When I was graduating high school and getting ready to go to college, the first person in our family to do so, one of my favorite Great Aunts said to me “Always remember where you come from. Don’t ever forget.”
Those words have stuck with me. I’ve lived in three major cities and worked with a wide range of people from the highest levels of government to the highest levels in the private sector. All along I’ve always remembered where I come from. I remember the struggles, the joblessness the poverty. I remember how hard the span of time that represents my entire lifetime has been for families and small towns like ours. I always remember the goodness and sense of community of our families and our neighbors’ families.
At the heart of where I come from is a faith in common sense. Not everything that can be known can be learned from a book. Sometimes too much time spent in books and schools can bring you to lose something we call “common sense.” It’s this common sense that I want to talk about here. I could spend page upon page arguing about policy point by point, issue by issue, but experts, policy wonks and pundits alike have all done that. In many cases, conservatives and republicans, newspapers who had endorsed republican candidates for decades, and more have all sounded the alarm of the dangers and very real jeopardy electing a person like Donald Trump to the presidency would bring. Rather than walk down that same road I’d rather talk about this election from the perspective of common sense.
I have to admit that I wasn’t worried in the days leading up to the election. I was so confident in the common sense and basic decency of families like ours that I truly believed Trump would lose in the largest landslide our nation has ever seen. Common sense would rule the day, obviously I was wrong.
Let’s Start With The Issues Affecting Families Like Ours
These are the issues I think most Americans are concerned with, and I think they are the issues that show most clearly how basic common sense failed us.
It’s no newsflash that we live in a dangerous world. All of us are concerned about our security and in a family like ours with so many who have and so many who are serving, national security is of particular importance.
Our enemies wanted Trump to win. Think about that.
Our enemies wanted Trump to win.
Do you think they wanted him to win because he would “Make America Great Again?”
Common sense tells you that if our enemies like Russia, ISIS, and Iran want Trump to win, it’s probably not the best choice for us. It broke days after the election that the Kremlin confirmed they were working with the Trump campaign. But again this shouldn’t be news to anyone, common sense would tell you that if the Russians only hacked one party they were working with the other.
I know how important jobs are to families and the towns like the one I grew up in. For my entire life jobs have been leaving this country. For my entire life middle class families have taken on more of the burden while our wages have remained stagnant. In my personal opinion, jobs may be the biggest issue we face.
Our family is one of farmers, electricians, carpenters, nurses and aircraft mechanics. Our family knows what it means to work hard. We know an honest day’s work.
Donald Trump was born rich. He was given everything by his father. He’s never worked an honest day in his life. He knows nothing of what it means to work in the fields, to build a neighbor’s home or to stand on his feet for a 12 hour graveyard shift to feed his family. As entitled as Trump is he still feels its quite fair to abuse his wealth and power and steal the work of people and families like ours. It’s well documented and indeed Donald Trump brags about failing to pay carpenters and laborers who have worked for him as being “good business.”
When facing the choice to create jobs here at home or send them overseas, Donald Trump has all too often sent those jobs overseas. You don’t want to know how he treats workers there.
It seemed simple common sense that our family and families like ours would reject a man who values work and workers like us so little. It seems common sense that we would turn our backs on a man who would steal the labor of even one blue collar worker who so easily could have been one of us.
Setting aside issues and policy, the decision on character is a no brainer. The entire world, save our enemies, feared a Trump presidency. The things Trump said and did on the campaign trail and as we discovered along the way, throughout his entire life would disqualify him from sitting down with our family for dinner much less leading the free world.
Here is where you say “but what about those email servers?”
First, the Russians and WikiLeaks saw to it that you could see about those emails yourself. You can read them for yourselves, they are now freely and widely available. I look forward to hearing the terrible things you discover in them that the FBI and the rest of the world missed.
No, this email issue was like the other 25 years of Hillary and Clinton bashing, a simple witch hunt. Common sense tells you so when you consider Colin Powell did the very same thing. In fact, he literally told her how to do it. Where was the investigation into Colin Powell? Where is the outcry that he too is somehow “crooked?” No, this is simply a witch hunt.
Now I hear you say “Benghazi.”
We’ve spent millions of taxpayer dollars on at least seven congressional inquiries. Nothing has ever been found. The intent here isn’t to find anything but to sow doubt in the minds of America, to further the narrative that Hillary is somehow crooked.
There is no doubt that every American life is precious, and the four Americans lost that day is tragic. But what of the 4,424 lost in Iraq and the additional 31,952 wounded in action? We know Bush and Cheney lied their way into the Iraq war. We know they forced our intelligence agencies to falsify intelligence. We know they rewrote intelligence to create a narrative for war. We know in leaked memos that big industries like oil and defense were pushing for this false war. But I don’t hear cries for investigations in honor of the 4,424 lives lost on this colossal lie. If four lives are worth seven congressional inquiries and $30 million, how many investigations must there be for the 36,376 Americans we sent into harm’s way based on a lie?
This has been the Republican approach for 25 years. They delay the government. They block everything. They sow seeds of doubt about the government, about whoever is in office. After 25 years of obstruction and delay it would seem common sense for us to move on.
The question of character is incredibly clear and we still didn’t see it.
I have dozens of reasons I’m deeply concerned about a Trump presidency, but here are three.
I know that many of my family members don’t believe Climate Change is happening. There is absolute certainty that it is. Even if you don’t believe the science and the 97% of climate scientists who agree it’s happening and that we are the cause, maybe you’ll believe the Pentagon when they say it is one of our biggest security risks we face as a nation.
The risks of climate change are so great they can’t be understated. We wasted a decade when Bush became president rather than Al Gore. Because of Republican obstructionism we lost almost another decade with little action during Obama’s presidency, and we stand to lose another four or even eight years to a Trump presidency.
We simply can't wait. Our children and grandchildren will see the effects directly. They will suffer the food and water shortages, the market fluctuations, the wars, the extinctions.
But wait we will.
It’s all but certain that Obamacare will be killed.
The fact of the matter is that this means millions of Americans (to date 24 million) will lose their healthcare. Imperfect as Obamacare is, it has and is helping tens of millions of Americans. For example one of my family members has a pre-existing health condition. In spite of working a full time job this person was never able to manage a very manageable, but very life threatening disease. Because of Obamacare this person was able to get healthcare and almost certainly extend their life.
In my own case, I haven’t had healthcare since the recession. Even with Obamacare our family simply can’t afford to insure us all. So we ensure Elisha and the boys. Without Obamacare, without extending and expanding it, we’ll almost certainly never be able to afford insurance for me.
Obamacare isn’t some talking point to despise. It’s real. It affects people’s lives and those lives are here in our family.
I know the hearts of our family and many families like ours are good. I know racism exists in this country. I know there are some who hate, but I don’t believe we are among them. Yet when we elected Trump we went from a nation with issues of racism, classism, sexism that we were struggling to fix, to being a racist nation, a sexist nation, a nation of hate.
I simply don’t want to be part of a nation that endorses this kind of hatred. I simply don’t want to raise our children amongst this kind of pointless, senseless, baseless hate.
The reports of the worst among us being emboldened to attack our fellow Americans are already rolling in. People are already fearing for their families, their children and maybe even their lives.
This can’t be who we are.
Never Forget Where You Come From
My Aunt’s words still echo in my mind. As many of you know, I ran for office. Before that and after, I’ve done more community organizing than you could imagine. I’ve focused my work on middle class issues like wages and jobs. I’ve focused my work on fighting corruption and defending everyday people like us from the big money and oversized influence of people like Trump. I’ve focused my work on defending individual liberty and the constitution.
Because I know the great military history of our family, I intend to preserve the rights of the nation our family has fought so hard to defend.
I do these things because I have never forgotten where I come from. I fight because I have seen and lived the struggles of America’s shrinking middle class. We’re under attack from all sides and we have to stand up and fight to save our great country.
My own experience in this work is that it isn’t conservatives who stand shoulder to shoulder fighting for middle class jobs, higher wages and everything I’ve described here, it’s liberals. I’ve reached out to conservatives time and again and they simply aren’t interested.
As one person who thinks of himself as conservative said recently on Facebook “people don’t understand how bad government is.” Well, that bad government he laments is republican, only he chooses not to realize it. The GOP controls most of the state houses (31). The GOP controls most of the governorships (33). The GOP controls the House. The GOP controls the Senate. Now they also control the Presidency.
My entire life the country has become more and more conservative. Government has become less and less effective. The Great American Middle Class has grown weaker and weaker. The great conservative movement has methodically and deliberately done everything it can to dismantle our country, and with Trump they may have finally done it.
For me it’s common sense to fight, but with our nation being capable of making such a tragically flawed decision, a decision that defies all common sense, I hope it’s not too late.