Random thoughts two days after the election

A few thoughts after Election Day. Fair and imbalanced, in my usual way, and relatively non-partisan…well probably not. These are random and disordered (which reflects the way I am thinking these days) and so they are presented as “bullet points”:

  • I’m having a crazy dream of how cool it would be if the “opposition” would step up and actually have a shared goal of making our country better – of working together on the things they can. Leaving obstructionism behind. But then, I have to ask. Why on earth would they? After the last eight years, why on earth would they?
  • Speaking of obstructions, the recent words of both major candidates as well as the President have actually been steadying and helpful. Quite a contrast to the words of Rep. Maxine Waters, who seemed to be having way too much fun keeping the sniping alive! (Not saying she’s the worst – just the one I heard.) She was a true HSUR HGUABMIL (“reverse Rush Limbaugh”). I will never forget back in 2009 when Rush blatantly said he hoped President Obama would fail. At least he was honest. Sick stuff.

  • In light of all the negativity of this campaign, the bashing of candidates and media, really the ugliest and most distasteful things I saw and heard came from ordinary people – my own friends. On both sides. (Some of the ugliest Hillary memes came from so-called progressives during the Dem primary season.) People who know better. Some of them (sad to say) pastors. Most of them are still at it – with post-election stirring of the pot. God forgive us. I have tried to respond to distasteful Facebook posts with wry humor, but for my own sanity and spiritual well-being, I may have to shuffle a few of you off of my viewing page. (I despise it when people publicly announce they are de-friending people, but there you go.) Happy trails to you.

  • Sometimes I am surprised by those who only see ugliness on one side. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Again, it’s usually my own friends.

  • Clinton’s “deplorables” comment was really deplorable.

  • Speaking of humor, I’ve always enjoyed humorous poking at the opposition, but witty humor has been replaced these days by hideous pictures accompanied by made-up quotes. If I had a dollar for every time I have vetted a fake quote, I could buy something pretty cool. And maybe five bucks for every time a friend has said something like, “Well, still it SEEMS like something they would have said.” #rolleyes

  • And I want to appeal to my blue friends to see if we can go four years without anyone posting distasteful memes and photos of our new First Lady. The last eight years was surely enough. (Of course I’m not optimistic…sigh…)

  • I’m really disturbed by the stark racial divide this election exposes. We see it in so many ways anyway. The blatant pandering to our fears of multiculturalism will take a long time to heal. It certainly wasn’t subtle. It’s in our face now. Though some still deny it.

  • I remain disgusted by some of the tactics of the “opposition” over the last eight years. Friends, your potentially cogent arguments were nearly completely neutered by your idiotic rabbit trails. Birther yarns. Conspiracy theories. Calls for posses. This is one of the things I do not miss about an otherwise delightful little Texas town I lived in for seven years.

  • Populism. Populism sounds so very good. Pull the power away from the institutions and back to the ordinary people. But populism can so easily trend nasty and hateful. And it was really sad to see moments when leaders could have taken the high road. But instead they blatantly catered to the ugliness. You do the math. Not even a veneer of civility. No pretending. We got the menu. We placed our order. There are no substitutions.

  • So why doesn’t the anti-institutionalism carry over to voting Congressional incumbents out of office? Of course, the drawing of districts to protect incumbents is a huge problem.

  • Hillary should have put Bill in a basement somewhere about six months ago. Just sayin’. I don’t think he was an asset.

  • Now the street protests. Seriously? Showing all that passion the day AFTER the election? It’s going to be an interesting four years.

  • Florida and North Carolina. Except it wasn’t. Those were important, of course. But it was Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (and probably Michigan) that proved the knockout punch.

  • All the theories about the one thing that tipped the scales? Probably ALL of the theories are correct. It was so close in so many key states, that a few factors could have tipped it back. Just about 50,000 switched votes could have tipped Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and changed the outcome.
  • Fascinating that the Repubs have only won the Presidential popular vote once since 1988. Clinton’s popular vote lead continues to grow as votes get counted. Back in the day, the Electoral College was like trivia in a civics textbook. Now it is a huge issue. Of course that’s the way it works, but wow.

  • If we went by popular vote, John McCain might have been elected in 2008. (After eight years of Gore, the country might have been ready to flip back Republican.)

  • It is going to be fascinating to hear people deconstruct the decisions made by the Clinton campaign. Considering the constant onslaught of impulsive, ill-considered pronouncements by Trump, and the number of Repub insiders ready to bolt, it seems like a solid opponent would have had brought it home for the Dems.

  • It seemed like all of Clinton’s ads were to advance the fear that Trump would be a “loose cannon.” But for too many people, that sounded like exactly what they wanted. They wanted something different, even with the risk. But I’m still surprised that so many were willing to ignore those temperament red flags.

  • I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if two days before the election, a poll had come out projecting a 50-50 race. Would that have affected the outcome?

  • Michael Moore was so right. Hard to believe.

  • Will we ever see another campaign in which the vast majority of negative ads were simply quotes of the other candidate?

  • I wonder how Biden vs. Jeb would have turned out. Would there have been a much more positive campaign? Or would we have turned it negative no matter who we put out there? Would we have been saying “How did we end up with these two?” (Is it THEM? Or is it US?)

  • Sorry, Bernie-buds, but Sanders would not have taken down any Republican. He would have been a much easier target than Hillary, being an avowed socialist. Just my take.

  • Both Trump and Sanders “broke” so many rules in terms of “how to run a winning campaign.” Will this be an exception, or will this open a door to more outside-the-box campaigns?

  • Pundits and predictors got paid for this?

  • So many said that the Trump thing had nothing in common with the Brexit thing. No comparison. Except I think it was quite similar after all!

  • I don’t share the apocalyptic fear of what the next four years are going to bring. But of course I’m not Muslim. I’m not Latino. I’m not part of the GLBT community. I’m not part of those other constituencies that are feeling a visceral fear at this moment. I can’t begin to step into their shoes. I want to tell them to stay calm. But I realize that may be a bit patronizing at this point. Or a lot patronizing.

  • About the time I start to get hopeful, that the new President will bring his “on-point” self, I am reminded of the long list of his projected early actions. Building the wall. Banning Muslims. Surveillance of mosques. Blowing up Middle East refineries. Bombing “those suckers.” Implementing stop and frisk. Cancelling the Paris climate agreement. And much more.

  • Was marriage equality the quiet “elephant in the room” for many? It almost never came up. But for traditionalists, certainly there had to be many who felt like the foundational institutions of our country had been dismantled with incredible rapidity. Whether you agree or disagree, it was certainly a quick change of course, that wasn’t even a front-and-center issue in previous years.

  • I am finally beginning J. D. Vance’s book “Hillbilly Elegy.” It is so important in terms of getting in touch with the heart and soul of those who feel marginalized by both major parties and may have found a kindred soul in Trump.

  • I finally heard someone reference the old movie Network, where the Peter Finch character shouts “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more.” I kept thinking of that movie over and over during the primaries, as Sanders and Trump shocked everyone with their populist support.

Last, but not least, thanks to my many friends who haven’t flipped their lids or gone off the deep end, and have remained gracious and steady in their words and thoughts. Thank you so much.

After Super Tuesday…

When I visit my kids in California, I feel like a stodgy conservative.

When I lived back in Texas, I felt like a flaming liberal.

Now that I am in Virginia, I often feel like a boring moderate.

Go figure.  Who cares about labels anyway?  And this year, especially, who knows what they even mean?

If they were UMC pastors…

I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if the current crop of Presidential candidates were serving as pastors of United Methodist congregations.  See what you think.  (By the way, because of pastor retirement age, some of my scenarios would not fit some of the older candidates, but we’ll overlook that technicality to keep things interesting!)  Here they are in alphabetical order!

PASTOR CARSON – Everybody thinks he is a “great pastor,” and he is renowned for his comforting hospital visits.  In fact not only will he pray for you before surgery, he might even hang around to perform the surgery!  His funerals are always amazing, with a very comforting presence.  Unfortunately, his preaching on Sunday leaves something to be desired.  Put it this way…he’s not the only one in the room with his eyes closed.  Nobody will openly admit to disliking Pastor Carson.  He’s just so nice.  But there was a recent rumor going around recently that he might be retiring.  It turned out to be just a rumor. Still, we have Pastor Carson pegged for staying 3 years at most.

PASTOR CLINTON – She combines a moderate level of strength in all areas, with no obvious weaknesses.  Everyone says she is “solid.”  She is a “loyal trooper” in all things denominational, and extremely involved in district and conference matters.  She is never a showperson in the pulpit, but her preaching is always…well…solid!  It was an adjustment for many to receive their first female senior pastor, but in time, most people seemed to accept her.  The women’s group was pleasantly surprised when her spouse took such a surprisingly keen interest in helping out with the women’s luncheons.  Some church folks do really dislike her, and they always have the Book of Discipline in hand to try to trip her up on something she has done. Several families seem to be boycotting, so attendance has dropped a bit, but finances have never been better, as she seems to always know how to keep the big donors happy.  There are also occasional rumors about incidents at her last church.  Nevertheless, she will serve a “solid” 4 years before becoming a district superintendent.

PASTOR CRUZ – Attendance shot up when he first arrived.  “Finally we have a real Bible preacher!”  Attendance at the pastor’s Bible study also continues to be strong!  But his sermons sometimes run a little long – well a “lot long” – he just keeps going and going and going.  Once he even took to reading a Veggie Tales children’s book from the pulpit. People seem to either really love him or really dislike him.  He preaches complex messages without notes, and seems to know the Bible inside and out, though not everyone agrees with his interpretations.  Surprisingly for a United Methodist, Pastor Cruz doesn’t seem to have a lot of interest in district and conference matters, and he doesn’t get along all that well with his colleagues.  He probably needs to move soon, but we aren’t sure where he could go.  He will probably stay 3, 4, or maybe even 5 years!

PASTOR KASICH – The word is “steady.”  He is a popular, steady presence, and nobody has a bad word to say about him.  Actually, he doesn’t have a bad word to say about other people either.  Did I mention that he is steady?  And he is always so positive…he is a good, inspiring preacher, who has a knack for making you feel better about yourself and the world.  Some do think he needs to be more hard-hitting.  But his staff members are incredibly loyal to him.  He does a great funeral, and grieving family members are always impressed.  Attendance is slightly down, but finances are strong.  The budget is balanced, and the church always pays 100% of its apportionments.  Pastor Kasich will have a good 6 years.

PASTOR RUBIO – The church was so excited to get such a young pastor, and attendance really jumped in the first year.  There was a lot of buzz around town about this new pastor! But there has been some grumbling lately, as he seems to be out of the pulpit way too often. His preaching is never ever dull, but sometimes he does seem to repeat the same Bible verses over and over.  In addition, it seems like every time he attends a seminar, he comes back with a whole new approach, leaving leaders a bit confused.  His ambition is undeniable, and the consensus is that Pastor Rubio will stay only 4 years, because he already has his eye on a bigger church.

PASTOR SANDERS – The church was, of course, surprised to receive their first pastor who had been raised Jewish, and it was also an adjustment since all of his previous experience had been as pastor of an independent congregation.  His preaching is strong and energetic, but not always well received.  He seems to do better with speaking out on controversial issues, than with being a comforting pastoral presence.  It seems that the associate pastor now does all of the hospital visits and funerals. However, the young couples clearly love the way that Pastor Sanders does weddings. Attendance levels have slipped quite a bit.  The finances could be better, but thankfully there are a lot of small contributions from new young members. The old-timers aren’t always impressed, though, and he may wind up staying only 2 years before moving on.

PASTOR TRUMP – He is a senior pastor who has his finger in everything – nothing escapes his attention.  Some long time families have left, and some committee chairs have resigned, but attendance has never been better.  There are some staff issues.  The associate pastor has already requested a move, and the youth director is on mental health leave.  In fact, all of the staff quickly learned not to threaten to resign where Pastor Trump can hear it.  Still the majority of the members are impressed that he seems to be building a larger church instead of dreaming about moving to another church.  He finally motivated the Trustees to tear down the old educational building (even though it was dedicated as a memorial) and funds are being quickly raised for a spectacular state-of-the-art building addition. Pastor Trump does have an annoying habit of criticizing the other pastors and churches in town.  Even his supporters realize he can be controversial, but after having three mild-mannered pastors in a row, they say, “At least you know where he stands!”  He may be in line for a 10 year pastorate, or maybe even longer.

Finally, we do need to give a shout out to a pastor who recently took a surprise early retirement – PASTOR BUSH.  He was always solid, but since both his father and his older brother were bishops, many were surprised that he didn’t match their rise to the top. Although in many ways they are quite different, Pastor Bush and Pastor Clinton share many common traits, in terms of being a “solid presence” and denominationally loyal. Some were beginning to criticize his sermons for being “low energy,” and he really seemed to be aggravated at the growth of Pastor Trump’s congregation, perhaps part of the reason for his early retirement.  Please note that even in his retirement, Pastor Bush is still available to do stewardship campaigns.