Thursday, March 24, 2016

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, where Ima gonna go…(Or, Pink Slip does politics)

The other day, my niece Molly – who’s definitely a plan-ahead kind of gal -  sent me to a link to an article she’d seen on The Irish, it seems – or at least the citizens of Inishturk – are putting out the fàilte mat for Americans who don’t want to stick around if The Donald somehow is elected president.

While Pink Slip does not, as a general rule, “do” politics, as one of my sister’s has observed, it probably wouldn’t take a genius to figure out mine. But lest there be any doubt, let me say it loud, say it proud: ich bin ein liberal. Baptized a Catholic, but born a Democrat. Left of center on a sliding scale, depending on the topic. Lefty enough to get Bernie’s appeal; pragmatic enough to answer George Clooney’s call to support Hillary.

I would not want to live in Donald Trump’s America.

He has understandably struck a chord with a lot of folks. And a lot of those folks are right. While globalization (as I have written many times here over the years) is not an unalloyed good. Yes, it raises many people in exceedingly poor countries out of abject poverty. Yes, it lets us consumers buy throw-away smartphones that have the computing power of a 1971 mainframe in them, and three pairs of jeans where we used to get by with one.

But the benefits of globalization aren’t costless. Sure, it’s all good on paper, and in the macro sense, but at the micro sense, a lot of workers get screwed. Jobs disappear, wages are tamped down, communities are hollowed out. (Forget the abysmal working conditions, the environmental impacts, of so many of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind offshore factories.)

Globalization is pretty much inevitable. As will be automation, which will be doing away with millions of jobs over the coming decades.

What’s not inevitable is recognizing that many workers and their families will be impacted. And putting some energy into retraining programs, better education, a tighter safety net, and maybe things like investing in our crumbling infrastructure – which would make life better for everyone, improve our economy in the long run, and provide a lot of displaced workers with decent jobs.

But I digress.

I get that Trump has tapped into real concerns. Fine.

What’s not fine is fomenting anger, nativism, violence, sexism, and racism, all of which I believe he does on a regular basis. (Which is not to say that his supporters are all angry, nativist, violent, sexist and racist. Not in the least. But some of them sure are. When you have someone working the get-out-the-vote phones who has white supremacist tats on her arms – including “88” the super-secret, clever devil code for Heil Hitler (H being the 8th letter of the alphabet) – then it’s hard to deny that some of the people whose chord Trump has struck are of that ilk.)

What’s not fine is throwing out off-the-top-of-the-head “solutions”, simpleminded answers to complex problems.

What’s not fine is saying that only feint-of-heart, PC-addled, haters of America do not think it’s perfectly alright to engage in water boarding and worse.

What’s not fine is seeing a presidential contender who, while not seemingly wed to any ideology, regularly borrows the trappings of “strong man” fascism: nativism, fear and loathing of “the other”, bullying, degrading insults, gross disrespect for opponents and the press, etc.

So, no, I don’t want to live in Donald Trump’s America.

But, much as I love Ireland, I don’t want to live in Inishturk, either.

I’ve never been to Inishturk, which is 9 miles off the Mayo Coast, but it looks absolutely god-forsaken.

Population 58. A couple of B&B’s but not much else. Daily ferry service to Roonagh Pier, which is a few miles outside of the mainland town of Louisburgh (population approx. 800).

I looked at a site for Inishturk, and when I clicked on restaurants and shops, they all seemed to be somewhere else. Somewhere like Achill Island, where I have been.

Achill Island is spectacularly beautiful, and it has the benefit of being tethered to the mainland of Mayo by a causeway. So you can actually walk out of it. But when I was there – maybe 10 years ago – the hotel and restaurant scene was pretty bleak. I did enjoy one aspect of it: I think it gave me a pretty good picture about what travel in Ireland was like in the 1940’s and 1950’s, right down to the damp nylon sheets, the toilet that didn’t have room for your knees unless you kept the bathroom door open, and a braying donkey just outside the window – braying in a pasture filled with rusted out farm implements.

The big attraction on Achill, other than the lovely scenery, which is what we came for, was/is something called The House of Prayer, where controversial and scandal-ridden faith healer Christina Gallagher delivers “heaven’s messages to the world”, operating – in the words of the local archbishop – with “no ecclesiastical approval whatever.” And plenty of financial swirl round and about, of course.

And then there’s poor little Inishturk, which doesn’t even have the causeway to the mainland or the House of Prayer going for it.

The dwindling community's leaders are desperately trying to entice families to move over to breathe new life into the isolated outpost and secure its future.

And they stressed their tranquil isle, located nine miles off the coast, could make the ideal permanent refuge for those who cannot face life in a United States headed by Donald Trump.

Mary Heanue, Inishturk development officer, said: "Our big concern is employment and trying to encourage families to move over here because the population is declining.

"The island featured on an Irish TV documentary last year which gave us great publicity and a good few extra bookings. But we ended up having a terrible summer and a lot of people canceled.

"I've heard there are quite a few people in America looking to move to Ireland and other countries if Donald Trump becomes president. I'd like them to know that we'd love to see them consider moving over here."They'd be given a huge welcome and they'd find this is a fantastic place to live and to bring up children. Their kids would probably get the best education anywhere in the country too, because the teacher to pupil ratio is nearly one-on-one.” (Source: Irish Central)

Much as I love Ireland, Inishturk would not be for me on a permanent basis. (I may go there for an overnight at some point.) Even if it did have a grocery store, would it stock Talenti ice cream? How good would the Internet connection be? Do the Red Sox ever play an away game there? Will there ever be a Springsteen concert there?

Good luck to Inishturk, I’d say.

And good luck to America. We may be in for a very bumpy ride.

But I think I’ll stick it out.

You never know when my services will be needed to protest massive roundups, waterboarding, and an invasion of Iraq to just “take the oil.”

And although I may blog about the potential damage Ivanka Trump’s doing to her brand, this will be it for me and politics for a while.

And a tip of the scally cap to Molly for sending me this story.

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