The Road Ahead

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If you had asked me fifteen years ago what I thought the greatest threat to America was, I would have said terrorism.  If you asked me three years ago, I would have said cyber warfare.  If you were to ask me today, given all that is transpiring in the world, I would say that the greatest threat currently facing America, is Americans themselves.

I hear it often and everywhere, “America is at a crossroads”.  If that is true, the perspective with which we view the impending intersection is going to determine the fate of this nation.  Our view will shape our actions, and our actions will shape our future.

I find that most people view this approaching intersection from the perspective of standing at the base of a “Y” or “T”.  They view us as driving at breakneck speed down a road, rapidly approaching a position where a decision must be made.  Our choice is limited, left or right.  If this is your view, it is possible you are part of the problem.  This is the perspective that will destroy America.

Implicit in this view is the concept of a winner and a loser, divisiveness, and failure.  This view leads to a contest for control of the wheel, with disregard for the outcome and its impact on everyone else in the car.  With this view, the choices are narrow, and absolute.  We will make a turn, and one path, and many people will be left behind.  People act much differently when they perceive the outcome to be a matter of life and death.  It is the difference between a conversation and a cage fight.  You are with me, or against me.

How did we get here?  When did the man or woman who does not hold similar beliefs go from being your neighbor, to your enemy?  When did it become more important to scream at the top of your lungs, as opposed to listening, and respecting what others have to say?  How have we forgotten that those we are disagreeing, arguing, and fighting with, are not our enemies, but our fellow Americans?  How have we become a society graced with 20/20 vision, but no ability to see?

I have no doubt we are at a crossroads, but our perspective is upside down.  We are not at the base of the “Y” or “T”, we are at its apex.  There are roads on our left and right, converging at an intersection, then moving forward, together.  The destination is uncertain, and it doesn’t really matter, there is only one road leading there.

I prefer this perspective because it forces you to remember that our journey is not about the individual, it’s about America.  It reminds me that there is something to be learned from everyone, and opinions that are opposing to my own do not make them less valuable, it just makes them different.  It reminds me that if we are going to share the road, I have to allow space for others, and their beliefs.  We need two hands on the wheel, both don’t have to, or need to be mine.

I distinctly remember the days and weeks post 9/11.  There was a sense of unity that I had never experienced.  There was an incredible display of red, white, and blue, but it was so much more than that.  You could feel it, a sense of compassion and unity.  You could feel it in conversations, interactions, and even how people drove on the freeway.  It faded over time, but it was there when we needed it.  For a short period, we embodied the nation we are supposed to be, and it was a beautiful thing.  We came together, instead of tearing each other apart.

We will not survive our current trajectory, there cannot be two Americas.  The road to our future is bumpy, and there is no doubt that we will be pulled over for reckless driving multiple times along the way.  Even with that knowledge, I would rather head towards an uncertain future together, than continue on our current path towards the destruction of America, divided.

It is going to be difficult, it is going to be painful, embrace it.

Change your perspective.

United we MAY stand.

Divided we will CERTAINLY fall.

 

 

55 thoughts on “The Road Ahead

  1. I feel sad and, yes, a bit angry, thinking of the awful language, the name calling and the terrible ways we argue with each other. You almost get a hopeless feeling, trying to keep settled and kind. Especially kind. Heaven preserve us!!

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  2. “Met” you one JRE and you’ve been systemic in forming a wiser, braver and more mellow me.
    Your attitude is infectious and your accomplishments the stuff of legend.
    I may not be American (Aussie), but I fully respect true patriots both foreign and domestic.
    Love your work mate!

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  3. Thank you for this. I’ve been so sad, but your perspective gives me hope we can come together. I’m ready to work on it. I’m going to listen longer and deeper. Looking for common ground. We can create the empathy of 911. We have to!

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  4. I’m sorry but I can’t apologize: I will never “respectfully” disagree with someone who spouts ideas that are clearly racist, misogynistic and/or xenophobic. I will never dispute the validity of climate science and evolution. I’m more than willing to discuss how we can be a less racist society, how we can treat women more fairly and how we can create the conditions that will force fewer people to become refugees. I will happily debate how to best teach science in our schools. But allowing people who promote prejudice and ignorance to “have their say” ain’t going to happen. No sorrys on that one.

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    • Wasn’t looking for anyone to apologize, simply realize that we are all in this together. There are many countries I have been to in this world that would not allow those people you mentioned to speak, or, if those people were in power, you would be the one suppressed. Freedom of speech is not about you saying what you believe, it is the right for others who you disagree with to speak. It can be ugly, but it is essential.

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      • I come from a tradition of people who will happily and constructively talk about anything, anytime, anywhere. However, I will only engage if you leave your racism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny behind. I think most of us angry Americans feel this way: we’re happy to engage, but we won’t legitimize your prejudices and bigotry. Now, what would you like to discuss?

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      • I don’t think I am any of those things, but I guess at the end of the day that is for others to say. I’m not trying to get into a debate or discussion with you, I understand where you are coming from, whether I agree with you or not. Your statement is pretty pointed, it seems as if you think I have prejudices and am a bigot. Quite the stance to take without knowing me.

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    • I’m assuming you are talking about our new leadership and not the author here. Could be taken either way based on how it was worded… As far a misogynistic, racist and xenophobic tendencies, I think there are an awful lot of people that are this way, and have no idea that they are. As an example, I am a white man and have been married to a black woman for the last 25 years. I have learned a lot about myself through that relationship, some of it I am not proud of. I have changed many of my perceptions, thoughts and ideals and have certainly changed the way I relate to other people based on this new understanding. We must talk and LISTEN to each other, even if we don’t agree or respect the other party. Maybe we will find that we have a lot more in common than we think at the end of the day.

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      • Andy, I am sorry if I implied that you are racist, misogynistic or xenophobic, or accused you of being a science denier. I don’t know if you have had a lot of contact with the “other side,” but this is how we felt when we learned that Txxxp was elected president: complete and utter betrayal of our American values. Not our liberal or progressive values, but of our shared mission to make this country a better place.

        I am a self-styled progressive; I grew up at a time when Republicans were “normal” – they believed in science, weren’t beholden to the radical right and actually worked with Democrats to get things done. II gladly debated with them for hours on end without rancor. We knew we were on opposite sides, but we also knew that we were both hoping for the best outcomes for everyone

        I lived through Reagan, Bush and Shrub, and even though I wasn’t a fan of any of them (Bush I, in retrospect, was actually pretty good, and I would be an total admirer if he hadn’t put that nimrod Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.)

        However, the election of Txxxp has pushed many of us against the wall and we feel like we are fighting for the very soul of American democracy. Believe me, you are sooooo going to thank us for being on the front lines: we progressives have turned out to express our hopes and fears on the National Mall, at the airports, in the parks, and everywhere else, because we truly believe that all the things that Txxxp is doing is a direct threat to the freedoms we hold so dearly.

        We feel betrayed: the people who elected Txxxp chose to put a hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic blowhard in the Oval Office, and to us, choosing this man to lead our country makes you a de facto racist, misogynist and xenophobe, among many other things. Please don’t tell us you wanted jobs; if you value money more than you value human values like diversity, justice and love, then clearly your values are extremely messed up.

        So that’s it. When you all the Txxxp voters wake up and come to their senses, we’ll be here to engage. But unless you first apologize for electing someone as hateful and bigoted as this man truly is, we’ve got nothing to discuss. No sorries here.

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      • Congenitalcook,
        The very act of typing “Txxxp”, as well as many of your other comments, is an excellent demonstration of precisely what Mr. Stumpf is talking about. IMHO.

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      • In the Jewish tradition, we are commanded to strike out the names of our enemies; I am doing what my religion dictates. At the same time, because I believe religion is a private matter, I will not attempt to force you to do the same.

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      • Very well. Does your religion also dictate name calling such as Shrub, nimrod, or defacto racists, misogynists, xenophobes, and “other things”? I believe this is what Mr. Stumpf was talking about.

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      • Racists, xenophobes and racists are not “names,” they are descriptions. Actually, so are nimrods. “Shrub” is a colloquialism, but can also be considered a synonym.

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      • I am going to assume that you and Congenitalcook are the same person. If that is not the case, my apologies.

        I took the time to go back and read all of your comments, from the first one until this one. First and foremost, I get it. I think that I understand your position, I can certainly say that the passion for it is evident in what you write.

        Each comment you have written is rife with assumptions, accusations, and quite frankly smacks of arrogance. You use broad and sweeping statements, and apply your belief system to me, and also apparently everyone else who may have come across this blog.

        You assume my political views, when you know absolutely nothing about me. You wonder how much contact I have had with the “other side”, without first asking me where I stand. My post had nothing to do with politics, left or right, religion, racism, xenophobia, or misogyny, but yet you continue to bring it up. My post was about moving forward as a nation, if you read anything other than that, you have brought it to this conversation with you.

        I did not elect trump, this country did. “The people who elected him” are your neighbors.

        I don’t know you at all, I can only take you for what you write.

        From what you have written, you can and will justify your actions however you need to, whether it be a religious dictate, age, experience, entitlement, or belief, and that is fine by me. The difference between you and I is that I support you speaking out for what you believe, and will not belittle your beliefs, your intelligence, or your values, even though nearly every one of your statements has a ring of superiority to it, which hopefully it is unintentional.

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      • A) Yes – I don’t know why that happened, but this is the world of computers, so who knows…
        B) It’s not arrogance that’s speaking here, it is complete and utter anger tinged with a great deal of fear.

        As I write this, Betsy DeVos, a person who literally bought her way into a position for which she has no expertise was confirmed by group of elected representatives who were paid off handsomely to give her that job. I am a teacher, and this represents a wholesale sell-off of the public education system, which served me, my parents and my children, as well as millions of other people, perhaps even you.

        And you think we should “talk.” No, we can’t talk, because as we talk, there is wholesale, unmitigated corruption taking place in our country. You want to talk to me? Then join with me and get on the front lines and start doing something about this; our country is going down for the count, and while millions of us are committed to stopping it, I’m wasting my time responding to this blog.

        You want to show me how patriotic you are? Get out there and stop this abomination!

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      • I would appreciate it if you would not overlay your value system onto me.

        I have dedicated my life to making this country better. In my actions, in my service, and how I raise my children. You know nothing about me.

        I understand that you are angry, please take it elsewhere, and point it at someone other than me. I am actually trying to help.

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      • Feel free to delete this after you read it: I have dedicated my life to serving this country as well, Andy. Just because I chose not to do it with a weapon in my hand or put my life at risk doesn’t mean I don’t care. I agree I don’t know you, I don’t know how you voted, I don’t know your values. That’s not the point: the time for “talk” is over. We “talked” during this election and look where it got us: we have a deranged individual who is acting as the president, and he is systematically undermining the fundamental ideals upon which this country was founded and continues to refine with time. We’ve come too far to go back.

        The time for talk has passed: if you want to really make a difference get out and start doing something to prevent this from happening. “The most identifiable feature of hope is action,” said Grace Paley.

        Good bye and good luck.

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  5. Well said. Your forward vision resonates with a similar insight, only more than a century and a half ago:
    America… “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

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  6. To me, it seems the ease of being self published (Twitter/Facebook, anonymously sourced quotes in the media, blogs, online forums, email, and even article comment sections like this), has emboldened so many to broadly say things to people that they would never say in a personal setting. We no longer know how to communicate in a rational, coherent, and empathetic way; essential for expressing one’s view while understanding someone else’s point of view and potentially incorporating their concerns into one’s way of thinking. As a result we tend to get our information from sources that tell us what we want to hear where pundits, so-called experts and commentators stir us up to a position of hate and misunderstanding. The impersonal nature of today’s communication reminds me of the road raging idiot who flips someone off on the freeway because someone pulled in front of them. Yet while in a grocery store, the same person walking down an aisle that has someone pull a shopping cart in front of them, will likely smile, excuse themself and move on without another thought.

    It is far easier to say something offensive to someone from a keyboard or touch screen, miles from your audience. People saying hateful things and declaring free speech are wasting their right if the other side gets nothing constructive from the message assuming the other side bothers to actually listen to what has been said. Most of this type of communication seems geared more toward people that will agree with them than actually targeting understanding and change on the other side of the argument.

    As a father of teens, where I see my kid’s peers communicate with text messages, often within physical proximity of each other, I can’t help but think the answer lies in relearning how to communicate in the way that we evolved to do so; Face to face, up close and PERSONAL. It is the only way we will have the kind of relationships needed to have common understanding and resolve.

    Maybe it is time to turn off the 24 hour news channels, put away the cell phone, and sit around the table with our kids at dinner and teach them how to talk and listen to each other.

    Agree…disagree…I’m open to your judgement and opinion.

    Thank you, Mr. Stumpf, for your great blog, your service, and a valiant effort to apply a universal understanding in challenging times…onward and upward!

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  7. It is true that our destruction can only be from within. No outside power or influence can tear the fabric which binds us all together. We are a country with a checkered past and a future not known in our present. What had made this country great is not our differences but those common values all people share and live for. That is our right to be free. Such a simple word yet so many meanings. Where do we start?
    We as a Nation have made so many mistakes, the blood that has poured into the ground in our history is astounding. Yet, we share that common value that all men are free. Heck we are still trying to get it right. It matters not that you are a Democrat or a Republican, nor your race, your greed, your gender, only that we grasp the tread of commonality and embrace them and be an American. Never forget we are all different, thus to others we are prone to labels. Our strength lies in narrow region of humanity. It is this we must continue to hold true for when we look at our differences the gap is greater the the sum of all oceans. When we walk the common thread together we slowly change into better people, a better Nation. Though it is not without discourse. Look again to our past, it is not one of purity. It was anything but good, yet it was the best of times. For where we came from was far worse.
    This is not an excuse, just the reality of life. So do not dwell on the differences but that which binds us together as a strong and unified Nation. Do not turn a blind eye for then we will fail.
    When this Nation started it was torn. History says we should have failed. But look we have overcome so many obstacles. And we have so many more to hurdle together. The irony it will not be what you want or what I want but something that neither of us thought of. It was said that if 1+1=2 we will fail. 1+1 must equal three or four or something other than what it should. From our differences will come a new means, another thread to bind us together. Our Nation is great because we share our freedoms. We will withstand all that is before us only if we maintain the hope of the Founders. Never buckle on our core principles and beliefs. Be kind to all who differ from us for one day we become the same only to again differ so we push for that perfection. I have faith in America even with our faults for we are a Nation dedicated to making it better, even if it takes a few centuries.

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    • Yes, I’ll cop to it: we progressives are not terribly tolerant of people who advocate for second (and third) class treatment of people because of their skin color, nation of origin, gender identification and romantic preferences. Anonymous, are you suggesting we should be “tolerant” of people who promote hatred and ignorance? Is that even an option?

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  8. Anonymous,
    You sound just as radical as DT. Just from the other side. You exemplify the divisive nature of our people and all assumptions that are cast. There is not way to find common ground when one or both sides believe they have the only answer to all the problems in the world. I’m not a fan of the president. He may turn out to be a disaster, or he may be the best thing that has happened to us in a long time. Time will tell. If you think not talking and acting are going to fix things, I think that path may be doing more damage than not. The folks that voted for DT got exactly what they wanted. He has pretty much done exactly what he said he would do; cabinet choices or not. So basically he represents almost half of the voting population. Why is your side the right side? The answer is somewhere right down the middle where EVERYONE has to make some compromises. How can we move forward otherwise. And DT isn’t a king. Congress, courts, the Fed, state and local politics and individuals all have influence. You are right, there was a lot of talking before the election, but the talk has to be constructive and that means you have to listen too. Why are people feeling the way they are?

    If you are a teacher, I really hope you are keeping the divisiveness out of the classroom so students can form their own opinion of the word.

    Good luck!

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    • Okay, I promised Andy that I would stay away from this blog, but this is just too juicy to pass up: I’ve been brining “divisiveness” into my classrooms for over 25 years – where has this taken my students? Let’s see: one is an attorney who is fighting to keep Lake Michigan clean, another is a physician who works with the desperately poor in the southwest, another is an Emmy award winning actor, another worked for Army intelligence in Afghanistan, another is on the New York City council. If you were hoping that I turn my students into “sheeple” who blindly follow whatever they are told, then I’d say I failed.

      By the way, unlike our new Secretary of Education, I had to have a 4 year degree in my field of study, as well as a Masters degree, not to mention hundreds of hours of student teaching and professional development to become a teacher and stay in the profession I didn’t bribe a group of corrupt elected officials for my job; I had to earn it through hard work.

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      • First, it sounds like you and the other teachers that sent your pupils to those professions did a great job along with their parents and other role models. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that it was probably not just you who made them who they are. If you are, I will look forward to Stand and Deliver II starring Morgan Freeman. I come from three generations of teachers and college professors so I understand how important that job is, and genuinely applaud you for undertaking such a profession. You are well positioned to make positive changes for the future!

        If I implied that your job is to “turn my students into “sheeple” who blindly follow whatever they are told,” then you have misunderstood me completely. But I do think a teacher should show students how to fairly analyze any topic with a critical eye and make their own determination about what is right and wrong and follow that self-realized conclusion with some passion. However, a well taught student should also be taught to accept that their original conclusions might be wrong. If their conclusions and opinions are forced down their throat by an arrogant person, that thinks they have all the answers, then they have been robbed of the gift of critical thinking.

        Again…sounds like you have been a successful part of putting out some great individuals! Carry on…

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      • Congenitalcook, anonymous, Progressive teacher or whatever you wish to be called,
        I only have a bachelor’s degree so my vocabulary may not be as eloquent as yours. But I have over 20 years of real life education as a police officer. It has taught me things you will not find in your 4 year degree plan or your masters course of study. I see real people struggling with real life EVERY day. As I mentioned previously, name calling and doing what equates to throwing tantrums does not do much for your legitimacy.

        What exactly are you fearful of? If your afraid of racism, homophobia, terrorism, xenophobia, sexism, violence, unstable economies, war, global warming or probably anything else “bad” you can think of, IT ALREADY EXISTS. Donald Trump did not invent these things and they will still be here long after he is gone. Will these things get better or worse during his time? We simply don’t know yet. I honestly wish there had been a better choice than Trump or Clinton. Frankly I found the idea of either being POTUS disturbing. But there was an election and Trump garnered the necessary votes.

        By all means, be active. Change the world. Just stop with the name calling. In fact stop posting on blogs. Use your time to change this country instead of trying to convince us “simple” folk how uneducated and ill-informed we all are.

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      • You want to know what me and millions of other Americans are afraid of? We are truly afraid that Txxxp is going to destroy our country. We have never felt this kind of existential threat before, not under Bush I and 2, nor 8 years of Reagan and even during the worst days of Nixon administration, which I lived through. I was 3 blocks away when 9/11 happened; I saw people jumping out of windows, my friends and neighbors died in that attack. We were scared out of our wits, but we held it together and moved forward. Even with that,we’ve never known the kind of fear that we know today.

        We are afraid that Txxxp is going to sell us and our allies down the river to the Russians. We are fearful because he put in “alt-right” (read: Nazi) as his chief advisor. We are fearful because there is a huge piece of the Antarctic ice shelf that is about to fall off, which is going to cause sea levels to rise, and millions of people will be displaced or killed because their communities are under water.

        We are afraid that Txxxp will jail his critics, deport our law-abiding friends, colleagues and neighbors. He already prevented the two brothers who own the bodega across the street from me from returning from Yemen where they were visiting a sick relative. We’re afraid that millions of people are going to lose their health insurance and there will be nothing to replace it. We’re afraid that we’ll be one illness away from financial ruin.

        We’re afraid that Txxxp is going to start a war in the South China Sea and that he’ll get trigger happy and launch nuclear weapons. We are fearful that our sons and daughters and my students are going to be sent off to die in a conflict that was started by this deranged old man. We are afraid that you and your children will die during this conflict, and that a lot of innocent people are going to die because of this war that we don’t have to have.

        We’re afraid that Txxxp is going to subvert the rule of law, pack the courts with all sorts of barbarians who believe that evolution is fake and that their deity is the only legit deity. We’re afraid that people of color will no longer have the right to vote because they’ll institute all sorts of voter suppression laws, those same laws that won Txxxp the election. We’re afraid that big corporations will run our lives and that women will not have a say in their health choices. We’re afraid that poor people will get even poorer, that scared teenage girls are going to die from illegal abortions and that women who have life-threatening pregnancies will be obligated to die.

        We’re afraid that if Txxxp somehow survives the next 4 years, that he’ll run and somehow the election will be stolen once again. We’re afraid that when his 8 years are up, he’ll decide that he is president for life and that American democracy will die, and when American democracy dies, the world is pretty much done.

        We’re afraid that all the progress that’s been made to give some measure of respect to people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, people who worship different deities or who choose not to worship a deity at all will all be taken away. We’re afraid that the United States is going to become a theocracy, and that it is the so-called “religious right” that’s going to tell us how to live, how to control our bodies and who we can love, marry and adopt.

        We are afraid that the economy will crash just like it did under Bush II and our homes will be repossessed, our savings will be wiped out and our jobs eliminated. We are afraid that when this happens, there will be no more safety net, and that we’ll have no place to live, we’ll have no food to eat and our children will suffer. We’re afraid that the same thing will happen to you, and that you and your children will suffer.

        We are afraid that right-wing white nationalist groups will feel emboldened, and instead of spray painting swastikas on playgrounds and burning down mosques, they’ll blow up entire neighborhoods, and lynch people they don’t like. We’re afraid these groups will be joined by the police and the army and the courts, and neighbors will sit idly by as people are dragged out of their homes and massacred in the middle of the street.

        We are afraid that hundreds of thousands of teachers will be fired and thousands of schools will be shut down, and the entire educational system will be turned over to corporations that swindle us out of our taxes to make huge profits for themselves while providing a substandard education. We are afraid that religious fanatics will set up schools which tell children lies like man lived during the time of dinosaurs, evolution never happened and climate science is not real.

        We are afraid that nobody will do anything when American democracy dies; that it will be some sad period of history that people will read about and say, “hmmm, wasn’t that interesting?”

        That’s what we’re afraid of. What am I doing about it? Well, I was at JFK when the customs agents prevented my neighbors from re-entering the country; where were you? I contributed money to help rebuild a mosque that was burnt down in Texas on the same day that Txxxp implemented his totally unconstitutional Muslim ban; did you? I joined with a thousand Yemeni bodega owners and protected them while they said their evening prayers in front of our city hall; I don’t recall you being there. I made dozens of phone calls, sent hundreds of emails, faxes and letters and stood in the cold in front of my Senator’s home, yet Betsy DeVos still bribed her way into the Department of Eductation did you do anything about it? I spent a Saturday with thousands of other people demanding civil rights and justice; what were you doing?

        The fear is real, it is palpable, and if you’re not afraid, then you’re just fooling yourself.

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      • My goodness, that is alot of fear and I honestly don’t know how one could function under so much anxiety. I wish I could offer you encouragement, but I honestly am not sure if you really want to be encouraged or even hopeful. I applaud your activism in those issues you find near and dear to your heart. No, I was not at any of those protests you mentioned. I was “on the job” protecting your right to protest such things. Ain’t irony a bitch!

        Your life seems in turmoil and I’m sorry for that. I wish you luck and godspeed. I will pray for you and all these fears.

        God bless.

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      • I appreciate that you understand our fears (and I’m speaking for a lot of people, not just myself.) We’ve never felt this kind of fear before and we truly hope that the worst of them will not come true. But could you PLEASE do something: call your congresspeople, fax your senator, attend a meeting or something? Do us a favor: take a day off from your job protecting us (we’ll cover for you) and tell Paul Ryan that 30,000,000 people cannot have their health insurance yanked away!

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  9. Interesting convo here; sounds like some people are pretty sore losers, and now that President Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do, they’re upset. Well, that’s how Democracy works, right? Personally, I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump and I don’t think any of the things he’s going to do are going to benefit the United States. On the other hand, I can understand why people did vote for him: he made a lot of promises that people like, including building a wall to keep Mexicans from raping people and taking jobs away from us, and stopping all those terrorists who want to come into our country and shoot people with the weapons they buy. Let’s see how it goes and in 4 years we’ll know if we’re better off.

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  10. It would literally help millions of people sleep better at night if we knew that the military was not going to do the following:

    a) Drop nuclear weapons on some poor, defenseless country because Txxxp ordered it to do so.
    b) Send troops to NYC and impose martial law because we hate him so much.
    c) Surround the White House on the day he’s supposed to leave so that he can be a dictator for life.

    That’s all I’m asking.

    Thanks.

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  11. Damn, anonymous. I would require some heavy duty medication to cope with that level of anxiety. Not that what I have to say matters much, but I feel most of your concerns will come to pass without incident.

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    • Roy, can you promise me that? I’m as close to being an atheist as you can be while still believing in some guiding power, but each night I still pray that the DIPP (Deranged Individual Posing as President) doesn’t start a nuclear war. Seriously, I live in NYC and we’ve been enduring Txxxp for a looooong time, and this is the most scared I have been in my nearly six decades of life…..

      Andy – I’ve been thinking over your original post – I disagree with your basic premise of there being “two Americas.” There aren’t and there never has been: our history has shown that there are dozens, hundreds, even thousands of Americas – individuality has always been a cornerstone of our country’s gestalt (oh, there I go using a big word again….) and the result has been pretty positive: we’ve accomplished so much because people have refused to “go along with the flow.” It’s what abolished slavery, integrated schools and the workforce, gave women the right to vote and developed a safety net that provides a nearly basic level of health care, housing and food to our most needy people. Yes, we “come together” when something truly shocking happens – the assassination of a president or an attack on the US, but then we revert to our own work. It’s just the way it is; will it tear us apart? I don’t know, but other countries have split up and their peoples have gone on to thrive and endure as independent republics. Maybe being a single nation just isn’t right for us.

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      • I only used “two” as a metaphor, I felt it was cleaner than explaining the actual endless possibilities. Regardless of how many there are, and can be, the point was that there must be some type of vision and collective desire to move down the road together.

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      • Anonymous,

        I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say this and perhaps you have already taken this step. But have you considered counseling? It is normal for change to bring on feelings of fear and insecurity. But the level of fear you describe seems drastically out of proportion, IMHO. Make no mistake, I am not a doctor, but I truly believe you will cause yourself harm if you continue to obsess over some of the things you reference. Wouldn’t you agree the “checks & balances” are working? Judge shut down the travel ban, and as of now, it has been held up on appeal. By all means, take whatever LEGAL action you feel necessary to change this country for the better. But dont freak out if the ENTIRE country doesn’t feel the same way. WE will get through it. Particularly if people will just take a deep breath and do what Andy has been suggesting.

        Name calling and a condescending attitude do little to move forward. When I first mentioned name calling, you said your religion dictated the striking your enemies name (Txxxp) and made some deflection about every other name used. Now you say you are as close to being an athiest while still believing in some guiding power.Then you come back with DIPP??

        You say you see public schools “going down the chute”! Public schools in America have been in the shitter (sorry for using a big word) for decades! Particularly inner city schools. The public school system is a JOKE which is why my children do not attend them.

        Perhaps you would he happier in Canada. Either way, stop with the snivling, whining, name calling. You do nothing to garner support for your cause.

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    • Roy, I admire your optimism. With the two recent cabinet confirmations, I see public schools going down the chute and a period of extreme repression when it comes to civil rights. Just saying….

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      • Okay, Kirk, I’m not going to question anything you wrote about me because you have never met, and most likely if we sat next to one another in a bar, we would probably have a very civil conversation and come away saying, “well, he was a pretty decent guy.” So don’t judge people by what they write on a blog. If you can’t understand that someone doesn’t have to have a binary belief in a deity, well, I’m sorry – but that’s what I am.

        As for public schools going down the shitter: I am a product of the public school system, my family is a product of public schools and so are my children. My friends’ kids went to public school, my doctor went to public schools, my parents went to public schools. In fact, most of the people who I know attended public schools and continue to send their kids to public schools, and while they are not perfect, our kids are getting a pretty damned good education. Maybe that’s because I chose to live a place where people choose to support their public schools by sending their children there, paying school taxes and participating in the running of these schools. Oh, and we also support the teachers who work hard to educate our children, instead of whining and complaining about how bad they are.

        Sorry if all this is confusing you.

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      • I attended public schools….my boss, my doctor, my pastor, my wife, my…well pretty much everyone I know attended public school. Doessn’t mean an adequate education was received there. And make no mistake about it, I still pay taxes for the operation of those largely ineffective schools. I am not knocking teachers. It is the system. Unfortunately, the system protects ineffective teachers. But please don’t try to tell me America’s public school system is adequate. As a police officer, I clearly see this is not this case on a daily basis. And I think when you compare it to other industrialized countries, it is quite obvious kust how lacking pur public school system is. I routinely come across 17-18 year old kids who literally cannot speak complete sentences.

        Anonymous, I truly believe you need professional counseling. I dont mean the in a negative way. But you exhibit many irrational fears and seem quite obsessed with them.

        Peace.

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      • I have been to Haiti, Ghana, and Kenya. The poverty faced by children in those countries, not to mention other issues, is overwhelming. Yet the majority speak fluent english and usually a couple of other languages in addition to their native tongue. Does poverty play a role in America? Sure. But don’t use that as a crutch. Absentee parenting is a much larger issue. And yes, poverty does play a role in that, but only to an extent. Working three jobs effects a parent’s involvement in their child’s education. If you are sitting at home all day collecting government subsidies, what is your excuse for not being involved?? And in my experience, the children of the parent working 3 jobs is typically a better student than the one living on a government subsidy. That is a completely different issue and one you made up in your head when you made the jump from “ineffective public school system” to “ineffective teachers”. I don’t believe I said teachers are a problem with the public schools.

        Are there issues in the justice system? Sure. Not sure what your point is there.

        You are clearly very defensive on a number of issues. You also seem to be prone to whining, fear mongering, and victimization.

        Good luck to you.

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  12. Andy – have you considered that “maybe not?” We’ve had over 200 years to get it together, and maybe after all this time, we’re just “done.” Personally, I wouldn’t mind it at all if my state jumped ship and shacked up with Canada, which offers high quality health insurance to all its people, does not discriminate against people of different races and religious affiliations, and where poutine is served everywhere.

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    • Yes, I have thought about that.

      At the end of the day we are fighting the tribal nature of human beings. What we are attempting to do is not going to be easy, ever.

      The “we are just done” philosophy is exactly what is wrong with this country. There is no app for this, there is no easy way, it should be, and will likely be excruciating.

      I’m pretty sure racism and discrimination exist in Canada as well, as they do in every single country in the world. The grass is always greener…

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      • Actually, you’re totally right: look at that guy who shot up a mosque in Quebec. There is racism and discrimination in Canada, but because they never had to fight a war over slavery (it was abolished in 1833 by the British Parliament), it is nowhere near as pervasive and entrenched as in the United States. We’re improving, but many of us seeing things sliding back with the new administration.

        I don’t know if the “maybe we’re just done” is necessarily right or wrong. It may be just a statement of what is. Maybe we should split up into regional confederations, and people who want a certain type of government that provides certain kinds of freedoms and benefits can live in those regions.

        And in a sense, it’s already happening: New York City is well known as being an open and progressive city, so people who prefer that kind of lifestyle flock here to live. We pay lots of money in federal taxes, and don’t get much back from the Feds: you look at the top ten states that are dependent on the Federal government to survive: nine of them are “red” states that voted for Txxxxp (the exception is Hawaii, but that has more to do with geography than anything else), someone who wants to shrink the size of the Federal government. Where is that going to leave them?

        I pay $1 in Federal taxes, and only 91¢ of that actually benefits my state. South Carolina gets nearly $8 for every dollar they put in. I don’t know if I want my tax dollars going to a state where racism is such an ingrained part of the culture. Perhaps there will come a day when New Yorkers say “we don’t want to give you that money,” and South Carolinians say, “that’s fine, we don’t need it anyway.”

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  13. Amen and copy that. Love covers sin. The hatred is so deep and wide that the resolution will not come from any one leader or group of humans, no matter their wisdom or weaknesses. We are now in the full blown evolution of a nation that is deceived and blinded. It’s like talking to drunks. Major civilizations have come and gone. They never believed it would happen to them. Get your fight on folks. We are here.

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  14. Same race and religion people have been killing and enslaving and hating each other as well as other “outsider” groups since day 1. The bible is clear about this and why. Nicer world if all were suddenly blinded and with tongues removed. The humility factor would skyrocket.

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  15. In the end we all have families and children we love- well many of us do- and so we are to think about them as we get about business to take care of and protect them, our country and our way of life, no matter how hard it may be. Because love will sacrifice and take the hit. They are worth the fight.

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  16. Btw Mr Stumpf: we are over here at Little Creek/Dam Neck- land in Virginia Beach and send you our best with much respect. God with you and yours😃👍🏼

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  17. Great post Andy. You are spot on. We are living in a time when everything seems to be viewed, argued, believed in absolutes. Even in common ground we are starting to try and find ways to bisect it “for the win”. Our country and society have devolved in many ways…especially in terms of civility and respect and honesty (and the art of debate holding these three values as a guiding force). There seems to be no room for gray….only black or white. The definition of “compromise” has been hijacked to include “your principles”. Either/or is the ONLY choice, whereas both/and is considered weak. Winning, for the sake of winning, regardless of how you win, has supplanted fairness and true competition (don’t misinterpret that as “accepting losing” or “loser talk”…some things are worth fighting for and winning at all costs….but not EVERYTHING)….i.e. Pyrrhic victories! If one considers themselves a “progressive”, then they should accept the fact that, by definition, there is no end game…no “win”…but “progression”. Which, ironically, is the very nature of science. “Progression” nor “science” is never “settled” (not a statement re: climate debate…but of the rhetoric). The notion that if you voted for candidate x means that you therefore are defined, as a person, wholly, by every word, policy, vote, action, consequence, tweet or inaction (past/present/and oddly future) is both illogical, unreasonable, simple, convenient and not based on reality. The notion that “if you voted for Obama you are a Communist sympathizer” or “if you voted for Trump you are a racist” are equally ignorant, yet here we are now in this country. Andy, your post is, at its core, in my opinion, American. American because it’s hopeful and optimistic. America is and I pray, a work in progress (small “p”). I think one of your points is there is a reason God gave us one mouth and two ears…use them proportionally… but use them…effectively and with honor and purpose. As GR would say…”go LONG in the ears and SHORT in the mouth”. I would recommend the learned teacher/gentleman from NYC, to consider the notion that it’s impossible to learn if you’re unwilling to listen. By listening, you may find that there is a great deal of commonality among us all (I’d venture to wager we have more in common than not). Consider this, did you ever think (not a conspiracy theory) that maybe we’re all the shill AND the mark? If we are, then all we are, are “useful idiots”…I must confess…(sorry Andy…it was right there). I’ll leave you with this…IF ALL our fears come true (we allow Communists to take over…or a malevolent (orange) dictator runs roughshod over the Constitution and orders the genocide of all non-white, non-Christian, LGBTQ, non-US citizens)…wouldn’t logic and reason allow one to conclude that the BRILLIANCE of making the First and Second Amendments the first and second was prophetic, ingenious and, lost on many, based on personal experience of the founders. Many thanks to all who serve, heal, educate, protect and defend…..UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL
    Let FREEDOM ring!!!!!!!

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  18. BTW, does anybody know how you edit comments on this blog? I spotted a couple of typos that I made and can’t correct them! Proofreading is not one of my stronger suits….

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  19. I think this wonderful speech by Marco Rubio sums up the biggest issue we face in being able to move forward. I’m not a big fan of his, but he is on point in my opinion.

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