Somebody get him outta here.

When will it be enough?

Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images; via  The Guardian

Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images; via The Guardian

So, Trumpie is surprised at what happened after attempting to take his insipid rhetoric and notoriously racist supporters to one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago? I've listed a few of his lovely quotes below, some were listed in Rachel Maddow's commentary and some that I'd saved for my writing. It's clear he's been building a violent, xenophobic rhetoric that angers people, which in turn further whips up his angry supporters. Taking that volatile mixture to Chicago--he knew exactly what he was doing. He incited that violence. It's shocking that it hadn't happened sooner. And yet, with all that he has said and done, people are still trying to say that the whole thing was staged by the "liberals" and "Democrats." 

"He's not a war hero--he's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."
"...knock the crap out of them. I promise I'll pay for the legal fees."
"I love the old days, you know what they would do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks."
"Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore."
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people."

Incitement. When is something going to be done about this man?

Some words to help cope with watching the latest political coverage least I hope so!

 It’s Super Tuesday! Are you afraid? Are you very, very afraid? You should be. But let’s save that conversation for after the results come in, shall we?

Anyway... I have a story for you today. Well, a couple of stories. They're about people I've encountered through life who have taught me about intelligent interaction. Have a seat and start reading.

When I was in high school I became pretty interested in the political process. I used to think it was because I was obsessed with the television series, The West Wing, but it was recently pointed out that I was newly engaged to my husband when it premiered. I was pretty young when A. popped the question at our favorite restaurant, but I was at least a couple of years on the correct side of legal adulthood!

So, I guess all of the credit for this interest goes to my parents, teachers, and the week I spent in the Presidential Classroom program in Washington. However, I can’t leave Congressman Jim Clyburn out of this. One day I was allowed to skip the several hours we were to spend with at the Canadian Embassy* to shadow the South Carolina representative. I was pretty proud of myself when I walked into his office. I’d spent the week learning about the importance of going into a political discussion armed with facts and knowledge supporting both sides of an argument, been offered an internship by a lobbying firm,**and frustrated several boys by besting them in many of our daily debate practices. By the time I started playing authorized hooky I was about as bigheaded as a teenager can get. I wonder if Congressman Clyburn noticed my newfound arrogance when he found me eating cupcakes with his staff in his reception room. He probably did, because it wasn’t the first time we’d met (he and my parents were friendly at the time, and I’d been stung by a wasp on his Lake Marion fishing dock at least twice). I remember his Congressional aide giving him a good-natured roll of her eyes when he emerged from his office, then looking back at me and saying, “Don’t let him give you a hard time, but he’s about to completely wear you out.”

I basically had to sprint to keep up with Congressman Clyburn’s impossibly zippy stride as we navigated Capitol Hill’s underground tunnels. We waved to freshman Rep. Sonny Bono, who chuckled at the sight of a fit sixteen-year-old gulping for air in order to keep up with a man in his mid-fifties. I sat in on a couple of meetings. I don’t remember what they were about because I was too grateful to be seated, but I remember being asked by other representatives what I thought about a thing or two. Hopefully my memory lapse here means I didn’t say anything too embarrassing. 

Later, Congressman Clyburn's aide met us and we pushed our way through the crowd heading to the floor for roll call and and voting. The three of us were smashed into an elevator in which the aide and I were the only females, and since I hadn’t yet hit my full height of 5’5”, all I could see was the black and navy fabric of several suits. 

When the men exited, I remained on the elevator with the aide to continue further up to a viewing area. 

“Did you see him?” she breathed excitedly when the elevator doors closed.

“Who?” I asked, worrying about the extent to which I’d sweat through my brand-new houndstooth blazer.

“John F. Kennedy, Jr. almost got into the elevator with us just now!”

image of John F. Kennedy, Jr. via

image of John F. Kennedy, Jr. via

At this point, our ten-or-so year age difference leveled out as we squealed, and when we got to our viewing spot we proceeded to crouch, lean, crawl, and whisper back and forth in order to catch a glimpse of Kennedy’s gorgeous hair. The thought didn’t even occur to me to ask why he was on the House floor. I was too enthralled by it all — the meetings where Republicans and Democrats convivially worked out the business of government and the feeling of being at the site where the country’s most important decisions were made. I was especially overwhelmed by my newfound humility as I realized the amount of knowledge,  worldly acumen, and intellectual ability required to keep up with a crowd like this. While I never gained any political aspirations, I was a hooked superfan — not of a particular political party, but of the American political system. I wish I could say the same as an adult in 2016.

People sometimes ask when I knew I wanted to be a writer. The short answer (in what’s become a very long post) is that I don’t really remember not wanting to be a writer. The experience I just described with Congressman Clyburn (which I doubt he even remembers — he was busy working, after all!) was an important shift in my journey toward an inherent knowledge of who I was to become as a writer, which is more important than knowing what I want to write about or in what genre. I credit those few hours as significant to the directional pull of my life and work philosophies.

I found myself thinking about this the other day when my friend Alicia Barnes interviewed Congressman Clyburn the day after the South Carolina Democratic Primary. Alicia is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. Admittedly, I’m not an easy person to get to know past a superficial level. I don’t know if that’s due to my astrological sign (Capricorns rule the world!) or because I was one of those children who considered books to be better playmates than most humans could be, but it’s an understandably annoying trait to past, present, and future confidantes. I’m sure that as a result I’ve occasionally come off as snobby or self-centered, when the truth is that I’m easily distracted into becoming so hyperfocused that I forget there’s a world outside my office, which turns into a spiral of thinking the world is too busy to hang out with me. Alicia is one of those friends who doggedly pushed through that. She’s one of my little crew of friends who taught me what it means to keep special friendships as a grown-up. 

When Alicia interviewed Congressman Clyburn, I could see that dogged care she applies to her friendships being applied to her viewers. She was honestly representing their concerns to their U.S. representative, while also asking the types of questions our population isn’t trained to ask anymore when it comes to analyzing and sizing up presidential candidates.

Even earlier in the week another friend asked a question at CNN's Democratic Town Hall Meeting. To say that Marjory Wentworth is an intellectual and thoughtful person does no justice. Her mind always works at an intellectual clip that is faster than everyone else's in the room. If you don't already know Marjory's work (she's poet laureate for S.C. and writes brilliant prose, as well), you will be unable to avoid it in the very near future. 

It gave me hope to see some of the people who've taught me about grown-up interactions and friendships appearing in front of the world in an effort to make clear away some of the rhetorical noise and finally spur some important, critical thought into this mess of an election cycle. If these three got through my hard head during different phases of life, perhaps there are more out there effectively working to get through the hard heads who are making it unbearable to watch television or even have a dinner party conversation. Check out what Marjory had to say below, but first--and I hate to do this--I need to post a warning:

 I’m not posting these videos here for people to leave comments that are anything but what I described above regarding the way one is supposed to enter political discourse. It would make my week to see proof that people can log onto the internet to discuss the political landscape without resulting to name-calling, rhetoric-parroting, and unintelligent babble. If you have something to say about the candidates or anyone else here, do so respectfully and knowledgeably, which means you should have read something about them someplace other than a partisan blog before having something to say.


*Sorry, Canada. Please don’t hold that against me if I come knocking at your door next January.

**Short version: I struck up a conversation with some guy on the Capitol subway, told him why there were so many 15- and 16-year olds on the train, and then proceeded to try out my new information-based conversation skills on the poor guy. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I hadn’t yet learned what one is supposed to do when given a business card and a request to keep in touch.

It's not about that. It's not even about you.

Y'all. I'm going to get the hang of this video thing, I promise. I will. Really. [insert eye roll here]. A combination of gaffes and slow internet speeds have me posting my latest YouTube video two days after it made it onto the channel, and that was still uploaded later than intended because of the late hour in which it ended up being recorded due to me fumbling with the camera equipment (and disconnecting the mic in the process). 

Anyhow, last week Nikki Haley was inaugurated into her second term as governor of South Carolina. If you've read a blog post or two of mine over the years, you'd probably guess (correctly) that I lean a bit to the left of the American political spectrum. If you've read more than a post or two of mine of the years, you know that I think our current obsession with identity politics is asinine and childish. The United States is like an abnormal cell that can't stop dividing itself over and over again. The country has divided itself into factions according to economic, social, racial and regional lines. Now it's found another way to draw lines amongst groups within groups within groups. One can increasingly hear disdainful tones when Democrat and Republican voters refer to each other. At this rate we'll be a country made up of alienated, isolated individuals who don't leave their homes within the next 30 years. 

I don't agree with many of Gov. Haley's policies, and even some procedures, but her family was the first to fully welcome mine when we moved to South Carolina in 1989. When the Randhawa's women's clothing store was in Bamberg, I would hide beneath racks of clothes and lose myself in Anne of Green Gables while my mother shopped, talked, and took refuge from the strangeness of the place to which we'd moved. Mr. and Mrs. Randhawa would set a special candy treat aside for me during the holidays. It was a simple mixture of caramel and chocolate, and Mr. Randhawa would always tell me that the confection company created by drizzling hot caramel over hard-packed snow so it would harden, then dipping it in the chocolate. Our families were close for many years until distance and life separated the two. As my parents found social outlets around the community, Nikki and her sister, Simi, would sometimes babysit me when my parents went out. These memories are important to me because they were a warming ray of light during a time that was, frankly, very lonely for my parents and me. So when some dear friends invited me to tag along to the inaugural ball last week I had to stop and think about it for a minute. I have friends of all political persuasions, but I wouldn't normally go to the inaugural festivities of a GOP official, but this was different (of course, it was to celebrate incoming legislators, as well, but I don't know anyone who ran for office and won this year). I don't keep in touch with the governor or her family other than greetings in passing. Also, there had been that snafu with my friend and mentor, Marjory Wentworth, who is South Carolina's poet laureate. I don't know why Marjory wasn't included in the inauguration when participation is typically one of the duties of the job. It was a move that didn't sit well with me, whether or not it was intentional. 

But then I thought: 

Your dear friends have offered you an expensive and coveted ticket.

You like hanging out with them.

There will be food.

There will be a band.

There will be dancing.

You can pay someone else to go through the exhausting process of wrestling the kids to bed.

It would be really nice to give Mrs. Randhawa a big hug.

There will be political characters in attendance who represent pretty much any and everything.

You've never been to an inaugural ball before. 

It could be a lot of fun.

Oh, and this isn't about you. It's about celebrating the state where you've chosen to live--the good, the bad, and the confusing.

I went to the ball. I had a wonderful time. I hugged Mrs. Randhawa AND Gov. Haley.  I ate too much. I danced too much. Everyone was glad to see everyone. No one was talking about politics. Not even this guy: 

Yep. That's me and Gov. Chris Christie. My husband almost passed out when he saw the photo. Ha!

Yep. That's me and Gov. Chris Christie. My husband almost passed out when he saw the photo. Ha!

Before I went out, however, I read Marjory's poem into my camera, which is in the video below. Sorry about the sound quality, but enjoy!