Even after votes, holiday grinch exists

Focus! That is what I’ve been telling myself to do these last three weeks. With the midterm elections over, it feels somewhat like relief. And yet, I feel somewhat lost, I feel that I need to find a new focus to fill that empty spot.

At the federal level, it is exciting that the House was turned blue, that was a major goal in election efforts. Popular votes tallied nationwide showed an 8 percent margin of votes went to Democratic candidates over Republican candidates.

Unfortunately, even though that signifies where the opinions of the majority of U.S. citizens lie — the ones who are concerned enough to vote, anyway, we are still caught in a governmental operating system that has developed a glitch. Because of viruses that have been introduced over time, the results it produces come out skewed. Because of the antiquated electoral college and voting systems in some states, the outright suppressive tactics and gerrymandered districts, and the Gingrich and McConnell-imposed party entrenchment to name a few glitches, we have a minority-run government.

That is a problem that hopefully can now be worked on in a bipartisan Congress. This is good news to focus on, to watch what the Democrat-led House will do come January.

Narrowing my focus to local races, the news was not as good. However, I want to acknowledge the involvement and major efforts of the supporters of the Democratic candidates in this area — especially the members of the Chautauqua/Cattaragus Women’s Action Group. Continuing to participate in this group will be an ongoing focus for me.

Through the campaigns of Tracy Mitrano, Judy Einach, and Sheriff Joe Gerace, I have met some very extraordinary people, including the candidates themselves; like-minded people, who have forward-thinking ideas and the drive and tenacity to pursue those goals. Even though Chautauqua County as a whole voted mostly Republican, the efforts of those dedicated people made a difference in neighborhoods where they canvassed and areas where they reached out. Most of the voting districts in Fredonia, Dunkirk, Jamestown, and Silver Creek came in with a blue majority. Although disappointing that voters in this area seemed to have let biases unrelated to the candidates themselves influence their votes — dislike of Cuomo, incumbent leaning combined with unfamiliarity and lack of factual knowledge of the opposition, blind party loyalty, being swayed by sensationalist advertising)… OK, I have to update my focus now, that’s what this piece started out to be about, right?

The support she received here and across the 23rd district helped Mitrano in her decision to announce a second run in 2020. That is a place to put my focus soon. The upcoming 2020 presidential election is emerging as a focus for the not-so-distant future. Hats have been thrown into the ring already, and it will soon provide an intense focus of interest.

But, right in this moment, there seems to be a void. The midterm election excitement is over and the 2020 Democratic campaigns haven’t taken off yet and into this void, a grinch starts creeping. No, not the Whoville Grinch —- the White House grinch. I can picture the grinch slithering down that frightening gauntlet of red cones — Focus! It is too easy to fall into the trap he sets; the frustration, anxiety, and disbelief resulting from focusing on the incongruities between the actual problems occurring in our country and around the world, and the tweets and utterances of the grinch-in-chief.

A congressionally mandated study warning about the effects we are causing on climate change, produced by a team of 13 government agencies including 300 scientific experts was just released. President Grinch, when asked about it, with the most detailed response he could muster, said “I don’t believe it.” Because he has professed his disbelief, his followers will not believe.

And, much like his authorization for the military he dispatched to the Mexican border to use lethal force, he has authorized the continued lethal assault on our environment. He blames forest management for the devastating California infernos and proclaims rakes to be the solution. He separates children from their parents at the border and puts them in camps, and he allows tear gas attacks on children seeking asylum, while downplaying it’s effects (which he would never prove on himself, let alone, as he bragged, rush into a school to disarm a mass shooter, or allow his bone spurs to heal, or eat romaine lettuce, or miss a golf tee-off time for a visit to a soup kitchen or troops stationed away from home on Thanksgiving.)

He sides with the NRA and gun manufacturers against protecting us with gun safety regulations. He supports racist and mysogynistic candidates. He degrades women including an unsupported apology to a now Supreme Court Justice whose history and views are obviously questionable as justice qualifications, but just as obviously beneficial to him. His failure to condemn white supremacist and anti-semitic groups has emboldened them and led to an increase in overt hate activity. He spread a perceived threat from a migrant “caravan” to stoke support for Republican candidates while deflecting attention from actual serious issues, like the recent Russian aggression against Ukranian ships.

His Russian affinity prevents him from denouncing this, which undoubtedly our once-upon-a-time allies will all do, along with the UN which he claims to be ineffective anyway. He backs Saudi leadership, putting an economic agenda (of over inflated importance) over the moral outrage of the murder of an American resident, employed as a journalist for an American paper, and that of the humanitarian crisis with thousands of starving children in Yemen caused by Saudi aggression which the U.S. is supporting.

He gives tax breaks to the rich while promising jobs as plants are closing and workers are being laid off. He manipulates, covers up and misleads. He openly obstructs justice. He wants to control the entire government, including law enforcement and the courts …. Do you see the problem? He causes so much distraction with this disturbing behavior that it is impossible to keep focused!

This is the grinch we are dealing with. As difficult as it is to not be lost in the disillusionment that he causes, there is something to focus on right now that will help take the edge off his effect.

We have the holidays. We have a chance right now to celebrate what we are thankful for, to celebrate the spirit of giving and helping others, to enjoy the company of friends and loved ones, to be festive! To appreciate that we live in a country where we still have freedoms, and people who are still determined to keep it that way!

So for now, my focus will be aimed at enjoying the holidays; my family and friends, the children and Santa, the decorations and lights, the parties, the cards and cookies, the Christmas specials on TV, the shopping for gifts, the Salvation Army bells, all the business of the season, and the little miracles that go unrecognized at other times of the year. A focus on health and happiness this holiday season and in the new year!

Susan Bigler is a Sheridan resident.