Words To Live By: Baskets

By : Rick Claggett
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Rick_ClaggettWe have an Easter tradition in my family. Annually, we search the house for Easter baskets left by Jesus, a rabbit or – most likely – my mother. The Easter basket tradition is one of my favorites, and continues to this day when we are able to get together for the holiday.

The search begins the same way every year. Mom walks up to you and says, “I have it on good authority the Easter Bunny came and left something for you. It’s somewhere in the house.”

She’s done this for so long that she has gotten pretty good at hiding them. When mom knows you have no clue where the basket is, she follows you around like Debate Trump whispering colder or warmer to help guide you. When you finally find your basket everyone erupts in cheers. It’s our thing and I like it.

What’s in the Easter basket is tradition as well: plastic grass base, chocolate bunny, colored eggs, plastic eggs with change in them, jelly beans and something geared toward your liking (which meant baseball cards during my childhood). That’s the thing about baskets; they hold what you think they would.

I may be in the minority among my liberal peers, but I like baskets. Some people see them as constricting labels, but I see a benefit to placing things in baskets. It helps me with expectations. It’s my thing and I like it.

I understand, though, the waters get muddied when putting people in baskets. Gay Republicans are a great example of how complicated it can be. Since they fit into the LGBTQ basket and the Republican basket, they are often dismissed and categorically placed into the self-loathing basket. Unless Miss Cleo rises from the dead and tells me she has read their minds and can undeniably say all gay Republicans are self-loathing, I will continue to think it is a disservice to LGBTQ community to make such an assumption. I don’t agree with their overall political views, but there are many gay Republicans that do great work for our community. That doesn’t strike me as self-loathing.

The basket getting all of the attention lately, and possibly my favorite basket of all time, is the infamous basket of deplorables. First, let’s admit this is a thing. There is a basket that people fit into when they say deplorable things. Hillary Clinton didn’t invent the basket; she just labeled it and it fits.

Why does this label have so many Donald Trump supporters upset?

Hillary Clinton said roughly half of Trump supporters are deplorable. If you accept this as fact and assume that Trump’s 12.5 million Twitter followers are his supporters, then 6.25 million Trump supporters are not deplorable. Why do some automatically assume they are the deplorable ones? So, relax! You’re not all bad people. Want to know if she was referring to you? Ask yourself these simple questions: Do you think you are superior to other people because you are white? Do you think you are superior to other people because you are Christian, or male, or straight? Do you think minorities are to blame for your perceived poor life and not a series of life choices on your part? If yes, then own your spot in that basket. Don’t tout that you like Trump because he isn’t politically correct then cry that your feelings are hurt because Hillary called you deplorable if you are in fact a bigot. If you like someone who tells it like it is, then appreciate it from all sides.

On November 8 (or November 28 according to Trump in one particular speech) we have an opportunity to rearrange the political basket. While the presidential election is very important with the Supreme Court and basic leadership at stake, let’s not lose sight of how important down ballot elections are. For those unhappy about the current state of their union, don’t forget that Congress plays an important role in shaping your government.

Imagine if we elect a president that is in favor of a tuition-free state college. Did we elect a Congress that will make it law? If so, what if Congress passes a law making all state college tuition-free and declares it will be up to the states to decide how that program will be enacted? Now, did we elect a governor that will follow through with that plan? Or a state House of Representatives and a state Senate that will accept it? Or do we have local officials who will deny it like they did Medicaid expansion? How far will minimum wage make it if a supportive Congress doesn’t get elected? How long will equality last if we elect a President and Congress that want it stopped?

If you want a progressive agenda, then you need to be progressive from the ground up, not the top down. You need to vote every two years, not every four years. Learn who all of your representatives are and vote to fill your basket with politicians who stand for your values. As for me, I chose compassion over finance and freedom over oppression. Regardless of what motivates you to vote, vote. Don’t be the person who just shouts behind a keyboard. Vote!

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