Writing inspired by the places, people, culture and history of the Midwest.
The election outcome has a lot of people wondering what Donald J. Trump as president will be like. The reason: President-elect Trump has taken widely different stances on the same topics, sometimes within hours. I find myself wishing for a return of the 1950s TV game show “To Tell the Truth.”
On “To Tell the Truth,” a panel of four celebrities sought to discern which of a group of contestants had an unusual occupation or had undergone an unusual experience. The two imposters could lie, but the central character was sworn to tell the truth. At the end of the questioning, the moderator said, “Will the real … please stand up?”
In our modern-day version, Trump plays all the characters – those lying and the one telling the truth. We in the public are left trying to guess what’s real.
Here are some examples:
A. Candidate Trump: He said to Hillary Clinton: “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. … Because you’d be in jail.” (Oct. 9, 2016 – Presidential debate)
B. President-Elect Trump: “I don’t want to hurt them … They’re good people.” (Nov. 13, 2016 – CBS 60 Minutes Interview)
In the same CBS 60 Minutes interview, this exchange:
A. President-Elect Trump: “We have great generals.”
Lesley Stahl: “You said you knew more than the generals about ISIS.”
B. President-Elect Trump: “Well, I’ll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they’ve done. … They haven’t done the job.”
A. President-Elect Trump: On Twitter, “@realDonaldTrump – Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair.” (Nov. 10, 2016)
B. President-Elect Trump: “@realDonaldTrump – Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!” (Nov. 10, 2016 – nine hours after first tweet)
A. Candidate Trump: The one who brags about assaulting women, attacks Gold Star parents, calls Latino immigrants murderers and rapists, threatens every person who is a Muslim.
B. President-Elect Trump: “Don’t be afraid. We are going to bring our country back. But certainly, don’t be afraid.” (Read the entire 60 Minutes transcript here.)
So, if the moderator said, “Will the real Donald J. Trump please stand up,” which one would it be? The one who rallied followers and votes around the idea of putting Hillary Clinton in jail or the one who lets her off? The one who praises generals or the egotist who claims he knows better? The one who believes people exercising freedom of speech is unfair or the one who speaks for all Americans?
The proof will be in the actions
As a public relations counselor for 30 years, I reinforced to my clients that their words were important, but equally important was that the words were backed up by credible actions.
So far, Trump appears to say whatever he thinks the audience in front of him wants to hear. Because of that, President Trump has a challenge on his hands.
To bring the country together, he will have to prove to people of color, Muslims, and women that they have nothing to fear. Yet, to satisfy the people who elected him, he needs to fulfill his campaign promises: bring back steel jobs, put Clinton in jail, build the wall, deport millions of immigrants.
Less than a week after the election, President-Elect Trump began backing off on the wall, on completely dismantling the Affordable Care Act, on mass deportation. Will his supporters stay with him now?
At the same time, Trump has named as one of his closest advisors alt-right Stephen Bannon who promotes anti-Semetic, racist, sexist views. Can Trump really convince people he supports all Americans?
For my part, I’ll be using one of President Ronald Reagan‘s favorite lines: “Trust, but verify.” Ironic that this is a Russian proverb, no?
Along with the rest of the country – and the world – I’ll be watching to see which President stands up.
Words matter. The actions behind the words do, too.
Count me among those who were rocked by the vitriol of the presidential campaign and shocked by the outcome. I suggest one of the reasons for public dismay was an inability to believe what we heard. It appeared that putting truth behind the words mattered little to either candidate.
From the earliest days of the campaign, candidates displayed alarming disregard for the truth. This is a common complaint with every election, but the problem crescendoed this year. Each candidate accused the other of lying while simultaneously spouting falsehoods of their own.
Fact Checking the Truth in Claims
According to independent fact checker Politifact, 70% of the claims made by Candidate Donald J. Trump were judged Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire false. Only 15% of claims he made were gauged True or Mostly True.
Claims made by Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, were gauged to be Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire false 26% of the time. Over half (51%) of the claims Clinton made were gauged True or Mostly True.
Would any of us accept our children lying to us a quarter of the time, let alone 70% of the time? Our spouse? A friend? A business associate?
Maybe I’m bent out of shape over nothing. Do I care that Trump lied when he said he drew bigger crowds than Beyonce and Jay Z? My inclination was to blow it off. Who cares who gets bigger crowds?
But, when Trump said at a campaign rally that President Obama “spent so much time screaming at a protester, and frankly it was a disgrace,” he flat out lied, fabricating a situation, ripping down the President, who had, in fact defended the protester. Meanwhile, Trump had himself shouted down protesters many times. That I care about.
One of the greatest strikes against Hillary Clinton was that the public believed her untrustworthy. Initially, I cut her slack about the emails. I believed what she said. Much unsubstantiated ado about nothing, I thought. When it finally became clear beyond a reasonable doubt that she lied about the emails, I was heart sick.
I should care about all lies. Because they all speak to character. Yet, I made excuses for Clinton just as others made excuses for Trump. We sank into a tar pit this year, apparently willing to accept candidates for whom lying and corruption are standard procedure.
The Impact of Lying
The results of lying are many. A damaged reputation for the speaker. Difficulty going forward, because what can you believe when someone lies about even the smallest things? A disillusioned, disheartened, apathetic, cynical public. Greater distrust in the political system as a whole.
If the candidates don’t care enough to build trust in their audiences by searching out, presenting, and sticking to the truth, how can they expect us to care about them? Yet, apparently, we did.
What can we do?
How do we climb out of the tar pit? I’m trying to figure it out. I know I need to care more at the outset. I need to vet candidates more closely. Speak up. Speak out. Because the weight of our current situation isn’t just on the candidates; it’s on all of us. We will get more of what we accept.
I want to believe what people say. I need to believe what people say. I’m desperate to believe my president. Words matter.
How did you process the ongoing, escalating falsehoods during this presidential election? How much does it bother you that candidates play so fast and loose with words and facts? What do you propose we do about it?
October 11 is my 68th birthday. I’ve had – am having – a great life. Borrowing another idea from Laurie Buchanan, author of the soon-to-be-released Note to Self, and to recognize the years with which I’ve been blessed, I’m sharing 68 reasons why I’m grateful.
In no particular order, here they are:
- More than a house – a home
- My logical, practical husband who invariably has whatever I need
- My son and the happiness he’s finding in his life
- Two delightful granddaughters who give me so much joy
- Parents who loved me and gave me a solid foundation of values
- A lifelong love of education
- Hearing devices
- Living in an area with ready access to great medical care
- A positive attitude
- Readers who’ve supported my writing – and chosen to write and tell me what my stories meant to them
- Book club friends
- Bible study friends
- Lifelong friends and brand new ones
- My sister who’s living and another one I had for 58 wonderful years
- Good health
- The ability to travel
- The trips I’ve taken and the ones I see ahead
- The change of seasons
- My prairie and all the lessons I learn there
- Birds at the feeders and those in the trees
- The Percheron horses that pasture adjacent to our back yard
- The Internet and Google
- Libraries and librarians because Google doesn’t know everything
- Good editors
- The smell of lilacs
- More good memories than otherwise
- Green trees, green grass, green
- Nurses like my sister and her daughter
- Authors who inspire me
- Our service men and women
- The police
- Summer tomatoes
- A deep freeze full of the bounty of our garden
- My washer and dryer
- My hair dresser
- A “good stick” at the blood bank
- October and the advent of cool weather
- April and the return of warm weather
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Vanilla ice cream
- Being ‘old enough‘
- Good health
- The ability to walk easily
- Colorful sunrises
- Birkenstocks and Chacos
- All the colors of the rainbow
- Music of the 60’s and 70’s
- The breadboard my dad made me
- The smell of fresh-baked bread
- An appreciation for hard work
- My nieces and their families
- My smart phone
- Oakridge Neighborhood and all the places that help individuals, children and families in need achieve a better life
- A good bed
- Children laughing
- My writing buddies
- A wealth of ideas for what comes next
- Another birthday
What things are you grateful for today? Leave a note with two or three.
Recently, I felt the need to journal and reflect. But where to start? I recalled a social media post I read a few months ago that offered a list of questions. As usually happens, though, I couldn’t recall exactly when I read the post or the people involved in the discussion.
However, the list included the kind of questions Laurie Buchanan, a holistic health practitioner and transformational life coach, shares on her blog Tuesdays with Laurie. I took a shot and contacted her.
Laurie generously sent a list of 365 questions that form the core of one chapter of her soon-to-be-published book Note to Self. From the book cover:
Note to Self is about offloading emotional baggage – something that’s especially important when we realize that we don’t just pack for one, we pack for seven of our selves – self-preservation, self-gratification, self-definition, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-reflection, and self-knowledge. Each plays a vital role in harmony, overall health, and well-being.
Exploring one question
I chose this question from Laurie’s list: How old do you feel?
To begin, I catalogued my physical aches and pains of the last three years, including how breaking my wrist caused me to go from healthy to invalid. The transition occurred in my brain, since the wrist healed quickly, and I recovered full movement. The broken wrist became an excuse to exercise less, to question my balance, to move cautiously instead of with confidence, to begin to see myself as “old.”
Understanding I had no legitimate physical reason to feel old, the catalogue led to an exploration of what I’ve done to regain control of my health – from ears to feet to core strength to weight.
All this led to what society and the media have to say about age. What they say someone who’s nearing 70 years can and can’t do. The decidedly mixed societal messages caused me to affirm that how old I feel can be my own decision, not one imposed by others.
So then I journaled about what I want to be able to do with my life. A long list included things like playing with my granddaughters, traveling, hiking, riding bike, gardening, having enough energy to do whatever I feel like doing. All activities associated with good health.
Concluding that barring serious illness, “old” is a state of mind, I meandered into the positive sides of being “old.” I realized I’m Old Enough:
- to have enjoyed a good long career doing something I loved.
- to have made some good friends; to know what a friend means, and to value having and keeping them.
- to have figured out (finally) what I want to do while I’m still able to do it.
- to have made lots of mistakes, learned from them, and be young enough to make more mistakes, but maybe handle them better now that I’m old enough.
- to know I’m lucky to be as healthy as I am, to live where I do, to have the life I have.
While feeling old may be a physically-imposed reality, barring that, feeling old appears to be more of a state of mind. I don’t “feel” 68 any more than I “felt” 40 or 17. If I even know that that means. Some comparative measure against others, societal expectations or my own, I suppose.
After pausing to reflect, I realize I don’t feel any particular age.
I feel like me.
The result of reflection
What a journey, Laurie’s question inspired – journaling for three days and returning in thought to the topic repeatedly since. After pausing to reflect, I realize how much of age is perspective. Reflecting reminded me again to be grateful.
If even half of the questions unlock such self discovery, I’ll be journaling not for 365 days but for several years. I pre-ordered Laurie’s book Note to Self and I encourage you to check it out too.
How old do you feel? What impacts your attitude about age? What tools do you use to reflect?