The Nation Thanks our Postal and Poll Workers and Ballot Counters

Thank you for the commitment to your task.

When there was much uncertainty as to the outcome of the election

You remained steadfast in carrying out your duties

And gave us confidence that the results would reflect the will of the people

For a few tense days, all eyes were on you

And you responded admirably

Reminding us once again

Of the importance of working together

That there is a place for everyone in this land,

And that it takes all those efforts to make our system thrive

There are many things on which we will disagree

But we must always seek a measure of compromise

Or we will become vulnerable to leaders keen to exploit the differences

For their selfish reasons

If Red and Blue makes Purple

Then that is what we should strive for,

Purple to bridge the gaps that divide us

Purple to bring gender and racial equality to our land

Freeing us to think boldly, conquer our fears and act courageously.

You have done your part

And in so doing affirmed our democracy.

It has been a wonderful display of patriotism and citizenship.

The nation is deeply grateful.

Oscar Valdes   oscarvaldes@widehumr

The President’s Regrets

Alone in the Oval Office, the TV off because the count in Georgia and Pennsylvania now has Biden in the lead, while both Arizona and Nevada continue to lean democratic, the President sits and lowers his head. The long dreaded defeat has finally arrived.

‘I tweeted too much. Which meant I didn’t take time to reflect. Presidents shouldn’t tweet so much. Joe doesn’t tweet like I do but I’ll pass it along anyway, just before the transfer of power.’

‘I should have let the scientists lead the effort on the coronavirus from the very beginning. This is a big one. If I had done that, then if the virus would have spread, I could’ve blamed them. But no, I chose to be the man in charge, even though I didn’t know a thing about the virus.’

‘I identified too much with the Right, as if this country was not a huge place filled with people who have lots of different points of view.’

‘I should have worked more with my supporters, to tell them that to make America Great Again it will take the work of all Americans. I cringe when I hear Joe Biden talk about how he’s going to be a president for everyone, and that during his term there will be no red and blue states. Damn. That should’ve been my line.’

‘I should’ve danced more with Melania, sang her a song, just be with her. Relax with her. And spent more time with my son Barron, too, see what he had to say. The young can always teach us something if we care to listen. I didn’t.’

‘That’s a problem I have, listening. A huge problem. If I had listened, I wouldn’t have fired good generals like Mattis and Kelly.’

‘If I had listened, I would’ve kept some of my early economic advisers who told me to go easy on the tariffs on China. Sure, there is an issue with their theft of intellectual property and their push to world dominance, but I ought to have been more gradual.’

‘I should have brought more women into the cabinet, lots of them. My cabinet should’ve been at least half women. And I could’ve even appointed a woman to be secretary of state. Hell, I would’ve been reelected if I had done that. But I didn’t.’

‘And why did I go bananas on overturning environmental regulations? The climate issue is real. Everybody thinks that. How come I was so blind and deaf about it?’

‘And the George Floyd incident, that was a missed opportunity. I could’ve jumped in and said, “This is horrible. Ghastly. There are great cops in our nation, but this is not permissible. This is murder, and I will make sure that justice is done” But I didn’t do it.’

‘I pissed off a lot of European allies. There was no need for that. There were other ways I could’ve got them to pay more for the costs of defense.’

‘I am feeling depressed. And have no one to blame but me.’

Good luck, Mr President.

Oscar Valdes wrote extensively in an effort to get the President to reflect. And sent him his books.   oscarvaldes@widehumr

Biden because…

We need to restore sanity to America,

We must have a president who will not shirk from confronting a foreign leader,

A president who is not preoccupied with every criticism that is made of him and who can think before he tweets,

We need a president who is comfortable with thinking and reflecting,

Who is open to having the best people around him, regardless of what party they’re affiliated with,

We must have a president who can hear a dissenting view,

A person who values independent thought, men and women who can stand on their own and choose to serve the nation out of a sense of patriotism rather than personal gain, men and women who’re not quick to say, ‘yes, mr president, of course you’re right, sir, absolutely right, you’re the greatest, the most wonderful human being I’ve ever met,’

We need a leader with the courage to address the nation in the face of abject cruelty, as when George Floyd was murdered in public view, and then step out and denounce the abuse of power and stand and grieve with the rest of us,

We need a leader who believes in science, who doesn’t feel diminished because he has to wear a mask,

We must have a leader who doesn’t lie to us, repeatedly, shamelessly,

A president with the courage to not blame China for the enormous losses of life we’ve suffered and who not once has said he takes responsibility for any of it.

In his view, whatever he does, is a masterful move.

We need Biden because he’s committed to bringing women to the center of our political world,

Women, who in this land of the free, have not been elected to the presidency or vice presidency in 231 years, yet all the while they’ve been nurturing men, educating, strengthening, helping to guide us, inspiring and comforting us, and we have the gall to turn around and deny them the right to control their bodies and to not think they are fit to lead.

We need Biden because in bringing women to power, he opens the door for them to govern the nation for the next 50 consecutive years, at least, and so make it possible to have racial and gender equality in our land.

Men simply could not do the job and need to move aside and let women do it.

We need Biden to reach out to the president’s supporters and remind them that we must sit down and have a dialogue,

We need Biden, who will tell the president’s supporters that they are essential in the struggle to improve our nation,

We need Biden

To remind us of our true powers, and that this is not the time to step back from acting with concern for the plight of the downtrodden anywhere in the world, for their suffering is ours too. Embrace it and we will embrace our own, and as we do brighten the flame of hope that has always lived in our hearts and minds.

So, go Joe, go Kamala,

Fight for our land as you know how,

And let not the winds of hatred and envy blight our future

Oscar Valdes     oscarvaldes@widehumr

As Election Day Approaches

There is an oppressiveness that hangs in the air in our nation today. The oppressiveness of having in the White House a man with no interest in building bridges to unite us.

He is a president in name but not a leader.

He is a man who has failed repeatedly to stand up against racial injustice.

He is a man who has done profound harm to the nation by not siding with science in our struggles against the pandemic.

The notion of freedom that is so dear to us, is perverted by a man who doesn’t have the basic decency to acknowledge his limitations.

This is a man who could not stand up to Vladimir Putin on July 16th 2018 when, after meeting with the Russian tyrant, failed to confront him and say to his face that our intelligence agencies had solid evidence of Russia’s interference in our 2016 presidential election. Our president said, instead, that while he believed our intelligence agencies, he also believed Putin’s denial of involvement.

Our president is the man who could not confront the Saudis when ample evidence was offered by Turkey (and confirmed by our agencies) that Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist with the Washington Post who was critical of the Saudi regime, had been brutally murdered and hacked in the Saudi embassy in Ankara.

Our president is the man who could not step up and speak loudly against police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year. The video showing the officer pressing his knee against Mr Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground, was not enough to move the president to be outraged with the rest of us and grieve the loss of a fellow American.

Instead, when protests followed, he summoned security forces to clear the area in front of a church near the White House so he could pose for the cameras while holding a bible.

Never mind attempting to reach within himself to find the decency to stand up for the downtrodden.

Our president stands as a symbol of shallowness, of contempt for our basic liberties, contempt for the sacrifice our soldiers have made in defense of our land, as when he was quoted making derogatory statements of men and women fallen in battle.

And yet, some people are still willing to vote for him.

The 1930s and 40s saw the rise of the extreme Right in the world (Germany, Italy, Japan). In Germany and Italy it took the form of a clown posing as a leader and a population allowing itself to believe they were better than the rest of humanity. The misery, the atrocities perpetrated as a result stand as a record of our propensity to deny what is in front of our eyes.

But it keeps happening.

There was a moment, years ago, when I remember thinking that I had already watched enough movies about the Holocaust. I was wrong. We need to keep making them, again and again, while adding works about the new cruelties we keep inflicting and witnessing; the genocide in Cambodia under Pol Pot, the massacres in Rwanda, the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, the forced confinement of Uighurs in China, the ongoing mistreatment of minorities throughout the world.

And yet, the other day I saw a frontpage article in the Wall Street Journal about a wealthy farmer in one of our northern states. He argued in support of the president, and that doing so would ensure that taxes and regulations would stay down. ‘We have to take the good with the bad.’ To the gentleman, his economic concerns were enough to override everything else. That is the same restricted mentality that leads to the rise of extremism everywhere.

Closer to home, yesterday I made a call to a friend and casually asked, ‘you voted yet?’, and the friend replied, ‘I don’t vote.’ I was dumbfounded. ‘I don’t like either candidate,’ the friend continued.

‘But wait,’ I pleaded, ‘the preservation of our liberties requires that we exercise choice, you may not like either of the candidates but surely there are advantages to choosing one over the other.’ ‘Don’t insist, I’m not voting,’ came the reply. I said no more. But today, I left a text urging the person to please reconsider.

I remember reading once that nations deserved their leaders. Without bothering to properly reflect on the meaning of the sentence, I repeated it to an old Cuban émigré who had served several years in prison under Castro. He politely disagreed. ‘We didn’t deserve Castro,’ he said, his expression revealing the pain he’d endured in the struggle for liberty in his land.

Do we deserve our current president? No. But let us not prolong the oppressiveness under which we now live, or we might forget what the sweet scent of liberty feels like.

One last thought. My heartfelt thanks to all the campaign volunteers who keep reaching out to persuade the undecided, the men and women who keep making call after call to motivate the apathetic and disinterested, our fellow citizens who seem to have no clue as to what it takes to preserve our freedoms.

Oscar Valdes     oscarvaldes@widehumr

Political Donations and the Fragility of Democracy

We keep being asked to continue to pitch in, so more information is sent to voters.

But haven’t most people made up their minds by now?

Four years of Trump is not enough to persuade the citizen?

Apparently not, judging by the incessant requests. And so, it appears, that the fate of the nation comes to rest on a group of people who don’t seem to have strong views one way or the other and who can be persuaded by a postcard or advertisement.

Downright scary.

It is a good argument to invest more in education, to invest in helping people think.

A neutral subject like Thinking 101 could be made part of the curriculum, starting in 4th grade and continuing through the end of high school.

It ought to go hand in hand with Psychology 101, Learning to Recognize Your Emotions, so you’re not a slave to them but in control of them.

The classes could be just interactive lectures with no homework attached. A simple exchange of views with a mature adult with an interest in awakening young minds.

I, myself, would have got a lot of out of such courses.

The courses could use stories to illustrate instances of how thinking and being aware of your feelings can keep you out of trouble and move you in a direction that is right for you.

Sounds so basic. Who would be against this?

Some people are.

Some people who feel they have to capture the young mind to their way of seeing the world before the young even know who they are.

What a disservice to democracy.

What a disservice to humankind.

Oscar Valdes    on Twitter  oscar valdes@widehumr

Tips to Manage the Loss of the Presidency

Accept your limitations. You are not God, even if your supporters sometimes treat you as one.

The pain of the loss will be great at first but gradually will ease.

Talk to yourself. ‘I made mistakes, tried the best I could given what I have.’

‘I forgive myself for all my imperfections and promise to do better.’

Seek the company of your loved ones. Thank them for all their help.

Remind yourself that you are one of a very select group of people.

As soon as you learn that the vote favored your opponent, concede. This is very important. To be graceful in loss. Call the winner, wish them the best and offer your assistance. The nation will remember you fondly for it.

If you begin to think hostile thoughts, seek the advice of psychiatrists/psychologists from Walter Reed Hospital. You are human. Human beings get angry in loss.

Do not make any rash decisions. For the sake of the nation, consult and consult again before making choices.

Exercise. Go for long walks. Dance with your partner. Sing your favorite song.

You will laugh again. At yourself and at the world.

There is life after the presidency.

Watch comfort foods. They can pack the pounds very quickly.

When or if foreign leaders call to express sympathy, ask them to support the new President.

Consider an executive order establishing the office of the psychiatrist/psychologist to the President. A part time job. A few hours a week. So the incumbent can drop by to chat about whatever is on their mind. Records of such sessions to be kept confidential for 100 years.

Good luck.

Oscar Valdes    oscar valdes@widehumr

Try For A Graceful Exit, Mr Trump

I hope that it is becoming clearer to you that the end is near. And it isn’t Joe and Kamala that are defeating you. It is you, defeating yourself.

You took a hammer to yourself and beat up your presidency. With the whole world watching.

On the surface you were gloating in the adoration of your followers at your rallies, but you knew you were hammering down that chisel to deepen the divisions between us.

And you couldn’t stop yourself. Or chose not to.

You could have said, ‘there are so many talented people in this country, all of whom could make an important contribution to my own view, why am I thinking that it is only the side I’m comfortable with that I should be seeking counsel from?’

It was such a basic question.

Simply to ask it would have been an act of moral and intellectual courage.

Did you ever ask it? Ever?

The problems we’ve been facing have been thorny ones. Dealing with them has been deferred by earlier Presidents, but when your turn came and the going got tough, you decided to file for bankruptcy. Which is what you’re familiar with. Debits going up faster that credits?

File for bankruptcy.

You’re not comfortable dealing with people who have dissenting views.

They upset you too easily. And rather than process that dissent in the effort to find common ground, you get angry.

Processing dissent with others calls for a willingness to consider that it is you who may be wrong. That maybe it is you not having the balanced take on the given matter. Which is okay because none of us are perfect. And simply posing the question will move us along on the road to reaching the greater truth.

You can’t file for bankruptcy when dealing with national matters. There is no such option.

People who voted for you thought, ‘well, he’s been a businessman – made and lost millions – he will know how to lead us.’ As if it was all about debits and credits. All about accounting ledgers. In their despair to find solutions, your supporters settled for the easy choice.

And you became President.

But leadership in its enlightened view is not about debits and credits but about guiding human beings, stirring up their energies and directing them to work with their brothers and sisters toward common goals.

Leadership, in its enlightened view, is not about ‘I am better than you’. Rather, it is about finding the best in each other.

To do that you have to know who you are. To do that you have to have struggled to find the best in you.

You started on that road a long time ago but then stopped. But a leader for a complex nation as ours cannot stop the process of self discovery. Stopping is filing for bankruptcy.

The leading of this nation does not allow for bankruptcy filing when facing difficult problems.

Take the matter of race. You could have said to your followers, ‘folks… there’s all of us in here, White, Black, Native Americans, Indian, Asian, Hispanics and shadings in between, and like the great variety of races there’s a great variety of opinions, and during my administration there will be an open debate on everything… and I will be listening, so I can grow wiser and my judgment becomes more balanced. I ask you, please join me in this journey of self discovery.’

But you couldn’t do it. Or you refused to.

Now time has passed and history has been written.

All of us will be learning from your mistakes as we learn from ours. We have to if we want to be the better nation we’ve always wanted to be.

As you come to the end of your term, please try to find in yourself to be graceful in defeat.

Look at it this way. Being graceful in defeat is a way of being kind to yourself. As if you were saying, ‘I tried my best, now let others try their best.’

We know you like to fight. That has been clear. But you have yet to fight the greater fight, the one that will let the better you, shine through.

Good luck, Mr Trump.

Oscar Valdes    oscar valdes@widehumr

You’re a Tribal Leader, Mr Trump. Give it Up!

Accept it. You don’t have the capacity to be a President to all of us.

It’s not in you.

You tried.

You can be a leader to a segment of the nation, and even then, only a temporary leader, because the really transformational leaders are able to connect with their followers so they can learn what it is that has held them back and then do something about it. Truly transformational leaders empower people.

But you can’t do that. It’s beyond you.

So let someone else do it.

You gave it a try. You have left your imprint in the nation’s history books. An imprint that we have to pay close attention to so we won’t repeat the same mistake.

You’re a gifted man in many ways, but not to be our President.

Stay with what you’re good at. Television, for instance.

You made money on ‘The Apprentice.’ Why not try a new show and call it ‘The President.’? (first proposed on blog of 10/6/20)

You would get a chance to rewrite history to suit your purposes and make a buck as you do.

You could do several episodes on your version of what led to your impeachment. And you could have Putin, Xi, Erdogan, Duterte, the Saudi prince come in to make guest appearances and tell us about their own version of history.

(Poor history, it gets beat up and twisted around every day)

Now, if you really wanted to run for office again, then you have to be willing to do some learning.

Try a run for governor somewhere. How about Texas? They may want you. They are Red enough. And the present governor may not mind becoming your second in command.

See, you took too big a leap running for President, got lucky but ended up burdening us with your poor choices.

Now that you’ve shown all your cards, whoever chooses you next will know exactly what they’re getting into.

If you go with Texas, then you’ll have Ted Cruz as one of your senators. The both of you can have breakfast together every Sunday. Pretty cool, right? And you’d have miles and miles of border where you can go and put up all kind of walls to keep people from coming in. Maybe you’ll even find a way to make money at that, too.

Since you’re a vigorous man, you could be governor until you’re tired of it.

So, to sum up, yes, you’re a leader, but a tribal one. And that’s okay. For a while. Because even a tribe gets tired of not learning something that will empower them.

One request. Please do us a favor: be mature and restrained when you’re asked to vacate the White House so Biden can move in. We will remember you more fondly.

Good luck. Wishing you the best in your next adventure.

Oscar Valdes. Follow in Twitter – oscar valdes@widehumr

What Will Bring Us Together?

The divisions between us have existed all along, but they had been neglected by our leaders.

Trump saw his chance and made the most of it.

Crafty fellow that he is, he assessed the circumstances and thought to himself, ‘I can do something with that. I can stir that pot to my advantage.’ And oh, he did it so well.

One for the record books.

There has been much pain and acrimony from all that the man has put us through, but he may have done us a favor.

The favor of exposing how vulnerable we are to the devices of a demagogue. Demagogue, as in a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims, to gain power (Webster’s).

Yes, he did it.

But we can learn from it.

Ideally, we should start on that process right away.

Biden has made it a chief theme of his campaign. Overcoming our divisions.

It won’t be easy but it’s a journey we should embrace.

It would require a little self reflection, an acknowledging that no one owns the truth, and that in compromise lies the key to a successful resolution of our major differences. Never mind the small ones. There will be time for those later.

Having a leader steering us through the healing process will be essential. Biden is uniquely qualified for the role of Healer in chief. He’s been preparing for the task a lifetime and is willing to invest the years he has left to guide us through the process.

We should take him up on it.

Of course, we can always ignore him, hoping for yet another demagogue to show up down the road – there’s no shortage of demagogues in waiting – but we would be prolonging our pain.

There is, however, another way to come together as a nation. It is cruder and more traumatic but it works too. That is to wait for an outside force to threaten us.

Nazi Germany and the Axis nations united us. We knew that we had better pull together or, eventually, we would end up being their vassals.

There is no prospect for another Nazi Germany today. And Russia is starting a process of renewal.

So which nation could threaten us into uniting? China.

They are rising fast and aim to be the leader of the world. Why not? A divided America only makes it easier for them.

So wouldn’t it be less painful and more productive to go the Biden way?

Settling our differences without an outside threat would be a sign of national maturity.

We can do it. We ought to.

And this is the time

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other books. Available on Amazon.

The End is Near

For Trump.

And a rebirth is fast approaching for the nation.

Donald J Trump came into the job by appealing to a section of the country that had felt ignored. Once elected he should have called for unity, for the start of a dialogue that would begin to bring us together.

But he could not do it.

I know he looked into himself wondering if he had the strength to do the job.

I know he looked and looked again.

And yet, all along, the strength was hiding in a corner of his soul.

To find it he needed light.

That light was the courage to see the truth.

But he could not turn on the light.

It is sad that a nation as gifted as ours, has to go through four years of bitter dissent, four years of continuous acrimony, because our elected leader could not rise to the task of truly becoming our leader.

To do so he would have had to say,

‘I have stirred enmity in my followers to rise to victory, but now I should help them understand the root of such enmity, and I must do so even if I, myself, don’t understand it.’

A president has at his disposal all the wisdom of the nation’s scholars, and he could’ve easily called on them to help him find clarity, to assist him in learning what he did not know.

But he chose not to.

And it was a conscious choice. To choose darkness rather than light.

But you have to not be free as a person to choose darkness,

You have to not be free to not muster the courage to face the truth,

And so it is that the man wearing the mantle of leader of the Free World

Is not a free man himself.

It is too much to expect that our leaders will be wise in all things, but it isn’t too much to expect that they ask others to educate them where they are ignorant.

Let us call it intellectual honesty.

If it is not there, then they are not fit to lead.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other titles. Available on Amazon.