Tag: Election

Never have I been so delighted to have my cynicism go unfulfilled

Spiking the postal service, sowing distrust, decades of gerrymandering, lawsuits to close and reducing polling locations, AND a global pandemic and this election broke participation records.

This doesn’t unmake damage, and it’s no substitute for the systemic work that needs to happen to live up to the promise of our national mythos. I’m still afraid of possible anger or disappointment turning to violence, I’m still not hopeful that the gridlock strategy won’t rear it’s horrible head again, I’m still convinced that the conservative pivot to “the debt ceiling” or whatever is going to give us all whiplash, and I’m certain that the incumbent administration can do a lot of damage on their way out. Hell, I’m not sure Don Jr. won’t announce his candidacy next week or something moronic.

I’m most afraid that a lot of (white, comfortable, middle class) people are going to think “Job done,” dust their hands, and go back to being complacent. Women’s marches, BLM marches, indigenous peoples marches, the active role in promoting not just petty fandoms but the democratic process…that needs to keep happening. We need people of all stripes to push for the world we want.

The thing about democracy is that you have to keep doing it.

But just for this weekend, in this incredibly exhausting and bonkers year, I’m just going to enjoy the many reminders that activism and civic engagement work.

Weekend Links

“…it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Every single person I have met or spoken to, in person or on the phone, has asked me to comment on election. In pitch meetings, in coffee shops, random markerters. It’s been surreal. Lots of conversations with lots of inspiring female friends have been good to process initial anger, writing has helped organize thoughts, and work has been good to keep things feeling normal. But the great takeaway for me this week is that voting isn’t enough and anger needs to be harnessed. I’m going to be speaking up more and more importantly looking for ways to act more for causes I care about and learn to be a better ally.

In the meantime, we’ll return you to mostly regularly scheduled topical content next week, pending any other major socio political shocks. But I’m sort of begging 2016 to give us a bit of a break for the holidays. This has been a rough year, universe!


Roxanne Gay says much of what I feel.

In a relatively recent conversation with a family member I opined that, for all I am strongly left leaning, I do not dismiss conservatism. I think there are intelligent and compelling cases to be made on a number of issues–none of which seemed present in this election cycle. I opined that the “elder statesmen” of the party seemed to have vanished and with them a range of skills and experience in politics, negotiation, and compromise necessary for the sake of more broadly accepted policy and collective governing (by which I mean republican democracy). I may be a liberal, but I do not cheer this: I find it dangerous. Hence I found this piece from just before the election worth reading. Curious to your opinions in the comments, kittens.

There were some cracks put in the ceiling, never fear.

Sharing one more time for good measure, because yikes.

Things are going to have to get awkward for a bit, kids. Buckle up and get to work.

Get inspired.

You also a bleeding heart liberal? Find some causes and donate. If you can’t give money, give time.

And finally, I’m willing to wait and work for it.

I would watch the heck out of “The Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean.”

So, this is apparently where the professional promised land is.

Planet Earth II has started here in the UK and this clip from the first episode is the stuff of inspiration/nightmares.

Ha! (h/t Savvy)

Finding some optimism in this medical story.


Thoughts on Echo Chambers

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
― Oscar Wilde

A few years ago, in the midst of a faith breakdown–by far the most personally painful experience of my life–I had a moment of realization. To take you through it I have to explain a few things.

First of all, you need to know that there is a vibrant online community focused on Mormonism and Mormon issues. It’s slang nickname is the Bloggernacle, a play on “tabernacle” which in the biblical stories was a portable worship place that was used by Israelites in the wilderness until a temple could be built. It’s significant to Mormons because there is also a building called the Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah where the church is headquartered, that functioned for well over 100 years as the faith’s most important meeting place. The Bloggernacle’s function was similar in that for decades now it has served as a sort of cyber meeting place for people across a wide spectrum of faith to debate and discuss and even privately disclose deeply personal matters of belief or the lack thereof.

Secondly you need to understand how diverse this group of platforms is. There are sites and messages boards on Reddit, standalone blogs and discussion forums, social media accounts, and more. Some of these are academic focused, some give tips on apocalyptic prep. Some are feminist platforms, some focus on Sunday School lessons. It’s vast and depending on your interests you will quickly be able to find a community of like-minded individuals who share your interests, potentially even your cosmic perspectives.

This was powerful stuff and truthfully, when I came across these platforms, I was so so happy to have found other people–lots of them–who had the same issues and concerns as me within our shared faith community. Gradually my wide ranging readership and participation in the Bloggernacle narrowed. I found the platforms that focused on the issues I cared about most and read them regularly. Topics or writers who didn’t interest me faded away or were purposefully set aside. It didn’t happen overnight, it took a couple of years and I barely noticed the shift.

It was a moment of energy in the Mormon Feminist community in particular and the women I had connected with (many of whom I knew in person by this point) were organizing events of solidarity or assembly. For a long time I was fed and sustained by the connections I found. But at some point, things started to change. Our mutual stories fed and activated one another in times of pain, but in hindsight I also see how reading and hearing the pain of other people often compounded my own in unhealthy ways. Empathy is vital, but in some ways I became masochistic, constantly seeking out news, the topics of which enraged me, but also seeking the relief of having my anger and confusion validated. This is also powerful stuff. Every time the church or the cultural community did something I badly disagreed with, I read about it over and over again, often to the exclusion of other news or events. Most of my friends were either involved in these groups or deeply sympathetic to them and our conversations were dominated by the problems of faith, lack thereof, feelings of disenfranchisement, questions of conscious, and often anger. I had created a cocoon space that existed of a very few (very draining) emotional feedback loops.

The realization that eventually hit was that living in and among only people who agreed with me and validated all my feelings (especially negative ones) was not making me happy.

When I woke to the fact that I was living within an echo chamber, I made a decision. I unsubscribed from all the platforms, stopped seeking out stories of actions and policies that made me angry. I stopped courting upset and validation. I tried to stop talking as much and actively tried to start listening more. I broadened my news outlets, reactivated interests that I had let slide, and pointedly stopped focusing on mormonism, for good and bad. I took a break. Shock surprise, a more complex and gratifying life and social circle immediately followed. My head cleared. I was able to make big decisions about my spiritual life from a a steadier and healthier place.

Why the long and rambling story? Because this week we have new and abundant evidence that the echo chambers that make up our society are everywhere and far more powerful than we might have thought. I managed to find a relatively small one in an even relatively smaller and obscure religion that took over my life. My YouTube and Amazon.com suggestions come from algorithms built on my past preferences. My social media feeds, far from being impartial are equally curated spaces, the extent of which I probably don’t even properly comprehend.

It’s increasingly clear that this election was not just about political parties, it was about two separate realities. Complete with different news feeds, priorities, fears, and worldviews. I count myself among the many who didn’t realize how deep the divide truly was, partially because of the echo chambers I myself still move in. Once again I need to stop seeking out platforms and people who validate me and my opinions and do better about finding not just opinions but facts that challenge my thinking, broaden my view, and complicate my world.

I don’t think our echo chambers are making us happier as a nation. Most of what I see  in our discourse is bitterness along the lines of, “Why can’t the poor deluded other side just get its head out of the sand and see the light?!” We have work to do in overcoming opinion and prejudice to find common cause. The alternative is continuing our poisonous gridlock, or worse.

The sobering part is just how hard separating facts and opinions has become. And just how many people and businesses are invested in blurring them.

To end on another quote:

“It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.”
― Aristotle

The Woman Card We’ve Been Dealt

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”
― Margaret Atwood

Still processing my thoughts, and I’m trying to stay classy about it but the honest to god first thought I had the morning after was, “Wow. America really doesn’t like women.” Do I mean everyone? Of course not. Do I mean explicitly? No. Next to no one in this country is running through the streets with “Down with women!” signs or stroking cats evilly in a dark room somewhere, contemplating wrapping us in burkas.

I mean that as a culture, women are often instinctively reacted to as unworthy of being believed, supported, or followed. From rape survivors and wage equality to work leadership and our own health and care, we are not considered trustworthy in making decisions, telling truths, or seeking advancement. Suspicion and wariness are often the default. Our narratives are questioned before they are listened to much less believed.


I did not vote for Secretary Clinton because she is a woman, though goodness knows I found the idea of the first female president breathtaking. I don’t think most people who voted against her did so because she is a woman. But I do think the culture and undercurrents about and towards women played a significant role in how she was perceived and treated by media, her opponents, and a lot of the electorate.

As women, almost every day, we see examples and stories of how our ambitions are threatening and (worse!) unattractive, our stories of victimization are suspect, those of us needing help are lazy or manipulative or moochers, our desires for control over our bodies are antagonistic or selfish, our expectations of work life balance are unreasonable, our emotions are unstable. We are not trusted. And I cannot help but see much of this inherent distrust in how Secretary Clinton was viewed and treated in this election. Her ambitions were unseemly, her cautiousness weak, her outspokenness offensive, her experience invalid, her whole candidacy insufficient and suspect.

Am I partisan? Yes. I have seen examples of sexism throughout my personal and professional life, and in the lives of women and girls I know and respect. These experiences of course inform my point of view and my politics.

But I don’t necessarily think that means I’m wrong.

*This post expanded on comments left on a Broadside post

Where Do We Go From Here?

“The private life of men of power isn’t what we expect, sometimes.”
He jerked up his chin. “People have some very odd illusions about power. Mostly it consists of finding a parade and nipping over to place yourself at the head of the band. Just as eloquence consists of persuading people of things they desperately want to believe. Demagoguery, I suppose, is eloquence sliding to some least moral energy level.” He smiled bleakly at his boot. “Pushing people uphill is one hell of a lot harder. You can break your heart, trying that.”
– Lois McMaster Bujold, Komarr

The Brexit vote was when I realized it was an actual possibility. Until that point I had dismissed him as ludicrous, a tangerine wannabe demagogue with absurd hair and even more absurd ambitions. After the vote I never discounted him again, but I didn’t think he’d win. He couldn’t. His language was so ugly, his platform xenophobic, his sexism proudly displayed instead of sheepishly passive, that I thought it would be his eventual downfall. Like so many people, I’ve been reeling to see how wrong I was.

The first words said to me by a Brit today, preceded by a cautious look, were, “My god. Your country.” I flinched.

My country, yes, but one that I don’t feel in particular harmony with at the moment. What Mr. Trump seems to have tapped into is very real and painful fear and resentment and I don’t dismiss that. If anything, I think the one thing his campaign should get some credit for is helping to reveal that we as a nation to not have our **** nearly together as we would like the rest of the world to think. We scratched our surface and found a lot of damage under what turned out to be a thin layer of gloss.

But even in spite of that I didn’t think he would win.

I’ve been very open about the fact that I found Mr. Trump’s campaign both ridiculous and repugnant. I am baffled at how a privileged seeming-narcissist, several times over a failed businessman who somehow apparently retains an obscene amount of money, a bully, a braggart, and self-proclaimed prophet of self-interest managed to convince anyone that he would be the champion and voice of the dispossessed. I don’t get it.

I am not particularly afraid of Donald Trump individually, indeed I’m wondering how he will find the office of the president in actuality vs. the perception of the office. History shows us that many men may covet thrones, but seldom do they covet the accompanying desks and paperwork. His temperament, crassness, impatience, utter lack of humility, and apparent inability to focus make him, in my opinion, imminently unsuitable for the role. I anticipate he will rely on a bevy of advisers for support, which is not unusual in and of itself until you review their CVs; these men (mostly speaking) and their self-avowed agendas do frighten me.

Whether out of genuine conviction or simply because they saw a way to leverage rage into power, or some poisonous mixture of both, these people who he has chosen to surround himself with (or have managed to surround him, I’m unsure which is the case) have stoked the fires of racial resentment and misogyny. They have purposefully fanned flames of mistrust so that even reputable facts and data is suspect or rejected if it does not support opinion. Science has been dismissed, minority groups targeted, women attacked. The jury is out on whether some have tried to wield the power of non-elected offices and positions of information privilege in a biased way.

I am baffled that so many of the same people who eight years ago decried then-Senator Obama’s “lack of experience” as disqualifying and his candidacy as divisive, are now lauding a reality TV personality who kicked off his campaign accusing a whole community of being druggies and rapists–before going on to mock or attack the disabled, veterans, PoC, women…basically every facet of the population besides white men. I think a lot of people have been sold several ideas in this election (walls, unconstitutional religious tests, sweeping statements of action that exceed the limits of the office) that will likely never come to be. I wonder if the anger will eventually turn back against the hand that has fed it when these promises don’t materialize. I wonder if only promises would have proved be enough to calm fears of and resentment against a changing world. I wonder which is ultimately worse.

Brexit was only one side of this. Mr. Trump’s victory is just another. There is a rising tide of nationalism, xenophobia, and rabid fear of a world that is getting smaller and closer all the time. This tide is what I am afraid of. Intensely. But even seeing that this is the big picture, the election feels deeply and painfully personal to me.

My country has followed the election of its first black president with the election of a man who has been endorsed by the KKK.

The glass ceiling remains. My country would rather see a man elected who incites violence, speaks in racial dog whistles, lies outright without shame, and brags about sexual assault among other misogynistic speech, than a woman.

My country is divided. Mr. Trump has run a campaign of disenfranchisement and divisiveness and now has to bring a country together. Good luck. Both political parties have engaged in intense partisan rhetoric and actions over the last decade, but my opinion is that the right has invested far more in fanning fears and resentments in an effort to win back power. They have actively engaged in rabble rousing and now the rabble is roused. Anger may be vindicated, but I don’t believe it will simply go quietly away.

We’ve elected a reality TV personality. That’s humiliating. Politics and entertainment have long been mixed, but this is downright dystopian.

I’m disheartened. I’m afraid for the implications for the LGBT community, existing legal rights for women including abortion, minority communities, and others.

I genuinely thought the power of fear, distrust, and any number of -isms, was weaker than it is proving to be in my eyes. I believed my country looked different, thought differently than it is proving to do. I will answer calls for unity, I will take Secretary Clinton’s gracious concession speech words to heart, that “fighting for what is right is always worth it.”

But I am tired. I am disappointed. And I don’t think the problems raised (and in many cases purposefully manipulated) in this election are resolved.

On Notice

“The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones.”
~Gabirol (Solomon ben Yehuda ibn Gabirol), The Choice of Pearls

It may be true that the general attitude of Small Dog Enterprises is, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me,” but today I’m calling it, minions.

Calm it the hell down.

The ridiculous political hyperbole, predictions about the end of the society/religion/freedom/whatever, slimy gloating over a rival’s defeat, threats to move to another county/state/country, and especially the nasty comments calling for overthrow, revolution, and apparently the death of not a few elected individuals (shame on you!), all make the problems we face worse.

Knock it off.

Stop trying to out scream the opposite of whatever team you’re on and express a little patriotism and loyalty.  Commit to continuing to make your voice heard in the political process and stop calling each other Fascist/baby killing/Socialists or illiterate/uninformed/hate mongers.  Constructive criticism is welcomed, well thought out reflections are encouraged – claiming the world is ending is not.  Honestly, people, a little objective perspective, please!

Minions failing to comply immediately will be sacked.  Aunty C. stayed up very late last night and woke to find a lot of nastiness swarming through her various circles (some of it directed at her) and she is in the mood to disinherit a few people.  She also hasn’t had her tea or a very filling breakfast, which as you know has lead to various unfortunate episodes in the past.

Anarchy! or Political Process!

Don’t you Remember,
The Fifth of November,
‘Twas Gunpowder Treason Day,
I let off my gun,
And made’em all run.
And Stole all their Bonfire away.
– English Bonfire Day Ballad (1742)

English minions should have spent yesterday indulging in some harmless arson to commemorate the preservation of Parliament (at least the Lords) and the failure of an assassination plot against the king.

American minions are forbidden from following their English friends in arson of any kind today, no matter how high tensions get.

And can we just have a moment to appreciate that she’s nailing that sign with a gun? It was a simpler time, kittens.


Know Nothing. Party [Repost]

C.’s Quick Translation for Online Oppinuendo on The Election

You liberal/conservative idiot! : I respectfully disagree with you.

Don’t you have a brain?! : I respectfully disagree with you.

The Republicans/Democrats are out of touch with the American people! Down with them! Drag them into the streets! : Rep-R/Rep-D voted against my personal opinion!

Obama is the Antichrist! : I’m conservative.

Obama is the Messiah! : I’m liberal.

Stop making asinine comments! : I have weighed and measured such information as I have found, and I now find myself on the other side of the aisle from you.

You socialist nazi! : I respectfully disagree with you.

You conservative nazi! : I respectfully disagree with you.

This is a choice between good and evil! : This is a choice between political ideologies, about which I feel very strongly.

It’s unconstitutional! : It personally offends my sensibilities.

I can’t even begin to tackle your logical fallacies! : I refuse to attempt to see things from your liberal/conservative point of view and prefer to argue.

Go ****/$$$$/@@@@/%%%% yourself! : I’m afraid we just can’t see eye to eye on this.

The End Times are coming! : I am seriously displeased with the turn of events.

I’m moving to Canada! : I am not actually moving to Canada despite ranting to the contrary for some time.

There, now you find yourself able to navigate the intricacies of Facebook, comment threads, and forum mudslinging. Take a few calm breaths to recharge and think of some withering profanities, and when you feel ready, charge back into the fray. Discussion doesn’t seem to be the name of the day, so feel free to bandy tired clichés back and forth, quote the pundits/talking heads in lieu of actual original thought, and mistake insults/gloating for a solution. Carry on!