The Universal Notebook: No one is responsible

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As I write this we do not yet know the results of the election, but we already know our country is in deep, deep trouble.

Why? Not just because we are so divided that Americans live in parallel universes, but because of how irresponsible people are these days.

We’ve got Donald Trump blaming all of his epic failings on other people and a vast establishment conspiracy. (No, Donald, it’s your own fault that you’re a humorless loser.)

We’ve got Hillary Clinton blaming her many failings on a vast right-wing conspiracy. (She actually may be right, but how can someone so smart not realize that no email is safe to send, ever? No, Hillary, it’s your own fault you used a private server for public business.)

We’ve got the mainstream media that first legitimized the bogus candidacy of Trump by hanging on his every profane soundbite and then tried to delegitimize the candidacy of Hillary Clinton by publishing unvetted documents stolen by Russian hackers.

We’ve got Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, a criminal mastermind and his criminal enterprise, fencing stolen documents and never being held to account for their crimes.

We’ve got James Comey and the FBI who, rather than combating Russian hackers, waste taxpayer money investigating Anthony Weiner’s sexual perversions and creating its own leaks in an apparent attempt to influence the election. Totally irresponsible, probably illegal.

And we are all sick to death of the irresponsible attack ads that polluted the 2016 election. Some of the worst were Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s attacks on Democratic challenger Emily Cain.

Poliquin’s amateurish Dysart’s ad had a group of Republican state legislators eating at the landmark truck stop and blaming Cain for Maine mill closings, conveniently ignoring that Cain is not in office and that Republicans control the Blaine House, the Statehouse and Congress. Talk about refusing to take responsibility for your own actions.

Then there was the Poliquin ad that gratuitously threw in the irrelevant fact that a Maine couple had lost a child in Iraq while reporting that Poliquin’s staff had helped them with an IRS problem. That’s what members of Congress do – aid their constituents. It is irresponsible and immoral for either party to use the dead to drum up votes.

But the award for the most underhanded campaign ad goes to the anti-Cain ad that called Cain an extremist for sponsoring a bill to weigh public school students. What the ad did not say is that the measure to track childhood obesity made weighing voluntary and confidential, and that the law eventually passed with bipartisan support and was signed by Gov. Paul LePage.

“The NRCC is responsible for the content of this advertising,” announced the National Republican Congressional Committee at the end of its body-shaming ad.

Well, no, the NRCC was irresponsible for the content of that ad. No one is responsible anymore. Say anything. Do anything. Deny everything.

This toxic climate of denial and refusal to take personal responsibility is the reason we can no longer collaborate to solve problems. That’s why we had five substantive issues go to referendum. There are workable solutions to problems such as gun violence, education funding, decriminalizing marijuana, guaranteeing a living wage and fixing our election system, but we cannot find them because our elected representatives simply refuse to take responsibility. So forget about health care and immigration reform.

It’s hard to find Americans these days with principles and integrity. We have putative “Christians” who supported a vulgar sexist because he said he opposed abortion. We have nominal “conservatives” who support a man who wants to expand federal authority into a virtual police state. We have a Supreme Court that can’t decide important cases because the U.S. Senate refuses to accept its responsibility to act. We have federal juries that decide it’s perfectly OK for armed white men to take over our national parks. Meanwhile, unarmed black men are being shot, and Native Americans are being beaten for trying to protect their tribal lands from desecration and their drinking water from pollution.

And perhaps worst and most dire of all, we have ice caps melting, sea levels rising, coral reefs dying and a planet becoming increasingly uninhabitable while irresponsible, self-righteous fools deny the imminent threats of climate change. We all live unsustainable lifestyles and we all refuse to accept responsibility for our excesses.

By the time you read this, we should know the result of the election. If Donald Trump should win it may just be because America deserves no better. Trump would be the perfect irresponsible choice to lead a failed nation.

I pray that instead we will be celebrating the election of the first mother as president of the United States.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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  • ihavereturned

    Don’t feel to bad my guy lost too. Now you can throw rocks at Washington and Augusta.

  • Charles Martel

    The arrogant pundits, DC elites and progressives never understood the Trump movement and still don’t the day after his win. But, the people have spoken. I can’t wait for all the celebrities to leave the country.

    • poppypapa

      If even one who swore they would does, it will set a new record.

  • poppypapa

    Better make a trip to Hannaford’s fruits and nuts section every day for awhile, Eddie.

    You’re gonna need the love and adulation waiting for you there to get your self-esteem back to its normal gargantuan size.

    Just think of what’s before you as ‘abstract art,’ with a ‘post-modern and
    post-lawful’ sort of expression. You should love that; heck, it’s art,
    as painted by millions of your fellow citizens.

    PS: thanks for the object lesson in what double standard means.

  • Jimmy_John67

    I hate to say I told you so but I told you so Ed. The divisive and dismissive brand of media that you are a practitioner of was a major factor in getting Trump elected. That false sense of superiority and contemptuous attitude displayed by you and others with a public voice resulted in a backlash which elected your worst nightmare. Hopefully you and the others like you in the media on both sides will learn a lesson and practice empathy and understanding instead of hate and intolerance for those with different opinions.

  • poppypapa

    C’mon, Eddie. Follow your angry white man side; demonize and insult those who post here. Reinforce your superiority. Cite the love showering down upon you for your divisive views. Tell us about your experience joining in the cry in on the Bowdoin campus. Freshen up your catalog of epithets.

    We know the steam pressure inside you is reaching critical levels; better let it out, little guy.

  • EABeem

    WE SHALL OVERCOME

    Julius Lester

    For those who chose Trump by voting for a third party candidate or by not voting at all, for those who believed that Hillary Cli…nton’s transgressions were tantamount to evil and thought the election was a choice between two evils, with Hillary being the lesser one, you are about to learn what evil really is. With the Republican Party in control of the presidency, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and soon, the Supreme Court, they now have the power to do whatever they want. They’ve been trying to get rid of Planned Parenthood. It’s gone. Obamacare. Gone. Roe v. Wade. Gone. Gay marriage. Gone.
    The Environmental Protection Agency? Gone. The Paris Accords? Gone. Any acknowledgment that climate change is real? Gone.
    Legislation that will put in place any provisions for gun control? Don’t even think about it. A raise in the Federal minimum wage. Don’t even think about it. I shudder to think what else they will come up with, but I am sure it will be far worse than I can imagine.

    The Republican Party wants to destroy the federal government. It was Ronald Reagan who said that government was the problem, and that became a Republican article of faith. Now it is a call to arms. The Republican Party is going to shut down the government, gradually, quietly, in ways that few will notice, until many of those who have voted them into power will be without services they need and will have no idea what happened.

    I feel very alone today. My fellow citizens have given power to a way of thinking that is a direct assault on my being. For some time to come, I will look at people and be silently asking, “Did you vote for Trump?” Those people who have given the Republican Party what amounts to absolute political power are perpetuating a lie that nothing good happened during the previous eight years. They are perpetuating a world view that says their way represents absolute goodness. Any other way is “a disaster,” to quote Trump. (I will not call him “President.”) There is no way to underestimate the extent to which those who voted for Republican domination hate us. To vote Republican in this election meant that those voters willfully, deliberately, and consciously ignored Donald Trump’s admission that he grabbed women’s genitals, his hatred of women, his characterizations of Mexicans, of equating Muslims with terrorists, the support he received from white nationalists groups, and on and on and on. These voters not only ignored every Trump calumny, they decided that anything Hillary Clinton did (whether true or not) made her less less trustworthy than Trump. Those who voted for the Republican Party did not pretend to care about honesty and truth. They did not pretend to care about anyone other than themselves. Ultimately, they cared only about their resentments, and making themselves feel great again. Trump used the old tactic of creating group cohesion by giving people a common enemy, and that enemy is us – the liberal media, the politically correct, women who want to be respected and to make their own decisions about their lives, black people, Muslims, and anyone Trump deemed to call “a loser.” And let it be said, loudly and clearly, that the election results were an expression of racism in its repudiation of Obama’s years as president, and they were an expression of misogyny. That the White House would be occupied by a woman after eight years of it being occupied by a black man was simply more than those voters could live with. Making America great again meant putting blacks and women back in the places those white voters believed they belonged.

    But as I have thought about what has transpired, something about it began to feel familiar. At what other time in my life have I felt abandoned by the government? At what other time in my life have I felt like I was hated by a significant number of my fellow citizens? Indeed, at what other time in my life did I feel like a significant number of my fellow citizens wanted to do me harm?

    When the answers came to me, I smiled. “Oh,” I said to myself. “I know how to get through this.” My mind went back to growing up under racial segregation in the 1940s and 1950s, a time when political power rested with the states, and the states were free to discriminate without fear of intervention by the federal government. It was a time when how you lived your life was defined by the state. I remember vividly as a child listening to black audiences sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the song known as the “Negro National Anthem,” and even as a child, the opening stanza of the second verse pierced my heart:

    “Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
    Felt in the days when hope unborn had died….”

    “…the days when hope unborn had died.” I suppose those words should have frightened me, but their truth was reassuring. My reality was that I was living in a time when hope that hadn’t even been born was already dead was my reality, and this little black child’s inner response was, “ O.K. Good to know what I’m dealing with.”

    So, how did black people survive during such times? How do we survive now?

    First, do not expect change to come quickly. Nothing is going to change for at least four years, and maybe not then. That is a difficult reality to have to accept. The Republicans have total power. Senate Democrats have parliamentary maneuvers and tactics at their disposal to delay or stave off some Republican legislation, but Senate Democrats do not have any significant power to create change. Change in our system comes through the electoral process, which the Republicans have been manipulating for their benefit by making it more difficult to vote, by gerrymandering to insure Republican majorities, not only in the House but in state legislatures. Expect the Republicans to do even more to control the electoral process. When Trump said the process was rigged, he was right, but it was rigged in his favor.

    Second, because change will not and cannot come quickly, do not despair. This is crucial. Despair undermines the spirit, and the results of this election are an assault on our spirits. It is difficult not to feel despair. But despair erodes the spirit. Despair helps the Republicans because through despair we defeat ourselves. But I never heard my parents or anyone in the black community of the 1940s and 1950s express despair. Despair gives your adversary power over you. Despair defines you in relationship to your adversary. You do not want to be defined by a relationship that is detrimental to your well-being.

    What I learned as a child from my elders was what William Faulkner said about Dilsey, the black cook, in his novel, ‘The Sound and the Fury.’ He describes her in a two word sentence: “She endured.” What does it mean to endure? It means to live with your spirit intact. It means that I will be even more politically correct, because to do so is to treat others with respect. To endure means that I will let my “little light shine,” especially when others try to put it out. To endure means believing that “we shall overcome,” even though we don’t know how, but because I don’t know today doesn’t mean I won’t know tomorrow, or the day after. To endure means to never stop believing that we shall overcome.

    Fourth, I will respect my anger. Anger is a difficult emotion. It can manipulate its carrier; it can destroy its carrier. Respecting my anger means that I will regard it as raw energy to be used purposefully and when its use can be most effective. I will not dissipate that anger in meaningless tirades or displays of self-righteous indignation. Instead, I will join with others to talk about and plan how to use that anger in political actions. President Obama’s post-presidential initiative to focus on electoral politics at the local level becomes even more important now. For anyone who has lamented not being around in the sixties to protest segregation and the Vietnam War, the Republican Party is going to give us a lot to protest, including, perhaps, our constitutional right to protest.

    Fifth and Last. It is mandatory that we live in such a way that our souls remain whole. How do we live, day-to-day, so that our lives and relationships are ones of joy? When I think about my growing up years, yes, I remember the psychological terrorism of racial segregation and racism. I remember the fear for my life during a time when lynchings still happened. But I also remember laughter. I remember joy.

    I love the title of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing!” I understand that at this moment, many of us do not feel like singing, may feel that we have nothing to sing about. But that is not so. At a time like this, an important emotion to express at least once daily is gratitude. In expressing gratitude we shift our attention and emotions from what we don’t have to what we do have. Focusing on what I don’t have leads to despair and fruitless anger. Focusing on what I do have leads to joy, and joy is to embrace one’s self and others with energy that affirms life.

    This is what these times call for – the joyous affirmation of all that is good and decent in us as we wait patiently for the day when all that is good and decent will also be expressed in public policy.

    I understand that it is not easy to be patient. I understand that asking ourselves to endure, to be grateful, to sing with joy sounds woefully inadequate to the dangers that confront us. They are not. These are values I learned from those who went through times more dire than even these. And they are values that have seen me and many others, ‘black and white together,’ through times of unborn hope.

    We Shall Overcome.

    And, we shall.

    ©Julius Lester

    • poppypapa

      I offer you this, after trying to read your whole response, and not being able to do so.

      A friend once said after getting married: ‘there’s something calming about knowing the worst.’

      Enjoy the knowledge, at least in your view.

    • poppypapa

      For those of you who ever wondered why the social media shorthand “OMG”

      was created, now you know.

      And for those who did create it, it’s obvious it is inadequate to the task.

    • David R. Hill

      Wow, Ed, for a minute I thought you wrote that incredibly inspiring piece and I was about to fall at your feet in adulation. But I noticed it had a rather African-American perspective from a somewhat older (in years) author. So, thank you for sharing it, in both its bleak projections and positive directions for the future.

      I just find it disturbing that our election was upended by the meddling of the FBI and the Russians leading to apathy on the part of too many non-voters. In response to your headline, yes, someone is responsible.

  • Hooter

    Hi Ed,

    I don’t have time to read that drivel below because I work for a living. I don’t revel in your agony. Get over it and manage your life without depending on the feds. Hillary Clinton is not a smart woman. She married a smart man and rode his success to the top. She is greatly feared by most of the insiders. Give trump a chance. He drove a stake through the heart of both the clinton and obama corrupt machine. For that he should be labeled a god. I want a small government. So do most others. You are a hypocrite. The primary breadwinner in your family works for a company that makes its profits from selling items made by child/slave labor. How does that feel? Get a life!

  • peterplus

    We have elected a known fascist as our president. He was the candidate of choice for the KKK and the Neo-Nazis. And we must never allow any of Trump’s supporters to forget that they stood shoulder to shoulder with the slime of our country to elect this pig. They must be held accountable. I am one of the American workers who has fallen from the middle class to the working poor across the last twenty years. It has been difficult, but I have kept my eyes open as I fell and I saw that it was the corporate pigs at the top who were making life more difficult for me as they hoarded the wealth. I knew that it wasn’t the immigrants working for slave wages, doing jobs that most Americans would never do. Who was the last immigrant you knew who shipped a few thousand jobs overseas to increase his/her profits? Who was the last immigrant you knew who hid his wealth off shore to avoid paying his/her fair share of taxes? Who was the last immigrant you knew who put a generation in debt for a college education? Or raised the price of gasoline and heating oil? I know precisely who is to blame and who is not to blame for these hardships that have fallen on the working poor. Trump despises the working poor in America. They are trash to him. And yet they voted him into office. That is the result of breathtaking ignorance. And to all the so-called christians who voted for Trump, a man whose life has been a mockery of everything Christ stood for, you should be deeply ashamed, and you will be held accountable.

    • poppypapa

      So, which union are you a member of?

      And you better be careful; Eddie won’t be happy with anyone who outshines him in name-calling, demonization, and outright emotional tirades.

      Those are his trademarks and stock in rhetoric; if you want to engage in such BDN’ery, get your own column.

  • funfundvierzig

    Perhaps this consummately contemptuous columnist should take responsibility for his smearing of 60 million American men and women, and a very large swath of Forecaster readers.

    Recall only three weeks ago (Oct. 24, 2016), how the belligerent Beam trashed regular Americans:

    “No responsible citizen, corporation or newspaper would endorse Trump”.

    Then with the utmost, if not pretentious confidence, Beam proclaims,

    “Clinton will win easily”.

    Such is the La La Land in which ultra-liberals live in such isolation and arrogance.

    Merely the perspective of one independently-minded citizen at large…funfun..

    • EABeem

      No responsible citizen, corporation or newspaper did endorse Trump. Hadn’t counted on the FBI and the Russians subverting the election. Clinton did win the popular vote easily, even with Florida hiding 800,000 ballots.

      • funfundvierzig

        Ah…yes..so you continue to degrade 60 million responsible, hard-working American men and women who dared to think for themselves and refused to vote for your incorrigibly corrupt candidate in the pear-shaped pantsuit or be deceived by her serial lies.

        Throughout the heartland, and even in liberal Maine, millions of Trump signs, many home-made, dotted yards and driveways. And according to you, none are “responsible citizens”; none “endorsed” Trump?

        And like your idol, you truculently blame Obama’s F.B.I. Director and the Russians for her stunning defeat. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton should summon her confidante, the humble Huma, to fetch a mirror and peer intently therein to discover the cause of her loss.

        …funfun..

        • EABeem

          I continue to believe that the majority of American voters were correct in rejecting Trump’s hateful agenda and that the minority of voters who elected him are misguided at best, racists at worst.

          • funfundvierzig

            “Racists”?

            Remarkably, folks, this hubris-heavy Hillary Hugger persists in insulting and demonising a large swath of Forecaster readers and millions and millions of decent, law-biding American men and women!

            While this hate-slinging columnist pulls out the simple-minded “ist” words constantly deployed by ultra-liberals (“racist”, “sexist”, “misogynist”, and “nativist”-that’s the abusive term for anyone who takes pride in America and wants to stop illegals and criminals from barging over the border) to denigrate a large majority of the states in the Union and their people, the other party got a stunning mandate for change. The Executive Branch and both Houses of Congress became Republican dominated as well as a multitude of Governorships and state legislatures.

            Incidentally, what race is being demeaned in the mind of this columnist? Illegals are not a specific race. Criminals don’t belong exclusively to a single race.

            I’m not a racist simply because I refused to endorse and vote for Crooked Hillary, a corrupt Caucasian.

            …funfun..

          • EABeem

            In Trumpworld, all Muslims are terrorists, all Mexicans are rapists, and all Black men are thugs. Racist, pure and simple. I am not demonizing everyone who voted for Trump. I know a handful and they are all misguided, uninformed, easily led people. Jim and Jean Lunchbox are in for a HUGE surprise if they think Trump is their populist savior.

          • funfundvierzig

            I have never heard President-Elect Trump or any of his campaign leaders make the astounding claim,

            “In Trumpworld, all Muslims are terrorists, all Mexicans are rapists, and all Black men are thugs.”

            Would like to provide readers here with a direct citation or reference to support your fictional allegation, hostile and abusive once again to many Forecaster readers, many Forecaster advertisers, and the millions who dared to vote against the intractably corrupt Clinton Tammany Hall machine, and won big-time.

            …funfun..

          • funfundvierzig

            “Jim and Jean Lunchbox are in for a HUGE surprise if they think Trump is their populist savior.”

            “Jim and Jean Lunchbox”?

            Mr. Beem drips with disdain for ordinary working people many of whom given money issues do indeed and in fact take their lunches to their jobs in boxes and paper bags.

            We have an “ist” word of our own to describe this ever-insulting columnist for the Forecaster:

            “ELITIST”

            An Elitist who lives in an ultra-liberal world of zero tolerance for the great unwashed, any regular citizen who doesn’t share his militant leftist ideology or questions the quality and character of his political heroine, now reportedly crying in Chappaqua, New York and blaming her loss on everyone else and even foreign countries.

            …funfun..

          • EABeem
          • funfundvierzig

            But even this ultra-liberal propaganda from the Huffington Post does not support your comically expansive claim…

            *All Black men are thugs”

            “All Mexicans are racists.”

            …funfun..

          • EABeem

            Rapists, not racists. Donald Trump is a sexist and racist. That’s obvious anyone who isn’t one or the other or both.

          • funfundvierzig

            Mindless software often changes a typed word.

            There you go again with those simple-minded “ist” words, the argot of the arrogantly liberal.

            Gotta laugh, Mr. Beam…funfun..