Featuring essays by Elizabeth George on the future of our country

Granny Strings

In a recent email I was accused of trying to pull on "granny strings". I received this email in response to one I myself had written to someone who kept sending me "so look at your boy now!" messages that contained links to various articles from various publications. I dutifully checked each publication before looking at the article. With the exception of a lengthy YouTube video of a young woman speaking about being black in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to an unseen Joe Biden, the sources were all rated as low and not to be trusted when it came to the "facts" upon which they were reporting. In sheer frustration, I wrote an email in which I said--more or less--"Be my guest. Vote for Trump. But know that you're voting for:...." and I went on to list what most of us know by now.

Trump possesses some curious qualities that his supporters must embrace when they vote for him:

Fraudster (Trump University)
Disastrous Businessman (5 bankruptcies)
Tax Evader ("That makes me smart" was his response when he was accused on national television of not paying taxes)
Draft Dodger (bone spurs)
Misogynist (Taped saying he grabs women by the genitals)
Extortionist (the telephone call to the Ukrainian President for dirt on Hunter and Joe Biden)
Sexual Predator (Various cases wending their way through court)
Racist (The suburbs are going to be destroyed with low income housing)
Xenophobe: (Mexican drug lords, rapists, and murderers crossing our borders)
Coward: (Back to bone spurs)
Climate Change Denier
COVID Denier
Liar (let me count the ways...)

I may have ended my missive with a question about the recipient's grandchildren, but that I do not recall. It wouldn't have been an illogical next step, however. If one in the position of having grandchildren is intending to vote for Donald Trump--or anyone else for that matter), then it seems that part of the social responsibility inherent to exercising the right to vote is that of looking beyond the gratifications of the present moment in order to consider the various possible consequences of that vote. Among those possible consequences would seem to be--at least to me--what kind of country and what kind of society (not to mention what kind of planet) we're leaving behind when we shed our mortal coils.

If this is pulling on the granny strings, I plead guilty. We can look over our shoulders at the past as we vote, we can certainly make an evaluation of the present as we vote, but if we also do not look into the future as we vote, we are abdicating our responsibility to those who follow us.

Let me be clear: I do not believe this election is about selecting a role model for our children and grandchildren. But I do believe this election is about selecting a leader. And we evaluate a leader by what s/he has said and what s/he has done, for these are the only indications we have for what s/he might do in the future.

I've been listening these past few days to a podcast called "It Was Said," by the historian Jon Meacham. Meacham takes some speeches from our history and he places them into the context of their times, giving the listener the background that brought the speech into being. I've listened to Martin Luther King Jr speaking during the sanitation workers' strike in Memphis the night before he was murdered; I've listened to Bobby Kennedy's speaking to a crowd of 1,000 in Indiana on the evening of day Martin Luther King Jr was murdered, I have listened to Barack Obama's speech in Charleston, SC, at Mother Emmanuel Church after nine people at a bible study were murdered by a white neo-Nazi, and I've listened to Meghan McCain's passionate eulogy of her father John McCain at his funeral. What these speeches have in common is their refusal to demonize anyone, their call upon people to unite and, more, to work past their fears in order to enhance their understanding.

It's that sort of person I want to lead our country.

Let me close with this: Dividing people is simple. It requires fiery rhetoric and finger-pointing blame. It asks nothing of anyone. Bringing people together is infinitely difficult. It asks people to reach across chasms of fear and ignorance. It often requires them to set aside long held beliefs. It talks about the sacrifices of the few for the good of the many. It's what happens in societies that are determined to thrive.

Elizabeth George



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