Yes 2016 is different from 2008 but some things are not

There are several major differences between 2008 and 2016, and no I’m not referring to how bad the job market had gotten by 2008.  I don’t blame President George W. Bush.  There were factors within his control, within the control of Congress, but the country is no longer isolated and no entity can control every event and stop the proverbial butterfly from flapping its wings.  I’ll let y’all in on a secret that shouldn’t be a secret.  It’s true that Mitch McConnell did not make his “one term” statement about Barack Obama until 2010.

It was September 2009, however, when Joe Wilson shouted “you lie,” and Louie Gohmert wore his ridiculous “what bill” sign hanging from his neck.  Even before Barack Obama took the oath of office, it was obstructionism, not opposition.  As per his predecessors in the Oval Office, only John Quincy Adams faced similar sabotage of our government, and like his Dad did not attend the inauguration of his successor.  Still both father and son continued to work for the good of this country after their presidencies just as George H.W. and George W. Bush.

Barack Obama appears to be of the same attitude.

In his fourth press conference in a week of sounding out to Americans and world leaders what he thinks they should think about President-elect Donald Trump, Obama urged congressional Democrats not to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) model of lockstep resistance against him eight years ago, but to quickly activate all over the country and avoid “micro-targeting.”

“I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance,” Obama said, but “as an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes.”

Still the conservative and alt-right media along with its followers find fault with President Obama’s statement.  Is it because Americans are not supposed to speak out and to follow blindly?

Was Barack Obama perfect?  Of course not.

What strikes me about the opposition to President Obama, however, is few can cite the EOs, EMs, EAs that he actually issued which they oppose.  I’m not even referring to knowing the differences between the three, but just the subject.  Some of these issues existed long before Barack Obama took office, and many more were more akin to “tilting at windmills” in Don Quixote lore.

Most of the conservative and alt-right media and its fans tend to cite stuff that never happened or stuff that had to be done based upon conditions set prior to his presidency in their criticisms

Most from this side fail to differentiate between an issue where the US was the sole operative versus one where the US was one of many involved.

I admit that much of what I’m contending about the opposition to Barack Obama can also be said of the opposition to George W. Bush.

Society has become that polarized, and fewer and fewer seem willing to acknowledge both positives and negatives. Both individuals as President of the United States made mistakes, but I find it difficult to consider either as anti-American.

It’s not that all Americans are supposed to follow blindly as some of the more vocal proponents of Donald Trump have been asserting, but with Barack Obama it’s difficult to not admit that race has played a role in how he has been perceived.

Many people, regardless of where they might be on an ideology scale, become disheveled at the mention of race.  They think race is an excuse or some type of easy out.

My point is that if race were an excuse or easy, we would not be having discussions about race relations today.  Whether things happen in the darkness or beneath a spotlight; whether words are whispered or shouted from the rooftops, racial issues have been and will continue to play a role in our lives.

Why?  My opinion is that we as adults somehow lose the knowledge and wisdom of the smallest of children.  At one time all of us had that ability to overcome such shortcomings, but as we got older, albeit to differing degrees, we either forget or lose the ability.  Why?  I wish someone would tell me.

From Scott Woods Makes Lists:

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.

Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.

It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

Admittedly, I know next to nothing about Mr. Woods except that he and I have different skin colors.  He describes an ugly topic eloquently, and I cannot say that I disagree even though I’m looking from a different perspective.

Using the term racism does not label either you or me as people who hate.  Just for the sake of argument, leave race out and think only in terms of privilege.  We are all born with certain privileges.  While I had food and shelter as an infant, I never had the physical attributes to say play in the NFL.  I never had the ability to be a great musician or artist even if I had been immersed within that environment as babe.

With that perspective I’ll expand upon Mr. Woods’s thoughts so that another aspect, discrimination, is considered.

Discrimination may know race; it may know gender; it may know identity; shape; size; it is another creation that manifests itself throughout multiple layers.  Discrimination imbues us all, and the stains cannot be washed away.

Consider my birth state of Louisiana.  Attorney General Jeff Landry and a growing number of Republicans in the state legislature are suing Governor John Bel Edwards because they are “unhappy” with an executive order that adds protections against discrimination and harassment.  Specifically, the protections offered against discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender, race, religion, et al, now include the same protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender state government workers.

Look at the Executive Order:

“No state agencies, departments, offices, commissions, boards, entities or officers of the State of Louisiana shall harass or discriminate on the basis of….”

“All contracts for the purchase of services by any state agencies, departments, offices, commissions, boards, entities, or officers of the state of Louisiana shall be awarded without discrimination on the basis of….”

“Further, all such contracts shall include a provision that the contractor shall not discriminate on the basis [of]….”

I don’t know what’s sadder:

A) that governmental policies have to include such statements because honestly we should not tolerate harassment and discrimination.

B) that the AG along with a cackle of state legislators who campaign against safety net programs, argue that others have removed God from the public square, yet promote a message of no special treatment, and let the “best” succeed, are suing to allow discrimination and harassment for others.

Could it be that they really do not “hate” people in the LGBT community?  Could it be because some people are not racists because we do not “hate” someone with a different skin color?  Could it be that we are not bigots and so on?

I wonder if Mr. Landry and his fellow plaintiffs fear having the privilege they have always been afforded removed.

It’s like Mr. Woods alluded to with racism.  It isn’t simple and easily understood because it is multi-faceted and exists throughout multiple generations.

To explain using my own style of verbiage.

Some of us have been awarded a running start while others must begin their race after getting set in the starting block.  Think of the race taking place on a football field.  Some of us because of things in the past, not of our doing, only have to travel 10 yards to reach the endzone while others must travel 40, 60, or 99 yards to reach that endzone.  Still more have to find a way to make it out onto the field before they can even see the endzone.

Nothing will ever make it possible for everyone to start from the same point.  We should not pull those who start ahead of us back.  We should try to catch up with those who are ahead.  We should try to assist and to encourage those who start behind us.

Often where we end depends upon where we started.

I may have rambled with the combinations of 2008, 2016, racism, and discrimination along with Barack Obama, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, John Bel Edwards, and Jeff Landry.  Sadly, the topics and individuals are connected.

What does this mean to me?

People are people, nothing more and nothing less.  We are different, yet we are all the same.

I’m concerned because when we combine what has never been solved with a decreasing knowledge and perhaps even a decreasing interest in the study of history and people, where do we go?

Historically, the precedents are scary.