How I fight back

For days now, I have sat and pondered on the happenings of Charlottesville. Watching the news unfold was harrowing. These are images and videos that people in 20 years will look back on in disgust and further generations will look back as a cautionary tale, or a dark harbinger to come. The fallout, and the leadership disaster that is Donald Trump has truly upended the entire country and the world. This is beyond “not normal.”

The whole episode has me deeply conflicted. I know well the history of fascism and its toxic effects. I have read and studied about the Nazis and they above everything else in our culture is known as the “true evil.” 60 million people died fighting that ideology. I also know the pervasiveness of Racism in the US. I know there was a KKK presence in the area I grew up. And on my last trip to West Central Illinois, we ended up in a town (briefly) with more Confederate Flags waving than American.  I know that there are people I went to school with who would march with those in Charlottesville with the White Nationalists.

Its one of the biggest reasons I left the area.

I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like arguments, and I don’t like fighting. I hate causing harm, and I get upset when people are under duress. I also have a deep faith that people are intrinsically good, and I do my best to never harm or be hurtful to others, even if they are not the nicest to me.  I believe that with time, patience, love, tolerance, and respect, you can reach almost anyone, and you can change any mind. I know that sounds like such a fairy tale, even in the face of such hate and ugliness. It sounds naive and childish and irresponsible. It sounds principled and righteous, and it sounds like something Ned Stark would say as he is about to be beheaded by the King.

Events like this is what tests me the most in my beliefs, and how they threaten my resolve in what I find good in the world. I want to talk this out, but people online have their pitchforks out and Doxxing fingers ready, people in real life have tear gas and mace, clubs and guns. I am frustrated and angry, but I don’t see violence as the only answer. I hope this can be won with words, and not violence. I don’t want to give in and leave our generation with more a burden to bear moving forward.

I understand that violence may be the only answer, I just hope it is not too late to try something else.

In the face of Trump, the President, the man that I cannot speak to, or convince, or have any agency to sway… what can I do? I, sitting in a small South Pacific Island, a single voice in a cacophony of angry… what can I do? So far away, so helpless to join protests, unable to do *anything…*

I sit here, and I’ve pondered. I don’t Dox. I do not crusade online. I talk with people, I try and give them my perspective, and hope it has an effect.

And… I vote.

It is time for every person who rejects this toxicity to push back and register to vote. This is more than about Politics. This is something we will have to fight for a *long* time. We need to be pragmatic and clear-eyed and focused. While Violence will not stop, and may escalate and become something worse, we must work on a way to avoid prolonging this national nightmare.

We need more people to vote.

We need to remove the forces that enabled this situation. Words are no longer enough from the Republican Party on this. It is now time to act. We have a White Nationalist Sympathiser as President, and our best chance to remove him, without violence, is to Impeach him now, or else, we will need to fire the people who are protecting him.

Overcoming a Gerrymandered District is easy: You get more people to vote. You register people who haven’t engaged before, and you get them to vote. Gerrymandering relies on people doing the same thing every time. People who vote will vote, and the people who don’t still won’t. Vote, get others to vote, and you will win. It is *hard* because of apathy, after this weekend, I think there are a lot less apathetic people out there.

We need to begin engaging people now and get them registered. It is easy, and I will make it easier for you!

Here is a clearinghouse website to register to vote. In 31 states, you can register to vote online. Otherwise, you can download and fill out the forms needed to qualify. also, make sure your voting Registration is up to date.

For overseas voters we need to do this too. We need to help out.

Two states this autumn will have Governor’s races: Virginia, where all of the events this weekend happened, and New Jersey, where outgoing Governor Christie has a lower approval rating than Donald Trump. If you are in those states, be sure to register to Vote, and Vote.

These, and all the Governors and state Legislature Races the following two years, are critical, for your States will redraw your districts in 2020, and if you want to have a more fair country, you need fairer districts.

Next year is the Congressional and Senate Races. This is what will likely determine if Trump makes it to 2020, barring any insane things he does before then… which… who knows, or the GOP grows a spine… which… I am not getting my hopes up. Again, Register and push others to vote. The more people who vote, the less power people have to enable Trump and White Nationalists.

In the absence of Leadership to remove a toxic threat in our government, we need to mobilise and vote them out so that we can end this ongoing disaster. We are not the laughingstock of the world. We have become that increasingly unhinged psychopath with a chip on his shoulder and a lot of guns, and everyone is eyeing and shifting the exits.

This is how I will fight. I will talk, I will educate, and I will use the best weapon I have… my ballot.

Help me. Help us. Help the Country. This is more than about politics. Register to Vote and Vote.


The realities of Immigration

This week, the Trump Administration announced their intention of changing the immigration code in the United States (link to a GOP senator’s site). The bill, called the RAISE Act, is meant to change the immigration code by:

  • Reducing the amount of Legal immigration by half by 2027
  • Eliminate the Diversity Green Card program, giving 50,000 spots to people from low application countries.
  • Limit Refugee intake to 50,000 a year, and make that law.
  • Introduce a points system for skilled migration based on merit.

The reaction to this has been flying across the internet, with the big talking point about the ability to gain a visa if you are an Olympic Athlete or given extra points for fluency in English. There is a lot of anger, but also a lot of misinformation being bandied about, and I feel that as someone who has now worked through two separate immigration systems multiple times, needs to comment on this.

Firstly, I can only speak about my experiences and my perception. What is true for me may not be true for others, and frankly, being a White American means that a lot of my trials are nothing compared to others. With that said, let’s dive in.

Firstly, I feel that just because other countries use a point system (Australia, Canada, New Zealand), it doesn’t mean it is the best, nor most fair system for immigration. Also, it is important to note that not all visas in these countries require a point system. In Australia and New Zealand, the points system is used only when there are no other “reasons” for the person to be moving to the country. This means that if you are in a relationship, or sponsored by a company already, or anything like that, you are fine, and not covered.

Australia and New Zealand also have “Investment Visa” meaning that if you invest money into the country, you get a visa. There has been an issue in NZ with Peter Thiel being given NZ Citizenship after spending only 12 days in the country, (and paying a lot of money). Unfortunately, money does talk, regardless of the country you live in.

Also, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have very liberal “working holiday” visas, which allow people, usually under 30, to be able to live and travel in the country long term (from 1-2 years in most cases). This is how I originally moved to Australia, and it was a Visa that took about  3 Hours to approve.  These visas work well because it allows people to come see the country, work there (often in casual or seasonal jobs) and then leave (or find another visa to stay). The United States does not have any such visa.

The Diversity Lottery is a truly unique American ideal, and one I feel should stay. The United States is thought of as “the land of opportunity” and the Diversity lottery is one of those things that makes our country look appealing to those in the rest of the world. I have a couple of friends who have moved to the US on a Diversity Lottery, and I feel that the those opportunities represent the best of the US, and we shouldn’t kill that program for political points of the moment. We lose that, and we lose a bit of what makes the US awesome.

The limitation of Refugees is stupid. The world changes and situation may arise when we should (like right now) be allowing more people in. We used to bring in 100’s of thousands of Refugees a year in the US, and it did not make us a worse off country, and the continued vilification of refugees is par for the course for an Administration who equates foreign with bad.

The English requirement feels a lot like a racist hurdle put in place to slow down non-English immigration. It is a big issue I have with the Australian and New Zealand Immigration programs as well. If you do not speak English, your fees to get a Visa double, at the very least. While I understand the fees for translating official documents like Birth Certificates or Marriage licenses, in Australia, there is a straight up fee if you cannot speak English fluently, even if you are not trying for a work visa. The United States should not have an English requirement for their Visas, and to impose one would continue the isolation of the US from the rest of the world.

I think that the skilled Migrant Visa is a good idea… to a point. In Australia and New Zealand, we face skills shortages across the country. In New Zealand, it is actually construction jobs that are in sharp need atm. I feel that having a point system can be beneficial in some areas of immigration, but it cannot be used to cut migration by half, or worse, keep people out that you politically do not like. The United State’s strength is in its ability to accept everyone, and making it work. We want smart, intelligent people, but we also want those who need opportunity, who escape violence and death, or people who are following love. We need to reach out so that young people come to the US and see the amazing diversity, and that it is more than what we see in the news headlines. We want people to come to the US to study, to create value, to broaden our horizons. We need immigrants because without them, we would start losing population ourselves… for a start.

The Trump/GOP immigration plan continues the century long Conservatives hysteria that outsiders are bad and that nativism is good. I feel that, like many situations in the United States currently, there needs to be a change, but destroying the system, and putting a half-assed plan in its place is not the answer. It won’t work with healthcare, it will not work with tax reform, and it is not going to work with immigration.

I wish that political parties would stop using immigrants as their scapegoats and attend to the actual issues rather than blaming those who cannot fight back politically (since we can’t vote for the most part).

To cut immigration by half in the US is to cut off its own nose to spite its face. Isolating ourselves from the world by making it harder to come to the US will only push more countries away and lose our standing in the world. By copying the worst parts of other Immigration policies around the world, the US is showing that is no longer leads, only copies poorly what other nations have done and are considering to change.

My immigration experience has generally been good. Being a white American, who speaks English fluently, and have a degree… I actually wouldn’t qualify for a skilled migrant visa in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, the UK, or elsewhere. The only way I have been able to stay here is through my relationship, or through direct sponsorship, which I was offered at one point, but passed on. I knew the moment I saw the headline “would you be let in with Trump’s new immigration rules?” it would be a no.

To further close off our shores betrays the foundations of our nation, and what we represent. And while I know we cannot stay the same forever, closing our borders makes us a smaller, meaner, and less deserving country. You cannot be the leader of the Free World while slamming the door in everyone’s face.