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basically BECKY blog

  • Rebecca Branle

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

We lost a lot in the last four years. We lost our people.

Not just to COVID. Not to death. But to cruelty, their own cruelty that came leaking and seeping out as the Trump years lumbered on. We waited for them to wake up. We waited for their gentle hearts to knock on the doors of their ignorance, and to say, finally, "enough." But day after day, crisis after crisis, they remained closed. They remained cruel.


I still catch myself asking why. Why was his assault on women not enough? Why was his racism not enough? Why, even now, are over a half million dead Americans not enough? What kind of kind heart doesn't pound down all the doors to wake up the sleeping mind of someone who supported this heartless man? How did they demand so much of me as a child, but demand so little of this man they'll sacrifice me for?

Now, though, more than ever, I'm wondering something new, something different than why. I'm wondering what if they were never actually the people I told myself they were, the people I'm so exhaustively mourning? I started to entertain the idea that, perhaps, they were just a collection of stories I had strung together, where time and time again I massaged them into the heroes my childhood wanted to have. Maybe there were no heroes. Just imperfect people grappling with an imperfect world and living with the scars left by the un-heroes before them. Maybe, back then, I was just a lost little girl who wanted to believe in all the beautiful lessons they taught. Because they did teach. They told me to be honest. To be fair. To do the right thing. In our lessons, they scorned religious hypocrites, shunned racists, detested greed.

But did they live it? I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure about anything these days. Because these days they respond to any mention of January 6th with a quick retort about BLM burning down cities. And my shoulders slump. The racism sits between us and creates a wall there, where admiration used to be. And I wonder if I'll ever be able to hug them without feeling the jagged edges of that wall.

And the wall gets wider and the wall gets higher as they share racist memes and talk in Trumpian themes. Uncles fall from grace. Aunts once coveted come undone. I miss my stories of them, in all their heroic perfection. I miss the easy kind of love that comes from seeing someone in only their best light. The love left in its place is a confused love, a love that wonders how, when you're taught to shun them, to love a racist, to ignore the lessons taught but left un-lived. To forget their eagerness to dismiss me and their eagerness to defend him.

I don't have the answers. I just sit with the confusion and wait. And hope that maybe, someday, they'll wake up and speak up and live up to my stories.

For now, I mourn the people, the heroes, I created.

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  • Rebecca Branle

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

Some stuff, we’ve just gotta talk about. Chances are, the more uncomfortable the conversation, the more we need to have it.

But we have this toxic pattern in our country, and in so many of our families, where we take the most painful experiences and we silence them. And every time we do this, every time, we create more trauma; we create a promise for more pain. The silence brings shame and pain to the victim and sentences those who feel guilt to hold that guilt forever, never moving past it.

So let’s stop.

Let’s talk about the hard stuff at home. And here, in the open, let’s talk about January 6th. For real.

First, let’s establish the horror of the day. Glossing over what happened, serving up a watered-down version, does favors to no one, except, maybe, the culpable. So, let’s think about the fear of the elected officials, on both sides of the aisle; let’s talk about the trauma of the Capitol Police, of the Capitol staffers, cleaning crews, and even the families of the insurrectionists. Those families, they’re mourning, too, because having a loved one fall down the rabbit hole of conspiracy is a loss, a maddening, helpless loss.

Consider the words from the chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee, "I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs," Papathanasiou wrote. "One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake." One officer lost 3 fingers. One officer died. 2 took their own lives. 4 insurrectionists are dead.

This was real. This was violent. Ignoring it won’t help us heal.

There’s nothing unifying about silence in the face of madness. When a raging crowd, frothing out the words, “Fuck the police,” as they storm the capitol and cause life-taking and life-changing injuries, we need to talk about it. And we need to understand that just holding the folks who were there that day accountable, doesn’t get close to the root of the cause.

I’m gonna say something that might not sit well with a lot of folks, but the people who stormed the capitol, the ones who chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” they were victims. They would never have been there, would never have been worked into a trance-like frenzy, if it weren’t for the lies upon lies upon lies of Donald J. Trump and his minions with megaphones, including FoxNews, Breitbart, OAN, and Newsmax. You guys, these aren’t news stations. They’re propaganda machines and, if they have their way, they’ll destroy our country.

It didn’t happen overnight. It started with crowd size in 2017. A silly lie, but a lie nonetheless, one that shocked those of us who believed in presidential and reporting standards. That lie brought the phrase “fake news” to center stage. Every time an inconvenient story was published, those two simple words stopped it in its tracks. And while half of the country soldiered on, head wrapped firmly around the truth, trusting sources like Reuters and NPR and BBC and, most plainly, the words that come out of the mouths (and tweets) of actual politicians, the other half of the country slowly lost its grip on reality.

For four years, the two groups marched in different directions. One became more and more distraught by the lies and deception and destruction of constitutional norms. One became more and more radicalized, willing to accept more and more egregious behavior because the idea of surrendering to the truth, that the other side might have been right all along, was too great. So while they were uncomfortable with Donald Trump, while they wished he would stop, they chose to stand behind him. They chose a broken party over country. They made an unconscious agreement to live in an upside down world. More phrases came to center stage, phrases like “radical left democrats” and “commies” and when Coronavirus came they were primed to ignore it. First, they called it the flu. Then, they said the death rate was low and so prevention was silly. Then, they refused masks or any regulations meant to keep us safe. Suddenly, the idea of sacrificing for the safety of others was a bridge too far.

And then, the election. Just as Trump had primed his loyalists with the phrase “fake news,” a tactic he bragged about before ever becoming president, saying that it kills harmful stories if you tell folks they can’t trust the media, he primed his loyalists with the phrase, “rigged election.” He vilified the mail-in vote because he knew his opponents would use it. Because he knew they understood and respected the gravity of the virus.

And so, when he lost, when those mail-in votes did what he knew they would do…come in overwhelmingly in favor of Biden, his retort was ready. It was rigged. He was a victim. His reality and his followers’ reality became a reality unrecognizable by the rest of the world. The word “Patriot” was suddenly hijacked. Americans victimized by their president, lied to by their president (and by those propaganda machines), were called on by their president, who called them his “army,” to “fight” the radical left mob. To them, fighting was the Patriotic thing to do. To the rest of us, the irony of using the term Patriotic to overturn a free and fair election was stomach turning.

Because even Trump’s judges threw out his cases. Even Republican election officials said there was no evidence of widespread fraud. Even a recording of Trump himself demanding officials “find votes” wasn’t enough to wake up his masses. Their deception was years in the making. So he told them to come on January 6th, said it was going to be wild. The goons who were threatening my family made sure to let us know that we’d see their power on the 6th. We knew what was coming. They knew what was coming. Trump knew what was coming.

He ordered it.

So, yeah, the insurrectionists – the bad actors – they were victims, victims who very much need to answer for their horrible acts and their disgusting displays of racism blended with patriotism blended with what they mistakingly call Christianity. Still, there is no justice until those that deceived them are held responsible. Donald Trump. His family. His band of broken lawyers. His sycophantic “media.” This was mind manipulation on levels that will be studied for generations and generations to come.

And we need to talk about it.

If we don’t, we’ll stay in the upside down world. We’ll stay in a place where bad news is “fake news” and “patriots” overthrow democracy and loving our neighbor is “radical socialism.” Families will remain torn apart. Our country will remain torn apart. White supremacy will grow and thrive. Isn’t it time we said, “enough?”

The only way we heal this trauma, any trauma, is to face it. We have to talk about it. We have to understand how it started in order to understand how to end it.

And don’t we all want to end it?

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  • Rebecca Branle

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Money makes the world go round.

And it makes small people sell their souls, and their country, for more. More money, more power, more money, more power - the cycle of the sick. So if they say follow the money, I say cut off the flow. If those of us who value democracy want to save this country, we'll put our money where our mouths are...we'll talk in cash.

Because healing comes in steps, and we can't break into any kind of stride until we unify in truth. Every single Republican lawmaker needs to say what they've known to be true all along. They need to stand together, alongside their Democratic colleagues, and say without reservation that this election was free and fair. There is no evidence to the contrary. Never has been.

So why won't they, after everything, tell the truth in unison? It seems they should have by now, for the sake of the country. I hear it explained that they're afraid of losing the 70 million Trump voters, but friends, people don't come first to these folks, the same way that the country never came first. Money comes first. So if we want to end Trumpism, and I truly believe that a significant portion of those 70 million Trump voters are now done, we have to cut off the crooked. Every major PAC, corporation, billionaire and business needs to loudly and proudly state their intention to stop the flow. No more cash until the truth is told, not a penny more to lawmakers and to their lying megaphones, including FoxNews, NewsMax and OAN.

I know what you're thinking - how do you get those PACs and businesses and billionaires to care? The answer - money. Always, money. If the seditionists get their way and end our democracy, it won't mean healthy stock market gains. It won't bring profitable trade. The smart and rich but morally bankrupt people and entities that propped up this presidency and this party over the past 4 years have to fold their cards now. They got their deregulation. They got their tax cuts. They got so. much. richer. Now, it's time to call the game. Even they stand to lose if this rebellion wins.

So, let's do it. Let's tell the rich to cut the cash. Let's remind them why it behooves them to do so. And where the rich go, Republican lawmakers will follow. Why? Because it was the rich that funded the propaganda that spread the lies that closed the eyes of Americans who would have been done with this traitorous president years ago. They need that money to fund the rhetoric that will rebrand the party, that will make even the most cynical Republicans get back on board. Without money, the Republican party is over. If the Rebellion succeeds, the rich lose it all. They're backed into a corner, and we need to tell them we know.

Then, when the money is gone, the traitors will stand alone. The Republicans will need to get on board and do what they know they must - vote to remove and criminally prosecute this president and his cronies, including every lawmaker who voted against certification and every lawmaker who used rigged election and incitement rhetoric.

Is it a perfect fix? No. But it's a start and we can't heal until those who are culpable are held accountable, until the confused in our country are told the truth, finally. We won't get there by asking the lawmakers who enabled the creation of this mess to do the right thing. They don't speak that language. They speak in cash. So let's bankrupt the party whose moral compass has been spent for years.

Then, let's build back better.

Minus the racism.

Minus the misogyny.

Minus Trump.

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