You Voted For Trump, Would You Like Cranberry Sauce With That.

by Robert A. Mitchell

trump

 

11/30/16

Dear You Voted For Trump,

During our recent conversation at Thanksgiving you expressed to me a hope that I would return to a more thoughtful, articulate Bobby. Yes indeed during the night of the election a lot of my statements were less nuanced and subtle than usual. These words were typed in anger at the direction 62, 418, 820 people decided was great for this country. This election result will test this country, the constitution, the American people, and will also have many consequences for the entire world.

My knowledge that you decided to cast a vote for Donald J. Trump for President of the United States of America is a choice that deeply disappoints me.

For eighteen months we have all seen what this person has said and done on the campaign trail. His campaign was fueled by hate. Never once during the campaign did Mr. Trump speak out against the racism and the violence at his rallies. No, in fact Mr. Trump did the opposite. He encouraged it. One time shouting out to the crowd, “I’ll pay your legal bills.” His supporters attacked people with opposing views. Mr. Trump’s supporters hit people who were African-Americans in plain view of this Presidential candidate. Mr. Trump never denounced these acts.

As a man who has a daughter it frankly disgusts me that you voted for a man who said in dealing with women, “I just grab them by the pussy.” Let me repeat that. Donald J. Trump said, “I just grab them by the pussy.” As I have stated before and will reiterate here, my wife’s happiness, health and well-being is my number one priority in my life. As of November 9th, 2016 this country is less safe for women. The President-elect helped to bolster and embolden misogynists through his disgusting and reprehensible  attitude towards women of which he casually dismissed as “locker room” talk. Soon “locker room” talk shall become “White House” talk.

As a man who purports to have compassion for his fellow humans you have also voted for a man who adamantly made fun of a reporter who had disabilities.

As a man of religion your laissez-faire attitude of the purposed Muslim ban and registration deeply disturbs me. Freedom of religion. All religion is a tenet of this country. It seems to me that because it is not your religion that you are fine with this. Saying to me, “That hopefully something good will come of it.” This registration has happened in human history before. All we have to do is look at Germany in the 1930s. We all have knowledge of what happened there.

Last summer when we spoke about fundraising  you expressed to your daughter and I, that you did not feel right in asking for money when so many people need help. On that day you mentioned Syrian refugees. Well your vote for a Trump, Pence ticket was in direct opposition to that. Mr. Pence Governor of Indiana proposed to ban Syrian refugees from settling here in Indiana. These are refugees that have been legally admitted to live here in the United States. Refugees that many in the faith community had been working for years to help escape a war and live somewhere more peaceful. Now that Mr. Pence is going to be Vice-President of this country in several weeks it does not take a whole lot to extrapolate what this administration will do in regards to people trying to flee war torn countries.

As a man with grandchildren your vote for people who deny climate change is disappointing. 99% of the world’s scientists agree that climate change is real, the planet is warming up, the ice caps are melting at accelerated rates. Just yesterday it was announced about two-thirds of the 430-mile shallow-water coral reef off the coast of Australia is dead. Coral reefs are extremely important to the overall health of the planet. They support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including 4000 species of fish, 800 species of hard coral and hundreds of other species. Coral reefs buffer adjacent shorelines from wave action and erosion, property damage and loss of life. Globally half a billion people are estimated to live within 62 miles of coral reefs. As coastlines around the world disappear under water the cost of human, animal and environmental suffering will be catastrophic. We will see unprecedented migration for higher ground, food, and resources we have never as a species seen before. We are supposed to be caretakers of this planet.

“The three general principles of a Christian environmental ethic have practical implications for the role of people as caretakers or managers of the environment. The Bible teaches that as caretakers or managers of the environment, people are to practice good stewardship. The word “steward” and “stewardship” is used throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible (Gen. 15:2; 44:1; 1 Chron. 28:1; Matt. 20:8; 1 Cor. 4:2; Luke 12:42; 16:1-2). The word used for steward in the Bible can also be interpreted as manager or servant.

When the word for steward is used in the Bible, it refers to a person who is put in charge of taking care of something that does not belong to him or her. This meaning is consistent with the Webster’s Dictionary definition of a steward as “one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns.” As stewards of nature, people have been appointed by God to manage the “domestic environmental concerns” of our planet earth home.

According to the Bible, general characteristics and responsibilities of a steward include being faithful, wise and responsible. The steward should be concerned with meeting daily needs and is not to abuse or waste what he or she has been put in charge of managing. The steward is to maintain self-control (not overindulging), be a “problem-solver,” and follow the household or estate owner’s wishes and instructions with respect to use and management of what has been entrusted to his or her care (Luke 12:42-46; 16:1-9).

How are stewards held accountable according to the Bible? Proper management actions are rewarded with “true riches” (spiritual riches). Improper actions are punished (something is taken away). Stewards over more are held more accountable, especially if they do wrong when they know better (Luke 12:47-48; 16:10-12).” — From pathos.com

I do not know what your position on climate change is nor is that a concern because working towards more sustainable energy is good for the planet and good for jobs.

Here I shall quote Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I want you to know that I hear you. Even those of you who say renewable energy is a conspiracy. Even those who say climate change is a hoax.

 Even those of you who use four letter words. I’ve heard all of your questions, and now I have three questions for you. Let’s put climate change aside for a minute. In fact, let’s assume you’re right.

 First – do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution? That’s more than murders, suicides, and car accidents – combined.

 Every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from fossil fuels. Do you accept those deaths? Do you accept that children all over the world have to grow up breathing with inhalers?

 Now, my second question: do you believe coal and oil will be the fuels of the future?

 Besides the fact that fossil fuels destroy our lungs, everyone agrees that eventually they will run out. What’s your plan then?

 I, personally, want a plan. I don’t want to be like the last horse and buggy salesman who was holding out as cars took over the roads. I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged. That’s exactly what is going to happen to fossil fuels.

 A clean energy future is a wise investment, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either wrong, or lying. Either way, I wouldn’t take their investment advice.

Renewable energy is great for the economy, and you don’t have to take my word for it. California has some of the most revolutionary environmental laws in the United States, we get 40% of our power from renewables, and we are 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the country. We were an early-adopter of a clean energy future.

 Our economy has not suffered. In fact, our economy in California is growing faster than the U.S. economy. We lead the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech.

 I have a final question, and it will take some imagination.

There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.

 I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.

I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice – who would ever want to breathe those fumes?

 This is the choice the world is making right now.

 To use one of the four-letter words all of you commenters love, I don’t give a damn if you believe in climate change. I couldn’t care less if you’re concerned about temperatures rising or melting glaciers. It doesn’t matter to me which of us is right about the science.

 I just hope that you’ll join me in opening Door Number Two, to a smarter, cleaner, healthier, more profitable energy future.”

As a man with a child who has dedicated their entire life to education and is about to enter the job market this incoming administration has also begun to let it’s cards be shown by nominating Betsy DeVos who much like the President-elect has absolutely no experience in public education. Besty DeVos is a strong advocate of Charter Schools. We will see a systematic attack on education in this country. This is from a Washington Post article from May 20th, 2014 entitled: “A Dozen Problems With Charter Schools”

“1. Most are not helping kids. Rep. Roebuck’s new report shows that for the 2012-23 academic year, “the average SPP [School Performance Profile] score for traditional public schools was 77.1,” but for charter schools it was 66.4, and cyber-charter schools came in at a low 46.8. What’s more, “none of the 14 cyber charter schools had SPP scores over 70, considered the minimal level of academic success and 8 cyber charter schools had SPP scores below 50.” [Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Update, April 2014] The latest national research found that charter students in Pennsylvania cover 29 fewer days of reading material on average, and 50 fewer days of math than traditional public schools. That puts us in the bottom three states in the country. [Stanford CREDO, National Charter School Study 2013] If we’re going to have charter schools, shouldn’t they be helping students?

  1. Some are actually hurting kids. In a new report out last week, Gordon Lafer, a political economist at the University of Oregon, reviewed the growing low-budget-charter sector in Milwaukee, which has the oldest charter system in the country, and found startling results with national implications. Cost-cutting charters such as the Rocketship chain offer a narrow curriculum focused on little more than reading and math test prep, inexperienced teachers with high turnover, and “blended learning” products designed to enrich charter school board members’ investment portfolios. Lafer “questions why an educational model deemed substandard for more privileged suburban children is being so vigorously promoted—perhaps even forced—on poor children…” [Economic Policy Institute, 4-24-14] Others have pointed out significant problems with zero-tolerance, strict discipline charters made famous by the “no excuses” KIPP chain of schools. [EdWeek, 2-20-13]
  2. Far too many are cash cows. When Pennsylvania is seen by hedge fund managers as prime ground for “investment opportunities” in charter schools, you know something is terribly wrong. And when four of the top political campaign donors in the entire state are connected to charter schools, you have to start asking why. [See “Charters are Cash Cows”] Publicly funded schools should not be serving to line the pockets of private companies and individuals.
  3. The industry is rife with fraud and corruption. Who can forget the scheme by PA Cyber Charter founder Nicholas Trombetta, right here in Beaver County, to steal $1 million in public dollars? Federal investigators filed 11 fraud and tax conspiracy charges against him and indicted others in the case. [Post-Gazette, 8-24-13] And then there is the Urban Pathways Charter School in downtown Pittsburgh under FBI scrutiny for trying to spend Pennsylvania taxpayer money to build a school in Ohio. A related investigation by the state auditor general revealed a history of expensive restaurant meals, a posh staff retreat at Nemacolin Woodlands resort, and payments for mobile phones belonging to the spouses of board members. [Trib, 11-11-13] Not to be left out, Philadelphia just had its eighth charter school official plead guilty to federal fraud charges. [Philly.com, 2-10-14]
  4. Lack of transparency and accountability. Charter schools are publicly funded, but often act like private entities. Here in Pennsylvania, the largest charter school operator has been fighting a right-to-know request for years in the courts so that he doesn’t have to reveal his publicly funded salary (data that is publicly available for traditional public schools). In 2012, Gov. Corbett and the Republican controlled legislature tried to introduce a bill that would have exempted all charters from the state’s sunshine laws. [See “Where are the Real Republicans?”] In California, charter school operators have even argued in court that they are a private entity and should not be treated as a public institution. [Ed Week, 10-7-13] We desperately need charter reform legislation that emphasizes accountability and transparency, just as we demand from traditional public schools. [See the top 5 reasons the current proposed legislation fails to do both.]
  5. Skimming and weed-out strategies. Dr. Kevin Welner, professor of education policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has found that charter schools “can shape their student enrollment in surprising ways.” He has identified a “Dirty Dozen” methods used by charter schools “that often decrease the likelihood of students enrolling with a disfavored set of characteristics, such as students with special needs, those with low test scores, English learners, or students in poverty.” [NEPC Brief, 5-5-13] Think it’s not happening in Pennsylvania? Consider the Green Woods charter school in Philadelphia that made its application available to prospective families only one day per year, in hard copy form only, at a suburban country club not accessible by public transportation. [Newsworks, 9-12-12] When charter schools overtly, or even unconsciously, urge students to leave – for instance, by not offering services for special education students or English language learners – they send those students back to traditional public schools.
  6. Contribute to the re-segregation of U.S. education. For a number of years, researchers have noted the trend towards re-segregation in public education and the role that charters may be playing in that process. A recent report warns, “the proliferation of charter schools risks increasing current levels of segregation based on race, ethnicity, and income.” [Phi Delta Kappan, 2-2014] Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, of University of Texas at Austin, writes about some charter schools that claim they would like to be more diverse, but that it’s “hard to do.” He explains, “Charters have a choice whether they want to be racially and economically diverse schools that serve ELL, Special Education and low-SES kids. Based on the various admissions and management policies … charters choose their students, rather than families choosing their schools— in essence, school choice is charter schools choose.” [Cloaking Inequality, 11-11-13]

A pointed article in the Jacobin last summer took liberals to task for supporting charter schools while failing to fight underlying racism embedded in education: “Advocating charter schools to boost academic outcomes for poor, minority kids presumes that we can provide equal educational opportunity and simultaneously maintain a status quo of segregated housing and schooling. If you are unwilling to wage the unpopular fight for residential and school integration and equalized (and adequate) school funding, charter schools can seem a “good enough” compromise.” [Jacobin, 7-31-13]

  1. Drain resources from struggling districts. Charter tuition payments are causing a huge financial drain for many districts – $53 million in Pittsburgh this academic year alone. With the state’s massive defunding of public schools, Governor Tom Corbett slashed reimbursement to districts for charter school tuition payments: that cost Pittsburgh $14.8 million in 2012 and continues to cause mounting financial harm. [See “Charter Reform Now”] And remember, when a couple students leave a classroom to attend a charter school, that classroom still has to keep the lights on, and pay the teacher and the heating bill: the math is not a simple moving of dollars from one place to another. What’s more, there is evidence that charters, especially cyber charters, are enrolling more students who were previously home-schooled, thus increasing costs for school districts. [NCSPE Brief on Cyber and Home School Charter Schools]
  1. Closing traditional public schools. Some of the biggest charter school supporters are simultaneously working to close traditional public schools. For instance, a New York Times article this week on the Walton Family Foundation reported that it “gave $478,380 to a fund affiliated with the Chicago public schools to help officials conduct community meetings to discuss their plan to close more than 50 schools at a time when charters were expanding in the city.” [New York Times, 4-26-14] In Philadelphia, charter school proponents have succeeded in getting new charter schools opened while waves of traditional public schools have closed. This year, parents in some schools are being forced to choose between conversion to a charter school, with additional resources for their kids, or staying a traditional public school and losing resources. [Philly.com, 3-13-14]

While Pittsburgh has resisted any large scale opening of new charter schools, the state is now forcing the district to approve new charters, even as it is slashing the budget and promising more school closures. [See “When Charters Cause Harm”] Under state law, districts are not permitted to take into account their own financial situation when approving new charter schools, which means that charter expansion cannot be a rational part of an overall strategic plan.

  1. Lack of innovation. Charter schools were meant to be “innovation labs” to test out new ideas and introduce those ideas into the traditional public school system. But that is not happening. We’ve had charter schools in Pennsylvania for 15 years, so where is all this innovation that should be showing up in all of our schools by now? Supporters of the highly problematic Senate Bill 1085 wish to strip the innovation clause out of state law, which is the last thing we should be doing. [See “Top 5 Reasons to Oppose SB 1085”] We need to find ways for the best charter schools to work collaboratively with school districts so that all students benefit.
  2. Hard to get rid of the bad ones. Poor performing charter schools do not just go away. Half of all brick-and-mortar charter schools have been around now for over ten years. But Rep. Roebuck’s new report finds that “their results do not significantly improve the longer that a charter school has been open. … Unfortunately, for 2012 – 2013, a majority, 51 percent of the charter school open 10 years or more have SPP scores below 70 [considered the minimal acceptable score].” The report concludes, “these results are not encouraging and it raises concerns about renewing many charters with poor performance over so many years.” [Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Update, April 2014]
  3. Charters promote “choice” as solution. I’m not convinced we simply need more “choices” in public education. We do need great public schools in every community (that doesn’t mean in every single neighborhood), that any parent would be happy to send their children to, and that meet the needs of local families. We don’t really have any choice at all if our local public school is not a high quality option. The idea of “choice” is very American, but it’s also at the heart of modern neo-liberalism; free market ideology has turned parents into consumers, rather than public citizens participating in a common good. Markets do a fine job making stuff and selling it. But they also create extreme inequality, with winners and losers. [See “The Problem with Choice”] Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge any family that makes the personal choice to send their child to any school, whether private, religious, charter, or magnet. I’m not advocating getting rid of choices. But I’d be a lot happier if charter advocates stopped using “choice” to promote these schools. Choice alone doesn’t guarantee quality and it hasn’t solved the larger problems facing public education.”

I have recently become a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. (A.C.L.U.) and I have shared posts of theirs in which they have stated that if President-elect Trump violates the constitution and civil rights of Americans that they are ready and prepared to sue. Perhaps that is what you were referencing when you mentioned to me Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving that we should not be talking about suing people. I would also say to you that the person you voted for has sued many, many people and has threatened to sue his entire time during the campaign. Most recently he settled out of court in the Trump University case. In which he ran a fraudulent university that bilked people out of 125 million dollars. A case in which he settled out of court for 25 million dollars thereby profiting a hundred million in fraud.” Perhaps this is a testament of Mr. Trump’s business acumen.

As I have heard you and many others say “We will survive this.” Well, we should not have to survive a Presidency. And yes you and I will very probably “survive this”. As two white men in this country we shall do quite well. However me being an immigrant, well we shall see. There are people that are saying people who are protesting and openly challenging this incoming administration are being alarmists, sore losers, hypocrites because of the concerns that Donald J. Trump would not accept the election results if he lost. To that I will unequivocally state, “No”. Many are marginalized people who have been threatened and attacked this entire election cycle by the very man who is about to become President and by many of his supporters. We have all seen the amount of hate being perpetrated and the many acts of hate graffiti that are taking place across the entire country. Taking to the streets is a defiant and a “grandiose” way of showing unity and strength for some people who do not feel neither equal nor strong at the moment.

I have followed politics very closely for going on thirty years. I have read the extremists’ members of the G.O.P. speak and articulate their thoughts and beliefs during these decades. We are now on the verge of witnessing this extremist agenda beginning in the next several weeks. Another tax cut for the rich, dismantling government services such as Medicaid, Medicare and education services. A further proliferation of the attack on the natural resources of this planet. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be another march to war.

As for as myself, yes, I am guilty of making blanket statements towards people who voted for Trump. Most notably that people who voted for Trump also voted for racism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia. This is indeed a fact. I own these statements and am always ready to speak as to my reasons why. You cannot cherry pick some things you like about Mr. Trump and blindly disregard the others. One thing I will give the Trump campaign, he never hid any of his inner thoughts. To move forward you must connect these dots and fully realize that your vote for Mr. Trump was also a vote for racism, misogyny and xenophobia. All of this being said I fully realize that not everyone who voted for Mr. Trump is a racist, hates women or immigrants and refugees. However if being lumped in the same category of people who hold these ideals bothers you and hurts your feelings than you should do some introspection. A vote for Trump supports all of this. Mr. Trump’s current cabinet picks are being filled by known racists. Steve Bannon who was instrumental in a long campaign of sheer hate and vitriol towards women in a movement that was dubbed “Gamergate”. Mr. Bannon has published many, many articles of hate towards African-Americans and other minorities as executive chair of Breitbart news. Another notable cabinet selection was Jeff Sessions a known racist who former colleagues testified under oath that Mr. Sessions has used the “N-word” many times and also has said that the KKK was okay. Hate is hate is hate is hate.

I felt during our recent conversation that I was patronized for my anger and that as someone that is angry that I cannot maintain rational thought. You brought up mutual people that know both you and I and that these people where asking, “What’s up with Bobby?” as perhaps as a way to guilt me into silencing myself. That being said, I will never acquiesce, subjugate nor silence myself. Not now, not ever. At this point in this countries history more than ever dissent must happen and must be protected. Dissent does not mean a call to arms, or war but to keep questioning and challenging our elected officials. Be it phone calls to Senators, volunteering, a protest march, voting with your wallet, knocking on doors for political candidates, giving money to worthwhile organizations. Mr. Trump brings an enormous amount of conflict of interest to the Presidency. He is also a pathological liar. Now more than ever requires critical thinking.

“No harm ever came from overestimating the danger of a political situation. Whole civilizations have been lost from underestimating it.” – Hannah Arendt in her book The Origin of Totalitarianism

We are all human and being human we are not perfect and we falter. As a man who purports to be of certain ideals you threw them away on this vote. That being said I am ready to move past your recent choice of who you wanted to be President of this country. Albeit with a caveat. Are you ready to stand up and be on the side of justice for all? To help protect the vulnerable who will be facing insurmountable challenges such as when health care is being dismantled and taken away. When people are being rounded up and families being split up? Are you going to stand up to the hate that is all around us. When the next march to war begins? It is very easy to talk the talk. As you and I can attest to it can be extremely difficult to walk the walk. I look forward to walking alongside you. You have professed to a love of people, compassion and to be charitable. As someone who directly speaks to many youth on any given day you have an esteemed place that not everyone has. These kids look up to you. I have seen it. For their sake and the sake of your kids and grand kids do not let them down.

Sincerely,

Robert Mitchell

bobby

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