No Thank You, Trump America

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It was quiet in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC on election night.

It saddens me to see so much racism and bigotry erupt within days of Donald Trump’s election. Even more disgusting is the way Washington insiders and business luminaries, people who fought so hard against Trump, have flip flopped and suddenly support his presidency, essentially ignoring the intense xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny we have witnessed over the past year. Of course, these people have political and business interests at stake.

I do not. Even if I did have interests at stake, I would not sacrifice my principles and would continue to fight Trump.

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A woman texts and clutches the fence separating the White House and Lafayette Park on election night.

And yet Trumpers say, Give him a chance. We must come together and support him, they say. Worse, some are insistent that people should not protest.

No thank you, Trump America.

Though Trumpers keep trying to stymie public dissatisfaction with the election, more and more protests break out. And with good reason. Telling people to be silent and endure is the beginning of a fascist state. Silence the opposition, and force them to get in line.

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No thank you, Trump America.

I have experienced similar push back every time I have published a photo from election night or a protest photo depicting a scene that is not pro-Trump. The below photo received an extra amount of angst and misogyny on Instagram and in a private Facebook group. In other cases I have been trolled online by pro-Trumpers telling me to move to a different country, or shut up, or to read the bible, or some other form of bullying.

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In all cases I have simply deleted their comments. This is not dialogue, this is more xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny. It borders on fascism and violates protesters’ civil rights.

Not My President

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A despondent woman outside of the White House on election night.

This hateful orange buffoon now elected president is someone I must suffer. The acts of the people he has inspired are Deplorable. I will not give him an open mind because he has given me enough data to make a conclusive decision about his character. He is not my president.

It is unfortunate that so many Americans felt this disenfranchised that they were desperate enough to take this risk on. Our political parties were so weak that they could not come together and meet our country’s needs.

But Trump is a liar. He has lied about bringing back manufacturing jobs, building the wall, kicking out immigrants, and making fat cats like himself pay more taxes. Even if the Trump risk pays off — which it won’t — the impact on civil liberties will create a dark stain on America’s fiber for decades.

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Protest in San Antonio.

After all of Donald Trump’s behavior and deceitful acts over the past year, and continuing lies and backtracking, he needs to earn my respect, not the other way around. His election has destroyed the prestige of the Presidency. Until he behaves his way into a more mindful and respectful disposition for a significant period of time, I will continue to assess Trump as a dangerous narcissist that hoodwinked America.

At the same time, he will be in power for four years. It is what it is. My best recourse is to fight for the protection of civil liberties, and continue to actively seek new and better politicians than what either party is currently offering.

We Must Be Vigilant

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San Antonio protesters.

When George W. Bush won the oval office there was unease in Washington, but things settled in relatively quickly. Then 9-11 hit, and the rest was history. By the time Iraq occurred any pushback against W. was labelled as Un-American, Liberal, or Un-Patriotic. Eventually people became outspoken in spite of W.

Donald Trump and his presidency do not deserve the opportunity that W. got. I have seen more swastikas in the past week than I have in the past decade. I have seen more reports of hate crimes in the past week than I have in the past year, and that’s in spite of Trump’s caustic presidential campaign and the many reports of police violence against African Americans.

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Protest in front of the White House on election night.

Islamic Americans are wondering if it is their turn to flee. Mexican Americans — some who have been here for generations — and other Latin American immigrants — legal and illegal — fear the potential impact on their lives. Women wonder if they will have to fight off pimply white males assaulting them. On and on it goes. It is time to stand up to hate crime at every opportunity.

Trump and that small group of supporters who are using this election as an endorsement of xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny cannot be given mulligan after mulligan. We will lose everything that makes America free and inclusive if we allow that to happen.

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Two men waiting for a Hillary party that never happened in front of the White House.

A word of caution to those who disagree with Trump: We cannot fight hate with hate. Violence destroys the message. Protestors have invoked the swastika as a method of protesting against Trump. I have been the subject of persecution in my past. My relatives in Europe flee-ed the Nazi threat. This is not a casual reference. In fact, it is a hurtful one, one that inspires as much fear and hate in protest as it seeks to combat. The more mindful we can be about our use of symbolism, the more impactful our message will be.

We must say no, we must raise our voice, but we have to take on the principles of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Peaceful protest is the way. We cannot hurt others to save ourselves. This is something that we must repeat over and over again. Civil disobedience must invoke peaceful change.

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Protest in San Antonio.

Given the amount of vitriol I have already received from hateful pro-Trump supporters, I have closed comments on this blog post. Please continue the conversation with me on social networks.

Invoking Reagan

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Yesterday marked the end of the Ted Cruz presidential campaign. Colleagues and peers did like Cruz, a self branded Constitutional conservative who liked to compare himself to Ronald Reagan (President #40). What a misnomer.

In fact, almost every one of the Republican candidates has invoked Ronald Reagan’s name in attempt to shine some luster on their campaign. It kind of makes sense. After all, Reagan was the last successful two-term Republican president to leave office on good terms.

George W. Bush (#43) did not fare so well, no matter what Marco Rubio would have the public believe. No, Reagan represents the most recent Golden Age of the Republican Party, not only healing the wounds of the Nixon presidency (#37, another two-term GOP president), but also ushering in the Bush presidencies with his Vice President and next President George H. W. Bush (#41).

But the reality of yesteryear does not match the off-putting tea party citing of the Reagan presidency. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner said it best this past weekend, “I love all these knuckleheads talking about the party of Reagan. He would be the most moderate Republican elected today.”

The Tea Party’s Moderation Problem

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Therein lies the problem with today’s Tea Party party. You have conservatives comparing themselves to a successful moderate Republican, but they refuse to tolerate or compromise to achieve any kind of policy movement.

If there was anyone who understood the art of the deal, it was Reagan. As has been oft-documented Reagan — like Obama — had an opposing Congress, a Democratic one. But unlike today’s hardline Tea-Party driven conservative Republican Congress, the Democrats under the stewardship of House Speaker Tip O’Neill would often work out a deal with Reagan.

That very essence of working together is something Ted Cruz could never get. We’re talking about the guy who shut down the government to make a point about ObamaCare, one he knew he could never win.

Yet, Cruz is not alone. Shunning moderates has become the normal course of action for the conservative Republican movement. Anyone who hangs their hat on being a moderate finds themselves cajoled as a liberal, and so you have moderate Republicans hiding in the hallways, losing influence, or simply turning their coats.

No, the coalition building of today’s Republican Party is one of fear, and there is very little about it that reminds one of Reagan. John Kasich remains the one traditional Republican moderate in the race, but he didn’t and still doesn’t have a snowball chance in hell when you consider Donald Trump’s growing strength.

Trump and Clinton

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Unfortunately for the Republicans, the promise of Reagan didn’t meet the reality of the conservative movement’s absolutism. That’s why Trump has won the ticket, and that’s why many Republicans stand to lose power this coming election.

The Republican party failure hurts America, in my opinion. The alternatives are not great. When you look at the Democrats you have Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In the case of Sanders, we have a delusional old man pandering to young people with unachievable campaign promises. The Vermont Senator is an impractical idealist who has little understanding of baseline economics, nor does he understand the damage he is doing to his own party.

The presumptive nominee for the Democrats Hillary Clinton may be as unlikeable as Ted Cruz. Her politics have become increasing liberal, and that may be moderate a moving to the left to secure her nomination. Certainly, that would be a career politician’s move, but you can’t deny that Hillary Clinton has serious flaws, some with a certain air of corruption to them.

The moderate voter now faces a Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, unless something miraculous happens that benefits either Bernie Sanders or John Kasich. That’s too bad. Trump is wild and violent, and Clinton is uninspiring and shady.

P.S. My Politics

Because of the tendency to brand anyone who criticizes the Republican party as a liberal, I would like to state my politics here. I am a former Republican who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, and am now registered as a Democrat. I intend to re-register as an Independent for this presidential election, because it is clear to me that neither party represents my moderate values.

The Transparency Failure

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Transparency was the ideal of the social media age in its apex. But as the years have marched on, we have seen that society is not ready for transparency.

Life as an open book is uncomfortable.

When we see open human nature, we punish people for it, hold them accountable for oddities, and for breaking social norms. Or worse, those naked conversations turn into dinner room and Sunday phone call lectures with parents. Bosses and HR engage in brand control. Spouses get jealous when they see conversations with colleagues and friends.

Let us not discount what happens when every action becomes catalogued within the corporate world’s marketing databases. Retargeted precision spamming happens in earnest.

We have seen ourselves — humanity — for what it is, and we became punitive. As posters, we have become self conscious. We let companies exploit our actions. And now when it comes to those naked conversations more often than not we say, “No, thank you.”

The reality of transparency is that human beings — all of us — are very flawed. We’re not ready to see our lesser selves.

Recent Events Crystallize the Transparency Failure

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Seeing the Obama administration chastise media for not digging deep and demanding transparency from into presidential candidates was quite a laugh. Hypocrisy could not find a better definition than the president’s public lecture.

The Obama campaign was elected on the promise of transparency, and then systematically shut down the media in its many attempts to seek information. Keep in mind this information should have been provided under the Freedom of Information Act. No, I think Obama’s manipulation of social media in particular, failure to provide access, and pandering to the public with silly tricks (remember the Death Star letter from NASA?) really typifies the failure of this medium.

Then there is the ultimate in transparency — sort of — The Donald. The more we know about the authentic Donald Trump, the more exposure he gets via Twitter and political gaffes, the less Americans like him.

Don’t get me wrong. I think this growing negative whiplash is a good thing for our country, but if you want to be a liked, are you going to offer a stream of consciousness on Twitter? Be transparent and be like Donald? No, no, you won’t. Sensible people mind their tongues.

Finally, the D’Angelo Russell gaffe last week put me over the edge. For those that missed it, the Laker rookie secretly videotaped teammate Nick Young talking about running girls behind his fiancee Iggy Azalea’s back. The video was leaked online, perhaps by a hacker, a SnapChat friend, or by Russell himself.

I totally agree that Russell broke protocol by not telling Young he was taping it. I also think the story as reported by the media missed a critical point. Young was cheating. He kind of deserves whatever he gets, forgiveness after trial-by-fire or broken nuptials.

In addition, anyone familiar with the NBA knows this kind of womanizing is par for the course in the league. We just don’t want to see it publicly. Transparency into what NBA players do in their relationships turns heroes into antiheroes.

Transparency, you say? No, let’s shoot the messenger and completely villanize D’Angelo Russell, a 20 year old kid who made a stupid mistake and broke the code. Perhaps the scandals of the NBA are too close to the truth for Americans. After all, we just recovered from the Ashley Madison scandal.

Why Dark Social Matters

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Part of being human is sharing experiences with each other. Sharing forms relationships. Yes, that includes the good Fakebook moments where we share our triumphs with friends and family. There is also an innate desire to share the bad, the daily trudge, the disgusting, and the naughty.

If you only post on the mainstay networks — LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — then there is no quarter. You are subject to public indexing, ridicule, and shame. Sure, you could have a private Twitter or Instagram account, but the likelihood of a frequent user remaining private is relatively small. Locked down Facebook posts are also relatively few and far between (and still indexed by the Facebook marketing database).

Some people still post their unfettered truth. And there are some really cool people that I admire who do it, too.

But not everyone is so brave. Instead, most need to trust SnapChat AND hope their friends on there aren’t going to rat them out (sorry, D’Angelo Russell). Some choose the anonymity of Yik Yak or another network. Or create an anonymous handle and go “troll” on a main network (even if you aren’t attacking folks, many people are leery of anonymous handles).

Dark social is the only recourse for people who crave transparency with their inner digital circle and the few who relate with them.

Think about that. We have forced ourselves to hide our own actions. The private lives of people are digital now, but hidden from the common eye.

Public transparency for all has failed, my friends. Not because of the medium, but because of who we are.

What do you think?

How We Become What We Hate

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Featured image by Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump represents a significant part of America‘s belief system. Many people will object to that statement, but nevertheless you cannot ignore the numbers. The continued polling success — granted a plurality in the GOP party, not a majority — show us what this country can become, something that many of us hate.

Donald Trump’s continued success despite his frequent, outrageous, racist, and demeaning commentary mirrors the way an Americans ethos. It reveals a belligerent stance towards the political establishment and reactionary views towards terrorist attacks, threats and economic uncertainty. And his success also reveals a fear of people who are different than us. Perhaps this is the ugly side of America, the side that we are ashamed of, the angry fearful side that reacts out of frustration and ignorance.

How we got here is a long political process best documented by a subject matter expert instead of me. Yet the discussion of becoming what we hate is something that I am fascinated with, a topic that forms a central arc in my novels, The Fundamentalists.

How Do We Become What We Hate?

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The fear of becoming what we hate is a legitimate one. How many of us groan when a loved one says we are just like our father or mother? Of course, this analogy offers a chuckle compared to the larger issue, becoming something that as a person or a society that we despise.

No one sets out in life to be villain or a scoundrel. No one wants to be the author of policies that spawn economic hardship, death, and destruction. Yet rationalization is a tricky devil. The stairway to hell is lined with small steps.

Little decisions empower great harm. It’s never one decision that turns the tide towards darkness, rather a few of them. And then a few more, and then the next thing you know, wars are declared, recessions and depressions hit the economy. We have been here before, and recently.

Pscyhological studies show that when you put good people in bad situations, bad things happen. Decisions are made to protect oneself, or to fulfill order. Character and moral issues are rarely considered on a macro level or for their long-term impact. If they are, the pressure of the immediate situation or the fear of further difficulties takes precedence.

Leadership and Fear

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In Perseverance, Book Two of the Fundamentalists, my characters — the village’s leadership — face a difficult situation, an invading force driven by fundamentalist hate. The villagers make decisions to survive. Blood spills. Families break. Heroes die.

Those same decisions challenge the leadership’s character, and create a situation where they believe to avoid another war that they need to build up their defenses and strike back. These decisions set up Hypocrisy, Book Three of The Fundamentalists. I suppose the title says it all. Since the central character in the novel is a six year old girl, and Soleil just turned five, you will have to wait a while for Book Three.

Leadership is often confused with taking actions and doing things to protect the status quo. When war is waged out of fear of future nebulous dangers, it is rarely a good thing. I hope we learned that with the last Iraq war. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz supporters demonstrate that a good portion of America have not learned that lesson.

One of my favorite Republicans is Colin Powell. He once said, “War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support.”

A plurality driven by fear does not equate to a majority. But it can force us to examine our character. It can also force us to become what we hate.

What do you think?

Do You Believe in Mermaids?

This could be titled “4 Random Rants,” but the mermaid one was too good to pass on as the headline. Along the way we will also discuss stalking photographers, social media experts, and the Donald. Here we go.

1) Stalking Photographers

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I often use a tripod when taking landscapes and in studio. It makes for a better picture, reduces shake, and lessens the amount of time necessary to take a great capture. Whenever I am in a public place, busy or not, people inevitably walk by, see the camera on the tripod, and what do they do?

Well, most stare at me, and then look back and forth between what they are doing and me and my camera. If there are multiple folks, they’ll start discussing that there’s a photographer over there. Some of them will come up to me and ask, “What are you shooting?” That’s all fine.

Here’s where it gets bizarre. Some folks walk right up behind me and start looking over my shoulder to figure out what I am shooting. That bugs me out a bit.

Then there are the ones who suddenly think this a good opportunity to hack an Instagram shot. They whip out their smartphones and start shooting over my shoulders, from the side, and in the worst cases they just walk right in front of the tripod and take the shot (yes, it has happened multiple times). Now I am bugged out and annoyed.

Finally, there are the clowns who ask me if I need a model. Some will ask repeatedly, and even give me a card. The above shot of Philadelphia is one example where onlookers kept asking me to be in the shot. The photograph did OK, but it wasn’t worth asking for a hypothetical 15 minutes of fame.

2) Social Media Marketing Conversations Are Dead

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Last week I saw a thread started by a couple of prominent social media experts discussing other social media experts’ blogs, all of which debated whether or not social media marketing is dead. Right away, you should know how bad this was. My desire to throw my laptop against the wall and start screaming increased by the paragraph.

Here’s what’s dead: Conversations about social media marketing. Yes, the whole lot of them, all 762 million of them (many of mine included). It’s a new decade, but a very old and repetitive set of conversations. Build owned content, stop publishing, start talking, and by the way, here are 16 ways to grow your Twitter account with semi-fake followers. Better yet, just talk to other brands (or with other social media marketers) on your Twitter account to fake your engagement rate.

There are so many damn social media marketing conversations out there that they have blurred into white noise. It’s marketing bloggers talking to marketing bloggers… Or worse, marketing bloggers spamming each other with links on Twitter.

The social media marketing is dead discussion is the biggest navel gazing exercise of them all. It’s also the most meaningless one we could have, and the one CMOs care about least. Keep kicking that dead horse.

Come on, get real! Some marketers are just bad at what they do, and they always have been. The medium changes (hello, junk mailers and email spammers!), the problem stays the same. By the way, every profession has winners and losers.

3) Do You Believe in Mermaids?

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Image by Alexandra Moir

I bet you thought the Donald would be next, but no. We need to discuss the mermaid thing first.

A friend told me a story about a 20 something that works with him. This 20 something believes in mermaids because of an article she read on the Internet. She swears by it, and will not be dissuaded. This is a college educated person.

She might be my daughter’s next playmate. I am sure they could have a great conversation about Soleil’s favorite Disney Princess, Ariel.

My friends, this is the state of information thanks to the Internet. People cannot discern truth from fiction. Anyone with a publishing platform can be assertive in their boasts, and back them with faked images and links to other articles, more pictures and even some videos depicting similar fiction.

When you have an ignorant or ill-informed society, dangerous things can happen. At a minimum, the U.S. economy will shed higher earning jobs to better equipped workforces.

The ability to discern quality information remains the greatest challenge facing our children. We must question all sources, even the media as we have seen in recent years. Our educators need to instill the ability to qualify information or we will all be dealing with mermaid debates at work.

Anyone want to buy a unicorn?

4) Dear Huffington Post: Take the Donald Seriously

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Comic by Berkeley Breathed

I admit it, I laughed out loud when the Huffington Post announced that they would only cover the Donald Trump campaign in the entertainment section (full disclosure, I am a Huffington Post blogger). It was even funnier when Berkeley Breathed returned to lampoon the Donald again with Bloom County cartoons.

But in the case of the Huffington Post, the joke may be over. Why? The Donald is still leading the Republican field, no matter how many stupid things he says and how many attacks the rest of the presidential candidates launch at him. That’s not funny, and the story has surpassed any twisted reality show Hollywood could imagine.

There’s an obligation to report this campaign seriously rather than contribute to the circus. This guy might actually be the Republican candidate for the 2016 election. It’s not like he cares when the Kochs and other super rich Republicans try to take him out. He seems impervious to the usual slimy election shenanigans.

Beyond the obligation to take his campaign seriously, there is also the mermaid contingent.

Yes, these poor fools probably believe the Donald Trump campaign
IS
a reality TV show
.

After all, they read it in the entertainment section of a reputable news source. That’s the problem with the Internet these days.