Why #ImWithHer Reflections on #DonaldTrump #CHIP #Flint & #fracking [#DemsInPhilly #DNC2016]

Last night, speakers ripped out one zinger after another on Trump. While some of them were funny and earned laughs mixed with boos, Joe Biden was right, there’s something that’s not in any way funny about them. That anyone can say any of the following things about a neighbor much less a presidential candidate should scare the wits out of us.

Make light of it. Satirize and mock Trump. Make him Donald Drumpf again as John Oliver has said. But don’t just laugh. And don’t just boo as President Obama said, “Vote.” I say do more than vote. If we tell the stories of our lives together, we will find why we all need to say “Never Trump.” More importantly, we will find that we should say, “I’m with her,” and that we should make Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States.

Billionaire and former Republican turned independent New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “I built a business, and I didn’t start it with a million dollar check from my father. I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one.” Apparently a whole group of us see the estate developer for what he is, “a carnival barker” peddling an “American nightmare” as Martin O’Malley said. He’s a “thin-skinned racist” and a fraud as Elizabeth Warren says. He fundamentally fails all tests to be the commander in chief. As Leon Panetta said, Trump “gets his foreign policy experience from watching TV and running the Miss Universe Pageant.” And retired Navy Admiral John Hutson said, “This morning, this very morning, he invited Russia to hack us. That’s not law and order, that’s criminal intent.” Some say the hacking remark was off the cuff. I don’t buy it.

The problem with Trump is that everything is off the cuff. If everything is off then nothing is off the cuff. But, as Tim Kaine said, Trump constantly says, “Believe me.” So we are to believe him but he’s not serious.

As Jeb Bush has said, Trump is a “chaos candidate.” In Game of Thrones Littlefinger, Lord Peter Baelysh says, “Chaos is a ladder.” That’s exciting fiction and television and horrible politics in a democratic republic.

We are lost in the carnival, the barker’s voice filling the air with useless messages, challenging our abilities, turning our speech into a bunch of reactions to absurd directions about what we are to do with one another. You’re a rapist from Mexico. You’re from a criminal religion. You’re a woman asking me a hard question so you must be menstruating, an instant disqualification. If you are you and not Trump or his family, you are a failure. But if you’re a brutal press-suppressing dictator like Vladimir Putin you get an A in leadership. That’s twisted.

So what do we do?

I think we do just as Bloomberg, O’Malley, Biden, Obama, Warren, and Sanders have done. They’ve calmly but passionately all named the behavior for what it is—fraud, lying, bullying, racist screed or criminal intent. They’ve also told us what we can do. Bloomberg said we should vote for sanity and competence. Admiral Hutson said, “I taught national security law. Praising dictators is an automatic “F” in my class.” President Obama urged us to vote. But they also spoke from who they are. This, I think is the most important thing.

Yesterday, I wrote that my son’s life was improved because Hillary Clinton worked to make sure that millions of children get health care. He, and millions of other children are on CHIP. Donald Trump would never do that for my son, my ex-wife and me. He would steal our money through a fake university and fall into ever deeper debt.

When I worked in Penn State’s writing center about half of my students came from first generation immigrant families, some of whom had come illegally but were now making better lives in the United States. I had a Laotian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Nicaraguan students whose families lived on the margins in Pennsylvania. But they worked incredibly hard and they made it to the university. Now, because of legislation like the DREAM Act that Secretary Clinton supported, they have the chance to do things their parents could only imagine doing. Do you think Donald Trump would do that for them? No. He’d round them up in a mass deportation or build a wall to keep them out. But if they were still here he’d have no problem screwing over their parents’ contracting companies.

I am a passionate advocate for sustainability and environmental justice. Whether it’s fighting sprawl in my township, standing against fracking with my fellow Pennsylvanians, or working through my position at Penn State to elevate my students’ and all of our capacities to tackle climate change, I respect Hillary Clinton. Now, I understand as well as any of you that she’s on the wrong side of fracking and was for the Keystone XL pipeline before she was against it. But here’s why we might get her to join us to do the right thing, or at least a much better thing on fracking.

When the public learned of the Flint crisis, Clinton responded immediately. She and the mayor of Flint created, a program distribute “clean water, healthy food and nutrition information and services to families in need” according to Michigan Live. And it’s provided by local people. If that were my community, I’d be thankful that she took the time to come and hear me and work on it.

Do think Trump would do that? No. Of course not. He’d figure out a way to sell my community overpriced bottled water he was getting from a municipal source on it somewhere else. Hell, maybe from Michigan. And it would have Trump on it.

With a Clinton EPA, we might get something better on fracking than we have so far. In fact, I’m hopeful about it because, as my fellow activist Mike Badges Canning has said,

“There can be a strategic reason to vote for Clinton (and I can respect that) but if you aren’t making her earn your vote by holding her feet to the fire, by making her move to you, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. If you are turning your vote over to Clinton right now and you don’t plan on being in the streets standing in solidarity with immigrants, the poor, people of color, people in front line communities, the incarcerated, the 99% that the system doesn’t serve – YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.”

On the eve of Memorial Day, PA Governor Tom Corbett’s tried to open our state parks to fracking. I organized a group of us from central PA to stand in a respectful silent protest against him during the Memorial Day ceremonies. Many citizens thanked us.

If we keep up the pressure, she (or her proxies) could come to the shale fields of Wyoming, Louisiana, or Pennsylvania. If she is who she claims to be, then she will do something for us. If she’s not, then she will pay the political consequence.

With Donald Trump there is not a single chance at this. If you think the fracking boom was bad with Corbett and Aubrey McClendon, imagine it with Donald Trump. If we’ve been working hard now, exhausting ourselves, then you better get ready to become a Red Bull addict. If you think the Clean Power Plan is too little too late, imagine that and Paris rolled back together. That, my friends, is game over.

I believe that this election is about relationships and responsibility. Whatever my disagreements are with Clinton, I believe that I am brothers’ and sisters’ keeper and that my vote matters as an act of care. I know that Hillary Clinton has made people’s lives better.

I’m with her.



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