My ballot for the Democratic primary arrived by postal carrier last week. I sat the large envelope next to my computer as a reminder to vote and send it back in time to be counted among the few blue voters in Utah.
The 2016 election feels like a decade ago. Each election season the candidates tell us this year is the most important election in the country’s history. I guess that’s how it goes, but was the 2000 race between Bush and Gore more historically significant than the 1980 race between Reagan and Carter? Who knows.
What I do know is that the 2020 election feels important for a number of reasons. Gas prices are low, as is unemployment. Economic indicators look pretty good, especially if you can afford to invest. We might at war in the Middle East, but it doesn’t feel like we are at war, and that’s important. The biggest threat to the country might be the coronavirus.
I’m not a Trump fan which should come as no surprise. I used to follow the nonsense in Washington D.C. a lot more than I do today, but it became exhausting and depressing. Tuning into Maddow used to be part of my nightly routine. While I still admire her work, I refuse to add more Trump news into my life than already sneaks into conversation.
So I finally opened my ballot and ran my finger down the list of candidates. I didn’t recognize some of the names. I just barely started spelling Klobuchar correctly. All summer, I was learning toward Warren, and she remain the only candidate I’ve supported with my wallet. I read up on Pete and liked what I found. Biden has never connected with me. And neither had Sanders until recently. Bloomberg? The former REPUBLICAN mayor of NY? No.
One of my favorite shows on TV is The Weekly on FX. I watched the episode where the NYT interviewed all the Democrat candidates in preparation for their sought after endorsement. Based solely on those interviews, I came away most impressed with Klobuchar and Warren. The NYT happened to endorse both candidates. And while both have shined in the debates, neither has a clear path to the nomination and little momentum heading into Super Tuesday.
I stared at my ballot for a few minutes. With whom do I align with the most? Which candidate annoys me the least? Which seems the most presidential? Which one will tell Moscow Mitch to go to hell every day? But it really came down to one question: Which candidate do I believe can beat Trump in November?
I voted accordingly.
One of the things I’m most proud of as a parent is giving my children the gift to believe or not to believe.
It will be their choice either way. They won’t be forced to attend the same church I was raised in. I like this quote from Richard Dawkins:
It is a remarkable coincidence that almost everyone has the same religion as their parents and it always just happens to be the right religion.
Children naturally gravitate to the belief system of their parents. Whether your parents are Catholic, Buddist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Mormon or one of the nearly 4200 religions around the world, there is a good chance the religion you believe to be true will be the same one your parents believe to be true.
If our children want to try out different churches, they are welcome to do so. Even though I don’t believe in God, I will encourage them to learn as much as they can about the people, history, and doctrine of any religion they consider joining.
Something in American politics changed this week.
A CIA agent finally blew the whistle on the Trump Crime Family who has taken up residence in the White House.
The tapes brought down Nixon. No, Nixon’s own words on the tapes brought down his presidency. We might have a similar situation where Trump’s own words result in his demise.
But something changed.
A person in a position of authority spoke up. He or she saw corruption at the highest levels of our government and submitted a formal complaint that neither Trump nor his cronies can bribe to make it go away.
We are still in the early innings of this political saga. Grab some popcorn and take a seat. It’s going to be a wild ride.
When many people know something is true, they stop asking questions.
This is especially dangerous when the truth isn’t based on science or provable facts, but rather feelings or hunches. I once belonged to a church that asked its members to pray to God if the church was true. If God gave you a feeling, it was true! If God didn’t give you a feeling, then keep praying until you got an answer.
It all feels so manipulative today.
Millions….no billions of people were born into a religion chosen by their parents or other family members. Many never ask themselves this question: What if the only religion I know isn’t true? Or worse, what if the only religion I know is harmful?
Never stop asking questions. Never stop asking for evidence. Remain involved if the organization is a net positive in your life. But continue to be skeptical. Skepticism isn’t a sign of weakness, rather a sign of intelligence and willingness to change one’s mind.
One thought that helped me step away from my religion was asking myself what the chances were that I was born into the “one true” religion out of the nearly 4200 different religions around the world. From a probability standpoint, I had a .02% chance my parents chose the true religion. This exercise assumes one truth which is absurd on its own.
How do you like your chances?
Both topics to challenging to discuss, especially with those close to us.
I don’t recall my parents talking about politics with their children or with each other. When I was very young, my father worked at a Junior High School, and sometimes he’d take me into his classroom. One time I remember he turned on a black and white TV to listen to the Watergate hearings as he worked.
I assumed my parents were Republicans because they backed Reagan and Bush Sr. And they were Mormon. At an early age, it was made clear to me that Mormons were Republicans. Democrats were dangerous. Nevermind that Nixon was Republican.
It would be many years later while attending the University of Utah that my political views began to lean Democrat. My interest in Mormonism also began to wane as what I was told at church didn’t match up with what I believed or felt inside.
I wonder what path my children will take?
Kim and discuss politics around the home quite often. Religious discussions happen in our home, but not as much as before. If they do, it’s because I bring up the topic. I’m proud that my children are being raised outside of any religion. Young minds are too fertile to taint with religious dogma.
As a parent, I want to allow my children to find their own path. To experiment. To make mistakes. To experience sorrow and joy. I don’t assume my path is the best fit for them.
I’m excited to see what they do with their lives without the pressure of belonging to a certain religion.
When I joined Facebook back in 2006 or 2007, I thought it was new and exciting to connect with friends I hadn’t seen since high school. And it was exciting for a while.
By the time the 2016 election rolled around, Facebook had become a platform to spout your political views and argue with anyone who didn’t espouse them. Rinse and repeat until Trump took over the white house and I’d had enough.
Hello, my old blog!
But I’d changed. I wasn’t in the habit of writing longer posts, and I assumed posts shouldn’t be fleeting, short thoughts like I added to Facebook and Twitter over the past decade.
Then I noticed something that Dave Winer, author of Scripting News, was doing. Each day he was adding one or more short posts to his blog. He might add four or most posts a day and yet none of them would add up to more than a paragraph. Was he treating his blog like one might treat adding content to Facebook or Twitter? I dunno, and I didn’t care.
I found myself coming back to his blog a few times a day. If the content was interesting, who the hell cares about the word count? I decided to do the same last week. I’ve only managed to add a post a day, but they are much shorter than what I used to post.
It feels great to get back to my blog. I’m building something again that doesn’t belong to anyone but me. And I don’t feel any pressure to wait till I have that polished thought to post.
Thanks, Dave, for getting me back on track.
The ability to say, no.
No, don’t touch me like that.
No, I won’t get in your car.
No, I don’t feel comfortable doing that.
When you can say, no, you are in control.
Learn it early. Use it as needed.