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Dating Across Political Lines

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

I recently read an article where a guy said that 90 percent of females he encounters in DC are very liberal and seem to view conservative men as walking deal-breakers. When I was in the dating game (nearly 20 years ago before my current relationship), I dated men whose liberal views aligned with mine – except for two who were conservative Republicans.

Back then, I did not discriminate. If I liked a guy who asked me out, I’d date him. My radar has honed over the years, and I am more political than I’ve ever been. In these polarizing and contentious times, for the sake of my peace of mind, if I were still in the game, I would not be inclined to date across party lines. People who date across the political divide can make a relationship work – if they are willing to put in the work. I’m not. It is sometimes difficult enough to maintain a platonic friendship across party lines.

My first Republican flame was a speechwriter for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger (is one among others) to whom the quote above is ascribed. I began dating the speechwriter on the rebound, following a breakup with my then-boyfriend. After a few dates, I found that I liked the conservative guy. He was a perfect gentleman. He was smart, had a sense of humor, and I enjoyed his company. However, there were a couple of hurdles that intruded in our relationship.

Once, when we were out together, while my date was busy buying tickets I glanced at two black men who were standing about 12 feet away. I guess they were in their late 20s or early 30s. I couldn’t avoid noticing the hateful expression on the face of the one with his arms crossed whose eyes were throwing darts at me. He and the guy who was with him were both wearing black berets. While he was giving me the cold stare-down, I overheard some of his snide comment to the fellow standing beside him. “That sister other there dating a white guy. Ought to be ashamed.” That was in the I’m-black-and-I’m-proud 1970s. Society was moving toward being racially progressive on interracial relationships, but it had not progressed to where it is now. For the next few seconds, I ignored him, until my date and I continued on our way and they went theirs.

Our second tension was more personal. It occurred one evening while we were watching an episode of Roots. The character Kizzy’s master was selling her away from her family for something that she did (I don’t remember what it was) and boyfriend commented that some masters were good to their slaves. Well, Jumping Jehoshaphat! Whether that statement was true or not wasn’t the issue. It was simply the wrong thing said at the right time. Our argument that occurred as a result of that episode wasn’t what led to our break up. We eventually smoothed things over, but I decided to get back with the guy that I broke up with before I got involved with the speechwriter.

The other Republican I dated was black like me. But if you heard him talking smack and couldn’t see him, you wouldn’t know it. He was in the entertainment business and very political. It was difficult enough trying to stomach his political views, but I wholeheartedly resent people who constantly berate members of their own racial group. His arrogance wore me down. It doesn’t matter if the intra-racial bashing is for someone’s job, their political party or because they are blinded by self-hate, in my opinion, constantly stereotyping and denigrating your own racial group does nothing to enhance your image. It makes you look bad. I don’t care whether your viewpoint is due to envy, feelings of superiority or because you think that you are economically and socially better off than other people. Don’t let it go to your head. Life is like a giant sliding board. You can be up at the top one day and down on the ground the next. It doesn’t matter if someone is high on the corporate ladder or picking up trash on the street if a person is out here trying to make an honest living then don’t negate him or her. Actions and deeds aside, as human beings, none of us is better than the other. I strongly dislike seeing black people put other black people down and I view racial animosity with more disdain than partisan animosity. My compassion compass with Republican #2 was not in synch. Thankfully, that pseudo-relationship crashed and burned.

When it comes to mixed-partisan relationships, evidence abounds that Democrats and Republicans have a hard time making relationships work. To the contrary, a high-profile couple, political strategist James Carville and his wife, media personality Mary Matalin are one example of an inter-political relationship that is working. According to USNews.com Martin had this to say about that, “That we disagree on policy was tough, but it’s not one of those deal-breakers. We’re very practical in our local politics, and we’re philosophically opposed on the role and scope of government, but we love each other.”

 

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The First Stone

Youthful indiscretions – is there no forgiveness for them? Who among us hasn’t done something in our youth that we regret when looking back on the misbehavior as a mature adult?

On Friday, the right-wing blog Big League Politics published a racist photo from the 1984 medical school yearbook of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. One of the photos on a page titled with Northam’s name depicts two people, one in a blackface costume and another wearing a Klan outfit.

On the day that news outlets broadcast that photo, there was swift prejudgment and immediate demands for the Democratic governor’s resignation. He issued an immediate apology for the photos but seemed to waver on whether he was one of the two people in the picture. The next day he asserted that he was not in that photo and added that since he had not purchased the yearbook, it was his first time seeing the picture. Only he, the persons in the photo, and God know whether he is truthful.

Flipping the script for a moment – the Me Too movement brought out numerous women making sexual misconduct allegations, some that occurred decades ago, against prominent men. To be fair, some male victims have made similar accusations against women.

The point is whether the issue is sexual misconduct or racist behavior, how far back is too far back to drag up someone’s past and use it against them?

Before I incur a backlash of criticism let me clearly state that I am not making prejudgments against Me Too victims or people who are accused of or guilty of racial injustices. I merely want to emphasize that people do stupid and irresponsible things when they are young (and sometimes not so young) that they might not repeat when they are more mature.

I know that all transgressions are not attributable to youthful ignorance. The arrogance to make sexual powerplays or blatantly or subtly display racial hatred is sometimes deep-seated. But the purpose of this post is not to judge the alleged perpetrators; I am simply wondering how long is too long to hold something that happened decades ago against someone without examining or considering their track record going forward. If a person has a continuous, unrelenting record of wrongdoing that is one thing, but if the accused shows by his (or her) actions over the years that he or she has changed their wayward behavior why continue to drag up the past? When is long ago long enough?

My cousin, Renate Jones recently said this about the Gov. Northam controversy. “While I agree that this was horrific, this was over 30 years ago, and as a young man, he did what a host of many young people do…stupid stuff. We cannot judge this man by what he did so long ago. In the eighties, racism existed, and still will [sic]. How is the man now living his life? Ultimately judge him by his behavior now. I am black and do not feel he should resign. In 1984, I was militant as [could] be…need I say more? Imagine if you guys have some of your behavior come back to haunt you [from] 30 years ago”

After apologizing for appearing in the disturbing photo, the governor said the next day that he wasn’t in the picture. He insisted that neither figure wearing a racist costume was him. He also said that he never bought a copy of the yearbook and that Friday, when the story broke, was his first time seeing the photo. Some people hearing that were left wondering was it an attempt at damage control to save his reputation and job or is he sincere?

I agree with Renate, how far back in the past is too far to go to hold something against someone? (Let me add that I am excluding and find unforgivable certain hideous crimes like kidnapping, child trafficking, rape, and cold-blooded murder.)

So, a young teacher observes a toddler smacking a pacifier out of the mouth of another child in a daycare center. Will that act of aggressiveness be held against the child 40 years later when he is nominated for the position of let’s say, US Surgeon General because the teacher remembered the incident and publicized it during the confirmation period? Sounds laughable, doesn’t it?

What about the high school cheerleader who purposely trips-up a competitor during tryouts. A few decades in the future when the tripper becomes, perhaps, Secretary of Education or even President of the U.S. will she be forced to resign from her position because the tripping act was exposed? Ridiculous!

I am not trying to make light of serious situations, but if every one of us is required to give full disclosure about every racist or mean-spirited thing we’ve said during our lifetime when does the line get drawn? Is redemption or forgiveness possible?

Images of hurtful things can remain seared in people’s minds. I retain a clear vision of an act of sexual misconduct committed on me by a former manager in the workplace. I also recall instances of blatant racism that I experienced at the hands of at least two CEOs at different workplaces while others in the office were aware of it, but pretended not to see. Some people change; others don’t. Such is life.

If someone spends years of their adult life on the straight and narrow, trying to live down previous insensitive conduct is there no tolerance for evaluating that person’s behavior going forward?

Since the Northam incident, and numerous times in recent years, I’ve heard many talking heads on TV say, “There is no place for racism” in our government or our society. There isn’t – but it exists, and it rolls downhill.

When people obviously and blatantly continue to perpetuate evil throughout their lifetime, that is one thing, but when people show by their actions that they are trying to do better because they know better, then I say give them a chance.

If we – individually – are to be held responsible for every wrongful thing we said or did in our distant past, whether it is attributable to youthful imprudence or adult ignorance – who among us would be able to cast the first stone?

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Voting. Just Do It — or Don’t

“If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” Certainly, some folks would agree with that statement by Mark Twain. It has been over a week now since the mid-term election and the recounts are ongoing.

A middle-aged friend of mine has no qualms about saying that she has never voted and never will. Lest you think that she is uninformed about the voting process, she is not. She is very intelligent and highly educated on many subjects. Were you to talk with her, she would tell you that this country’s prolonged history of injustices against so-called minority citizens is the reason that she refuses to participate in many traditions and practices, voting included. She and I agree on numerous things, but voting is not one of them.

I am hooked on politics like weed-heads on pot, and I enjoy spending time listening to spin doctors and pundits discuss all things political. The hottest topic of late concerns suspected manipulation, suppression, and alleged voter fraud in the recent mid-term election that is prompting recounts in various places around the country. Some folks wonder, how can we trust to have a fair election process under a leader who has shown himself to be unethical and morally bankrupt especially when he implies that he supports some of the unscrupulous candidates and at every opportunity reiterates that the Democrats are trying to steal the election? Nevertheless, I feel that not voting would be to dishonor people who sacrificed much and in some cases gave their lives, to ensure that every US citizen regardless of their skin color, culture or ethnicity would have the right to vote.

When I think of people who made the ultimate sacrifice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Viola Liuzzo immediately come to mind. Because of them and numerous other victims who suffered for the cause, I must vote. And I suggest that anyone who is tired of hearing the constant refrain “people died so that we could vote” might benefit from viewing Katylin Joy’s list of well-known and unsung heroes of the civil rights era in her disturbing collection of 10 Forgotten Martyrs of the American Civil Rights Movement.

When it comes to voting at the federal, state and local levels, a common argument is “there’s no reason for me to vote. My ballot won’t decide the election.” Also frequently heard from reluctant voters during the presidential election is the excuse that “the electoral college decides the winner” so why should I bother?  While some political scientists and well-informed citizens support the continuation of the Electoral College, the popular public opinion indicates that many Americans favor abolishing it. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. As with most significant processes, there are rules concerning the voting system which are determined by the Constitution. Anyone who wants to learn more about the Electoral College and its pros and cons can gain understanding by reading two books written by someone much smarter than I. The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule and The Enlightened Democracy, were both written by Electoral College expert, retired lawyer and writer Tara Ross.

In two years, the presidential election will present another opportunity for citizens to vote. And if you choose not to vote because you dislike the candidates, lack confidence in the system or just don’t care, ponder this — not voting can itself be a way of voting. George Jean Nathan says it even better, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

 

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Me Too: Why Women Hesitate to Speak Up

Watching the Kavanaugh hearing this morning is difficult for me, as was the Clarence Thomas vs. Anita Hill testimonies. It is resurrecting memories from an evening in the 1970s when I had an unfortunate encounter with a person in an authoritative position who I once thought was a friend. As I tussled with him and told him numerous times to stop, I interjected what I thought would jog him to his senses, “I will report you to the police.” “Go ahead,” he sneered. “Do you think they will believe you or me?” The only thing I know that stopped the attempted rape was my silent prayers to God, because for no other reason that I can think of my perpetrator suddenly released me and left. I never talked to or saw him again after that. But if he is ever a candidate for a prominent position and I have the opportunity I would indeed speak up about his character as I remember it that evening.

Until this day, the only person I ever told about that incident was my best friend. I didn’t even tell my mother. Sadly, my confidant died a few years ago. I will always remember and appreciate when I telephoned him, in tears, and told him what had happened how supportive he was. “Report him to the police. Right now. I will go with you.” He said. I was a young, divorced mother of two, and as Dr. Ford said, “terrified” so I never reported the attempted sexual assault.

Because I didn’t report it, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. So for the holier-than-thou women and men who might be judging Dr. Ford (and other women in the me-too movement), I say this. Women do not forget things like that. Not in days, weeks, years, or decades. The terror of such an encounter never leaves you. So, if you are a woman or man standing in judgment, I pray that you are never a victim of an assault of any kind.

Whenever I hear about women, who have been assaulted and remained silent because they felt that they would not be believed I feel like crying.

Decades ago, one of my cousins was raped in her junior high school. My mother told me about the attack, and I’ve never forgotten that conversation. I was shocked that such a thing could happen inside a public school and more surprised that it could happen to someone I knew. At that time you didn’t hear about things like that occurring inside a school. Although my cousin and I are occasionally in touch, I have never mentioned it to her, but I do not doubt that she is still dealing with it. I will not name her here. If she chooses to tell about the incident, it is her story to tell, and I will leave that to her.

As Former Prosecutor, Cynthia Alksne said on MSNBC this morning, during a break in the hearing, “When you are the victim you remember the trauma.”

 

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Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

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“Politics makes strange bedfellows.” Charles Dudley Warner 

I am a huge fan of political programs. Although I realize that politics and political discussion is a lightening rod for some folks, sometimes I like to talk about it anyway with close friends and associates.

This morning I was watching “#AMJoy” on MSNBC. Host, Joy Reid, held a discussion with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Primarily, the topic concerned the refusal of the CBC to meet with 45 at the White House. Rep. Richmond stated that although some members of the caucus may meet with Trump individually, the caucus as a whole will not.

Citing that the CBC is working to address serious issues, Rep. Richmond said, “We don’t have time to be part of a social gathering and unorganized meeting with 50 or 60 people.” He further asserted that “the Trump administration has taken steps to hurt the black community.” Cuts in social programs and other obscured activities will not only encumber numerous black people, but programs beneficial to underprivileged and medium income people of all races are on the chopping block. Apparently, CBC members are concerned that a meeting at the White House would be nothing more than a disguised photo opportunity for 45.

Omarosa Magigault, the Big O in the White House aka Omarosa, accuses members of the CBC of “showboating.” Previously a contestant on Trump’s TV reality program “Apprentice” Omarosa now has a position in the White House and an official title as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. Far beyond the White House fence, some people view her simply as the HSICN (head sister in charge of nothing) put in place merely as a puppet to give the illusion that 45 desires to bridge a perceptible widening racial divide.

Although other black celebs, among them, Jim Brown, Bob Johnson, and Steve Harvey, have raised eye-brows and fallen into disfavor with some black people for meeting with Trump, none seem to incur as much ire as the Big O.

Omarosa alleges that by declining to meet with Trump, CBC leaders are ignoring their opportunity to address issues relevant to the black community. On the other hand, her adversaries disregard anything and everything that the Big O says. They see her merely as a fish out of water that, over time, flip-flopped from being a scheduler for Al Gore in the Clinton Administration to what one associate refers to as a “contemporary female version of Stepin Fetchit” in the White House.

Sometimes it’s best to avoid lightening strikes whenever possible.

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