I've always liked to ride around in the country, but these days it has just gotten so ugly with hate that it's difficult to enjoy. Trump signs are everywhere, proudly advertising the homeowner's hatred of all things humanity has ever considered decent and proper. Most are not so open as the one above. Their signs are understated red, white and blue. But beneath that facade, they … [Read More...] about A few minor observations about Trump supporters in the rural midwest
That’s a question I get a lot from people who know me, as I am not generally the flag waving type, and am definitely not some kind of conservative Democrat or middle-of-the-road roadkill.
I believe that adopting the flag and using it as a symbol of social democratic values is the best strategy for achieving social democratic goals. The current BLM and anti-fascist demonstrations in Portland and other cities are perfect examples. Just imagine if all those videos of police attacking innocent people were attacking innocent people carrying American flags. The optics would be devastating for the Republicans. But no, all too many to the left of the establishment Democrats go out of their way to show contempt for the flag, and that hurts our cause, turning a winning movement into a losing one.
I know a lot of us on the left are not into patriotic symbolism. We are fundamentally patriotic and recent events have shown that we are far more patriotic than the Republicans who actively work with, or at least turn a blind eye, to the Russians who are undermining our national security, destroying our democracy, and murdering our troops in Afghanistan.
The problem, as with most of the Democrats problems, is an abject failure of communications. Democrats, particularly those on the left, have let the Republicans, particularly the far right Republicans, co-opt the symbolism of the flag, turning it into a nationalist symbol with little or know connection to the concepts of freedom and responsibility derived from our founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
It would be a simple thing to take it back, and that is an important strategy for taking back the government and the courts.
That’s why I use a red, white, and blue color scheme on my website, and wore a flag pin when I was campaigning for Congress. The flag symbolizes what I want it to symbolize. Not what a bunch of fascists want it to symbolize.
Donald Trump’s Covid-19 treatment was developed from aborted fetal tissue. The silence from the phone “Christian” anti-abortion Republicans tells you all you need to know about their true beliefs about abortion. It’s just something they use for their own personal and political gain.
Yet somehow, the Democrats cannot communicate this truth. I really don’t get it.
I’ve always liked to ride around in the country, but these days it has just gotten so ugly with hate that it’s difficult to enjoy. Trump signs are everywhere, proudly advertising the homeowner’s hatred of all things humanity has ever considered decent and proper. Most are not so open as the one above. Their signs are understated red, white and blue. But beneath that facade, they are little or no different than the above photo. Hatred, hatred of American values, of any kind of religious values, of decent values by any standard. There is a terrible moral crisis in rural America.
But this reality I see when riding around in the country (both these photos are from Posey County, and not far apart) is much different than what is reported in the national, or even the local, media. Nearly all the Trump signs are in the front yards of the wealthier residents. They are very few and far between in working class yards. No, the typical anti-American Trump loyalist is not the guy you see on the news in camo carrying an AR-15, he is a grey haired old man, living well off his pension, his healthcare taken care of by the government. The younger working class is nowhere near as stupid as they are portrayed. The old people, well, so many of them have become a national disgrace.
But as the picture below of grafitti under a rural railroad bridge shows, not all country people have been brainwashed into imbecility. There are still young people who understand what is happening, and rebel against the old hypocrites who preach one thing and then do something entirely different. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there is hope for the future, but rurality is much different than portrayed on TV.
Some facts about our quality of life compared to the rest of the world from Nicholas Kristof’s column in the NYT…
“…out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s.” Note those are the three countries ruled by the most ridiculous right wing buffoons.
“The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.”
“The United States ranks No. 1 in the world in quality of universities, but No. 91 in access to quality basic education. The U.S. leads the world in medical technology, yet we are No. 97 in access to quality health care.”
“The Social Progress Index finds that Americans have health statistics similar to those of people in Chile, Jordan and Albania, while kids in the United States get an education roughly on par with what children get in Uzbekistan and Mongolia. A majority of countries have lower homicide rates, and most other advanced countries have lower traffic fatality rates and better sanitation and internet access.”
And so on.
And all the lies and rah-rah bullshit in the world isn’t going to change the trajectory. Facing the truth is the only place to start.
As you may know, I am a strong proponent of solar energy. I think we should be putting solar panels on every home and business, not just to help save human life on the planet, but also to create jobs and foster innovation. But this article in Mother Jones shines light on a negative aspect of solar panels. They don’t last, and when they die, they become toxic waste.
“‘Solar panels are an increasingly important source of renewable power that will play an essential role in fighting climate change. They are also complex pieces of technology that become big, bulky sheets of electronic waste at the end of their lives—and right now, most of the world doesn’t have a plan for dealing with that.”
But all is not lost. Some countries are aware of the problem and are out in front dealing with it:
“Under EU law, producers are required to ensure their solar panels are recycled properly. In Japan, India, and Australia, recycling requirements are in the works.”
Unfortunately, as with so many things happening, or not, in these dark days of Republican rule by the corrupt and incompetent, the United States is the slow kid in the class:
“In the United States, it’s the Wild West: With the exception of a state law in Washington, the US has no solar recycling mandates whatsoever. Voluntary, industry-led recycling efforts are limited in scope. “Right now, we’re pretty confident the number is around 10 percent of solar panels recycled,” said Sam Vanderhoof, the CEO of Recycle PV Solar.”
Often with great challenges come great opportunities. Global warming is the greatest challenge ever faced by humanity. We have the opportunity to slow it, and even possibly to make the world a better place, at least in some ways. Yet Republicans are dedicated to making it worse, squeezing every last dollar out of fossil fuels, which will cost us so much more when the real bills come due.
On August 17, Germany (population 80 million) had 2900 new cases and 11 new deaths. Meanwhile, Indiana (population less than 7 million) had 840 new positive results and 16 new deaths. Hmmm, something about those statistics suggests there might be a bit more testing going on in Germany than here in Indiana.
For a more local perspective, Vanderburgh County (pop. 181,000) had 22 cases and 1 death while China (pop 1.6 billion) had 54 new cases and 2 new deaths.
Click to read a fascinating (and long) article from the New Yorker that details an American writing teacher’s experiences during the pandemic in China. I’m not putting it out there as any kind of “we should be doing this or that” recommendation, but it’s very interesting to see how different their approaches are to ours.
Via the Guardian: “The Italian government (Italy: population 60 million )has decided to close all discos in the country and to make mandatory wearing masks in outdoor public spaces where it is not possible to practice social distancing… The fear of a new lockdown has begun to spread among Italians, as the country registered 479 new cases and 4 deaths on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, here in Indiana (population 6.5 million) on Friday we had 1085 new cases and 5 deaths and we are re-opening schools and looking forward to fall football.
When this is all over, it will be interesting to see which people’s are most devastated by the Covid epidemic: Those who listened to the science and got it under control, or those like the U.S. that failed miserably and let it run rampant.