some readers groping for the remote and relief. Truer words could not have been written, compadre. You gotta focus, writer-san. Andale, Andale, let’s get back to your outline. Thanks for your verbal slap in the face, dear colleague. You’re right, time to return to the original course, and sail on with whoever is still onboard.

            Presently, our country is trying to render the Covid-19 virus into a position of weakness, so that it cannot direct our populace’s daily lives and control our economy’s strength and development. The mRNA vaccine has become the tool by which the medical community intends to rein in the virus. There appears to be a large amount of data to support the belief that this new vaccine will provide the needed relief. The societal, medical success of this vaccine is dependent upon a large number of people becoming immune to the disease. A certain number of citizens need to be vaccinated and/or infected with Covid before the virus becomes moot. This number is referred to as a “herd immunity” level. Data suggests that 70 to 85 percent of our country’s citizenry needs to be inoculated for and/or infected with Covid-19 before herd immunity is reached. Herd immunity can be reached quickly by everyone getting vaccinated or it can be achieved by the slower path utilizing the transmission of the disease through human interaction. What we’re seeing now is an accumulation of disease-resistant people via both avenues.

            Oh happy day, oh happy days…There is a light at the end of this here tunnel. This horrendous disease can be beat, and eventually, we can all return to our pre-pandemic lives. Whoa, not so fast, mate. A slight problem has reared its ugly head and thrown a spike strip down in front of our caravan. Vaccine hesitancy may derail our successful control of Covid-19. This can happen by a lengthy immunization period, one that allows the virus to mutate into a new, vaccine-resistant strain. We have already seen new strains develop, and fortunately, for all of us, these new strains still are vulnerable to the mRNA therapy in use. By the middle of June, CDC data predicts that roughly half of all Americans eighteen and older will be fully vaccinated. Add to that group the 30 to 40 million citizens naturally infected with Covid-19 and you have about two hundred million Americans resistant to the disease. This number is shy of the minimal, targeted threshold of 70 percent immunization before herd immunity is reached. What’s more troubling is the reduced demand for the vaccine. State after state, vaccination site after vaccination site are all reporting unused and wasted vaccines because the demand by unvaccinated people for the shots has plummeted. Officials are so concerned by the lack of vaccine interest shown from the remaining unvaccinated populace that they are offering “carrot-like” incentives for the unvaccinated. Business owners and government officials are proffering monetary incentives like lotteries and paid days off from work to attract the unvaccinated back to immunization sites. This last-ditch effort to reach herd immunity is very troubling, not because of the effort, but because we’re at the point where people must be bribed to do the right thing. As I stated before, individuals in the know, such as infectious disease experts, warn that the longer it takes for us to reach herd immunity the more likely a resistant strain will mutate into existence.  If this occurs, it’s back to square one and the ol’ drawing board, folks. Throw your previous immunization shots out the door, hunker down some more, and wait for the new vaccine.

            Why in the hell is it so hard to accomplish a communal goal in this country? The answer’s obvious, but I’ll state it anyway. We’re not a community. Webster states, and I paraphrase, “a community is a group of people living and working together, adhering to similar beliefs and goals.” There you be. Does that sound like the good ol’ USofA? Right now, we live in a fractured culture that has various groups wagging their index fingers toward each other and assigning blame for this and that on everyone but themselves.

            With that said, miraculously, our country’s pre-pandemic reality is slowly coming back into focus. Jobless claims diminish week after week. Manufacturing is slowly growing, although it is stumbling along due to the lack of needed supplies and a reported shortage of workers. The service industry is showing gains as people get out and about more. Consumer optimism waxes, then wanes depending on economic activity and reported business nuances. For sure, our economy is awakening and many economists believe 2021 will witness a large increase in GNP. With the overall economy coming back and Covid deaths declining week after week, we should eventually return to the norm that existed before Covid-19.

            Getting people vaccinated and unafraid of Covid-19 is touted as being the best solution for people’s health and growth in our economy and return to normalcy. So why isn’t everyone on board with vaccinations, the apparent quickest path to herd immunity, and the consequent, fastest route to regularity? Well it depends on who you listen to. One faction in our country, which has the fewest supporters, wags its finger toward those who believe in wearing masks, social distancing, and vaccination as the correct route out of our Covid mess. The vaccination believers point their fingers at those who won’t get vaccinated, stating this group’s irresponsible behavior is causing our recovery to crawl forward due to the continual spread of Covid by the unimmunized. The continual spread of Covid forces the restrictions set into place to protect people from the disease to remain in place. These restrictions are slowing our economic recovery. I believe the abovementioned stand-off and finger pointing is another example of the “lowest common denominator” controlling the options available to all of us, and consequently, keeping a timely, uniform, and well-received plan from derailing Covid-19. Time is of the essence; the longer we dawdle in regard to eliminating this disease, the more victims it will claim. The longer it takes for our transition away from a Covid-19 business environment, the more damage small businesses will sustain, and in general, the more damage our overall economy will endure. We all know about the closures of so many small shops and businesses and the loss of millions of jobs due to Covid. Do we really want this hostile environment to linger and cause more such catastrophes? No we don’t.

            People from both aforementioned factions want our economy to recover quickly. So why the conflict? Why the caustic impasse, and counterproductive finger pointing? Well, I believe some of the apparent discord is residue left over from the dysfunctional presidency, recently dismissed from office by the largest popular vote ever recorded. But, in my opinion, there’s more to it than just that. First, let’s focus on the obvious conflict remaining after our last election: Trumpers versus non-Trumpers. One group tends to emotionally follow their ideologies, no matter what the evidence suggests. The “don’t tread on me” types and the far right and all their subsidiaries believe in an “us versus them” mentality and “if you give an inch, the other side will take a mile” philosophy. Consequently, you have a suspicious, unbending, demographic with knee-jerk responses to all perceived threats regardless of size or authenticity. On the other side of the cultural spectrum you have the non-Trumpers, who tend to be science-based individuals who believe in the “common good” and a society based on character and inclusiveness, not one based on defending exclusive personal and political ideologies. These two factions have become well defined over the last five years and their differences remarkably contrasted. Due to dynamics of the two camps, if one says make love not war, the other will say make war not love. There you have it…plain and simple: the non-Trumpers say vaccines, and the Trumpers, consequently, say no vaccines. The Trumpers will have all sorts of rationales for their stance; they’ll say everything from, “there isn’t a pandemic; it was just a scam created to rob Trump of the presidency,” to “the dead died because of their underlying conditions, not Covid,” to “vaccines place molecular-sized tracking devices into you which allows the government to monitor your movements,” to… The Trumper response to mRNA is totally predictable and in line with their previous narratives and actions. They’ll simply reject it because the other side champions it and, well, it’s a science-based solution. The hard-core Trumpers will die before getting vaccinated (or at least never admit to being inoculated); this demographic is unbending and entrenched in their ways.

            There are several other societal segments that regard the vaccines with skepticism and are presently resisting the shots. These groups as a whole may or may not change their stance, but I think some of their numbers will eventually get immunized. Hopefully, those who change their minds will propel us onto the herd immunity plateau. These demographics are the real “vaccine hesitancy” people. They fall as I said into two camps: one group distrusts all vaccines, and the other segment is skeptical of the mRNA vaccine. The people who distrust all vaccines have grown up in a world filled with disinformation regarding inoculations. They’ve heard how the mercury in some vaccines causes autism. They’ve been spoon-fed the theory that vaccinations causes a person’s natural immune system to become weak and susceptible to disease. Both these theories have been disproven over and over again by the scientific community, and yet believers in said ideas still persist. One common thread the younger generations all share is a world that due to vaccines, has fewer crippling and deadly diseases. These young people have never seen a polio victim walking with leg braces and crutches. They’ve never seen the scarred body of a person who survived smallpox. They’ve never seen the results of brain cell–killing fevers that accompany severe measles outbreaks. All these diseases have been erased or weakened because of vaccines. If vaccines caused our immune system to become weak and unable to defend our body from infection and/or disease in general, the boomer generation would be the bellwether group to watch. We’ve been poked and prodded for incalculable reasons and yet we keep on keeping on. We die from boring diseases such as heart conditions, cancers, and diabetes, many of which are brought on by environmental and/or causal factors such as diet or lack of exercise. We haven’t succumbed en masse to some lethal, microscopic substance found within vaccines. Hopefully, the vaccine-skeptical younger people will realize this and advance past their self-imposed, medieval ignorance.

            One group of vaccine-hesitant people, I feel, has a leg to stand on. This group knows that the mRNA style vaccine has never been mass produced before, and therefore, has no track record. They don’t want to be the guinea pigs, proving or disproving the safety of this new vaccine technique. Hard to argue with their position, although I’ve read numerous reports declaring the safety of the mRNA vaccine. I know also that two respected research scientists, Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D., and Katalin Karikó, Ph.D., spent the last two decades of their lives developing this new vaccine type, and that many other infectious disease experts have heralded it as a major “breakthrough” in the fight against infectious disease.  To help alleviate fears about their new vaccine, Dr. Weissman and Dr. Karikó have both been inoculated with an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. The ultimate stamp of approval: “I’ll bet my life on it.” There you be… We all took a leap of faith when lining up for mRNA vaccine jabs. The scientific community felt it was safe, and frankly, no inoculations meant the Covid pandemic would run its course, unabated, until herd immunity was naturally reached by person-to-person transmission. I wasn’t willing to sit back and watch this happen. If there was a chance to curtail the Covid-19 deaths, I was willing to participate. Can one fault the mRNA hesitancy shown by a suspicious few who won’t be the new vaccine’s guinea pigs? No, I don’t think so. Can one applaud the bravery and community spirit demonstrated by those who stepped up and were jabbed with the new serum? Most definitely. These people and this new vaccine could save millions of American lives.

            I started this article discussing “lowest common denominator” thinking in regard to how policies, informal and formal, are developed in our country. Seemingly, in neighborhoods, towns, cities, states, and at the national level, people, when trying to make things better, refer to the worst-case scenarios as the starting point. In my opinion, that leaves most of us giving up freedoms because a few people are selfish, irresponsible, or just don’t care about how their actions affect other people’s well-being. Well, let’s bring this thought full circle and connect it to vaccine hesitancy and our country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

            Soon, roughly half of all Americans 18 and older will be vaccinated. Let’s not treat the vaccinated people the same as the non-immunized. In my opinion, they are keeping us from a speedy economic recovery. Vaccine or no vaccine? Everyone has the right to choose what to do, but there’s a big difference between one’s choice and public safety. Those that aren’t vaccinated can still infect the vulnerable with Covid-19 and kill someone. Those of us who chose to be vaccinated are for the most part safe from passing the disease onto others. Big, big difference here; one choice can kill people, and the other route produces safe individuals, not likely to cause others harm. Those of us who’ve been vaccinated should have our restrictions removed and move on with the pre-pandemic lifestyle we deserve.

            Businesses, event organizers, educational institutions, governments, nonprofits, and a host of other publicly frequented establishments should all take note of who’s vaccinated and who’s not. They should render their services accordingly. Those vaccinated should have minimal restrictions, and those unvaccinated individuals should be required to continue with CDC guidelines. The Portland Trail Blazer organization just changed their arena seating for their home 2021 playoff games. Those vaccinated had seating areas where rules were relaxed; for instance people could sit next to each other, regardless of family ties. The non-vaccinated people had to social distance, wear masks, and continue with state-required protective measures. Thank you Blazer organization.

            There is an upside to this segregated system I’m suggesting. Picture the Trail Blazer fans in the Moda Center sitting in the two highly different sections provided them. The unvaccinated folks look across the arena to the fans who are vaccinated. They’re a typical basketball fan base: standing, shouting without masks on, sharing large containers of popcorn, high-fiving each other, and being, well, being normal arena fans. This situation could be a real incentive for those unvaccinated folks to step up to the plate, and help the rest of us out by getting vaccinated. Earlier, I mentioned monetary incentives offered by states and businesses to encourage inoculations. Well, sitting, watching your fellow citizens living a more normal life than yours certainly could make you reconsider your choice.

            Several of us, last night, were talking, and I was sharing the thoughts expressed within this article. One good friend began laughing when thinking about treating vaccinated and non-vaccinated differently. He was amused by the concept of individually self-governed behavior in our society in regards to following the rules. Can we trust our fellow citizens to follow an “honor system” and police themselves? My friend’s point was, “Hell no!” He felt non-vaccinated people would simply pretend to be vaccinated and join in with all the fun. I proffered that a percentage of the unvaccinated would become transgressors, but that the lion’s share would not. You can see how this became a philosophical debate, one that could not be decided by facts. Bottom line though, even a small number of cheaters could throw the whole system into disarray; by masquerading as inoculated individuals, they could easily infect the vulnerable.

            The above conversation caused me to accept the need for serious, formal ID for Covid-19–vaccinated people. For a moment, this thought seemed to be unsurmountable hurdle, and a game stopper. But, with further speculation, my nay-sayer first response quickly dissipated and the term “easy-peasy” popped up. We can easily get state-endorsed vaccination ID. The vast majority of us have picture ID of some kind. Many of us have driver’s licenses, and regardless of our general impressions of this ID photo, it does depict our image. We also filled out CDC required documents and signed a ledger when receiving our vaccination, and upon completing the immunization process, we were handed a CDC card which proved just that, we’ve been inoculated for Covid-19. So, where’s this going? Well, somewhere in your county or local municipality, there is a record of your vaccinations. You have in possession a CDC immunization card and your good ol’ picture ID, so let’s take all this to the local DMV, which has an “industrial strength” computerized camera system, and get a state-sanctioned Covid-19 ID card. Totally easy for the state to facilitate this effort. They’d simply need to get the county ledger of your inoculation dates. That shouldn’t be too hard. Then match the ledger name and signature to your CDC card and your picture ID. Voilà, easy-peasy! You leave the DMV with your card, and our system of treating vaccinated versus non-vaccinated differently, yet fairly, can prevail. I would suggest the procedure I discussed should happen after regular DMV hours and on the weekends. This way the DMV can continue on with their regular responsibilities. Monies should be available for this pursuit. Most states still have cash available from the Feds for fighting Covid-19.  I can already hear the nay-sayers. “But someone will forge the documents, and you can’t treat people differently like that!” You know what, this is a pandemic, and my friends’, neighbors’, and fellow countrymen’s lives are stake. Also, remember, we’re not letting the lowest common denominator rule the day. They need to step aside with their negativity and gripes, and let the rest of us move to the front of the line.

            We are so close to the finish line in our battle against Covid-19. Our country is roughly one and a half years into this conflict. Many vulnerable and elderly Americans have sheltered in place during this entire time frame. Estimates state that a million of our fellow citizens will die before we, as a culture and nation, take care of business. With vaccines being offered to all, the goal of reaching herd immunity is right there, waiting for us to grasp it and break through the ribbon. The vaccine-hesitant folks are the only stumbling block in our path. We mustn’t let these factions keep the rest of us from the normalcy we can bring back to everyone by reaching herd immunity via immunizations. The lowest common denominator cannot set the bar for the rest of us. It’s time to recognize this group and convince them of their error. The faster these groups get onboard, the better it is for all of us. Remember, the longer we delay herd immunity, the more likely a variant strain develops that will be immune to our vaccines. That’s how it works in the infectious disease world. There ain’t no getting around this deadly fact. We all need to be proactive and help bring our pre-pandemic world back.  Offer money incentives to those questioning the need for vaccines. Allow peer pressure to factor in, and treat the two groups differently. “Vaccinated” can ease up on restrictions while the “unimmunized” must still abide by the CDC safety standards. Vaccinated can travel without quarantining; unvaccinated need to isolate upon arrival. Vaccinated can sit or stand side-by-side at concerts, dance and sing with their friends, while unvaccinated still need to social distance and keep their masks in place. Vaccinated can give people hugs when greeting and unvaccinated can bump elbows. What I just described sounds punitive, but it’s not. The hard, cold reality of this disease, Covid-19, simply demands such attention and different behaviors. If unvaccinated people don’t follow basic safety precautions many more Americans will die. Give people vaccine IDs. Let them hang these badges of courage and community support from lanyards draped around their necks. It’s time to bring this disease to its knees, so let’s get it done.

            Amigo, I heard a marching band accompanying that last paragraph you wrote. Ha ha, my friend. I heard “Imagine” by John Lennon. He crooned some classic songs, and had a lot of good things to say, writer-san. Well, I agree with you, dear friend, and you know what they say? How so, amigo?“The good, they die young.” Oh, no, no, compadre. I’m not sure I want to take credit for setting your table. Too late. It’s already said and done. Then, how ’bout we just keep my blunder between just us two. Again, too late.  Your error is already out there for all to see. Any chance for an edit? Nope. It’s final, then. Yep. Okay, I’m licking my wounds and moving on. You know that whole “dog” thing at the beginning of this article was a little too much, amigo. You might think of an edit there, and when editing that part… Ha, ha, ha, dear colleague. A pun and paybacks thrown at me, rapid fire like. You are such a good comrade who often brings a smile to my face, and in the next breath, takes me to task. I do what I can, maestro. Before you wrap this up, one last thought. Shoot. When will you write the “American Dream” article? Soon, very soon, and I hope not to mess things up for you, again. The next writing will be about the lost American Dream and “what’s his face’s’” political base. I promise. So good to hear that. I’ll be waiting for your every word, sitting in my easy chair with my feet propped up, and nourishment at my side.

After Derek Chauvin Verdict: Where Do We Go Next?

Whoa, amigo, where you been? Last time we talked you jawed about how the Republicans and what’s-his-face could lose it “all” in 2020. You were spot on, amigo. Honestly, it was easy to be “spot on.” What’s-his-face and his adopted party are and were incredibly transparent, and if you observed them using the optics that noted greed, racism, self-entitlement, and power mongering, their motives and movements were totally telegraphed. But why the silence, amigo? There’s been so much going down since the dethroning of the “childlike man.” Well, life caught up with me and the pandemic took over and controlled so much of my activities. Sheltering in place for over a year strained my psyche, and writing about everything that was happening would have been like looking at Mordor swamp water through a magnifying glass; you know it won’t be a pretty sight, so don’t drink the water, and move on. I love the imagery, amigo, but a translation, please. I didn’t want to dwell on the pandemic and all the dysfunctional behavior it brought to light. No, it was time to just do the right thing for myself, my family, and my community, and hope for the best.

So many people died from the virus and are still dying. When will it all end, amigo? I’m afraid that answer depends upon how smart our fellow citizens are, and what they’re willing to do in order stop this pandemic. Fortunately, the medical profession has learned how to treat the infected more efficiently and effectively, so the numbers of those dying from Covid will diminish regardless of society’s overall response to this deadly virus. We may never reach herd immunity via vaccination because of “vaccine hesitancy,” which I like to refer to as “vaccine, I don’t care about the rest of you all ’cause you don’t mean nothing to me, hesitancy.” Oh yeah! Now you’re telling it like it is. Well there’s no reason to sugarcoat the truth. We’ve got a lot of ignorant, self-absorbed, self-righteous, easily manipulated individuals in this country who will do most anything to allow these conditions to continue. So, are you going to write about the virus and what we should do next? No, like I said, “Don’t drink the water, and move on.” Everybody who cares about their neighbors and this country knows what should be done. No, my friend, the guilty verdict rendered in Minneapolis stirred and inspired me. Justice prevailed, and hopefully the timing of this ethical and moral victory will help disable the Covid-19 sedation influencing our lives and allow us to move forward with important cultural alterations. What pair of racist pants are you going hem, amigo? Well, the Minneapolis trial’s verdict brings to mind “systemic racism,” and this one “win” against our national blight needs to be a launching pad for many, many more such victories. Considering this, I’m going to write about and promote what I believe is the most basic, yet most significant adjustment that must occur before systemic racism can become a thing of the past.

You going to hammer the police, amigo? No, the snake has many heads and chopping off one won’t stop racism and its many facets. No, we must make the snake feel friendless, forcing it to seek shelter by crawling back under the ancient rock whence it came. I love your imagery, man, so what’s the solution? Pull up a chair, my dear friend. My solution is as ancient as the elders of the hunter-gathering nomadic tribes of pre-history. It’s as old as Socrates, and the gardens, squares, and columned hallways he and his many followers traversed and dwelt within. The solution I’ll champion is the one which conquers when all else fails. You’ve got my attention. I’m on the edge of my seat, ready to learn. I like your choice of words because my saving grace is education. Honest, truthful, to-the-point teaching about racism, past and present, is the only way to wake up a complacent society, forcing it to take note and own the current racial divisions and systemic racism that we all live with. Now sit back in your chair and get comfortable, my friend. There is much to be said. Doing just that, maestro, although a thought has emerged from the recesses of my mind that I feel obliged to mention. Yes? Are we worried about word count? Hmmm, probably not. I suspect the intro length jarred that memory loose. No, we’re not worried about word count. Some thoughts need lengthy consideration, and this would be just that. Let ’er rip, compadre. I’m sitting back, comfortable like with my feet propped up on the stool. All devices are turned off, and nourishment is at hand.

Systemic Racism

Before I delve into the specifics of how education will dehorn the beast, I’d like to focus on what I consider to be our country’s biggest deterrent to a healthy, viable culture: systemic racism. First of all, regardless of what the vested interests might say, systemic racism is real. It subtly yet powerfully dwells within all our institutions: government, law enforcement, industry and employment, judicial system, educational institutions, states, cities, and neighborhoods all harbor this racist platform. The proof is in our cultural realities. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) individuals are most likely living at a lower socioeconomic level as compared to white people of European ancestry. They are more likely living in less desirable areas and bundled together in housing far removed from homogeneous, white neighborhoods. Most BIPOC individuals, within their particular job selections, are not participating in decision-making levels, like manager or CEO positions. They are the laborers working for the Man. Of course we see exceptions to what I just described, but in general, what I mentioned is our cultural reality. One noteworthy example that reinforces this opinion jumps out to me: Nike recently gave year-end bonuses to various department heads for jobs well done. Not one of these CEOs were BIPOC individuals. God help you if you miss the irony here. As a nation we must do much better than this.

All white people must accept several realities. First and foremost, the white race is responsible for systemic racism and the damaging racism we find in our country today. These racist expressions were and are caused by a white cultural belief that people of European descent are superior to other races and ethnicities. Secondly, racism in this country will not end until most Caucasians change their beliefs and their actions toward people of color. White racial attitudes directed towards others, be they rooted in one’s personal ancestral history or simply a result of ignorance and/or complacency, have created the racism we see and live with.

In trying to eliminate racism and systemic racism, we cannot overlook recent history. In the fifties and sixties, significant anti-discrimination laws were passed by our national congress, laws that became the rule of the land. These “acts” were designed to stop systemic racism. Several Civil Rights Acts, passed in the fifties and sixties, were intended to stop voter discrimination. Other acts passed in the sixties banned discrimination in housing and employment based upon race, religion, or gender. Talk about pulling the rug out from underneath systemic racism. There you be. How could the beast continue on its merry way? Well, complacency and its all-too-often companion ignorance left the door ajar for systemic racism, and the ugly phenomenon slowly and stealthfully weaseled its way back into our culture and became brazen, once again. Why mention complacency and ignorance? Well, I believe most white, educated Americans are not racist at heart. They are racist by actions. They continue with racist endeavors because of their ignorance as to how their actions create and embolden racism and racial discrepancies. For sure there are outright racists who because of their local and regional history and/or family lineage are straight-up, in-your-face, haters of people of color. But for many Americans individual, personal, degrading customs and habits are symptoms of ignorance that because of systemic racism and its ability to segregate ethnicities have allowed one hand not to see how it affects the other.

Herein lies my hope for the eventual demise of systemic racism. All those well-meaning white people who agreed with the Civil Rights Acts of the fifties and sixties sincerely felt that systemic racism and racism in general were wrong. Their mistake was in not taking notice of what transpired after the laws were passed. They became contented, feeling that the “powers that be” would protect and abide by the new laws and comply with the “majority’s” wishes. Well, this proved to be a naïve assumption, leading us to our present racial/racist confrontational society. During this, our present attempt to dismantle racism, we must all remember how we failed in the past, a.k.a., becoming complacent and expecting others to be our watchdogs. This go-round requires all of us to participate, be vigilant, and never expect others to be our standard bearers.

People of color cannot end racism and systemic racism in America. They’ve been trying to do just that for hundreds of years. White people must educate themselves so they are not a hindrance, but rather become an aid, helping people of color gain the respect and equality they have deserved. White people must change their beliefs and become more knowledgeable about how their actions influence other ethnicities in this country. Many white people in this country who believed in the rightness of the Civil Rights Acts are still alive. Our offspring, for the most part, are more understanding of race and racial differences than we were. Remember, the younger generations grew up with numerous heroes of color, something that the “Greatest Generation” for the most part did not have. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to be notably influenced by people of color: Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, Mohammed Ali, Carl Lewis, Nelson Mandela, Cezar Chavez, Michael Jordan, Russell Means (Oglala Lakota), and Ronald Takaki are a few individuals who taught all Americans about dignity, respect, and honor. These magnificent individuals positively influenced many older white Americans but not to the degree that younger whites have been influenced. The racial divides influencing the Boomers were great; they allowed for positive approval and recognition of BIPOC individuals, but we, mostly, did not identify with them. It was always, “that really smart black person, or that Asian guy is right-on.” Most boomers always saw color first, then the person. Young white Americans, on the other hand, due to a much larger pool of iconic BIPOC heroes, more integrated school systems, and more diverse and prominent social media platforms, have been greatly influenced by BIPOC people and readily identify with their brothers and sisters. I believe many of the younger generations see the person first and then their color. There is a plethora of influential, BIPOC people to listen to, respect and emulate: LeBron James, the Obamas, Tatanka Means, Oprah, Snoop Dog and many of the hip-hop and rap artists with their direct and poignant cultural and political lyrics, Jerry Yang, Black journalists like Robin Roberts, Kristen Welker and Don Lemon, and the Dalai Lama all have placed their stamps upon contemporary American culture. My point is this: white America is at a time when it can help dismantle systemic racism and racism in general. For generations, white people have had BIPOC heroes, have related to them, and identified with them, and I am convinced that we stand on the threshold of achieving the moment when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, “but by the content of their character.”

Education Is the Solution

Education, Education, Education…How will educating the American people help end systemic racism? Ending racism and its many facets will require messaging starting at all levels and within all educational arenas. Institutional education is divided into three basic camps:

  • One subgroup is the taught material, curriculum.
  • Another subgroup is teaching mechanics, which basically is the teachers providing the knowledge and the tools they use.
  • The third subgroup’s composition is the various education levels: for example, preschool, elementary, secondary, and higher education are the most common levels noted by our culture.

There are obviously other platforms for education. The visual arts come to mind: art pieces, movies, and theater all can educate the audience. Speakers at a podium found in a park, a public auditorium, or a community center can educate their audience. There are many vehicles for education and each has its own unique delivery. All educational methods should be used to help end systemic racism. A diversity of deliveries will allow for the largest number of individuals to be reached.

Institutional public education, since it is mandated, reaches a large segment of our population. This group will be the basis for derailing racism in our country. Students must learn about racism’s effects on targeted ethnicities. They need to comprehend how a racial group’s daily life is affected by racism, and how their overall destiny is controlled and channeled by the same. Young children are very sympathetic and empathetic toward injustice and can learn so much from a book, either read to them aloud or read by themselves. Guest speakers at school assemblies are very influential with young audiences, and thespian performances are even more so. All the various informational techniques mentioned above are nothing new to educators, and utilizing them to teach about racism would be completely doable. Of course, age-appropriate material needs to be generated for younger students. Created curriculum material and lessons are not alien to elementary teachers. Most are quite adept at it, and have been doing the same to some degree since “day one” of their teaching careers. While waiting for their districts to generate a formal “racism” curriculum, grade school teachers could construct their own units and move forward with relevant education. Education about racism in America could begin tomorrow in the lower grades if teachers agreed upon basic concepts to be taught and focused on the development of age-appropriate lessons.

Secondary education, due to the nature of the beast, that is, older children, can be more analytical and expansive in its approach to combating racism. At this level, younger students should learn about regional effects of racism. They should learn the history of racism in their area and what exists presently. I believe that most white American students if made knowledgeable of the horrendous history and effects of racism in their city, county, or state would reject racism and racial inequality. The older high school students should learn about historical American racism, starting with slavery and the plantation system; from there, the curriculum should move on to Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era, then continue by noting racist threads abounding throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Toward the end of high school, both the history and description of systemic racism should dominate the curriculum. The subtle nuances of systemic racism should be taught. Job and wage discrepancies should be noted. Housing segregation and the mechanics allowing for such should be taught; that is, banking and real estate bias should be highlighted. Historical and present police bias should be taught to the older students. The juniors and seniors should not only learn about systemic racism, but they should also learn about how to dismantle the same. Programs should also be developed for these students to get out into the community and promote racial equality.

The overall comprehensive curriculum that I described, albeit just a rough outline at best, would greatly facilitate the demise of racism. Students, due to their inherent belief in fairness and equality, are the perfect demographic to aid in the destruction of racist beliefs and systemic racism in general.

If all school districts in our country would develop a complete curriculum regarding racism and systematic racism, I ardently believe the ugly beast would find few supporters and followers. Maybe I’m a dreamer or an idealist.…If so, I wear these characteristics proudly and urge everyone to pick up the toolbox filled with proactive behavior and thought, positive attitudes, and the belief in the overall goodness of our fellow citizens. Grab this box firmly and take it to work with you. Now is not the time to listen to the racists pounding shield and sword together. It’s not the time to hear the words of naysayers, cynics, and doubters. Now is the time to do the right thing and begin the destruction of racism in our country.

Okay, okay, I digressed and got a little emotional. Some of you, dear readers, probably sensed a conclusion near at hand. I apologize for my critical error in writing structure and my obvious weakness, demonstrated by not editing these misplaced thoughts out of the article.

Specific, Practical Steps

Back to reality. Bottom line: how many school districts in America have a curriculum like the one I just discussed? Probably not many, and further, how many would develop such a curriculum on their own volition? Probably not many. How many school districts should have the curriculum mentioned above? Every school district in our “fair land” should be teaching this or a similar curriculum to their students. I’m an idealist by nature but a realist by practicality. Curriculum development is a lot of hard, roll-up-your-sleeves work, and when dealing with material that in some regions will be very controversial, many educators would be inclined to turn a blind eye to the task. So how to get the ball rolling?

  • Well, my first thought favors peer pressure. Parents need to encourage and demand “racism” courses of study be taught in their districts. If the school board seems hesitant or flat-out hostile to the idea, then the school board can be adjusted by electing new members to the board. “We the people” need to change this country’s racial attitudes. One such method is by our votes, and whenever our vote can aid in the elimination of racism, we must exercise it.
  • A second substantial influence on school districts is the federal government. Districts throughout our country receive monies for various reasons from D.C.; about 8 percent of each state’s school budget comes from the feds. Tinkering with that number depending on the district’s development and use of a “racism” curriculum could sway some hesitant districts into action. I’m more in favor of the carrot versus the stick when influencing school districts, especially since most federal money goes into programs that help disadvantaged students. I’m sure most districts wouldn’t mind some additional revenue from the feds because of the development and implementation of a “racism” curriculum.
  • My last thought about how to encourage the development and adoption of racism curriculums deals with transparency; there should be agencies or organizations taking note of which regions, cities, and towns have districts trying to educate their students about racism. This information should be readily accessible by the general public. Many people moving into a new area check out the local districts and schools to see which might be their best “fit.” If they were anxious about racism and racial issues, they probably would be inclined to enroll their children in a school with similar concerns, that is, one with racism education. Schools are funded monies per student.  A district might think twice about their curriculum if they felt the “lack of” was causing the district’s enrollment to drop.

These few ideas are my “pet” ones, so to speak, and I’m sure you, dear reader, can think of others. Therein lies the point; you and I can think of ideas. Let’s do just that and act upon them. At this point in our country’s evolution, racism must be dismantled by all of us.

More BIPOC Teachers

Working within the structure of my educational trilogy—curriculum, teachers, and academic levels—I’d like to address, now, the “teacher” part of the equation. The most influential part of any educational process is the person delivering the message, the teacher. Of course the material taught is important, but for the overall educational experience, the teacher is the engine that makes it all work. Ask any student what their favorite class is, and I guarantee most will answer with the subject taught by their favorite educator. Teaching and teaching success is personality driven, and the important personality belongs to the one presenting the material.

This country is sadly in need of more BIPOC teachers. We need more BIPOC individuals standing in front of the classroom, presenting lessons to their students. Ask a grade school student who their heroes are and they’ll often mention their parents or an older sibling, but always, within the mix, will be one of their teachers. How many times have you heard a renowned athlete, when asked about the most influential person in their life, mention a high school coach, their teacher. Getting more BIPOC people educating our children will be the most effective way to help vanquish racism in our country.

It may take decades before the demographics in America change enough for most white people to have neighbors of color. We can change the ratio of diversity of teachers in our school systems almost overnight. This must be done. We need young people being taught by BIPOC teachers. These students need to see people from all ethnic groups standing before them, teaching lessons, and becoming significant adults in their lives. Think how quickly all the racial stereotypes will be discarded, when on a regular, day-to-day basis, the stereotypes are proven wrong.

Getting more BIPOC people into teaching positions will require loans being directed towards them. The basic principles of systemic racism produce classes with fewer financial resources than others. A four-year college is not affordable to many people targeted by systemic racism. Loans and grants must be made more available. One thinks of the feds immediately when musing about loans and grants for education. Well, I believe it’s time to start thinking about the Warren Buffets, the Bill Gateses, and the Mark Zuckerbergs of this country when thinking about these financial aids. Remember, the federal government years ago enacted legislation to dismantle systemic racism. One outcome of these laws was more student loans made available to disadvantaged students. These early federal government efforts failed. No, it’s time for wealthy white people to step up to the plate and help hit racism out of the ballpark. Opening up deep pockets would greatly aid in the destruction of American racist attitudes and expressions thereof.

When thinking about loans and grants, I prefer loans with forgiveness clauses attached. There have been in the past medical loans granted with such circumstances. I remember one such loan given to students where if the loan recipient practiced medicine in a rural area for “x” amount of years, the loan would be forgiven. In our teaching financial aid situation, one could envision a clause requiring continual teaching for “x” number of years, and/or regional incentives adding into the mix.

Here’s another federal government intervention I favor in regard to securing a larger number of BIPOC teachers: the Department of Education should evaluate teacher racial bias within school districts. They should offer districts with few BIPOC teachers on their staffs monetary incentives to increase these numbers. Again the carrot versus the stick should be used for persuading districts into action. This information should be on public record, for all to see. Transparency needs to be the calling card for all actions aiding in the destruction of systemic racism. The public needs to be selective in how they live their lives, always choosing the paths that lead to the ultimate banishment of racism.

Higher Education

I’ve pretty much covered most segments within my educational trilogy. To this point, little has been said about “higher education.” Much can be done at this level. New degrees can be developed that focus on our national racism, and world racial bias, too. Many fields of study like Economics, Political Science, Geography, Sociology, History, Journalism, English, International Relations, to mention just a few, could easily create degrees, specifically noting how racial bias has influenced areas within their domain. Getting more BIPOC professors, deans, and college presidents in place is a must. Colleges should create outreach programs so that the communities they dwell within and their surrounding areas could benefit from the education their student body is receiving. Wealthy alumni should be donating monies to their respective universities, specifically for the creation of “racial” education. The Phil Knights of this world need to step up, don new hats, and inundate their favorite universities with cash directed toward ending systemic racism. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: white people need to overtly step up to the plate and aggressively help dismantle racism and all its manifestations. High school students when choosing their “higher education” path, be it a two-year or four-year college, should be readily able to find various statistics about their school of choice. I’m not referring to degree opportunities; no, I’m addressing such figures as ethnicity ratios within the college’s student population well as in the faculty and administration. All this information should be available by the click of a single key on a high school student’s computer. Higher education focused on educating students about racism will produce immediate benefits for our culture. The graduating young men and women will move from the classroom into our workforce and start to influence all areas of their chosen occupations. Armed with an accurate understanding of racism/systemic racism which preceded and surrounds them, they can make decisions and choices that will help end our national racism blight.

I’m sure, dear reader, you can think of many other situations found within contemporary institutional education that can be amended or added to in order to help end racism in America. I hope this is the case, and I also hope you present these thoughts to your friends, teachers, and local school boards. If appropriate, letters to your alma mater should be sent mentioning your concerns, too. Alumni have a significant influence on the schools they attended. All of us are indebted to the knowledge we acquired as we grew up. Formal education provided much of the information. Future generations will be influenced in the same manner. Using the educational system as a weapon against racism will be an efficient tool, one we should utilize immediately.

What Can We All Do?

The destruction of racism in America has to be a grass roots movement. It has to be aided by the many white people who live within our fair land who don’t want to be racist. We all must pull on our “civic duty” pants and take on the responsibility that this movement requires. For sure, the federal government should be involved by helping with finances, oversight, and when necessary, applying pressure on places resisting change. The federal Department of Justice and Attorney General should “take to task” any individual, organization, corporation, or civic institution that attempts to deny BIPOC people the rights duly granted them by legislation and the Constitution of this land. But, as I’ve already said, the main force attacking and destroying systemic racism must be “we the people,” and in particular, the white people of this country need to reject racism and replace it with a culture based on equality and acceptance of all peoples, regardless of race and ethnicity.

Now, before I conclude, let me discard my “idealist hat” and replace it with one sewn together with the fabric of reality. Do I believe that racism in America will be completely removed from our culture? No, I do not. Racism exists because of so many causal factors. Greed and the desire for power, in my opinion, are the two most influential demons promoting racism. Will people seeking power and wealth discard the leverage provided by racism? Will they end their propaganda machinery that explains and justifies feelings of superiority between races? Not all of them. I do feel, however, that if we change our educational system, the believers in racism will diminish over time, and those wishing to exploit our culture using racist actions and beliefs will have fewer and fewer people willing to do their bidding. Education is the answer. With our citizenry educated about the ugly, abusive, and culturally destructive nature of racism and systemic racism, the multi-headed snake will have no place to bask in the sun. With a hail of sticks and stones tossed at it by knowledgeable and resentful citizens, it will hastily uncoil itself and slither back under the rock of insignificant cultural philosophies. This is where it belongs, and this is where it should stay!

Amigo, I give. You should write more often, my friend. Why, because of my imagery, symbolism, analogies, and direct, to-the-point discussion of a serious topic? No, no, compadre. I just think maybe if you penned thoughts more often, you wouldn’t be so wordy. And here I thought you were not a word counter. I’m one due to practical reasons only; I can sit just so long before the snacks run out and other bodily needs must be addressed. Well, remember, my friend: a written passage is just like using your DVR. When you need to, you can always hit “pause,” get up, move around, take care of business, and then return to completing the article. Easy for you to say. You’ve got a mind knowing where it’s going. Mine wanders off and follows whatever path presents itself. Those thoughts make me smile, my friend. If you only knew…But I hear you. In my defense, as I said, some topics truly require much thought and analysis. Systemic racism would be one such conversation. No argument from me, amigo, but…No “buts,” dear friend. All too often, needed discussions are tabled by the “but” rail switch.  I’m with you writer-san. Are you really back to writing now, and have other thoughts to share? Yes, I believe I am. The boat I’m oaring has many channels ahead and daily tides affecting its speed and direction, but most assuredly the written word is one course I will always set. Well, amigo, what’s on the horizon? More thoughts about racism and ending systemic racism for sure but, more pressingly, I wish to explore and illuminate the loss of the “American Dream.” The Biden administration is doing so many things right, but Biden and the Dems are continuing to openly ignore the reality of what’s-his-face’s base. They treat them like an aberration that will eventually dissipate into thin air. Wrong! This group of people needs to be personally addressed and worked with. Part of their anger and consequent far-right tendencies has to do with their feeling about how government and its left-leaning ideologies has robbed them of their entitled birthrights. Whoa, compadre, where do you get these thoughts? Just been hanging around for a while, dear friend, taking notes, staying objective, and thinking about the big picture. Well, I’d better stock up the snacks because I sense another assault upon my thought processes. I would like to think of my writing as an aid to your thinking, dear friend, rather than an attack. I’ll let you know how I feel after the next article. That “aid” idea sounds pretty comfy and cozy. I’ll remember that, compadre, and keep the armada harbored, with only signal flags doing the talking.

Dear reader…I hope this article finds you healthy and safe. We’ve all lived through so much in the last few years; so many actions and revelations have caused us to question who we are and what paths we should take next. I truly believe that America has weathered the storm. With thoughtful, honest, transparent, and meaningful dialogue we will gain a place where the elimination of racism can occur, and we’ll set the bar higher than before, making sure that we truly live in the land of opportunity. The land of opportunity for all peoples.

Why the GOP will lose the 2020 Presidential Election

Whoa, amigo, where have you been? I’ve been waiting on this GOP article for quite some time. Did you forget your promise? No, no I most certainly didn’t. Been putting a new roof on the ol’ abode and got stuck in renovation, construction, tunnel vision. It happens…So now, before I start painting the castle’s exterior, it seems like a good time to rail on the Republican candidate and his chances for reelection. Oh yeah, baby. Are you going to let ’er rip? Yeah, I believe so. Well, this a family-friendly writing, so it will seem fairly anemic for some, but I promise to leave no stone unturned. Some of the more benign transgressions, of which there are multitudes, such as nepotism, large donor appointees, using political office for personal, monetary gain…I’ll not articulate upon. If I did, this simple article would evolve into one of the largest tomes ever written. No, we’ll just stick with the basic facts, such as character flaws, campaign promises, and the near destruction of our American democracy. You’ve got my attention, amigo. Will the walls come tumbling down upon our Commander-in-Chief? My dialogue would indicate as much, but the presidential election results, come this November, will decide the correctness of my thoughts. May the “Force” be with us. Oops, probably shouldn’t have said that. Hey, you’re going to let the horse run, right? So loosen up on the reins, slap the steed on the rump, and let her fly.

A quick qualifier before diving into the meat of this article. I’ve chosen to divide my thoughts into two sections. First, we’ll look at Trump’s pre-pandemic endeavors, and then, at the end of this writing, we’ll briefly look at how our Commander-in-Chief dealt with Covid-19. I’ve done this so we will not forget about his first three years in office. With the pandemic and BLM movement occurring simultaneously now, it’s easy to overlook Trump’s initial attempts at governing, which in my opinion, were a complete debacle and should never be forgotten.

Now, with that said, where to begin. Why will the GOP lose the 2020 election? Well, let’s start with the obvious. Donald Trump is an outspoken, unfettered racist. There’s nothing he can do to alter that perception. Oh, he occasionally tries to endear himself to African Americans, but its pure tokenism. For example, between now and Nov. 3rd, you’ll hear a lot about the “Opportunity Zone” legislation he created. It puts in place low-interest government loans and reduced tax incentives for developers if they’ll improve impoverished areas in our country. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. Several small problems, though: One, very little oversight. Two, very vague terminology. And third, no mention of minorities getting preferential treatment in gaining contracts. Hmmmm, this kind of sounds like Trump cronyism at its best/worst to me. I see a whole bunch of white financiers wringing their hands over this deal. Enhanced gentrification, here we come. Yeah, this Opportunity Zone deal is typical Trump “double speak.” I truly believe the man doesn’t realize how transparent his endeavors are. 

To realize Trump’s true racist nature, all we need to remember is what Donald Trump has done on Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s National Holiday. He’s mostly played golf in his gated communities, gone on unimportant political excursions, or sat in the Oval Office twiddling his thumbs. I believe this year, in an unannounced, impromptu excursion, Trump visited the King memorial in Washington DC for a quick photo op, and then jetted off to Switzerland. The man doesn’t have to announce his racism. He lets his actions do the talking .

Donald Trump’s racism is not directed solely toward African Americans. No, it is much broader and expansive than that. In the last three-plus years we’ve witnessed his racist attitudes and actions being played out politically against Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, and Native Americans. I’m sure to have left out other peoples, and I apologize for this. The point being that the man’s racism borders on or simply mirrors what the world witnessed in Nazi Germany during the thirties and forties. Pretty disgusting.

Come November 3rd, there isn’t anything Donald Trump can do to alter the facts. No amount of smoke or mirrors can hide what he’s done during his presidency. Racists will vote for the guy and those of us who believe in “liberty and justice for all” will vote for Joe Biden. There’s more of us than them. Advantage Democrats.

Before I go much further, I need to explain the fundamental, driving force behind Donald Trump’s presidency. He’s a greed-head, narcissistic bully. The man does everything possible to improve his image while debasing others, and often uses bullying tactics to accomplish these ends. This explains his compulsive need to belittle and blame previous presidents and others for their errors and his consequential problems. Also, these character flaws explain his need to terminate so many of the US treaties and pacts negotiated before him. Narcissists need fall guys to remain unsoiled and pretty, and bullies don’t like rules created by treaties and accords because tyrants function best without regulations interfering with their methods. This one truism, Trump being a narcissist bully, pretty much explains every effort of his presidency. Throw in greed-head with narcissistic bully and you have Donald Trump the man and United States President.

With that said, let’s move on. How can one assess a sitting president’s worth? One traditional manner is to revisit campaign promises and see how many came to fruition. Trump made lots of promises, some realistic and others just political, emotional rhetoric…On the emotional rhetoric side, the best example is “build a wall.” No, Mexico didn’t pay for the few miles that have been completed to date. The military budget was unconstitutionally pilfered for the job, and some conservative investors were scammed by none other than Trump’s right-hand man, Steve Bannon, into believing their donated monies would be used solely for wall construction. Federal prosecutors in New York think Steve and comrades used the investors’ dollars for personal gain. How can a simple outlandish campaign promise turn so ugly? Easy, look at the character of those people involved.

Let’s try and put some logic and organization into this campaign promise stuff. I’m going to make this easier for us by first looking at promises that completely reached maturation without a hitch. Trump promised tax reform and immediately produced. The rich and corporations now pay much less to the federal government in tax revenue. Some poorer people pay less in taxes and some middle-class tax payers, like myself, pay more to the Feds come April 15th. Trump also said he’d put a conservative onto the Supreme Court. No brainer. Republicans control the Senate…done deal. Also, our sitting president wanted us out of many treaties and accords his predecessors negotiated for our country, and he did just that. He removed us from the Paris Climate Accord, took us out of TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), renegotiated NAFTA, threatened to leave NATO, and removed us from the Iran Nuclear Accord. I’ll take a closer look at all these strategies later on in the article. Blunders would be more accurate than “strategies,” but for now, let’s just say that these tactics are directly related to our sitting president’s greedy, narcissistic, bullying personality, and have nothing to do with bettering America or American lives.

I must mention another promise he campaigned on and relentlessly tried to fulfill. His successes were hit or miss and we have the judicial system, mostly, to thank for his failures. Trump campaigned on a “federal deregulation” platform, and has continually tried to reverse federal regs that his predecessors penned into law. Mostly he was unsuccessful, due to court rulings, but for me, he got his way far too often. I’m reminded of a friend’s comment following Trump’s victory in 2016. My friend noted that the most often repeated sentence Donald Trump would hear while in office was, “but, Mr. President, you can’t do that.” I believe my amigo’s insight held true. Remember back in 2018 when he tried to roll back the mpg and auto emission regulation developed by President Obama. In this case he mostly didn’t succeed because of environmentalist litigation, the wishes of state governors and legislators, and the fact that the auto industry itself didn’t want these laws dismissed. On the flip side, Trump removed enough environmental regulations to open up hundreds of thousands of acres to fracking in New Mexico and Texas, reduced the sizes of numerous national monuments, diddled with the Clean Water Act, etc. Even with the November elections looming before us, he’s still tearing away at our planet’s ecosystems. The North Slope developers just got the okay from the Feds to start exploratory drilling and the Army Corps of Engineers just gave the thumbs-up to those wishing to develop the Pebble Mine complex in Alaska’s pristine Nushagak drainage system.

There you have it. Trump’s successes. He gave himself and corporations big tax cuts, put new Supreme Court Justices into place, deregulated many protective, environmental laws, and pulled us out of numerous international treaties, accords, and pacts. Not much of a legacy, really. The man was pretty much a “no show,” in regards to doing much with his “office” and all that it provides.

Now, let’s review Trump’s failures, and there’s no better place to start than our country’s economy. Remember Trump’s grandest campaign promise was the revitalization of the American economy and the reestablishment of its greatness. Why didn’t I place this promise in the success category? Simply put, it doesn’t belong there. A little history before I continue. Trump received from President Obama an economy completely healed from the Great Recession. Unemployment was down, GDP was chugging along with annual improvements of 2.2 to 2.3 percent, interest rates were low, national debt heading in the right direction, the stock market had rebounded, and American’s confidence in the economy had been rejuvenated. What a gift for Donald Trump. Of course, if you remember Trump’s dialogue, he inherited a mess. Well he did not, and he should have taken the ball and scored a touchdown. That didn’t happen. What’s happened to our economy since Obama is anemic at best, and at worst a total disappointment. GDP got a bump from Trump’s tax renovation, and rose to a 2.9 annual percentage growth for a moment, but for the most part GDP has stalled at 2.5 or 2.6 percent during Trump’s presidency. This outcome from the candidate who promised 4, 5, or even 6 percent GDP during his tenure. Didn’t happen and the man had the lowest interest rates in recent history to work with. The stock market has stayed healthy, but even this is an illusion in regards to the health and well-being of average Americans. The stock market owes its growth to corporate players, one percenters, and retirement fund managers. They have the cash in our present economy and have kept the Dow numbers up where they’re at. Before Covid-19 America enjoyed the lowest unemployment numbers since, well, ever. Something for a president to hang his or her hat on. Kind of. Let’s look closer. The service and retail industries saw large growth during Trump’s tenure. The medical profession saw good growth, also. To be expected. We’ve got an aging population, requiring more attention from doctors, and with consumer confidence up, you’d expect more service and retail jobs. Construction ticked up a little, as did most other business sectors. Again, to be expected in a growing economy. On the other hand, manufacturing, the one sector that Trump promised big numbers in, had little growth. Actually manufacturing lost jobs in 2019 and 2020. Many economists blame Trump’s trade wars for these losses. Donald Trump couldn’t produce and sustain those proffered manufacturing jobs, just the ones that would make “America Great Again.” His inept international economic strategies derailed any substantial growth in US manufacturing, and in general, I’d place his overall grade for economic growth a C-minus at best.

During the Trump administration, the gap between the lower economic classes and the rich has widened considerably. This is because he couldn’t produce more higher paying jobs, like manufacturing. His economy stumbles along on the back of service industry and retail job growth, neither of which produce living wages. People had jobs, could make the monthlies, and had a little left over for discretionary use. Annual income has ticked up a bit during Trump’s presidency, but even this is a misleading statistic. Trump’s economic strategies didn’t aid these numbers at all. Personal income has risen mostly because several states have raised their minimum wages. Minimum wage directly affects the service and retail sectors, just the ones seeing the most job growth, so basically, the uptick in annual income has everything to do with what the states have done and nothing to do with Donald Trump’s plans and maneuvers.

Trump’s economy has been a bust, and even worse, he’s left Americans, both present and future, with a huge national debt. This is the largest batch of red ink that I can ever remember seeing, and there’s rumblings of a weakening dollar because of this imbalance. Remember, his tax cuts were not followed by fiscal restraints, and this one-two punch will have to be addressed by other administrations, long after Trump is gone. Also, our trade deficit is the largest that it has been for over a decade. Did 45, personally, do anything to improve our economy significantly? I think not, and believe future economists will say the same. Trump was given a gift from Obama, a healthy economy ready to do even better. Trump, instead of scoring a touchdown, dropped the ball, tried to punt, and then, shanked it. Trump’s economy, a major disappointment. Advantage Democrats.

A quick note before carrying on. In the midst of writing this article, my hometown newspaper reported a slight uptick in the purchase of durable goods when comparing June and July numbers. Seems the upper classes, due to lack of vacation travel, have more discretionary monies to spend, so they’re buying new cars, kitchen appliances, washers and dryers.…Doesn’t really affect most of the country, but you can be sure we’ll hear about this small, upward movement during Trump’s 2020 campaigning.

On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump made much of his business and negotiation skills. Often, he did this in conjunction with debunking Obama’s or Bill Clinton’s abilities. He promised to rectify previous poorly designed treaties and accords such as NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership. TPP attempted to facilitate trade between eleven Pacific Rim countries and the United States. Notably, China was not a member of the group, which of course put the United States at the head of the table. Consequently, a fairly advantageous pact for the US. Trump’s ego and bullying tendencies caused him to disavow both treaties. They weren’t brokered by him and they came with rules that inhibit his ability to strong-arm lesser countries.

Let’s see what Trump accomplished. In regards to NAFTA, a new economic treaty, USMCA, was signed into law in 2019. It took three years to get this deal brokered. What did it actually accomplish? Well, some Midwest dairies get to sell more product to Canada. Automobiles must have 75 percent of their parts manufactured in the signees’ countries, up from 62.5 percent from the NAFTA agreement. Forty to 45 percent of automobile parts must be produced by workers making at least $16.00 an hour (not a living wage). This of course does nothing for Mexican auto employees because the 40 to 45 percentage of workers can be found solely in the US and Canadian labor force. And lastly, of dubious note, Mexico is encouraged to allow auto workers to form unions. Really? Encouraged? I’m sure the drug cartels and corporate owners want to see a viable middle class created in their country. Both these groups, corporate owners and drug lords, prefer a 21st century indentured servant class. You know, a group of employees, with little leverage, and singing “I owe, I owe, so it’s off to work I go” each morning before arriving at their poverty-level jobs. Oh yeah, there’s a “sunset” clause (totally offensive term) that allows everything to self-destruct in 16 years. There you have it. The terms I just mentioned are the ones most often touted by the administration. Wow! Three years got us that. Which was the better agreement, NAFTA or USMCA? You be the judge. NAFTA did away with all tariffs and duties placed upon products traded between the treaty members. Again, which accord did the most to strengthen and protect the treaty members’ economies? This USMCA accord is total crap! Oops, I mean a total PR scam that does almost nothing to make “America Great” and enhance American lives. It’s complete reality TV show stuff with absolutely no meat to chew on.

Okay, how about Trans Pacific Partnership? This really is smoke and mirror stuff. Since this agreement was never ratified by all the participating countries, it really never existed, so pulling us out of the treaty had no merit whatsoever. Total PR work at its lowest level. It had great possibilities for the US since we were, as I said, at the head of the table. Could have greatly aided our influence in the Pacific Rim region by shutting out China’s influence and enhancing ours. Trump removed us from the deal, interesting for a number of reasons. One, since the agreement left China outside looking in, you’d think Trump would have approved of it. But bullies don’t like rules…Also, guess who brokered the original deal with the other countries? That’s right, President Obama. In a Trump administration, this automatically doomed TPP, no matter how much it helped American business and influence. Trump’s maneuvering was totally an egotistical, bully, narcissistic endeavor by him to erase Obama’s legacy. To date, there has been no significant effort by the Trump administration to develop another accord of any kind in the Pacific Rim.

Since we’re talking about America’s economy and its connectedness with other countries, seems like a good time to weigh in on Trump’s attempts to influence Chinese business relations with the US. Now remember, Trump wanted nothing to do with TPP, which shut out Chinese influence. No, Mr. Trump chose to take on China himself. Hey, he’s the best economic presidential negotiator we’ve ever had, right? How did things go with the Chinese negotiations? I’d say, not so well. First Trump started a trade war with China for several reasons; often mentioned our Chinese acquisitions of US companies and the consequential acquisition of their US technology. Also, the obvious trade imbalance between our two nations was not acceptable to Mr. Trump. How’d all the tariffs and Trump’s nasty, bullying rhetoric do in regards to changing Chinese economic gamesmanship? It did nothing. As a matter of fact, the Chinese played him like a fiddle. Trump’s lucky that US corporations absorbed his tariff costs and didn’t pass on the price hikes to American consumers. We could have seen considerable inflation due to these added costs. No, American business, flush with capital due to lower tax burdens and a steady US economy, absorbed the higher prices and helped keep inflation in check. Remember, corporate America likes a Trump presidency. They know who cut their taxes and who is constantly deregulating the economic playing field.

Just before Covid-19 took over our country, Trump announced a major victory in negotiations with China. He claimed to have gained considerable concessions from the Chinese, and here’s where Trump was played like a fiddle. The Chinese conceded to purchasing 200 billion dollars’ worth of farm goods from the US. Trump took a victory lap and proclaimed his better negotiating skills when compared to his Chinese counterparts. The Chinese will purchase a large number US hogs and soybean tonnage. Did Trump masterfully outsmart his negotiating adversaries and win these concessions? No, the Chinese just happen to need pork due to their disease-decimated hog population, and they’ve never been able to produce all the soybeans they need. Due to the rapid development of the US/China trade war, no other country had enough time to ramp up soybean production and supply China with the additional tonnage they’ve always required. No, a masterful Donald Trump at the negotiating table didn’t win Chinese concession. Simply put, circumstances and timing allowed for a moral victory of sorts for Mr. Trump. The Chinese simply outmaneuvered Donald Trump. Now, they’ve gained a bargaining chip by just doing what they had to do. The next time Trump and the Chinese sit down at the negotiation table, they’ll remind Trump of their concession and ask our bestest ever negotiator to return the favor.

Remember, the “theft” of US technology and the trade imbalance started this trade war. These issues have not been remedied or dealt with at this point. Most of the tariffs still remain in place. The only concessions won by the US are some pigs and soybeans have been purchased by China. Clearly, Trump has missed the mark, and gotten nowhere with his trade war with China.

There you have it. Mr. Trump’s attempts to better America’s international trading positions have gone nowhere. Of course he’ll say otherwise and already has. The man is nothing but smoke and mirrors and reality TV show tricks. Did he improve on NAFTA? Not really. Just wasted our time. Did pulling out of the TPP benefit us? No, if anything it reduced our leadership in the Pacific Rim. Did his trade war with China accomplish his goals? No, it did not. So what have Donald Trump’s international, economic goals done for America? Nothing. In general, they’ve just been inept endeavors. Trump’s international economic prowess, advantage Democrats.

How’d Trump do with US international politics? You probably noticed none of his efforts fell into my successful category, for good reason; the man could care less about international politics, unless it has something to do with economics. He doesn’t believe in America’s democratic process, and trying to foster and develop it worldwide is not on the man’s radar…

So, what were the Trump administration’s “foreign affairs” objectives and strategies? I don’t think his administration really had an international plan. Seemed to me that most of his endeavors were photo ops with national leaders and knee-jerk reactions to geo-political situations. There’s no rational way to discuss his efforts because his efforts lack, just that, a rational basis. So I’m just going to review some of his diplomatic moves and call it good.

He apparently likes Israel and disapproves of a Palestine State idea since he decided to move the US/Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Really? Are you kidding me? This is the man who wants to defund the Foreign Service. I guess he wants to cut jobs so that he can spend a bunch of money on moving an embassy.

How about the Russian aggression in the Ukraine. Not much being done. Oh yeah, I forgot about the “quid pro quo” stuff. I guess, maybe, he at least noticed there was aggression occurring. Although, it seems that the Ukraine/Russia conflict just offered a vehicle for Trump to get at Biden. I don’t think he really cares what Putin does.

Let’s look at North Korea’s nuclear weapon threat and long-range ballistic missile development. Well, Trump rattled swords and shields together for a bit, visited with Kim Jong Un, and stepped onto North Korean soil. Did any of Trump’s diplomacy change anything? First, let me mention that we, the American people, heard nothing about what Trump and Kim talked about. Diplomacy? There’s no proof that anything like that happened. There was a photo op on the Korean Peninsula, a few phone calls back and forth, and I believe Trump penned a presidential correspondence with Kim Jong Un’s address attached. Diplomacy? No evidence of that. Did the “meet and greet” exchange between Kim and Trump change anything? There’s no evidence of the nuclear bomb development being curtailed, and I guess, Kim is shooting off short-range missiles now instead of long range jobbies. I would suspect this has more to do with rocket fuel prices than Trump diplomacy. Just saying…

How about Trump’s political strategies in the Middle East? Well, his wishy-washy, herky-jerky diplomacy has left the United States as a lesser player now, and Russian and Iranian influence has been enhanced. We still have troops in the area. I know this because a friend of mine has a son deployed there. The young Ranger can peer through his binoculars at a Russian fort that is a stone’s throw away from the American installation. What the troops are doing or what their mission is, is a big fat unknown to me and probably to you, also.

Speaking of the Middle East, Trump pulled us out of the Iranian deal and left our allies in the lurch. He said that Iran wasn’t complying with the accord and that his administration would put the screws to the Iranians and bring them back into compliance. No real evidence of this happening, either. As a matter of fact, the Iranians have been somewhat active in the region with little comment coming from the US. I believe the US killed a high-ranking Iranian official in a drone strike, so this shows some thought being given toward Iran and its influence in the area. This drone attack came after numerous muscle-flexing maneuvers by the Iranian government. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard has been harassing oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz for some time, actually boarding tankers and diverting their passage. An ally of Iran bombed Saudi oil refineries, causing serious damage. All of these events garnered little comment from Donald Trump, although some believe the US drone attack that killed the Iranian official was in response to the above-mentioned Iranian transgressions. The US said little about the maneuver, so whatever political advantage the attack had was lost due to vagueness. What happened next, which brought no overt action from the United States, was, arguably, Iran’s most aggressive act against US military personnel. Iran bombed an Iraq military installation, targeting US military barracks and wounded numerous soldiers. The Trump administration shrugged their shoulders, said, “No big deal,” and promptly forgot or ignored the assault and its ramifications. What is Trump’s stance toward Iran and its prominence in the Middle East? I don’t know. I know he doesn’t like Iran, but what his administration is doing to control and or curtail the country’s influence is a mystery to me.

Trump campaigned on bringing our boys home and ending these long, drawn-out military engagements in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Well a few boys have been shifted around, some sent to Germany, and a few sent home. Basically, everything has been put on hold, and now sits in limbo. I suspect the US military is just waiting for someone with a vision and some leadership skills to step in and give a few directives.

Donald Trump feels NATO takes advantage of the US. He belittles NATO member country heads of state, talks about pulling out, and in general, causes confusion and uncertainty among member nations. NATO is America’s biggest deterrent against Russian regional aggression. I believe Trump doesn’t care about Russian aggression and so, consequently, doesn’t see the importance of NATO. Presently, he’s trying to bully and cause discord between NATO members by repositioning troops from Germany to Poland. Slap in the face to Chancellor Merkel, and Trump’s proposed troop movements are causing more uncertainty among NATO members. Typical Trump tactics: insult and then create uncertainty…“What will I do next?” diplomacy.

One other international political alliance that Trump removed us from needs to be looked at further. I mentioned Trump pulling us out of the Paris Climate Accord in my section devoted to his delivered campaign promises. Again we have the sitting president erasing a previous president’s work. (Quick note; do we have a democracy when one president and his administration erases a previous president’s accomplishments?) Trump did this to appease and aid one of his biggest support groups, natural resource extraction corporations. Removing us from the Climate accord was a definitive, bold statement uttered by Trump. He told his oil, natural gas, coal, and timber producing cronies not to worry; he wouldn’t let international regs get in the way of their environmentally unfriendly extraction methods and the pollution their tactics and products create. Trump basically told the world he doesn’t care about CO2 emissions and that his boys were ready and eager to develop more “dirty” energy and ramp up pollution.

Donald Trump’s administration has not improved America’s influence in the world, and more to the point, he has diminished same. He pulled us out of various alliances, accords, treaties, and pacts. For the most part, he did not even pretend to fill the vacuum left by the US departure, and in the few cases where an attempt was made to construct new alliances, his lack of diplomatic skills and vision created empty, photo op only, allegiances. Trump’s international prowess, advantage Democrats.

We’re getting towards the end of my diatribe; not that I want it to conclude. This article has been a pleasure to write and in a weird, esoteric way, a privilege. Bear with me. I have a few more thoughts to explore and illuminate.

What has Donald Trump done to protect American citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic? I’ve said this or something similar to it a lot in this article: not much. A cartoon that I saw pretty much says it all in regards to Trump’s reaction to our pandemic. T-rex, triceratops, and diplodocus are looking up into the sky and watching the meteor that caused the cretaceous period extinction plummet toward the Yucatan. T-rex shouts out to his comrades, “Oh no! The economy!” There you have it. T-rex, I mean Donald Trump, doesn’t care about us; he just cares about the economy. How many Americans must die in order to keep it chugging along is of no import to Mr. Trump. He just wants it to keep “chugging.” Mr. Trump is a politician now, so keeping voters happy and unaware of motives is secondhand to him. He’ll never utter the words “herd immunity” for fear of losing votes, but that’s what he wants, and all his actions to date promote this result (see article “containment vs herd immunity”). Let’s be frank. The US response or more accurately, Donald Trump’s reaction to the pandemic, is a dysfunctional joke, only no one is laughing. First, he denied that it was a problem. He had everything under control. This response lost us valuable preparation time. Then he started babbling all kinds of unscientific nonsense. “It will go away in the summer,” “nothing worse than another flu,” “drink some bleach. That’ll kill it.”…After babbling nonsense for a while, and watching the death toll mount, he began blaming everyone else for his poor efforts. WHO, China, CDC, and others were all mentioned as reasons for his slow response. If only others had performed better, he could have, too. Next, as his poll numbers began to fall, he began to politicize the pandemic. People who wear masks were extremists. Social distancing and sheltering in place weren’t necessary and would only harm our economy. All of the precautions and strategies mentioned by professionals were left-wing efforts to derail his reelection. Then, Trump started to talk about how he’d gotten the US over the hump and the pandemic was behind us. He encouraged everyone to get back to work and for the country to reopen and return to normalcy. So, just when some parts of the country had “flattened the curve,” Trump’s “reopen” campaign got the virus revved up again. Now, he is once again blabbering about how the pandemic is totally behind us and anyone who says different is just trying to derail his reelection. The man is total 1984-style “double speak and a complete embarrassment. Speaking of which, the world is watching our country’s response to Covid-19 in total disbelief with its jaw agape. Our inability to work together and fight this disease is shocking to most countries and should be frightening to us.

There you have it. Trump’s concern for his precious economy has put him at odds with all those who care for the health of our citizenry. So, in typical Trump style, he’s attacked, debased, insulted, and rejected all those that disagree with his ideas and motives. To date, the US has had the most Covid-19 cases and the most related deaths of any other country on our planet. The buck stops with the man at the top, President Donald Trump. His personal agenda has created the Covid-19 nightmare that we we’re all living through, and that pretty much sums it up. Advantage, Democrats.

Whoa, there you have it. Why the GOP will lose the 2020 presidential election. Simply put, the Republicans have a narcissistic, racist, immoral, greed-head running for reelection who only cares for his own interests. He wants American business to excel, but due to his ineptness and ego has created one international blunder after another, which, in turn, has caused the US economic to stumble along, not gaining any momentum. The man has created a dysfunctional government, George Orwellian style with double-speak as the rule. A good example of this would be our Secretary of the Interior, David L. Bernhardt. Ah yes, the defender and administrator of US public lands. David’s previous job, Oil and Energy industry lobbyist. OMG! Are you kidding me! The entire US government is now filled at high levels with Trump puppets who proclaim administration propaganda on a regular, continual basis. Anyone who has been paying attention knows this and nothing Mr. Trump will and can say between now and November 3rd will deflect the criticism and dislike his administration so rightfully deserves.

 Most “people[l4]  of color” will not vote for this man, and, as I personally can attest to, many moderate Republicans will not cast their vote for him, either. Most of my Republican friends have had enough of him and are not embracing the “Ends justify the means” beliefs that many championed in 2016. The “means,” like Donald Trump, have become too repugnant for them.

Many older voters, both men and women, have lost faith in Trump and won’t vote for him again. The man threw these people under the bus with his “herd immunity” approach to the Covid-19 pandemic. Donald Trump never spoke those words, herd immunity; he’s not that dumb. All of his actions toward the pandemic have steered the US in that direction, though. The man knows Americans vote with their pocketbooks, and a strong economy is his only saving grace. Herd immunity is the best way to keep the economy from slowing up. All of us should note Sweden’s response to the pandemic and the results of herd immunity in that country. Worst Covid-19 death rate per capita in the EU and an economy that’s not much better. Too bad Mr. Trump didn’t take note; a lot of American lives could have been saved if he’d encouraged thwarting the virus vs ignoring it and/or thinking he could manipulate it to his advantage.

No, Mr. Trump will not win reelection, and I can’t think of another president who deserves to be dumped more than 45. When all the dust settles and the smoke of Donald Trump’s administration is blown away by our democratic process, the man will become the loser he really is; any and all influence held by him during office will quickly dissipate into thin air, as will all of his tricks and reality TV show gimmicks. Can’t be soon enough for me. Come on November 3rd, hurry the heck up.

You did it, amigo. The man is toast, for sure. You slapped him up one side, then down the other. Yeah, pretty easy really. There’s not much defense for his presidency. You really think he’s a goner? Like I’ve said, the American voter is a fickle critter and easily swayed. A few timely moves by Trump could totally change the playing field. The Dems have to get out the vote, especially the youth and “people of color” demographics. If they can truly mobilize these groups, Donald Trump will be packing his bags come November, and leaving the White House in January. I’ve got my fingers crossed, my lucky rabbit’s foot in my pocket, and a bundle of sage ready for use, amigo, plus I registered to vote. Good for you, my dear friend, and I hope many others have done the same. It’s time for the beast to be kicked into the gutter where it belongs so that the rest of us can get on with bettering our country and truly making it the “Land of the Free.”

What’s next, amigo? What are you going to write about? Not sure; the ol’ abode is pleading for a paint job, and the weather is cooperating. So, that’s next on the agenda. After I put the last brush stroke on the exterior trim, I think I’ll address systemic racism in our educational system. No better place to start. All of us white people need to be educated about racism and the best place to do this is within our existing school systems. Lots of changes need to be made; for instance, it’s time to rewrite history. Change the textbooks? Good place to start. This time write about what really happened to everybody and everything, not just what happened to the wealthy and ruling class. The truth needs to be portrayed before we whites can really alter our ways. Okay, amigo. I’ll be waiting. Hang in there, my friend, and to all of you, dear readers, hang in there as well. Stay safe, be smart, and patient. Good things are on the horizon.

Highway 101 and Laneda Avenue and Black Lives Matter

Whoa! What happened to “Why the GOP will lose the 2020 election”? Well something just as important as the “GOP” subject matter is happening at present, and after giving it much thought, it usurped the “GOP” article. Okay, but is this like a thing? Will you be misleading us on a regular basis? I mean, you’re not building trust here. Hmmm, you know, it’s not done intentionally. Just kind of happens, I guess. Well, do you promise to get to the GOP piece in the near future? Absolutely.…Okay, all’s forgiven. I’d like to know what you’ve got to say about Black Lives Matter, so, let ’er rip.

A wonderful event happened in the small, coastal community of Manzanita, OR, at the intersection of US Highway 101 and Laneda Avenue. Highway 101 is a main north/south artery running adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes, it’s a mere stone’s throw from the beaches. Laneda Avenue is a lateral road that departs 101 and heads to the ocean, creating the main street of Manzanita. As you drive west, through Manzanita, small shops and restaurants border the road, and at the avenue’s visual terminus, the Pacific Ocean greets your arrival. The intersection of these two roads forms a “T” and is framed by scraggly coastal pines and a number of businesses: a lumber yard, a restaurant that is closed because of COVID-19, a pot store (hey friend, this is Oregon), and a grocery store mingle with the beach vegetation and create the “welcome mat” for Manzanita. At the intersection, a long, sweeping, 45-degree curve in Highway 101 slows traffic down, helping travelers to easily depart the main thoroughfare and enter the laidback, coastal living of Manzanita.  

The wondrous event I alluded to occurred on the 4th of July this year, and no, it had nothing to do with celebrating our country’s birthday. Parades and fireworks were cancelled because of the pandemic. No, this event was a Black Lives Matter rally, with mostly local participation. People stood near Highway 101 with face protection on and displayed hand-crafted signs supporting the BLM movement. The positive response given this small group of about fifty individuals by passersby was incredible. It was 99 percent affirmative, and almost to a person, those people who drove by and championed our efforts were white. Various vehicles displaying licenses from, Utah, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Tennessee, and of course Oregon all slowly passed by our small gathering. The travelers waved, smiled, honked, clapped, gave the thumbs-up sign, and some thrust arms through open windows with clenched fists raised into air. It was an incredible, spontaneous display of solidarity to a movement that has engulfed our nation.

The significance of this 4th of July event needs some clarification before you can fully understand it. First of all, Manzanita is a lily white, coastal village in the lily white state of Oregon. The number of black people living locally can be tallied on my left hand. The number of black people participating in the Independence Day rally was one and the number of black people who drove by our demonstration also numbered one. You’d think The Black Lives Matter movement is far removed from the intersection of Highway 101 and Laneda Avenue, and yet, it is not. BLM started because of continual police brutality encountered by Black Americans and the undeniable double standard used by officers in regards to policing blacks and whites. Whites get the “reasonable doubt” approach and blacks encounter the “guilty first” strategy. This double standard seems to be thoroughly embedded in our law enforcement systems. It was created by systemic racism, and now is protected and supported by this form of institutional prejudice. Systemic racism as the term applies is everywhere, and so our little corner of the world is not immune. Actually, being an almost totally white populated area puts us smack dab in the middle of the controversy. What lifts my spirits and my hopes is seeing so many white people trying to understand BLM and visibly supporting it. Black vs white will not change systemic racism. That effort hasn’t buried the ugly beast in some 400-plus years. Black, white, and all other colors working together can. When I see videos of marches from all parts of our country, the one striking, marvelous characteristic being displayed is solidarity between all colors and all ages. This is what a societal change must exhibit. It has to be the core of the movement, but is this quality, everyone working together, enough to dethrone the beast?

I’m concerned about where the Black Lives Matter movement is going and if it will create lasting social change. One of my fears is that the present, massive support from everyone will be wasted because of the campaign’s lack of direction and leadership. The movement is in its infancy, and at times, we’re witnessing the violence-prone initial stage which garners much attention and because of this, helps a movement get off the ground and get going. Hopefully, BLM will quickly evolve into organized actions, which will, ultimately, dismantle the systemic racism found within our police departments.

Unfortunately, without vocal leaders getting national media coverage, the BLM movement could flounder and not gain momentum. There are serious, competing national problems jostling with the BLM movement; the COVID-19 pandemic and a national, presidential election, looming in November, are both receiving huge amounts of “air” time. This doesn’t leave much room for BLM coverage. Is this another example of systemic racism? Probably…whatever’s causing the lack of media coverage, hopefully, will stop, and with everything being right, dynamic, focused BLM leaders will emerge soon. The movement needs these visible, vocal leaders, receiving media coverage before it can move on to the next step, creating changes in police policy. Even with massive, national support from a diversified core, and dynamic leaders gaining national coverage, the BLM movement could eventually burn out and achieve very little significant social change.

 The statement “achieve very little significant social change” needs to be justified, and if you would bear with me, I’d like to revisit the past to find evidence that will verify this statement. Years ago there was a massive movement to create social change, eliminate segregation, and in turn, help end racism. We’re going back to the late fifties, the sixties, and the seventies. Let’s set the stage. By the mid-fifties, the Jim Crow laws and their brethren had been around for nearly ninety years. Black Americans were fed up with segregation, and its cause, racism, which the existing white power structure was fostering and promoting. Lincoln freed the slaves, but he did not end racism. What transpired during this twenty-year time span, from 1955 to 1975, was an attempt to dismantle institutional racism and segregation. Rosa Parks (1955 and 1956) helped end segregation on public transit in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1957 the “Little Rock Nine” with the aid of President Eisenhower who ordered the Arkansas National Guard to protect and help these Black students integrate Little Rock Central High, started the desegregation of public schools. Also, in 1957, President Eisenhower signed into law a Civil Rights Act that was designed to protect voters’ rights, particularly the rights of Black voters in the South. The fifties were followed by the sixties and this decade was filled with activism, civil unrest, and violence. The Vietnam War and Black Power movement began during this decade, and demonstrations against the white power structure by both blacks and whites occurred constantly. In Los Angeles, the Watts Riots erupted in the summer of 1964. Also, in that same year, three civil rights workers, attempting to register voters in Mississippi, were murdered by a gang of vigilantes. An American president, JFK, who initiated the political dialogue toward acceptance of desegregation, and the most significant civil rights leader of our time, Martin Luther King Jr., were both assassinated during this decade. The Black Panther Party rose to defend black rights and protect black people from police discrimination and brutality. (Sound familiar?) They had numerous gun battles with police forces in several US cities and casualties occurred on both sides. The sixties ended with the arrival of the seventies, but activism against social and racial injustice continued, and demonstrations against the White power structure didn’t stop. On the campus of Kent State, in 1970, four students who were demonstrating against the Vietnam War were shot and killed by Ohio State national guardsmen. Eventually, as the seventies waned, so did activism and demonstrations against the white power hierarchy. The Vietnam War ended in the mid-seventies and young people, both black and white, terminated their antiwar demonstrations. The Black Power movement was targeted by the FBI, and weakened by continual arrests, trials, and sentencing of its leaders. When the eighties rolled in, a much quieter populace greeted the new decade, which was welcomed by most everyone, especially the country’s white power structure, which had been under attack for over twenty years.

Out of all the turmoil created by the sixties came the most significant civil rights legislation of my lifetime and probably the most important laws since the 1870s. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law the end of segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination based on race. In 1968, another significant piece of civil rights legislation, the Fair Housing Act, was signed into law by President Johnson. This law forbade discrimination in housing based on race. These Congressional bills, signed into law by LBJ, were powerful deterrents to racism and segregation.

 Here we are, two or three generations removed from the Civil Rights Acts of the sixties and all the demonstrations, the pain, and the suffering endured by the millions upon millions of activists who helped create them. Why do we still have significant systemic racism in our country? Well, because the American people, the demonstrators, the activists of the sixties and the seventies, expected our elected officials and people in power to protect this legislation and see to it that it became modus operandi. We were naïve. These people are just the ones, along with many others, who benefit the most from prejudice and systemic racism. This prejudicial system keeps them in power, and when no one is looking, they do what they can to ignore anti-racist laws and undermine them.

There you have it. Even with everything going its way, the sixties, desegregation, anti-racist legislation failed us. This could happen to BLM, too. Even with its broad coalition and momentum, failure is possible. The sixties legislation looked so promising; it created anti-racist, desegregation laws, which were produced by powerful forces of social change, but it did not succeed in eliminating racism. The sixties did not eradicate systemic racism, and if you don’t eliminate this multi-faceted monster, no legislation, no matter how well it’s written, will be successful against racial bias. What we need to do now, and what we didn’t do in the sixties, seventies, and all years following, is to assume a junkyard dog–like attitude toward the elimination of racism. We need to constantly look for its vestiges. We need to constantly try to sniff it out and locate where it is hiding. If we truly want real social change and the elimination of discrimination in police tactics, we must be vigilant like a junkyard dog and never stop protecting our rights. If we can do this, then the mistakes of the sixties will not be repeated.

My word-counting guardians are tapping my shoulders, again, and I promised them, I’d acknowledge their efforts and react accordingly. I’m going to share a few more thoughts with you, then take my leave. The BLM movement is absolutely essential. Moving our national police forces away from the military units they’ve become and to the “protect and serve” institution which they should be is essential for a healthy country and populace. Eliminating systemic racism from within the police ranks and consequently stopping the prevalent, double standard of law enforcement is a must. Never allowing backsliding or complacency to develop is, also, a must. We can do this!

I’m a bit of an idealist. Can’t help myself. Always been this way. Wear it like a badge of honor. So when I think of the BLM movement, I tend to appreciate it for what it is, a movement to stop prejudicial policing of Black Americans. It’s so important in its own right. Then, I start thinking in a larger, more expansive context, and begin to look at society as a whole. I think it’s time to eliminate systemic racism from our entire culture. Pull out all the stops and go for it. I believe the younger generation is primed and ready for this. It’s time for the corporate world, the political arena, and the educational system to send systemic racism packing. It can only happen with total societal transparency and honesty. So much will have to change and so many institutions and people will have to concede to a cultural power transition. It will take decades to accomplish, but the goal, the destruction of racism in America, will be worth it. Administrations will come and go, but if we’re all diligent and vigilant and determined like a junkyard dog, I think we can achieve a racist-free society.

The BLM movement and in general the termination of systemic racism is a huge, multifaceted issue. I intend on writing many more articles addressing this topic. I have a blueprint in mind, and wish to share it with you. My next writing, well, I think it will be my next writing, will deal with education and how this institution can help eliminate racism in our country. Be looking for it. I promise it’s on the way.

Next Saturday, I’ll be standing at the junction of Highway 101 and Laneda Avenue. I will raise above my head a sign asking for social justice and equality for Black Americans. I’ll be with a small group of people, mostly white, and will be engaging with a larger group of people, mostly white tourists, who will drive by me. I predict we’ll continue to receive favorable feedback. They’ll always be those who pass by with knee-jerk negative messages tossed our way. Their numbers are small. My hope is that in the days, weeks, months, and years to come, with all of us working to end racism, the numbers of racist individuals in our country will become even fewer, and the societal support which sustains them, systemic racism, will erode away and wash into the ocean, leaving behind a nation, truly devoted to the words “that all people are created equal.”

Wow man, you did it. You kept this piece to a tolerable length. There’s hope for you, yet. Yah, maybe there is. You know, it’s hard to write with tears running down your cheeks and falling onto your keyboard and desk top. That might have influenced the word count. Why you crying? Racism’s kind of personal for me, and I find it hard to be stoic under the circumstances. Care to elaborate, amigo? No, no, I think not, at least not right now. Okay, I hear you, brother. Hey, man, get to writing that article about the GOP losing the election. That should be a “piece of cake,” a “no brainer,” a “walk in the park.” Give you a chance to relax and mellow out. Shhhhh…trying to remain unbiased, friend, or I guess, at least, appear to be. Ah, come on amigo. Everybody’s got you figured out. Let ’er rip. Enjoy yourself. Yah, you’re right. I will unchain the beast in my next writing. Damn the guardrails, and full speed ahead. No looking in the rearview mirrors. That’s the way, amigo. Go for it! Uh-oh. Taps on both my shoulders. Gotta go. Stay safe and positive dear readers…until next time…

Why the Dems Will Lose the 2020 Presidential Election

Welcome back. This topic may cause some of you symptoms of nausea or lightheadedness. Others may feel anger or outrage, and still others might gain a sensation of redemption or empowerment from what follows. I would suggest you sit down, buckle up, pull the hand bar down into the safety position, and grasp it tightly. Let’s put our big, adult pants on, and a brave smile. The ride’s about to begin.

Does 2020 really appear to be a Republican victory? If I was a betting person, you’d have to give me some good odds before my response would be “yes,” but of late, we’ve seen some mighty strange happenings in regards to presidential elections; look no farther than the 2016 race and outcome for proof of this statement. There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” in politics. The fickle, American electorate almost guarantees unpredictable election night results, leaving pundits squirming in their chairs, and offering quickly formulated answers for the unforeseen results. This November, undoubtedly, will provide us some political insight into our country’s next four years, but at this moment, can we assuredly predict its result? I think not, and recent history backs up this thought.

“Hey man, enough with the intro. What do you got to say?” Well my impatient, word-counting, time-constrained amigo, your car has reached the summit, and gravity is about to take over. The Democratic primary is basically over and what shook out of the primary tree was Joe Biden. Joe is probably the worst or close to the worst person out of all the viable Democratic primary contenders to go up against Donald Trump. He is not a dynamic, articulate, intelligent, insightful, or a quick-on-his-feet politician, and he will not suddenly develop these characteristics and bring them on the 2020 presidential campaign trail. With Joe, what you see is what you get. He’s slow thinking, struggles with public speaking, and, well, he’s just plain boring. Joe Biden is the only Democratic primary candidate who could make Donald Trump look good in a debate. Not a smart choice, Dems, and one I fear you’ll regret in November.

I’m going to jump off the rails for a moment, and digress to another subject. There were lots of young, energetic, Capitol Hill–savvy, intelligent, articulate Democratic primary contenders. None of them got a “bump” from the Democratic Party’s “Brain Trust.” The older candidates, at one time or another, did. I kind of get it. The powers-that-be decided a familiar, safe, fatherly type with broad political base was the best choice and threw their support behind Biden. I said “I kind of get it” because, though it’s safe, it’s the wrong call. The Democrats needed to pick someone who would make Trump look like a fool in a debate. Someone who could think quickly and turn an ignorant, dubious statement into a lethal mistake. I would have loved to see Amy Klobuchar go toe-to-toe with Trump. That debate would have been worth the price of admission. As it is, we’re going to witness painful, verbal jousting in the debates, which pundits will score, and the results may very well go against the Dems and their platform.

Okay, back on the tracks. Why is Joe Biden the wrong candidate? Well, another problem for Joe’s success is he’s been around forever. With that duration comes lots of sponsored bills, votes cast, words spoken from behind political podiums, and much time spent in the public eye. Such candidates are easy targets for campaign attacks (reference 2016 and Hillary Clinton). This campaign season has been slow to unfold, because of COVID-19, and yet we’ve already heard about Biden’s inappropriate mannerisms with woman; one individual accused him of unwanted sexual advances; and much discussion focused on his son chairing a seat on a Ukrainian energy company’s Board of Directors. (Really? A Ukrainian energy company. Does this seem weird to you? It does to me.) Which reminds me; have we heard anything from Trump’s private detective, oops, I mean personal lawyer, lately? Rudy has been pretty quiet. Does he have a surprise, politically motivated announcement waiting to be unveiled at an opportune moment? Joe Biden is running against an opponent who delights in attacking his adversary’s personality traits and political record. Trump will jump on Biden. I don’t think Joe can adequately defend himself and will appear to be the weaker candidate. Advantage GOP!

How’s your political roller coaster ride going? That first drop is always a doozy. Makes you question why you chose the roller coaster in the first place. Now, you’ve got lots of screaming around you, some nervous laughter, and the people up front are showing off with their hands raised in the air. Stomachs back in place? Well get ready for the side-to-side jolts before the next incline. Donald Trump won the 2016 election because he galvanized what some refer to as the “silent majority.” I’m not sure “silent” describes this group at the moment, and majority is questionable, too. I watched most of the Democratic primary debates. Not once did any candidate focus on Trump’s base and offer them a lifeline to a Democratic administration. There was no attempt to carve off from this group a voting bloc sympathetic to the moderate left ideologies. It was as if these voters didn’t exist or weren’t relevant. I fear that once again Democrats feel invincible. This kind of thinking lost them the 2016 election. For one reason or another, some plausible, some totally erroneous, the undereducated, white, American electorate feel the political left robbed them of their entitlement, “The American Dream,” and left them for some forty years in the backwashes of social change. Wake up, Dems! Trump’s base needs to be reckoned with and helped just like any other demographic in our country. If you don’t better this group’s life and livelihoods, they’ll always provide a solid springboard for any right wing politician. The Democrats, in the primary process, missed their chance to win over Trump supporters. They said the “same ol’, same ol’.” Things like “and we’ll give more money to education.” This simply implies to a Trump supporter that teacher wages will go up again. The Democrats need to be specific and mention relevant suggestions like, “We’ll delegate funds to public schools for vocational and technical classes.” This kind of rhetoric will give Trump’s voting bloc something positive to think about in regards to their lives and living with a left-leaning administration. Some of you will remember in our last “State of the Union” address, Donald Trump specifically mentioned vocational training classes and his support for them. Playing to his base, for sure, but all of us can see the logic that supports this statement. The Dems had better see it, too, because ignoring Trump’s base again, like they did in 2016, could very well get them the same election results in 2020.

Thrown to the left and tossed to the right. “Hey stop this coaster. I want off!” No can do. You’re on this ride till it slows down and comes to a stop near the gate. So grab tight to your safety bar and listen up; I’ve got more potentially disturbing thoughts for you. COVID-19 is disrupting most everything in this country. To date, approximately, 132,000 Americans have died from this disease and there’s no end in sight. In regards to politics and voting, the virus has already messed with our primary process, and will rear up its ugly head, again, come November, and cause more damage. Wisconsin and Georgia primaries have shown us a few major problems. I’m sure a larger variety of issues remain to be discovered and fear that November’s election may expose them.

How will the Dems lose the 2020 election? Well, like I just alluded to, one way is to think the election polling process will run smoothly in November. I don’t know a lot about voting at the polls. Being a resident of Oregon, I’ve been fortunate to vote by mail for most of my adult life. Easy-peasy. Mark your ballot, sign where need be, lick and close the envelope, and drop your ballot off at a collection site. What I do remember about voting at the polls is a group of wonderful, smiling, retired and/or elderly volunteers taking care of business – just the age group affected most by COVID-19. Consequently, during our pandemic-influenced primary season, polling sites were inefficient or just plain closed because large numbers of volunteers were concerned for their health and stayed away. This could very well happen again in November. I read somewhere that one polling site had 600,000 voters assigned to it during the primary. This sounds ridiculous to me, but if that news was available in the media for all to read, then I wasn’t the only person who took note. A GOP strategist could have read the same article and thought, “Ahah, this tactic could really work for us.” The Republicans could easily use the pandemic’s volatile characteristics and ease of transmission to scare people away from the polls. The “Right” feels that by suppressing votes in November, they’ll have their best chance for victory. They can reduce ballots by limiting numbers of voting sites within precincts, and if they targeted precincts favorable to Democrats, an election outcome could be easily swayed. You thought gerrymandering was bad. Think about this possible strategy. The Dems had better plan for such gamesmanship. If they need to recruit younger volunteers for polling sites, get it done. Providing PPEs for volunteers would be a great idea. Making sure adequate amounts of absentee ballots are present and that the needed manpower to mail and count the results is available. Bottom line, get proactive; pick strategies to aid polling site efficiency, put everything together now, and have it ready to implement by November.

“Getting out the vote” is an election year mantra, and rightly so. You need more people voting for your candidate than the other party’s candidate to win. This year, more than others, requires young people’s voter registration to be successful. The youth in our country want change. The Dems need to take advantage of this. The traditional fall voter registration booths on college and high school campuses may not work in September. I don’t know how many kids will be, physically, at school this fall. Do you? Assuming the usual may get you a lot of nothing in our present pandemic environment. The Dems need to develop a plan, right now, to ensure all possible young voters are registered for this coming election. They may need to go door to door in neighborhoods. Further, to get them registered, they may need to set up booths in malls, in parks, at beaches, or wherever else young potential voters hang out. This action would require a large volunteer group that is ready to act. The Dems had better get moving if they want a win in 2020. Inactivity now will cost them votes and only favor a GOP victory.

I mentioned a motivated, youthful movement that is demanding change in our country. If the Dems take this group for granted and feel anyone wanting social justice and is concerned about humanitarian issues will automatically vote Democratic, they may be sadly disappointed. The left cannot assume these young activists will vote for their candidates. I recall a twenty-ish BLM protester being interviewed by a national network reporter. She stated that her candidate, Bernie Sanders, lost his presidential primary bid, and that she could not endorse Joe Biden and would not vote for him in the fall. Ahh, the idealism of youth, you’ve got to admire and respect it, but on the other hand, it’s dangerous. This young woman doesn’t understand that a vote taken from Biden is a vote for Donald Trump. The Dems must accept youthful, political wishes, add them to their platform, and also educate them about the reality of politics. It’s presumptuous of Democrats to take young people and humanitarian causes for granted and dump them all into the Democratic camp. Right now, I don’t see the urgency needed by the left to woo and win over the youthful participants who are demanding police, environmental, and human rights reforms. This cavalier attitude toward young people could invite their indifference to the Dem’s party and platform. Not a good response in a presidential election year, and if this entitled attitude continues, the Dems will lose out on a considerable number of votes. A vote not for Joe Biden is a vote for Donald Trump. Get it together, Democrats, or you’re going to lose 2020.

Maybe COVID-19 is distracting Democrats and the party’s strategists. This disease cares not who wins in November. The GOP “Brain Trust” knows they’re vulnerable in the 2020 election. They’ll use the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage and allow its disruptive nature to influence voter turnout. The Democrats better not forget this. Protecting the democratic process, making sure all eligible voters can cast their ballot, will require much vigilance and additional volunteers for the 2020 presidential election. Signing up new voters will require the same effort, and harnessing all the diversified, youthful momentum that abounds at present will require understanding this energetic electorate, educating them, and accepting their needs. The Dems need to accept this reality and start addressing these issues with action, now.

Whoa! Where are my word counters? “You just now became concerned about article length? I would have bailed long ago, but this coaster’s speed and height put the kibosh on that idea.” Yah, I hear you, friend reader. In my subconscious, I may have known this article would be lengthy and chose the coaster as an exciting, momentary vehicle from which there was no escape. Once again, I apologize for the subliminal trickery. Take heart, though, because the ride is near its termination; only a few more dips and side-to-sides remain.

There is one truism in American politics that rarely deviates from the norm. The country’s electorate votes with their pocketbooks in mind. This concept has held true, time after time, after time. The country’s present economic climate bodes ill for the sitting president. COVID-19 has created the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Unemployment at record highs, many businesses shut down, or partially open, and who knows how many establishments will never reopen their doors. Citizens are running out of money and redemption of unpaid bills is looming near. Foreclosures and personal bankruptcies wait in the wings for their turn at center stage. Things could not look worse. Yet, this could all change. The human spirit just needs a scrap to be tossed its way, a slight glimmer of hope, a hint of possible better days, and all is forgiven. The deeper the hole, the greater the emotional response to the slightest positive sign.

Small, encouraging signs pointing toward economic recovery will quickly change the voting public’s opinion about our country’s future. Such things as weekly “filings for unemployment benefits” numbers growing smaller, and new job growth and rehiring statistics producing optimistic results will easily sway voter loyalty. A “V” shape recovery trajectory will quickly bring back voter confidence even with the pandemic’s harmful realities near at hand. With increased voter confidence, more consumer spending will occur, and this above all else drives our economy toward recovery. Wall Street direction, never a true indicator of economic stability, nonetheless can influence public opinion. If the markets head in the right direction, many Americans feel the country’s economy is doing the same. All the aforementioned situations are presently happening, or nearly happening. Throw into the mix a lower death rate from our pandemic and a possible vaccine looming on the horizon, and an uncomfortable electorate could forgive a mostly derisive, dysfunctional president. Look out, Dems, the perfect storm awaits beyond the horizon.

There you have it. How the Dems will lose the 2020 election. Hey, your ride just stopped near the turnstiles. You can exit to the left. Hope you enjoyed our intellectual roller coaster ride, and please note that I was thinking about your endurance and chose not to address many other factors that could easily cause a Democratic loss in the fall: such things as ballot fraud, a large military engagement, which usually enhances a sitting president’s reelection probability, an Electoral College ambush, etc. Before you’re out of earshot, one last thought. The next article from “Thoughts About American Life” addresses why the GOP will lose the 2020 election. “Oh, very politically correct, Mr. Writer Man. Giving both sides equal time, riding the fence, hedging your bets… Well, no tricks this time. No seat belts, no safety bars, and no hunks of steel moving at insane speeds. I want to read your article in comfort and not fear for my life. Also, I wish the ability to disengage from your thought stream at my own leisure and seek shelter if need be. Capisce?” Yah, I get it. No more ruses. I’ll be “straight up” with you, and in all honesty, this next article will be so much easier to write. Did I just say that? Bad me, Bad me, off to bed with no dinner. Until later, my friends…stay positive and healthy.…

Covid 19 Containment vs Herd Immunity

Welcome back…..Round one is in the books, now, filed for all to see. The bell for round two just rang. Hope you’ve got a front row seat and will enjoy the verbiage posturing for recognition. Thanks to those offering feedback. Your perspectives will help this arena from becoming the”same old, same old” writing event. A very grateful, appreciative, nod goes to my first novel’s editor and my oldest granddaughter who both gave the same advice; they must think alike because their comments were almost identical.” We like what you said, but think your blog was too long. Shorten it up, Word Man.” I threw in the “Word Man” part, kind of an ego, writer’s license thing. Okay….I hear you. This edition of “Thoughts about American Life” will be briefer. Pretty much a sure deal since no “bio” is involved and a couple word counters are looking over my shoulder.

Before getting to the heart of this blog, I’d like to preface the article with some Covid 19 stats. America has lost 120,000 plus lives to this pandemic. Pure and simple, a national tragedy. We have more cases and more deaths attributed to this disease than any other nation on our planet. With only about 4 to 5 percent of the world’s population, this infamous tally should not be ours. How did we get here? In my opinion, lack of leadership and not having a cohesive, national plan created the smorgasbord of mostly inefficient strategies that we see. At the federal level, mixed messages have prevailed; we’ve had smoke blown in our face and been tossed contradictory and misleading language from day one. We heard “the pandemic’s not a problem,” “it will go away in summer,” “we’ve got it under control……” One example from the very beginning of this crises depicts the federal government’s response perfectly. Our president quickly shut down travel from China to the US after hearing about the Wuhan outbreak. Well, kind of. Only Chinese citizens travelling to the US using personal visas were restricted from entering our country. Everyone else from China returned home as if nothing was wrong. No temperature or symptomatic health checks upon arrival were attempted. No quarantine time was demanded, and certainly no passenger’s health was checked on at a later date. Fairly lame attempt at containment. Appears more like a slap to China’s face than an endeavor to stop a pandemic. That pretty much sums up Washington’s Covid 19 response; mostly miscues with political maneuvering thrown in for distraction.

Without leadership from Washington, the State governors were left on their own to fight the corona virus. Now, add to the rudderless ship called USS Washington an armada of similarly disabled vessels and you’ve got serious problems. All governors tried to protect their citizens, some with better results than others. New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, took the helm and led decisively. Other state’s leaders, not so much, and to be fair, many didn’t have the resources that New York started with. To date, the most significant deterrent to Covid 19 has been containment and “shelter in place” strategies that almost all states utilized and to one degree or another, enforced.

We’re transitioning now from shelter-in-place to a gradual reopening of our country. Obviously, a critical period of adjustment. We’re attempting to regain normalcy and continue to social distance, refrain from unnecessary travel, wear masks, wash our hands regularly, and avoid large gatherings. How fast will our return to pre-Covid 19 conditions occur? I think that depends on how hard the winds of change blow and from which direction they emanate. There are three societal forces which will, by their very nature, greatly influence our direction and speed. First, there’s the medical profession. It’s the force of caution, the force dedicated to sound, public well-being, and it will push toward the safest, healthiest path. We should listen keenly to them. Another societal force is the business community which is hurting; both large and small commercial endeavors, from mom and pop businesses to large corporations all need some “black ink” to resurface on their ledgers. This group, especially larger institutions with owners, CEOs, boards of directors, and shareholders scare me a little. They’ve got a lot to lose and tend towards rhetoric rather than real substance. Protecting their employees, due to extra costs, could endanger their “bottom line.” Case in point would be the meat processing sector. Everything is fine-and -dandy, until some Health Department employee comes around with a thermometer, and then all hell breaks lose. Cases spike and communities are in trouble. I live in “small-town-USofA.” Everyday I see lumber yards , gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, and small shops that have gone the extra mile to protect their employees and costumers from contracting Covid 19. I know this can be done. Corporate Americas needs to get on board and ensure their employees a safe environment to work in. Simple as that. No excuses. Get it done.

Before I go much farther, and you begin scratching your head in wonderment, let me address my headings suggested topic, Containment vs Herd Immunity. Containment of Covid 19 is what our medical community is attempting to do. Minimizing travel, staying home if you feel sick and self quarantining, washing hands often, wearing face masks, and avoiding large crowds are all meant to corral or contain this pandemic. Herd mentality or herd immunity is a whole other ball game. Its approach to minimizing the pandemics effects is vastly different. Basically, it calls for most people to become infected and let the chips fall where they may. I’ll be more specific. With herd immunity, instead of precautions taken to prevent contracting the virus, it pretty much runs its course and with an easily transmitted corona virus, like the one we have, about 60 to 70 percent of the population will become infected. The infectious rate at this point will decrease and become negligible. Why? Well, most of those who are in danger of serious symptoms will have died by the time herd immunity is reached. Here’s the rub. We’ve lost 120,000 plus Americans to Covid 19, and only about five percent of our population has contracted the disease. How many more Americans would die trying to reach a 60 to 70 percent infectious rate? Do the math. Estimates are from one million to two million more US citizens will parish. Not a pretty picture. Corporate America straddles the fence in regards to which approach to this pandemic they should adhere to. Protecting their work force costs additional revenue, but loss of manpower due to absenteeism, creates its own problems and consequent loss of revenue. I think our business world will ultimately strike an uncoordinated, dysfunctional compromise between the two strategies. Monetary resources will be the deciding factor; those that can afford creating a safe work space, will do just that and those that can’t, will do the best they can.

The last societal force which I’ll address is the political arena. We’re in a presidential election year and the stakes are high. Reelection to a politician is paramount. It speaks to that public servants success, worth and power level. You can be sure that herd immunity will not be openly discussed by those seeking reelection. Nobody wants one to two million dead Americans on their resume. The Covid 19 pandemic will influence American politics for many years to come, and this year, probably more than the rest. The pandemic has ruined our economy and caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs. It’s responsible for our nations present recession and many wonder how long the recovery process will take, and how many businesses can withstand the economic downturn. Will this disease influence the November election.? You bet! No president who held office during a recession was reelected for another term.

If you needed a quick economic turn-around, and were seeking reelection, which pandemic approach would you utilize. Pretty much a no brainer. Let the chips fall where they may would rule the day. There’s a wonderful old adage, one of my favorites which will shed light on our present administrations chosen strategy, “actions speak louder than words.” We’ll all hear in the next few months about how our president did so many things to curb the pandemic. Actions speak louder than words. Does not wearing a mask help curb Covid 19? Does ignoring sound medical advise from professionals in the field of viral medicine and pandemic control help stop the spread of Covid 19? Does applauding those who flaunt sheltering in place, social distancing, and mask wearing help stop Covid 19? Does having a political rally in an enclosed arena, without social distancing and without mandatory mask usage in a state where corona virus cases are spiking help thwart the viruses spread? I think not. I could go on with more examples, and I’m sure you could throw a few onto the fire, too. The point being is these situations and actions all hasten this pandemics rise, regardless of public outcome. The underlying motive is getting the economy moving in the right direction by November and hopefully out of a recession. Reelection is all important to this sitting president. How many people are thrown under the bus on the route to a second term doesn’t matter. This administration is all about “the end justifies the means,” and portrays this motto on a daily bases.

Well, there you have it, Containment versus herd immunity. I must admit to some deception here. Truly, this blog was about herd immunity and Containment in regards to Covid 19, but it addressed other issues as well. Namely, how do the two strategies interplay with the pandemics influence, force, direction, and politics. Many of you would have groaned, rolled your eyes and moved on to another distraction if I had stated “up front” this article would focus on Covid 19 politics. I get it. We’re inundated all the time with this information. Herd immunity is frightening to me. The whole philosophy of this approach speaks of utilitarian beliefs which imply that a few must sacrifice for the good of the rest. Our culture is capable of so much more than this ideology. So, there you have it; My reasoning for a sleight of hand, and a veiled apology for the same.

Phew! Made it through round two. Felt more confident this go round. Less self doubt and hand ringing for sure. Not sure about the length, though. Did I stay within blog parameters? Let me know. Like I mentioned in my previous blog, there’s an abundance of worthy topics presenting themselves for discussion. Its hard to pick from the list. So, I’ve got a few teasers to toss out. Tell me which ideas strike your fancy. Black Lives Matter calls out for discussion. One could talk for four hundred plus, years, about issues this subject suggests. Why the Dems will lose the November election will interest quite a few and conversely, why the GOP will lose in November, will do the same. A Discussion about reintroduction of wolves into the lower forty- eight should draw some interest, and….Holy jumpen b’jesus, man. That’s writer suicide. Are you crazy? Well, maybe I am. I’ll let you be the judge of that….Until later, adios amigo

When Push Comes To Shove: Thoughts about American Life

Hey, its another blogger and blog site….grooooooan, really? Yes, really. You’ve probably noticed that at the moment, there are an abundance of important topics one can muse about, like Covid 19, Black Lives Matter, and an upcoming presidential election, so I’m jumping into the world of dialog, feet first, damn the guard rails and full speed ahead. Honestly man, why are you throwing words at us, the curious, trusting reader, and why should we deem your passages “worthy? “Okay, fair questions. Here’s my answer to those important and “just” queries: I feel a need to help solve issues; kind of a problematic bane that complicates one’s life, but its my bane, and I carry it proudly. Also, I enjoy writing. Dabbled in it all my adult life: from letters, to poems, to short stories, to novels. There are more reasons why you, the questioning, information seeking readers are being victimized by my “wordsmanship.” For instance, my friends are becoming tired of long, unsolicited text messages and they need a break. Also, my second book is presently shelved, waiting for a better moment in time for unveiling. Not a problem…my first novel sat in limbo for ten years before publication. So, what’s an idle writer to do? Find another platform of course!

So there’s the answer to “why are you writing” and next, comes the defense of “are your thoughts ‘worthy’ of notice?” Holy jumping b’jesus…this guy can dribble on….Well, yes, I can and in all fairness, this is an introduction to me, my writing style and intentions, so cut me some slack, here, and we’ll get through this together. Are my thoughts of import? You be the judge. I’ve been “around the block,” more times than most. The next time I blow the candles out, seventy will be written in colorful icing for all to see. Age by itself doesn’t create insightful understanding; experience must accompany the maturation process. Varied experiences help sharpen perception and challenges put a razor-sharp edge on one’s ability to cut-to-the-chase. (OMG, stop with the metaphors) With that thought in mind, let me continue. I’ve rarely taken the easy path. Consequently, my skill sets and experiences are varied. I passed up as a young man two proffered mid-managerial positions and chose to seek my own way without props provided by privilege or position….along the way, I’ve been a “ditch digger,” (I can really shovel some dirt) not cognitively challenging, but a great workout…. a sawmill, plainer chain “puller,” again, not rocket science, but a great workout…. Head of Room Service at a large Oregon Coast resort…. a Scuba shop employee on the Island of Maui, bar none, best job ever! an educator, most challenging, creative, stressful and rewarding line of work to date…. a home builder, again, challenging, creative, stressful and rewarding…..and a novelist, a uniquely personal and inventive endeavor….left out a number of other “paycheck” producers…. they weren’t as influential as the aforementioned bunch.

Okay, so I’ve had a diversified array of occupations….does that define “worthiness?” nah…could be, I just couldn’t hold a job….How about social and interpersonal relationships? again, diverse hats hang on the rack….I’ve lived in upper-class neighborhoods and impoverished boroughs ….I’ve called friend “one-per-centers” and those who struggle or can’t make their “monthlies.” I’ve kicked around with loggers, doctors, teachers, farmers, ranchers, carpenters, journalists, flim-flam artists, waiters, and oh, so many more people and vocational types.

So you have been around the block…Yep, I told you that, but does anything I’ve mentioned guarantee insightful comment or demand your attention….maybe, maybe not…..Then, why should I listen to your take on American life? Here it is in the proverbial “nutshell.” I’m honest, possibly to a flaw…I’m judgmental, but in most cases, I know where my biases hide and can avoid them. I’ve been around the block, allowing me that great determiner of truth, common sense. Common sense allows you to listen to simple truisms like if smokes being blown in your face, locate who has the most to gain or lose, and you’ll probably find the smudge pot. Also, old adages become doctrines. “If its too good to be true, it probably isn’t, ‘no such thing as a free lunch, ‘there’s more to a book than its cover,” are simple statements that no longer are simple. They’re larger than life. They are life. Continuing on with advocating for my wisdom, and trustworthiness, I’ll toss into the ring my most prized possession; I care about my neighbor’s well being. I want all people to achieve the greatness that resides within them. You know, bottom line, you’ll read my words and appreciate what I say if they resonate with your values and who you are. I’m not a salesman, nor a lobbyist. I will offer my opinion, in hopes that my “take” will aid or enlighten you in some way. Are you still with me? If you’ve already jumped ship, I totally understand and harbor no ill feelings. If you’ve made it this far, I hope our voyage together will be long and interesting….Welcome aboard….

Class, let me have your attention….Today’s topic offered for discussion will focus on “Societal Norms and Responsibilities” more specifically, the ongoing debate in regards to, Masks vs No Masks…..

Sorry about the above, teacherish looking subtitle. Its a little creepy. Don’t know why after so many years removed from formal education, it still invades my privacy. I’ll be more guarded in the future. Hey, it appears that wearing a mask in public is a controversial situation in the USofA. I’m a little surprised, but you know, a lot of mystifying things are happening, so let’s get past my immediate, knee jerk response of “say what?” and really look at this. I think the whole “mask vs no mask” question came about because of numerous comments and biases which, when stirred together, created a frothy, contradictory drink that invited all to take a sip, weigh-in, and proclaim their issue-specific reviews. On the “con” side, we’ve heard everything from homemade, cloth mask don’t protect anyone from Covid 19, to, our first responders need the N95 design, so hands off commoner, to, your stepping on my constitutional rights by saying I must wear one, to, etc…..I’m sure you could follow the “etc” with your own favorite statement. On the “pro” side, I’ve heard two specific thoughts. Homemade masks reduce the chance of infected wearers spreading Covid 19 to others and N95’s do the best job of protecting the wearer from corona virus pathogens. Okay, so why the mask controversy and dagger-sharp looks between maskers and non-maskers as they pass each other. Well, its a little mix of defensive gamesmanship, politics, racism, and societal, class bias all thrown together creating an irrational, somewhat toxic, and potentially harmful mix.

Let’s look at this gamesmanship idea, meaning somebody wanted an advantage or needed to cut their losses, and “played us” with disinformation in hopes of attaining there goal. This is conspiracy theory stuff. Bear with me. I’m not a fan of “conspiracy theories,” but sometimes, they’re a reality. When Covid 19 became a reality in the US, people started hoarding commodities. My favorite, of course, was the toilet paper obsession. I want to say, “only in America,” but….We should have been stashing away N95 masks, sanitizer, vitamin C and any other auto immune stimulate you can think of, plus food stuffs and water. Toilet paper? Okay, enough about the butt wipe. At some point, I believe those in the know realized that a pandemic was upon us, and that PPE’s were not stock piled like previous commissions and administrations had suggested. ” We’re up the creek” fears must have jolted the medical community, and those entrusted with protecting our population from disease, like the CDC, and the PPE manufacturing sector. Someone at this point, not sure who, starting talking about how masks weren’t effective against Covid 19. You can probably point your index finger at all the(I said index) fore mentioned groups. For those of you saying, “What about the White House?” I think at this point the administration was clueless and in denial of the pandemic. The mask disclaiming strategy simply bought time for the medical community to accumulate what supplies they could and industry to rev up production of the same. Realistically, the first responders, nurses, doctors etc. need the equipment, so I have no beef with them getting what they require. My concern is where this mask controversy comes from, and I believe the origins started here.

It should be noted in any discussion of mask protection, the apparent and obvious differences between medical masks and the homemade variety. Professional masks block a large percentage of particulates and pathogens. N95 filter 95% of such things. Homemade masks, not so much, and depending upon materials used and design, the protection range, probably, varies greatly. When I was talking about institutions fearing for the lack of protective gear, I was speaking about the N95. I believe the mask controversy really pertains to homemade masks, although, contradictory and confusing dialog about mask protection began before people started making their own face coverings. I mention this now because the remainder of my discussion focuses, mostly, on the use of products less effective than the N95 grade mask, namely inferior, commercial products, and homemade masks .

Politics play a part in the mask controversy. In a perfect world, one would hope that partisan divide and posturing would be cast aside when dealing with a pandemic. We don’t live in a perfect world, so what we see is what we get. The present administration helped fuel the mask debate. For now, forget about your personal political leanings and hear me out. Our president flat out debunks masks. He makes fun of those wearing them and refuses to wear one himself. He goes so far as to forbid his team from dawning them. This is big. Our country is very polarized at the moment, and whatever the president does, influences his base greatly.

At some point, the facial mask got a positive bump, and people started sewing home versions to be shared with family, friends, and medical facilities in short supply of PPEs. Now, even home grown masks are in demand. Apparently, something was better than nothing. You can”t fool Americans forever, and recognition of mask protection had to be acknowledged. We saw how desperately the medical profession was asking for them. Another reality was influencing are judgement. We couldn’t ignore the three countries which were doing the best in regards to minimizing Covid 19’s devastation. South Vietnam, South Korea, and Taiwan readily accepted mask protection and their citizens wore them religiously, and in these countries, Covid 19 never reached epidemic levels. The message was out. It didn’t have to be written in bold print on a newspaper page or shouted from a street corner. The evidence was everywhere. Masks save lives.

As the first homemade mask made an appearance, so did the negative comments about them. Lots of statements were thrown around about appearance. Let’s toss those comments into the immature, childish round file. The real debate should be about effectiveness. Those in the know, and by that I mean extremely experienced doctors and medical research personnel, have, at some time or another, championed the use of cloth masks. At first, Who, CDC and other national and world health organizations stated that masks only helped protect those in close proximity to a mask wearing, infected person. Just recently, though, the CDC stated that cloth masks protect both ways; the person wearing a mask reduces the risk of infecting others, plus their mask also reduces the chances of contraction for themselves. There you have it. Some really smart people with careers devoted toward stopping infectious diseases and pandemics say that cloth masks will help stop the spread of Covid 19.

Yesterday, I had to visit a big box store. My least favorite excursion in normal times and the pandemic crisis has exacerbated my feelings. Not to worry. I gathered together, multiple masks, hand sanitizer, surgical gloves and wipes for sanitizing the interior of my rig after my shopping endeavor and headed out the door, ready for battle. I toddled off to the box store and made my purchase. I took an informal count of mask vs no mask while shopping and noted a fifty/fifty ratio. What the hell! Didn’t numerous, prestigious people and outfits just champion wearing masks? Yes, they did.

Can contradictive statements and negative, presidential disdain of face coverings cause a large proportion of our populous to shun face masks? The number of people disregarding face masks suggests more factors are present. I believe, one such factor is racism. Seems we can’t get away from that word. For good reason. In every corner of our country, systemic racism exists. The prejudice I’m noting here is the one directed toward oriental Asians. Our relationship with the roughly two billion people of this demographic during the last eighty years has been caustic, to rocky, to qualified acceptance. During WWII, the Pacific Theater was horrifying. The Korean war didn’t help Americans’ perception of Asians and visa versa. The Vietnam war worsened our feelings toward Indo-China and again, visa versa, and of course, our continual “Cold War” with China fuels prejudice on a daily basis. I don’t mention this to open old wounds or discuss pros and cons of American foreign policy. No, I’m just looking at the obvious. Killing someone and having others trying to kill you does not create lasting friendships. Hatred and loathing are words that readily come to mind, and these acidic emotions need to be buffed from peoples day-to-day psyche; prejudice and racism step to the plate and offer a mechanism by which humans can tolerate abhorred feelings they harbor. So, are Americans going to mimic Asian behaviors? I think some will purposefully debunk oriental answers to problems simply because of prejudice and racism.

There are a couple more points to cover before a conclusion is invited to the table. I mentioned earlier that class bias, a symptom of social/economic conditions is a factor helping to create our mask controversy. Two class prejudices muddying the waters are the “don’t tread on me” proponents and their anti-authoritarian stance, and the uneducated vs educated distrust present in our country. There is always suspicion between educated an uneducated peoples. This mistrust and suspicion has increased dramatically over the past few years, to the point where large groups of people ignore or completely reject helpful insight and suggestions, and answers. This can be incredibly problematic during a time of crisis, when the wrong move can have serious, deadly consequences. There’s nothing wrong with being uneducated. Levels of education have much more to do with circumstance than intelligence. What’s wrong is when people trust information from those who are ignorant and distrust information from those who truly have the knowledge and expertise to guide us. I placed the “don’t tread on me” faction together with the under educated group for several reasons; a Venn diagram of these demographics would show considerable overlap and they form a large segment of the present administration’s base.The “don’t tread” people dislike authoritarian types telling them what to do and the uneducated often distrust what authoritarian types say. Add to this, these groups loyalty to the present administration which disdains protective masks, and you’ve got the perfect situation for facial mask rejection.

So its come down to this. I’ve given you a whole lot of what, who, and why about face mask acceptance or rejection. Lot’s of personal bias and facts thrown together in an attempt to look closely at an issue. Why did I write my first blog about our present mask controversy? Well, its deadly important. Lives will be lost or saved because of how we address this issue, and also, influencing my writing, standing in the wings, behind the curtain, a bigger character prevails, one dear to my heart, “Community.” A pandemic, by its very definition, affects all of us. It threatens our national community. Because of this, mask wearing is no longer a “me” situation, but an “us” condition. Like it or not, we are all in this together and connected now by a communal threat; a pathogen that kills indiscriminately. Wearing a mask, now, is about community. It’s about a core societal value, respect. Without respect, there is no trust, no empathy, no desire to help others….no feeling of community, or country. Wearing a mask is about us showing respect for each other. Its saying that your life and health matter to me. You may not agree with facial coverings for, possibly, one of the reasons mentioned above, but this mask thing isn’t about you, its about “us” The data is out there, masks will save lives….Saving a fellow American’s life is a noble goal. Let’s allow masks in a practical, medical sense to fulfill this end, and also, let masks be a positive symbol of our community’s, our country’s health and well being.

Well, there you have it. If you’re reading these words, you’ve made it to the end of my first blog. Obviously, I did, too. Along the way, I audibly groaned, self judged, rewrote, questioned my beliefs, edited my manuscript numerous times, cursed my writing ineptness, wished I’d never started, and in general, tortured myself…..I must be a masochist because I’ll be back in the near future with another blog. Hope you’ll join me, and we’ll continue to look at American life, together…..