My Vote for President – 2016

  • Posted: October 18, 2016
  • Category: Blog
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There lies within me the very strong desire to get along, to avoid conflict. Is it nature or is it nurture? My German/Ukranian heritage leans toward the warrior’s disdain for compromise, but my small physical size argued otherwise. I learned very early in life that a confrontation on the schoolyard meant that I got hurt. This pronounced characteristic in myself has only grown stronger with a life’s experience over the years. As an adult, even though I have strong opinions about most everything, it was driven home to me early on that the cost of being right was far too high, way out of proportion to its value.

Perhaps if I was to put down an honest summary of my approach to life, it might be a paraphrase of Sun Tzu:

‘Fight only battles that are worth fighting, and fight only battles that you can win.”

Even so, I find myself in conflict with others, with organizations, with life itself, far too often. As I mentioned earlier, there are great costs in fighting for what you believe to be right, to be true, to be fair. But there are also benefits, mostly unexpected ones. Not least of which is that in fighting for what I believe in, I often find myself in the wrong. Nothing exposes the errors and faulty assumptions in my own thoughts quite like having to defend them. Nothing exposes the unfairness and selfishness of my actions more clearly than carrying them out.

But sometimes, the argument must be had, the hateful and angry words must be spoken. One can only pretend for so long before the lie corrodes the soul. Some truths about ourselves are so deep and true, that they must be spoken aloud, either among friends who believe as we do and support us, or in angry confrontation with those who dare to disregard our truth.

One of our Presidential candidates was caught in such a moment back in mid-September. Hillary was in the middle of friends and supporters at a fundraiser for wealthy, as if there were any other kind, friends of Clinton in Manhattan. Barbra Streisand and Rufus Wainwright were on hand to entertain. Hillary was among friends and amid the intense pressure of a Presidential campaign it was a time to let her hair down and just tell it like it is, secure in the encouragement and support of fellow believers.

And so while the crowd laughed and applauded, Hillary let us know what she thinks:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” she said to applause and laughter. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. (NY Times; Sept. 10, 2016)

hillary-babra

There, it’s been said. That is the problem with speaking the truth; words said can’t be unsaid. Even the Clintons, those masters of obfuscation, are sometimes caught in the sticky webs of their own words. Even if the words are true, hearing them spoken aloud causes a tear in the social fabric. What only God knew, and our wife suspected, about us before is now laid bare to the world. The curtain of little white lies and polite behavior allowing us to rub shoulders with that which we despise is torn aside and we are left exposed.

Hillary and her friends giggle and clap as she tells it like it is. They are the cool kids at the cafeteria table in high school giggling at the fat awkward girl with acne, sitting alone and reading her Bible. They are the jock’s tripping the little guy carrying his books, roaring with laughter as he flails away in a clumsy attempt to keep his glasses on as he tumbles down the stairs. They are only pointing out the obvious. In the adult world, the cool kids go by many names; the politicians and regulators, the professional class, the 10%, whatever. What they have in common is that the world works for them. The cool kids are on top of the world and they know it. It is their birthright.

Hillary and her educated friends in the professional class would be the first to shame those who use stereotypes and generalizations about people, despite the blatant generalization and stereotyping in her words. The professional class, i.e. the cool kids, are taught in school that it is not polite to categorize people, unless of course doing so allows someone to claim a legally mandated set aside. But real people living in a real world know their subtle truths. Generalizations sometimes blind us and make us stupid, but they also allow us insight into the trackless complexity of life. Stereotypes can insult and demean, but they also allow us to navigate the unknown.

Trump’s supporters are exactly what Hillary calls them. In the modern sense of the world, Trump’s people are racists. Trump’s people avoid certain parts of their city because they are frightened of the violence, the drugs, the social pathologies running free of restraint there. They have seen the trump card of “race” played again and again in dealing with their government, their workplace and their school.

In the modern sense of the world, Trump’s people are sexists. These people believe that men and women are different, just as God said. They believe that it is respectful and courteous for men to extend certain acts of kindness to women. They believe that it is respectful and courteous for women to extend certain acts of kindness to men. They believe that sex is an act of love between a man and a woman who are committed to each other. They have seen the trump card of “gender” played again and again in dealing with their government, their workplace and their school.

In the modern sense of the word, Trump’s people are homophobic. They know a homosexual or two, at work, friend or family. The hidden reality of homosexuality is deeply repulsive to them, but they co-exist in peace, as long as it isn’t rubbed in their nose. They remember the AIDS epidemic and its repulsive expose of wholesale promiscuity and irresponsibility in the homosexual community. They see the sudden ubiquity and prominence of monogamous saccharine homosexuals on TV. They have seen this show before and strongly suspect another trump card to soon be put into place, the “LGBT” card.

In the modern sense of the word, they are xenophobic. Trump’s people, their kids with their own families, their communities are under heavy pressure. The world they grew up in, the certainties they built their lives on are eroding away like a sandcastle before the ocean’s waves. Their own leaders, the spokesmen for their own country, call them deplorable, barely disguising their contempt for them. Trump supporters are outraged by the need for bi-lingual signs on everything. These new migrants are given special rights from the government, the same government that takes their own rights away.

In the modern sense of the word, Trump’s people are Islamaphobic. They watched the twin towers collapse on 9/11. They have seen the killing and atrocity, the enslavement and horrors brought about by young men in burkas shouting “Allah Akbar”. They watch women in burkas walking down their streets, just like the ones that murder and suicide bomb on the news. They watch their own leaders stubbornly refuse to recognize, or even talk about, the obvious hatred of radical Islam and its leaders for the United States.

Speaking at the New York fund-raiser, Hillary didn’t list all the silly and hateful things that make Trump’s people deplorable. She simply used the catchall phrase “you name it”. While Hillary and President Obama have their differences, I have no doubt that our President spoke for her, expanding her list, when he let his temper carry him away while neatly expressing his own thoughts on the deplorables before another crowd of the cool kids in San Francisco:

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or . . .”

How does a modern, educated, professional person, i.e. a cool kid, have anything but contempt for someone clinging to guns or religion? The more enlightened among them might feel sympathy for the appalling ignorance shown by such people, evidently their education was lacking. It’s okay, for reasons of vote-getting or family relationships, to profess a vanilla faith, like Hillary’s own running mate, Tim Kaine. But to actually own a gun or accommodate actual spiritual beliefs in your working life? That is simply deplorable. No wonder Trump’s people are falling behind in the race for success and status.

The cool kids are right, even though they have tried to remember their training and education, not speaking the uncomfortable obvious before now. Many of the people supporting Donald Trump are deplorable, in the modern sense of the word. The question is –am I deplorable? Or do I want to continue to be, or imitate anyway, a cool kid? I can hold my nose, remember my station in life, my professional education and career, my nice suburban existence and my desire for a certain substance in those who speak for my country. If I do that, I will vote with the cool kids for Hillary. Or I can hold my nose and become a figure of fun and disrespect, a deplorable voting for The Donald.

Despite doing my best to be a cool kid all my life, I know the cool kids see through me. They know I am a fraud. I worked at it, tried hard, and on my best days in high school, I might have been a provisional cool kid. More often, much more often, I was the dork falling down the steps trying to keep my glasses from flying off. I didn’t have the strength of character to sit at a cafeteria table reading a Bible, even though I did dress badly and suffer from serious acne. But who doesn’t remember their high school years as awkward? It is said that even Barbra Streisand had a hard time in high school.

Adolescence aside, it was adult life, my career, that taught me what I know about being deplorable. I spent my work life as an engineer. Being an engineer requires a certain talent for logic and mathematics. There is more than a little schizophrenia in our world about people with a talent for logic and mathematics. On the one hand, those talents can be used to make a good living. In fact, there is an entire eco-system of do-gooders pushing and pulling young girls into such careers for that very reason.

But what the world gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. In common with pornographers, engineers are paid well in dollars but are ignored at best, shamed at worst. There is little honor accorded those whose talents lead them into engineering and the hard sciences. Professional parents proudly drop into their cocktail conversation that their child has passed The Bar or taken their CPA. Those whose progeny are Doctors, the Gold Standard of the suburbs, bask in the reflected glory of their children. Those whose children have opted for the lesser callings of engineer or scientist quietly nod, smile and hide their embarrassment by going in search of hors d’oeuvres.

Growing up on a farm and having only provisional membership in the cool kids group, I was ignorant of this true state of affairs. And so I chose to become an engineer, forfeiting any real chance for a permanent seat at the cool kids table.

There is no more trustworthy guide to our place in the hierarchies of public esteem than our portrayal in the media. The jobs and professions of heroes, villains, martyrs and buffoons in the movies, on television and in books are a sure guide to our standing in society. Surely no one paying even minimal attention to the sitcoms and dramas on TV/movies thinks that engineers are anything other than a reliable butt of jokes or clueless foil.

If an individual stumbles into a life’s work in engineering or the hard sciences, it is clear in the media portrayals of them that certain callings among the fallen are held in higher esteem by the cool kids than others. Architecture is of course the profession of choice. If one is consigned by fate or chance to the Land of the Nerds, the architect at least retains a grey bohemian chic, almost a certain secular sainthood in the ghetto’s of STEM.

Failing architecture, scientist is only a small step further down the road to perdition. While those in the sciences fall well short of the starry-eyed heights found in Journalism or Community Activism, there is in Science a shadow of that same selfless grandeur. Much like an ancient priesthood, scientists are not so humble oracles transmitting the will of the gods to ordinary mortals within our modern theology.

Down in the sordid depths, otherwise known as engineering, environmental engineering at least makes the best of a sorry situation. As an environmental engineer, especially if employed by a non-profit, one at least is on the side of truth and justice. Anything lesser is simply plebian endeavor, useful for making a living, but soul deadening, uninteresting and prone to corruption in the interests of those scoundrels seeking to profit at the expense of Mother Nature. To be sure, an engineer working for Google or Apple does have a certain cachet; perhaps demonstrating that one could have been a Doctor but for bad career advice.

But as Dante pointed out, even in Hell there are degrees of wretchedness. Ignorant of these realities, I took my place in the lowest level of Hell, an engineer working in the energy industry. My place was not even in the alpine meadowlands of socially responsible renewable energy, but instead, the foul and black pits of fossil fuel power plants, refineries, pipelines, etc.

Sometimes those of us laboring away in the stygian blackness of energy industry hell would forget our place in the scheme of things and mistakenly believe that we were engaged in a useful, even noble, calling. After all, how are the deplorable’s to know they are deplorable?

It was left to the guardians of our collective souls, those selfless judges of civic virtue known as Journalists, to make sure that we engineers toiling for the Dark Lords of Mordor understood we are, and always had been, deplorable. For the forty years of my career, mainstream journalists, without exception, regularly told me and mine that I was, in unkind and unstinting words, a deplorable person working in a deplorable business.

It was a given among those who counted that the job I did, the business that I was a part of, was mendacious, exploitive, greedy, corrupt, polluting, etc. My country, my leaders, my culture reminded me of this in an unending stream of criticism and sneering contempt for me every day of my career. If anyone in a movie, television show or novel did what I did or worked in the business I worked in, it was a near certainty they were, if not a buffoon, then the villain or the willing dupe of villainy. If there was a news story or documentary on my profession or industry, it was not about our good deeds.

And so I think I know about being deplorable. I have decades of experience as a deplorable in good standing. I have labored in the sneering dark disregard of the cool kids for long years, enabling them to heat their ski lodges, power their amplifiers at Barbara Streisand concerts and run their server farms. And in that time I have come to understand that everything the cool kids think, say and believe about who I am and what I did is foolishness born of ignorance and conceit. Why then should I now accept what the cool kids say about anything else as other than the prattle of ignorant fools whom we have been educated to believe?

And so we have an election in which the cool kids, Democrat and Republican, stand on one side. Hillary has performed a vital public service in calling it like it is. Donald Trump and the deplorables stand on the other side of the divide. A deep and dark canyon separates the two. The gleeful cool kids that are Democrats snicker and point accusing fingers at the deplorables. The Republican cool kids stand on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets, in an attempt to whistle past the graveyard. They think these people are deplorable as well, but the Republicans desperately need their votes. The Republican cool kids fool no one however, as their embarrassed silence is eloquent with contempt for their unwashed and unschooled fellows.

There is no doubt in my mind that this election is squalor itself, plumbing the depths of our civic shame before God and the world. So what do I do? Do I throw up my hands and stay home, thumbing my nose at those who came before me, who fought and died for the right to stand and be counted? Do I throw my vote away and vote for Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party? Do I once more pretend to accept the increasingly disgusting rituals and beliefs imposed by the cool kids and vote for Hillary at the cost of a further degrading corrosion in my soul? Do I hold my nose and vote for that contemptible sack of fecal matter, The Donald?

There is no easy answer. There is no virtuous choice. There is only the disgusting mess thrown up by our own lack of civic virtue. But we, I, must make a choice. Rather than look to the candidates, I will look to the people I will stand with as I vote. I will look to another Old White Man for wisdom. Ben Franklin had this to say over two hundred years ago:

“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

As in much the Founding Fathers had to say, I believe there to be a great deal of truth in his words for our own time. After a lifetime pretending to be something I am not, I will come out of the closet and join my fellow deplorables.

 

 

9 Responses to “My Vote for President – 2016”

  1. Katrina says:

    NO Bill, say it isn’t so! You are not a deplorable!!!!

  2. Steve Femino says:

    I never realized that, as an engineer, I am deplorable. I like to think my contributions to the defense of our country are comparable to those of at least the CPAs and lawyers of the cool kids.

  3. As a human being I am a sinner and have told a lie but I am not a habitual liar. I would vote for the devil before I would vote for Hillary. About the blog, I liked what you had to say.

  4. Greg Vaughan says:

    Thanks, Bill. it’s frustrating that a large majority of the population doesn’t even care what Hillary Clinton does, the scandals are daily. The 2012 Bengazi attack is at the top of the list for me. Although, the mounting national debt should be another concern; especially, with those of us with kids and grand kids. I have to go for Trump. I don’t think it’s a difficult choice.

  5. Barry Burr says:

    Although I have a PhD in Chemical Engineering, it’s Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” that made me. I grew up on a farm and am the first person in my family with a college degree. I liked Rand Paul at first and was very put off by Trump. A few weeks after Rand quit, I saw the light. Maybe while standing around a BBQ pit in south Texas among farmers, ranchers, machinists, and oilfield workers. Probably participating in some disqualifying locker room talk.

    Many still foolishly believe they are in the cool kid Republican club. I’ve lost that illusion.

  6. bill messner says:

    Bill, an interesting commentary on the deplorable condition. And as such, I am still unaware of how you will vote. As it should be. I earned the title of Architect after enormous work only to find that Society valued my degree with a $3.85/hr wage after I made $10 and hour working labor jobs throughout college. Why did I not go for the degree in Physics and get a job at Los Alamos working for the government in necessary obscurity instead? Over time I have reconciled that I could leverage my creativity and my analytical talents by actually building and it pleased the one person that mattered, me. Along the way I have come to believe that as a society we seriously undervalue skills and spend a great deal of time developing my own and the skills of those around me. But I have never thought of myself as deplorable and work hard to relate in a non-elitist fashion to those around me. My pride in my children who both have earned degrees in Chemical Engineering is unbounded and never have I considered their choices anything but the best. They have mastered one of the most difficult and demanding fields. I fail to see how choosing a career without the constant accolades that creates a Kim Kardashian could possibly put us in a deplorable condition. Quite the contrary, celebrate it and the education and hard work that got us here. Never a regret. In the end, I want to support grace for the human condition and do embrace those of us who spend the time and effort to form a considered opinion whether it is the same as mine or not.

    I do find that my early years, as with Bill, were strongly shaped by bullies. It is something I can never condone and will never support. I have developed a great dislike for a shallow media that does not have the time to investigate as they should. That our society relies on the 30 second sound bite to inform our decisions is wrong. Salacious comments seem to win the day right or wrong. So our decision can be arduous if we are to dig into the issues and real histories, past the reinforcements of those who we think think like us and whom we more and more surround ourselves with. The great engines at Google, Yahoo, Facebook, et al force feed a narrower and narrower image of ourselves back at us until we have no ability to see beyond ourselves.

    Consider that 4 dedicated human beings lost their lives in Benghazi during a pair of attacks over a 6 hour period. With Congress unable to approve asked for funding by the state dept for additional security, I find it hard to understand how this becomes a rallying call for Hillary’s dismissal. Response teams were as close as Italy but required Presidential authorization to execute a retaliatory strike if we knew where they were. In 1983, under President Reagan, 220 Americans were killed by suicide bombers in Beirut without the vilification of our President. We reinforce our beliefs with static that vibrates the same way even when it might be very wrong. So tear apart what you think you know and dig into some of the accusations from both sides.

    I note that the only time we have seriously reduced our national debt was during the Clinton Administration and that our current deficit has occurred during a conservative congress. Amplified by a 3+ trillion in defense boondoggle invading Iraq during a conservative administration.

    While clearly, Trump has voiced many deplorable comments I will not take at face value the comments of women who drag up 30 year old stories. But I will believe what I actually witness and research. I find Trump’s ethics to be way below what they should be for our nations highest office. He is a master of deflection, but this is not a quality I am looking for in a Public Servant.

    Why should we believe that business acumen is the solution to our country’s woes? I posit that criminals have secured positions of business authority throughout our capitalist system. Have you ever considered that some of our very rich business leaders are crooks. The CEO at Tyco drained 100’s of millions of dollars from a publicly traded company that he ran as if it was a sole proprietorship. Jeffry Skilling and his buddies at Enron managed to defraud much of wall-street for their individual gain with very crafty plans to siphon funds into individual personal wealth. Wells Fargo fired 5000+ employees because they created fraudulent accounts, except now we find that they were fired when they complained to the companies ethics panels. Lambs to the slaughter while upper management manipulated the rules to maximize their individual returns. They should be prosecuted as any Mafia boss would be. Why are the leaders of our business communities held in such esteem that this rarely happens?

    Donald states that he has not had to pay income taxes as he has had significant losses that he was able to carry forward. Even a billion dollars in losses will run its course eventually, but how can that cover for 20 years. I own a business and I understand the tax laws and it doesn’t square without fraud of some sort.

    Over 35 year in business I have had several difficult periods. I have been upside down, in the red, no way out, depressed and considered the viability of suicide. Yet I never considered bankruptcy as an option because it is not my right to make my problems someone else’s. So I persevered and worked harder to solve my problems which I have done. I deplore that a Presidential candidate has routinely used this last resort tool to dump liabilities on those without the legal wherewithal to fight him. The damage he has done to all those who ended up holding his debt in the name of business is deplorable.

    Clearly, my blood pressure is up and I should now be put to bed. I hope not to have offended but do wish to challenge each of us to actually do the homework and get through the rhetoric and punditry.

  7. Rex Rinne says:

    If oil/gas engineers are deplorable, imagine what they think of Biblical pastors?

  8. Jim Emery says:

    Really good and thoughtful article. Shortly after graduation from law school, I was in my father’s office (accounting) and heard a client tell him that the world would be improved if we would just shoot all the lawyers. A little shock to the system when my Dad agreed!
    Being deplorable is a badge of honor compared to being aligned with the liberal power corrupt political network backed by mainstream media with purpose to mold opinion sufficient to maintain power in the “elitists”.

  9. Joe Vickrey says:

    Bill – as always I certainly enjoy your writings. However, I question the validity of your status as a confirmed “Deplorable”. Having had the honor to work for and with you, I know the agony you suffered regularly, and the anguish you bore being the watchtower for the “Family” you provided for. The only real truth to be learned from the events of this election cycle – are that “the cool kids” regardless of point of view will say anything to secure the power and accolades in their basket of accomplishments, without concern for the effect to the persons tripped down the stairway, locked in the hall locker, or the hurt caused by their trite actions toward someone they do not really know!

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