Jacob’s Plan for a Trump Presidency

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Love Trumps Hate in Jacob's Plan

Love Trumps Hate in Jacob’s Plan

The United States made history on November 8th, but not the way that we expected. Instead of our first woman President, we elected someone with open contempt for our Constitution and democracy, an anti-Founding Father.


And the next morning Robbie and I had to tell our 10-year-old son Jacob that Donald Trump would be our next President.  His immediate reaction of fear, shock, and horror broke our hearts. Jacob told us how scared he was that he wouldn’t be safe. He wanted to know what would come next. He asked what would happen about global warming. And he worried about friends, a gay couple we had recently stayed with while canvassing in Ohio for Hillary Clinton.

“Are they going to be OK?,” he asked.

“Yes,” we told him, “they would be.”

“But they live in Ohio,” and he pointed to the map on the front page of the New York Times.

“See, it’s red. That means it went for Trump.  How will they be OK?”

We looked at him. The truth is that his fears are valid. But our reassurance is also true: You are safe. Our friends will be OK: they have each other, friends, family and community.

This election and Presidency is part of a process. We don’t like it, but sometimes in democracies things happen that we don’t like. And then we read him the comforting words that our Rabbi had sent us on how to live in painful times.  Yet Jacob is also right:  global warming will be infinitely harder to end now, along with a multitude of other vital issues.  And while we and our friends will be fine, so many others will not be.

Jacob processes his thoughts and feelings by drawing them out.  So, once he had overcome his initial shock, he began to draw a plan to deal with the Trump Presidency. His first drawing was an expression of pure aggression – he showed it to us and asked us what we thought.  “Well,” we said, “it looks very … Trumpian.”  He stared at us and back at his drawing, and then said, “that won’t work.”

Tossing his original drawing aside, Jacob came back with a clean sheet of paper. And together, as a family, Jacob and his two Jewish mothers drew up a plan. The very fact that the three of us are already a family, in every legal and emotional sense of that word, is the first refutation of so much of the hate and ignorance that has spewed out this campaign season.

So here’s Jacob’s Plan:

In Ohio, Jacob's Plan

Jacob canvassing in Ohio

  First, we decided, we needed to get stronger.

  Second, we want to spend more time with the people we love.

  Third, we will do more direct service helping others, because service requires us to see hardship and those whom it affects, and is also an active reminder that we do have the power to make change through our individual actions, however small.

  Fourth, The next step is to learn something new and hard, to surprise our minds and stay engaged.

  Fifth, and the last step? I’m sure you can guess. We go out and win back our country.

Jacob’s plan is a plan for, not a plan against. Jacob’s plan goes high, even though the winners went low.

The Trump voters want us to feel their rage and pain.  Well, we do.

There is no doubt that the Trump campaign was fueled by racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and xenophobia. By the hate and fear of being economically displaced, of experiencing a supposedly natural order of female subordination being upended, of anticipating an American future that is racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse. And now the rest of us are experiencing the bleak inversion of that parade of horribles: a menacing white majority and cratering economy, the further degradation of our environment, the evisceration of Obamacare and the Voting Rights Act, the rollback of reproductive and civil rights.

So I don’t know if the putative reconciliation that is being tentatively invoked by some is a possibility. While we all may share the same spectrum of negative emotions, the basis of our fears is radically opposed, as are our proposed solutions. We all understand that economic instability needs to be addressed, but the root question of why it exists is not so easily agreed upon – much less its redress.

That real divide does not make the problem of inequality and instability any less urgent. Nor does one season of successful political and social bullying determine the course of American history. Dahlia Lithwick has written an incredible piece in Slate asking whether Americans and our democratic institutions will bend to one man’s will and version of the law?

We say: we will not bend.  Though if we are going to fight for our country, its political institutions, and its Constitution, we need a plan.

Our family taped Jacob’s plan up on our fridge to remind us every day of what we must do to win next time. It’s our plan on how we’re going to move forward as a family, and as a country.

What’s your plan?

In solidarity,

Rachel Lavine


On Being That Kind of Liberal…Rachel Lavine

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That Kind of Liberal

Eleanor Roosevelt Biography by Blanche Weisen Cooke

Yet another political blog?!  Why, you might ask.

The answer is that I could not find any other voices that fully speak from my perspective as a pragmatic liberal, a lesbian mother and wife, longtime grassroots Democratic party, and feminist and environmental activist.  So following the advice of a revered political leader, I decided to be the change that I seek.

The name of this blog is derived from speeches given in New York by two eminent liberals. Franklin D. Roosevelt first described himself as “that kind of liberal” during a speech to the New York State Democratic Convention in 1936:

The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative ... In the words of the great essayist, “The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve.” I am that kind of conservative because I am that kind of liberal.

And John F. Kennedy later defined what a “Liberal” was and was not, while proudly claiming that identity when accepting the 1960 Presidential Nomination of the New York State Liberal Party:

If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But, if by a “Liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes that we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say that I’m a “Liberal.”

FDR  – and Eleanor Roosevelt – and JFK were all that kind of liberal. They answered the voice of great events. They made bold structural change. They understood the mechanics of real power. They saw the lives and needs of middle class Americans and the poor, of political minorities and the socially disenfranchised. They had a clear understanding of the individual propensity for self-interest and self-deception, as well as the human capacity to transcend the smallness of the self and to support a social good that benefits more than oneself.

And yes, sometimes they over-valued the end game, redefined as necessary what was in fact only politically strategic, stalled and temporized when they should have acted and demanded. Sometimes what they saw as absolute political limitations were only self-imposed ones. They were imperfect, sometimes egregiously wrong but they tried: that kind of liberal.

The focus of this blog is mostly local and specific, and enumerates my own immediate – and varied – interests: New York City and State politics, LGBT rights and community, boys and schools, Israel and the calumny of pink washing, food and environmental politics, feminism and parenting, the need for radically fairer economic and social structures. Sometimes the blog will stray and wander, grazing other, lighter subjects. Like myself, this blog is evolving.

I hope that this blog will become a place where people can engage in thoughtful and challenging conversation. I welcome discussion and debate. I respect – and often admire – the passion animating deeply held opinions, and support robust dissent or disagreement. However, I reserve the unilateral right to remove posts that I find offensive or obnoxious for any reason. Name calling and mean spiritedness debilitate good conversation, and usually mask a weak or incoherent argument.

Thank you.