An Open Letter to my Republican Friends

Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey by DonkeyHotey

I grew up in that swing state.

I went to University in a red state (North Carolina).
I have lived in five states across our union and have laughed at the dinner tables of atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus alike. We debated whether a black man was electable; sent each other holiday cards in distance locations, and most of all, we listened. To each other. To others. We may have disagreed with the other side but we didn’t hate or ridicule or humiliate them.
I’ve been an expat now for ten years. So maybe this is why I find what I’m seeing online and hearing on TV incomprehensible.
Maybe it isn’t the Republican or Democratic parties that need changing. Maybe it’s me.
I want to know, especially from my Republican friends (if they’re still talking to me, a liberal independent): do you think it’s okay for everyone – particularly an aspiring leader – to spout racist epithets on international media? And please help me understand how “speaking your mind” without a filter is a qualification for leadership. In that case, as we know, due to my signature bluntness, I’m candidate number one!
Remind me when we decided it was okay to fabricate videos and rumors about non profit agencies that give vital medical services to women because we don’t agree with some of the procedures?
And while we’re at it, don’t our elected leaders have an obligation to fill an opening in one of the highest courts in the land? Or will we let them shirk their duties because they think it can wait?
What, in short, is going on with our country?
Please explain to me how any of this counts as democracy. Because from where I stand, fear mongering and a desire for power are making would be leaders out of people rapidly becoming experts at how to issue farcical sound bites.
In the America I remember, the one I made my second home, the one my immigrant parents eagerly sought out as a place of intelligence and opportunity, someone like that would have disappeared years ago, long before “Super Tuesday.”
But maybe, as they say, my memory is faulty. And were I to come home now, there would be no trace of the place or people I remember.
PS: Please let’s not blame the media. After all, don’t they show what their audience wants to see?

How to Get Rid of Political Dynasties

hilaryBefore typing the title for this blog post, I had not noticed that the word dynasty has the word “nasty” in it. Don’t get me wrong. I was excited and warmed by the Hillary for America video in which Ms. Clinton announced her intention to run for office.
Ah, America, the bastion of liberal democracy, who has yet to vote in a female chief. How ironic that EIGHT Muslim countries (including Pakistan and Bangladesh) who did so decades ago. Perhaps we are finally going to have a female president. Hilary is an amazing candidate.

In this announcement video we saw none of the entitlement in her 2008 run-off. “I’m going to work for your vote,” she says with a sparkly smile. Yes, this is more of the tone we want to see not the anger against an upstart young senator.

And yet the fact that this next election may come down to two candidates from two political families, the Clintons versus the Bushes, chills me.

We are faced with the wife of one president and the son/brother of two others.

The 2008 and 2012 elections were vituperative, drawing deep gouges between families, friends, and co-workers.

The 2016 election is going to be an all out war. Brace yourselves world. You haven’t seen a battle like this one.

On November 7 We Go Back to Pretending


2008 was a traumatic year for me. During that election season the veneer of civility was ripped off American politics and society. Republicans and Democrats showcased our worst fears to the world. As a brown person in a black and white polarized political sphere, I wanted to run and hide.

Conservatives were afraid that with a black president their interests would not be represented.

Liberals were afraid that another election would be stolen by the electoral college.

Perhaps there is no way to encourage a true democracy in a two party system. Maybe the only outcome is partisanship.

In our fear, we turned on each other. There’s a reason it’s called the White House some t-shirts said. Obama supporters were accused of resorting to race to end any argument. Social media made it worse: people, my friends, on Facebook and Twitter revealed how deep the divide was. We held our collective breath.

When the young Obama family addressed the nation from Grant Park, I gave a sigh of relief. The vitriol was over. He proved that yes, a determined group of people could make voting history. We all went back to our daily lives, smiling, pretending as though the racial, social, and fiscal concerns we had painted onto the two candidates had vanished.

Reading my Twitter stream in 2012, I’m inĀ  time warp. Only this time the rhetoric has – incredibly – increased in viciousness. What’s our boy president done today? Someone from a self-identified rightist group tweeted. I’ll spare your our exchange. The fact that the person used ‘boy’ a term with historical significance dating back to slavery and lasting into the Jim Crow era to describe a sitting president confirmed for me that we are not finished with the underlying issues of the first presidential campaign.

I don’t mind talking about issues — I want to talk about the issues. Let’s talk about drone strikes or bailing out banks or why Guantanamo is still open.

Let’s stop insulting one another. Because like or not, whether it’s Romney or Obama on November 6th, on Wednesday, November 7th, we all still have to live together.


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