Categories
Uncategorized

A Mirror Of Herself


My daughter’s friend posted this picture of her daughter watching Kamala Harris on Saturday night. Stella is almost two.

It brought me back to my own life. I tell clients and customers that every person you are selling to needs to see a mirror of themself and a window into that which they aspire to be. Stella will not have the barriers my generation did in terms of what is possible for us.


When I arrived back in New York City in 1975, fresh from the University of Nebraska hinterlands, my dad summoned me to his New York apartment, where he would hold court once every month or so when he had business in the city. He flew in like the Shah on his lear jet, and I still remember pushing the button to the floor of his apartment on the upper east side with a feeling of anxious hope that we would feel good after the visit was over. Both of us. I was still on the Parent Payroll, which in fairness to him I didn’t treat with much respect or regard. It just was. On this particular day, he informed me that he had enrolled me in Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School. I was shocked.


“Why, Dad, would I do that? I have no intention of being a secretary.”

To be honest, I didn’t have much of an intention to be anything at all. Ah, to live those years over again. Seriously. It’s one of my largest regrets. Not searching for anything other than a man.


Dad replied, “Because, Christine, no matter what happens in life, you can always get a job as a secretary.” That is how he saw me. A mirror of all that he knew about where women belonged in the workplace.

“Well that may be Dad, but I’m not going.” I was so insulted. Insulted I tell you.


“If you do not go, then I will cut you off.”

“Frankly Dad,” I said with great bravado, having just finished Gone with the Wind, “I don’t give a damn.” I stood up with every ounce of unearned dignity that I could muster, and I walked out.


I was never on his payroll again. I also immediately found a job answering phones at Marymount Manhattan College. “Marymount Manhattan College, how may I direct your call?” That lasted a few days, until I simply took off the headphones and walked away from the switchboard, leaving an “I can’t do this job, but thank you” behind as I shut the door on my way out. I ended up at a financial management company, where my “clients” included Don Imus, who was in forced financial management for not paying taxes and used to yell at me on the air because the management firm wouldn’t give him all his money to spend on photography equipment, women, and drugs. Until the taxes were paid, he was on an allowance.


But I digress. The point is that I can say I have done all right for myself, and while I do not have a Katherine Gibbs certificate, I think I gained my independence, and a dose of reality that probably saved me from never really trying to earn my own way.


I am so very grateful that Stella will have so many roads from which to choose. I’m so very grateful I had the strength to stand up to the standards that were set for my generation in the early seventies. It’s a new day for us all.


You go Stella! Do whatever you see that excites and challenges you.

Categories
Uncategorized

Donald In My Head No More

I have a country house in what I call “Deliverance.” There is a development not far from me in Dover Plains, New York, that is called Sherman Hill Estates, and there is a Lee’s Lane, Grant’s Road and Confederate Road as well. People in the stores don’t wear masks, nor do my fellow shoppers, and when I ask them to pull them up, they show hostility in return. Lately, more and more signs have gone up for Trump. I mean, a lot of them in every yard. Every morning, Bay, my dog, and I get in the car, and we drive to Dunkin’ Donuts, where I get a large black coffee and an old-fashioned donut for Bay. Sometimes I sneak part of it for myself. It’s the way I start my day. Last week, on Monday before the election, there was a particularly long line in the drive-thru, and I had a moment to contemplate the past four years. I had turned off “Morning Joe”; I can’t stand him or Mika, but I listened anyway because it was the way I found out about whatever horrendous thing had occurred overnight for the past four years.

But this particular morning, there was silence in the car.

I realized how much time Donald Trump has spent in my head over the past four years. I thought about how every single day I was increasingly anxious as a result of some action that he’d taken, like, I don’t know, locking up small children and never returning them to their parents, or — let’s see — mocking the body of a woman who looks just like me, or denigrating anyone who stood up to him, or using executive order to sneak through laws that jeopardizes my daughter’s ability to breathe the air, or, or, or … What’s shocking is that I could go on and on and on.

I realized how many times I clicked on an article to feel the adrenaline rush of mocking him, or the fear and loathing of reading something he did or said that wasn’t something I needed to pay attention to.

I realized how many times a day I heard the sound of his voice and the visceral response my body had to it each and every time.

I stopped cold. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid. That is all on me, not him. I vowed in that moment that after the election is called, I would never click on any link containing his name ever again.

So, I made a list. Here is what I gained and lost over the four years I dedicated to being “married” to him as my country’s leader. And here is my intention for how I will live my life moving forward, to make sure no one ever again has the power I gave him.

Gained: I learned that I, like Donald, use words like “very” and “really” way too much. It’s really good. It’s very serious. Those words are not necessary, and they only exaggerate the point I’m making, and not for the better. I will never again use them in front of a verb. Never. If you follow me and read my work, and you find out I have used one of those words, email me, and I will send you a dollar.

Lost: I lost approximately 1,500 hours of my life paying attention to someone and what he did, which never once built anything, just ripped things apart. I followed suit and did the same thing in return. I will not do that anymore. It’s time to rebuild, and my thoughts and actions will be devoted toward that end. My daughter, who must be thanked for her amazing work over these past two years for building a better America, asked me to stop posting negative things. She said it just pushed the other side away. I ignored her. OK, sometimes I thought better of what I was going to post, but I sure didn’t cross over to the side of building. Please don’t think this means that I will “choose kindness” all the time. I hate that ridiculous approach. How about “ruthless fairness,” which turns me on? Sometimes “kind” is an inappropriate response, but if I’m going to criticize, I will offer a solution to fix what I’m critiquing.

Gained: I exaggerate too. Sometimes I lie. I’ve read that sometimes we lie more than twenty times a day. I realize I don’t want to do that or be known as someone who does that. My initial response, learned in childhood, to say whatever a person wants to hear or gets me off the hook — as opposed to my own truth — will be no more. I will slow down and do it right. Think before I speak. I will take the hit.

Lost: Friends. My closest one is my BFF for forty-five years, my roommate in the ’70s. I spoke to her or otherwise communicated with her daily. Our friendship lasted through one child, three divorces, four marriages, every secret you can imagine, more laughs than I can remember, and so much more. And now it’s gone, never to be resurrected. We broke up in 2016 just before the election, reconciled last year, and split for good after I read her Twitter posts and realized that we are cut from different cloth. I have deleted her account, and I will not click on it again, but regardless, there is nothing to resurrect. I told her, “It’s not about politics; it’s about core values and your humanity … or lack thereof. We are done.”

Gained: I’m a Diet Coke addict. So is Donald. I promised myself that if he lost, I would never drink another one. I don’t want to share anything with him. It’s a gain because Diet Coke is incredibly bad for us. But it’s also a loss. Diet soda has been a companion since collage (I started with Tab. Remember Tab?) — 58 years, and we have shared a lot. I will miss it. I have none in the house and do not intend to stock up. I have given up D.C. before, and then fallen off the wagon months later, but I am hopeful that this time, I will stick with it.

Gained: My sanity. I have been so tense. So sad. So angry. So afraid. One or more of these emotions has been part of my day every day for four years. Already, yes, already I feel better. Even the cable news shows I’ve been watching since they called the election for him have not made me tense. When they mention him, I can feel he has no power any longer. Maybe he still does — of course he does, actually — but he doesn’t for me anymore.

Here is what I realized today: The impeachment didn’t take him down. The Kavanaugh hearings, his asking Ukraine for help in taking Biden down, his using my fucking White House lawn for political events that are illegal, his ignoring the separation between the arms of government — all these things didn’t bring him down, although they should have. In the end, what brought him down was my vote. And yours. Wow.

It’s over. This dark, dark era is over. I turn to Lincoln. Here is what he said as he took power during a time as dark as this. I will read it every morning until my thoughts and actions mirror its intent.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

WRITTEN BYChristine Merser

I write. I hope it resonates. I move on.

Categories
Uncategorized

Letter to My Daughter on the Eve of the 2020 Election

My dearest daughter, Sarah,

I write this to you with the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings going on in the background. A woman has been nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States of America to take the place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a justice who worked so fucking hard to give everyone equal rights in our country and who will now be replaced by a woman who will do what she can to take those rights away. How could this have happened?

I found this picture of you when you were 7 years old during the Anita Hill hearings, which I guess I should call the Clarence Thomas hearings, although they really weren’t about him. They were about slandering her and diminishing her and the story she told with such dignity.

Now, twenty-seven years later, you’ve graduated from Harvard Law School, worked on the Innocence Project, been awarded by the ACLU for your work, served as one of the authors of the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, worked as a volunteer legal advisor to Joe Biden’s campaign, and served as one of the founders of The Early Vote. I watched you on MSNBC last week: sure-footed, clear, and selfless in your appeal to get people to vote early and in person. I watched you transition from a little girl selling T-shirts on 84th and Broadway which was my pinacle to a force in the world of American progress, trying, always trying, to do right for those less fortunate than we are. I could not be prouder of you.

Someone once told me that he wanted to put his kids on his shoulders so they could see further than his horizon had been growing up. I think that’s a wonderful aspiration, and while I didn’t have it in my mind when you were young, it is certainly what I can see now. Oh, the horizons in front of you! If only you knew how far you have already been able to see, and what that means to your future. Please learn the lesson of looking at what you have accomplished, rather than what you haven’t. It clears the path to move forward without your getting hung up in the rearview mirror.

There are twenty-two days left until the election. I can’t conceive of anything other than success for all the things so many of us are doing to make the outcome one where we can start to build a new future for this country from the ashes of what was destroyed. I’m not just speaking of the destruction that has taken place over the past four years, but also the explosion of what had been simmering throughout all the previous years.

I hold on to the image of you when you were 7 and what you have done since. I hold on to the images of the young girls I see on social media, now reaping what you and your fabulous women friends have planted over these past months.

How can I, on behalf of my generation, thank you, apologize, and move on, recognizing that what we weren’t able to do, you are trying to clean up now?

I have a photo of you on MSNBC last week and the one from when you were 7 on my computer screen and in my heart. They will carry me through the next three weeks with hope and certainty that every single thing that can be done is being done. The future of women in America? It’s in our hands. It’s our votes that will determine the outcome.

God bless you, my dearest child. Godspeed on your journey over the next three weeks. I will be right behind you, ready to shoulder whatever you give me to help you lead the way. I love you,Mom

Categories
Uncategorized

Trump’s Tipping Point

There is always a tipping point — that moment in time when everything changes and you “know” deep down inside that the trajectory of something has changed, and the train wreck that you thought couldn’t be stopped, can, in fact, be stopped.

Remember Howard Dean? Remember when he unexpectedly lost in Iowa, and he went on the television the night of the primary and screamed into the cameras and sent dogs and cats scurrying under couches, and Americans thought, “No way, Jose, is that guy going to get my vote. He’s not stable”? That was the end of Howard Dean. It was a split second in time, but it cost him dearly. They called it the scream that doomed Howard Dean. 

Then there was that moment in August 2008, when the markets crashed and impending mortgage crisis doom and gloom hit the stage. John McCain pulled a Howard Dean moment himself. He went in front of the cameras and in a breathless panic said he was canceling his presence at the debate a few days later and suspending his campaign to immediately return to D.C. to deal with the financial crisis. Then cool, calm, and collected Obama said he too was going to D.C. to work on the fiscal situation. He said he could do more than one thing at a time and would attend the debate to continue his campaign. “Oh, one more thing,” said Senator Obama, “don’t worry; everything will be OK.” In my mind, that was the tipping point.

I have thought things SHOULD have been tipping points with this maniac in the White House. Grabbing women. Charlottesville. Gassing people in the street to hold a bible upside down. And oh, so much more. But I’ve never FELT they were tipping points. 

Then, this outrageous human being without a semblance of shame or empathy toward others waved to a few dozen people in an SUV with two men who had to risk their lives to do that little dog and pony show sitting in the front, ostensibly holding their breaths for as much of the ride as they could manage. Combine that with his outrageous videos talking only about himself, without an ounce of empathy toward the more than 200,000 dead who didn’t have the care he is getting and presenting it all as if he has cured the virus for all by merely getting it. I FELT as though that was it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I know that camel is as tired as I am. 

I have spent the last few years saddened whenever I have seen my flag, the American flag. I have felt no pride of late when I’ve come across it. I have even felt shame or embarrassment; I’m not sure which. It was a first for me in all my years of being a citizen of what I thought was already a great country. This morning after I got my coffee, I saw this flag that is always there, but which I’ve avoided. I turned around, came back, and took a picture. I think I will begin to have pride in America again. I believe for the first time in four years that we will get through this, and that Trump will no longer have a platform from which to do what he calls leading and I call destroying.

I have learned a lot. I realize that a good number of my fellow citizens are disenfranchised and don’t believe in their own future or that of their children. I realize now that we have not come as far as I thought we had in our race relations, and that it’s my own personal responsibility to work toward getting there myself. I have learned that I have to watch and evaluate my country’s leaders and pay closer attention to those who get my precious vote. I have learned that I have a larger responsibility in what happens in this country than I’d realized, or wanted, actually. I have heard the wake-up call, and I will do better. 

We do the best we can, and when we know better, we do better. That’s Maya Angelou’s sentiment and my new responsibility.

Categories
Uncategorized

RBG RIP

I was 15 when I watched Ted Kennedy eulogize his brother Bobby, and I was struck to the core when he said, “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.” I remember thinking that one day a woman will die, and she will mean so much to me and others of my gender that words like this will be written about her. 

And so tonight, 52 years later, it has come to pass. Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died, and one of her final acts was to send a message to her lawyer granddaughter, saying, “My most fervent wish is that I not be replaced until a new president is installed.” She always chose words carefully, our RBG, and I wonder if it was not lost on her that she might be asking for four years of not being replaced.

I have no idea what comes next. My phone is buzzing with text messages. But I’m not answering any of them tonight. For me, tonight is a moment in the midst of the chaos, fear, and loathing that make up my days of following politics, when I stop and look at my gender’s supreme of all Supremes. 

My mind is running, running, running. 

With a new baby and a husband fighting cancer, she attended Harvard Law School, doing her homework and writing research papers, taking care of her child, and typing her husband’s papers. And she still managed to get the top grades in her class. But mostly what I thought when I read about that was that she didn’t complain; she just did it. I marveled at the fact that she didn’t just give up law school and switch to writing books on time management, because she was an expert. 

Then they screwed her. If she’d been endowed like a man, she would have been sought after by the top firms, and the clerkship she applied for would have been a no brainer. She didn’t complain. Not our RBG. She stayed the course. She had to wait a long, long time before she got on the road leading to the Supreme Court of the United States.

She had a great love. Marty. A successful marriage. A love of Opera. Children. Grandchildren. She cooked Passover Seder herself. She loved movies. And, she was funny.

Her humor was often laced with verbal brilliance. Here’s an anecdote from her granddaughter, Clara Spera, as quoted on glamour.com in 2018: “Once, though, I had to email her about her opinion in a voting rights case, Evenwel v. Abbott, because I thought the strong language in her analysis did not match up with the eventual, more reserved, holding. I was frustrated that she seemed to be holding back. I won’t reveal her response here, except to report that she told me, ‘I once spoke to you about not being queen when one writes for the Court.’”

Mostly, though, I will never forget the on-screen reenactment of her closing arguments in front of the Supreme Court during Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. I wonder if she could have seen herself on that bench with nine white men who looked and acted nothing like her. I hope you will watch it, even if you have seen it before.

You see, as women, we haven’t had the opportunity to lead in a game where gender has no role. Eleanor Roosevelt was beloved, but she got her leg up from being the wife of a beloved president. Our road to greatness in this country has never been a direct line based on our own attributes. Women in other countries have managed to accomplish quite a bit without a male connection. Golda Meir comes to mind. But in this country, white men seem to have center stage, and our access to that stage has mostly been walking next to them, not in front of them.

So my beloved Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who I never saw in person (how could I have let that happen?), is now gone. Her white-lace-collared robes, which showed humor, femininity, and a bit of FU, have shown me the way. Her total commitment to excellence, incredible time-management skills, and brilliant mind made her our hero. She gave us (women) the map, if you will, to staying the course and committing to not giving up, no matter how far on the horizon. 

She is my Bobby Kennedy, my JFK, my MLK, and if anyone, anywhere even thinks of not erecting statues of her wherever women roam, I will finally take up arms. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Kate Spade

downloadThe thing thing about Kate Spade is that her accessories made me feel pretty. Not “Chanel pretty,” which always made me feel like part of a club I didn’t want to belong to. Not pretty like Saint Laurent, who always made me feel that I better make my body deserve to wear him. Not pretty like Valentino, who made me feel masculine in a feminine way. Powerful. (I liked that, but I never felt pretty in Valentino.)

The pretty that Kate Spade gave me was joyful pretty. Girl next door pretty. Bright colors. Gold embossment that you had to search to find — not like Louis Vuitton, who, let’s face it, should pay us to carry the brand the way he makes his name scream from your arm while it’s carrying the bag.

I knew I’d like Kate Spade if we crossed paths. I liked her name. The Midwestern girl in me related to that name. Kate. Not Katherine, which would have been a whole other thing, like my friend Cathe, who changed her name to Cathryn when she married a Wall Street tycoon. Kate. And, together with “Spade,” we had two syllables that made up an entire brand. It didn’t take up the space that some of the other designers do. Kate Spade. Take me as I am. Simple, but pretty.

Kate was the first to really understand what I needed in a bag. Big enough, but not briefcase sized. Pockets. Easy in-and-out mechanisms. Solid colors that go with everything. Not too heavy. Not ostentatious.

I haven’t bought a Kate Spade bag in years. She’s a days gone by girl in my purchasing platform. But she, and the accessories she created, was an accessory in a decade of growth for me, and I carried her with me everywhere. Comfortably. Confidently. I wish her Godspeed to wherever she is headed. And I thank her and yearn for Kate Spade days of old.

Categories
Uncategorized

Good or Evil. Either Or.

October 2003

Last week the headmaster from the school my daughter attended through fifth grade was arrested for child pornography. It seems that he was entering chat rooms for 13- and 14-year-olds and sending them graphic pictures of things he would like to do to them. I forced myself to write the last two sentences. It is the only way to make real the fact that someone I know — an old, old friend — has a dark side that reaches far beyond what I can look at with any compassion whatsoever.

imagesJack’s picture — not one of the many I have of him in a scrapbook, but rather, his mug shot — was staring at me from the front page of the NY Post when I went to work on Tuesday. I looked into his eyes and wondered who he is. I thought back to my memories of lunches gone by, where he taught me things: that grammar is not as important as expressing yourself; that my daughter is special; that I was better at pool than he is; that basketball is a game of ballet, teamwork, and resilience; and that he was willing to stand up and ask for what he wanted.

You see, I thought I knew this man. I do know this man. I am certain that he woke up each and every day and was as certain as I am that I won’t eat sugar today, that this was the day he would stop doing what could hurt the individuals he has done so much to serve. He is/was (which tense to use is a complicated issue for me now) a caring person, often putting others above himself. Watching him teach Cuisenaire rods to first-graders because he loves math and wants kids to love it too was like watching a great movie.

So, how to figure out the larger picture? I realize today that we are not one-dimensional. I have always been confident that the scumbags who hurt our children are only that: scumbags who hurt children. But here is a man who mentored thousands of young individuals through adolescence (including my adopted daughter from Bosnia) with a kindness and sense of purpose that gave them the confidence to believe that they are someone. How can I possibly reconcile that man with the man staring back at me from a mug shot — a man who preyed upon at least one 14-year-old girl?

Truth is, I can’t. Which leads me to the point of this missive, and that is that the old adage “Judge not …” is not something to ignore. I really can’t judge him. I want him to get help. I want him to serve time. And, perhaps most importantly, I want him to know that he is more to me than the sum of his darkest side. And, that I will likely never see him again.

We never really know the pain, evil, and horror inside those around us. I have to believe that this lesson — Jack’s last as one of my educators — is that one-dimensional no longer applies to people. Good and evil are not absolutes. It’s time for me to realize that three-dimensional does not necessarily mean three like dimensions, but rather, many dimensions that don’t always fit together to make a perfect whole.

May 2018

It’s 15 years later, and Harvey Weinstein and oh-so-many others have been felled by truth. We are all trying to distinguish truth from lies, and discovering what I wrote in my journal 15 years ago about a man I have thought of often over the years comes to mind. He had a number of truths: Great educator. Mentor to thousands of kids. Pedophile. All truths.

So, I see him differently now. I see how he groomed me by helping me with my weaknesses to arrive at his endgame. We gave more money to the school because of my relationship with him. I supported changes he wanted to make in the school. I elevated his stature through my own. I was his friend.

I now realize that the good I saw in him might have been his ticket to feel safe to do what really drove him. When you have that kind of issue, and that kind of secret/lie, then it drives everything else. It’s like working out for two hours so you can have an extra pint of ice cream. The real drive is the ice cream. That’s who you really are. The work out is the ticket to getting it. So, my ambivalence around any of these men, Jack included, is gone. All good deeds that lead to a free ride to evil are no longer good deeds. Black and white is back in my life.

Categories
Uncategorized

Finish What You Start

404419_c22ff0164aa143fa981b988e678e8c25-mv2I don’t finish things. No, seriously, I don’t finish things. I have never, and I mean this earnestly, even finished a cup of coffee. I like the idea of coffee, like I like the idea of writing books and things longer than 650 words, but I just don’t finish them. I have lived in my present house for five years and I still haven’t unpacked.

Don’t get me wrong. I finish things for others. Projects in business. A podcast that I do with a finishing-type person, who not only finishes all that she starts, but also finishes it with laser-like focus. In two and a half years, we haven’t missed one weekly release. But I assure you, if she weren’t involved, I would find a way to not finish them.

Before you attack me, or tell me I’m being too hard on myself, I would like to establish upfront: I’m saying this out loud, not as a criticism of myself, but rather as a personal inquiry. Is it a good thing or a bad thing (or something else entirely) that I don’t finish things? Even as I write this, I’m having a cup of coffee, and have already committed to finishing it, even if it means gagging through the last four sips.

I do get a ton done in a day. My friends say I do more in a day than most do in a month. But still… am I cherry-picking the things that matter most? Are the things that I don’t finish things that I should finish?

Here’s what I think. When I start something, I think I should rate it: Must finish; Would like to finish; and Should I really start this? I’ll take some time to evaluate the projects up front, and then establish a plan of completion. I like that idea. Plan of Completion. I see it as a title:

Plan of Completion
by Christine Merser

It’s a bestseller, if I do say so myself. With a beginning, middle, and an end (an end I haven’t written yet).

We all know that time is everything. Unless you’re not feeling well. Then time isn’t worth as much. Or time that keeps getting interrupted. Unencumbered time, I should say. Pure, clean, simple, unencumbered time is the very best life has to offer.

So, a plan of completion coupled with unencumbered time, equals one helluva great month. I’m on it. I’ll let you know if I finish it.

After all, there’s hope: the coffee cup is empty.

Categories
Uncategorized

Reality T.V. Comes to Politics

trumpEveryone’s talking about it. How did Trump defeat a lineup of seasoned politicians and emerge as the frontrunner, the close-to-certain presidential nominee for the Republican Party of the United States of America? Really? Seriously?

Pundits are saying that a disenfranchised group of Americans is receptive to Trump’s message, which seems to be that America isn’t great, but it will become great if we get rid of much of our nation including immigrants and refugees. They say that this right wing – possible majority – trusts him more than they trust the Beltway Aluminum Siding Salesmen who are our senators, congressmen, and governors.

I don’t think it’s about not trusting the present politicians at all (although I agree we can’t trust them). Trump is where is he because he spent seven years perfecting reality TV messaging in a way that no one else in the field had ever done. Reality TV has come to call on our electoral process.

Reality TV is sound bites. Moments that manipulate people into believing what you want them to believe about who you are and what they need. It’s taking them on a roller coaster ride of feeling superior to others, or feeling like they are finally in the room where they were persona non-grata most of their lives before reality TV.

Trump made a lot of mistakes in the first years of The Apprentice. He learned what works and what doesn’t. Watch the brilliant intro to the first season and compare the language he uses to the way he speaks now. He learned to merge reality TV, acting, and sound bites to make people feel things. So, he doesn’t answer questions about policy or foreign affairs. Instead he points his finger at someone asking for real answers and changes the subject in a way that is entertaining and makes you forget about what the real issues are.

And that, in a nutshell, is why he is where he is. From The Apprentice to the White House. Psychology Today warned about the long term effects of reality TV, and mirroring reality is not one of them. It’s about creating a false reality, and Donald Trump has done it brilliantly, while everyone else has been playing by the old, stodgy rules of political debate that no longer resonate with anyone who can vote.

Let’s say he gets the nomination. It will be up to Hillary, or Bernie, to refuse to be an actor in reality TV when we are supposed to be viewing Who Should Lead the United States of America? If she/he responds the way the GOP has, then he might just win in November. If the media and the candidate across from him reminds him he is not on The Apprentice anymore and we as a nation want to hear specifics on how he is going to make America great again, then I do not believe he will.

I have had dinner with Donald Trump. He never asked me a question. He was pompous, interrupting anyone who spoke about anything, including things he brought up. He was rude, sexist, and he was exaggerating about things everyone at the table knew were lies. What is interesting is that I never once challenged him. He was not made to be accountable for his outrageous behavior by any of the eight people at the table. Mistake, Christine, big mistake. Left unchecked by those around him helped create this out of control ego. We can no longer be silent. And, the press has to worry less about sound bite ratings and more about presenting the ideas that candidates bring to the table.

I get that everyone is angry at DC and those that run it. I get that it’s time for a change. This man is not the change anyone is looking for. He really isn’t. This is a mistake of mammoth proportions that just might be the thing that brings down our country forever.

Oh my.

Categories
Government News Politics Uncategorized

Santana or The Donald?

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 9.02.20 AMSantana or the Donald? We the people decide which we will have, not by our vote, but through our Facebook posts.

I have an old friend I haven’t seen in twenty years whom I follow on Facebook. Upper West Side of Manhattan guy who is passionate about right and wrong and politics, and those who have “friended” him on Facebook generally agree with his point of view—or if they do not, they do not challenge it when he writes his long, heartfelt, editorials on his wall. These missives generally get a lot of rah-rahs and likes, but overall serve no purpose other than to make him feel better, and those around him get to enjoy that feeling you get when you read something that outrages you and someone else makes comments that make you feel like “he gets it.” It makes the individual feel better, but generally that’s the net gain.

Now, let’s go back in time a bit to the Flintstone age when it was just TV, radio, and print. If you sent in an editorial, or commented on the screen when a microphone was put in front of you, all that happened was people heard you and agreed or didn’t. But that was it.

Those days are over friends. The Facebook editorial beast has changed things, and your role in the conversation about The Donald is not what you think it is. If I told Robby, the friend I mentioned earlier, that he was helping The Donald by posting about him, he’d stick his head in the oven. But that’s what he’s doing.

Here is what happens when Robby types his eight-paragraph editorial on The Donald, which referenced TD (The Donald) by name seven or eight times. It was liked by 24 people and commented on by another 15 or so. The algorithms of Facebook come in and say, “Wow. These fine people want to see more on TD. They are interested in what he has to say.” And, then FB puts articles about TD on the walls of Robby’s friends, and they click on the link to Salon’s latest piece about how TD is whipping the uneducated into a frenzy, and then Robby’s friends like that article and comment on it and share it, and then Salon says, “We must keep writing about TD because he is giving us reach,” and voilá, TD moves forward yet another few inches.

Here is what didn’t happen with Robby’s eight paragraph editorial. Not one mind was changed. Those who are his friends feel the same way he does, and those who do not know him never see it … and even if they did, data shows us that their minds are already made up, and their opinions are reinforced by the reflections of their own viewpoints that Facebook’s fine algorithms have put on their walls.

My friends don’t seem to realize that every time they click on those TD articles, they are helping him by extending his reach. His ability to get the media to cover him four times as much as they cover any other GOP candidate is based on the input the media gets on the popularity of what they are covering, and since social media has changed the game of news to make it a popularity contest for ratings, rather than a discourse on what is happening in the world, we are all doomed unless we change our message to the media.

“I can fix this,” the megalomaniac part of me says to my other self. “Just explain to my friends what is happening here.” So I go onto his latest post, and I write,

The thing about all this is that he is controlling the conversation. When we react to his statements, it just keeps the focus on the issues he is selling rather than the issues that matter to us. I’m in marketing. You want to answer him? Take the power away from him rather than continue the dialog. If people stop writing about him, commenting on his commentary, he is gone. And, then listen and dance to this music from a Mexican immigrant. (at this point in my reply to Robby’s post, I added a link to Santana—one of the greatest imports into the US from Mexico as far as I’m concerned—and his fabulous “Smooth”).

Well, the response to my post was less than smooth. I didn’t get it, according to him. We must speak up – answer him. So much for my ability to change the conversation. And it’s true, we can’t ignore him, but since the news is now dictated by ‘we the people’ rather than the news itself, we are obligated to take responsibility when it becomes a free for all of embarrassing, less than relevant, hate-based, dribble.

Here it is in a nutshell people. If you are afraid of TD, this is what you need to do to stop him:

1. Never click on a link that mentions him again. Anywhere.
2. Start talking about the candidate you are interested in. Click on links about them—often. Share those links.
3. Send a contribution to your candidate.
4. Go hear the speeches of less entertaining but more presidential candidates.
5. Tell your friends to read this article. Forward it to a friend. (Oh, all right, that was a bit self-serving, perhaps.)

The conversation is deteriorating because of we the people. We now dictate what the media presents. Raise your level of interest, and they will too. By the way, talk about a fun alternative to watching TD talk about immigration. Watch this immigration rant from Harry Belefonte.

So, be gone TD. I am done with you. I will never click on another link with you in the headline again. You too, Kardashian. FB is going to think I have the most intelligent interests in all the land.