Friday, October 14, 2016

My response to "Liberty United..."

NOTE: I am a Liberty University alumnus. I am also an LU employee. My job does not involve contact with President Jerry Falwell Jr. in any way. In 2 1/2 years here I have spoken to President Falwell once, and that was concerning a personal matter. I did not discuss this with him before writing. I wrote this in my home, at 4 AM this morning, on my personal computer and not on the job at LU. I do not represent the school officially or unofficially. I do not (knowingly) represent any other employees, alumni, staff or faculty at Liberty. I am strictly writing this as ONE LU alumnus and as a man who has experienced the very very bad of the last eight years.

I wrote this in response to Dustin Wahl and Tyler Mcnally and their petition against Donald Trump. They began the petition and the subsequent media blitz using their status as a Liberty student as it's basis. They claims to speak for "most" LU students on campus. I do not believe their opinion is in the majority but that is not the point. I took umbrage to their comments. There is a place for dissent and debate and social media should not be the first forum you use, but the last. If you do so, you should not try for embarrassment as your goal. Going out of your way to attempt to embarrass someone with whom you disagree is not the way you comport yourself in the grown up world. 
I also write this as a man of 53 years. A man who has tasted the bitter disappointment of these last 8 years in huge gulps. I write this to counter their statements and, perhaps, to educate them, because I believe their youth and inexperience has rendered them idyllically blinded. These thoughts are mine alone and I discussed them with no one as I wrote. 

     I thought I’d write this letter to you. I don’t know if you’ll read it, you’re very busy with your new-found fifteen minutes of fame. Enjoy it, it’s fleeting.
But I had some things I wanted to say to you and this is probably the only forum I’ll have to do so. I would love to tell you that I applaud your taking a stand. I did in the beginning, not because I agreed with you at all, but because I admire conviction in anyone…until I see through it. Then I read that bloated manifesto of yours. I’ll give you some advice from a writer: learn not to be in love with the sound of your own words. When you think yourself amazing for a sentence you just wrote, you tend to start writing more of them and each one is less amazing than the last. You soon descend into pontification.
     You lost me with your snark. There are times for that. I’m from Philadelphia, believe me I know sarcasm and attitude better than anyone. But there are also times when your dissent must be delivered with respect. You went after your university’s president. You didn’t do it in a respectful fashion, you did it with attitude. You didn’t simply make a statement that you disagree with Jerry and you want it known that other LU students do as well. Your seemingly endless letter sounds, from the very beginning, like you know better than he and you want everyone else to know that. You sound like someone who thinks they speaks for the Christian world. You come off as someone who thinks they have the only opinion that matters. You’re too young to know about respect yet, but this might be your baptism.
     On a personal level, I want to tell you my view of this. Things you probably don’t know yet. You live on this beautiful campus and your education is paid for, either by your parents or scholarships and grants or a combination of all of those. You swipe a card to eat your meals, likely never considering what that food actually costs. You swipe your card again to get into your dorm where you have WiFi, Cable TV access, and the amenities of apartment life. You can work out, swim, walk the trails, do whatever it is college kids do and probably never consider what the real-world value of those things might be. I don’t know how much or how little your folks are helping you, but since I work here I do know that you wouldn’t be here if the bill wasn’t being paid somehow. I say God bless. Good for you. But this campus isn’t the real world. Let me tell you something about the real world.
     I am an alumnus of Liberty. I also work here. I was here when there were no student loans to speak of. I worked 40 hours a week at the Advance Auto Parts store when it was in Hill’s Plaza, just to pay my tuition. I got no help from home. None. I made it through one year like that and couldn’t afford to return. I finally graduated 28 years after I started. A lot happened in those years. A lot of things that shape my decision to vote for Trump, and to write this to you explaining why. I’ll give you some examples.
     In 2008, when the economy collapsed, I lost everything. I lost my job when my company pulled all it’s branches from Tennessee, where I lived. I lost my career, when that industry continued to crash until it practically ceased to exist. I was 45, had two years of college and ten years of success and achievement in an industry that was now gone. Ultimately, I lost my home because I had no job. I had no prospects. 
I also have a daughter. She was ten when this happened. She lived with her mom primarily (we divorced years before) and so at least she had a home. But her life was becoming a hell. Her mom’s husband was growing more violent by the day and he attacked my daughter with mental cruelty that was increasingly becoming physical. I could not find work and yet, because of my daughter’s situation, I could not leave Nashville to move someplace where I might get a job. I was the only barrier between her and the monster she had to live with. So I chose to stay. Choosing to stay meant sleeping in my car, hidden behind a church. I don’t know if you’ve ever slept in a car before, but I did it for almost 6 years.
I put out over 350 resumes. I did odd jobs. I washed windows. I built a chicken coop for someone once, just for food and gas. I showered in the county rec center and often times the only food I had was from the sample stations at Sam’s club or the grocery store. I wanted to quit a million times. Sometimes I wanted to die. But I had a daughter I loved, who loved me, and I had to keep going. I have no family who could help and to be honest…I didn’t want help. I wanted a job. I wanted to come back on my own.
     Three times during this nightmare of mine I was offered the chance to return to the mortgage industry. I never wanted to do that since it had bitten me so hard and taken so much. But as time went on I realized I needed to do something and since I had been very good at that before, I decided to do it again. Three times I was offered, and three times the hope that I had from a job offer was crushed by the policies of Barack Obama and the Democrats, and the Republicans who failed to stop them. Let me tell you about the first time.
     In August of 2013, I had an interview with a mortgage company in Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville. It was a Friday. The branch manager was actually excited to have me consider working for him. He knew my reputation in the business and actually said it was an honor for him to welcome me aboard. I left there that afternoon with hope for the first time in years. I had to fill out some paperwork online, and then we would start my certification process. Within a few weeks I would be active in the business again.
     I called my daughter to tell her the news. This was a mistake, in hindsight, but I had no idea what was to happen next. I wanted her to have hope too. That next Monday, I picked her up and we went to Franklin High School and walked through it. She had been attending a school near her mom’s house and was miserable. We talked about our plans. She was going to move in with me as soon as I got a place and she would go to Franklin High. I saw her smile for the first time in years. (By this time she was 15).
That Thursday, the second phase of Obamacare was enacted. The next day –one week from receiving the job offer- I got an email rescinding the offer. The reason: the cost of implementing Obamacare, coupled with the mandatory base salary they now had to pay (the mortgage industry had always been a 100% commission job) made it impossible for them to add any new employees. They withdrew the offer and wished me well. I had to tell my daughter that our plans were cancelled. I had to break her already fractured heart. I had to condemn her to remaining in that house for another year before I could finally get her out.
     I am fairly certain you have never suffered a loss like this. I am certain you have not felt the crushing weight of failure and loss and shame and embarrassment that enduring this sort of thing brings. If not for the failed policies of the current administration, I would have been back to work, my daughter living in a safer place, my life rebuilding sooner than it has. It’s not just my detest of Obama and the Democrats that demands I write this. Nor is it any need to defend my school or it’s president. Jerry is a smarter man than I am, and quite capable of defending himself should that be necessary. This is personal for me. I felt the pain. I am one of those stories you hear about on conservative talk radio and likely ignore. My daughter –who is on this campus right now, one of your fellow student- has lived this nightmare too.
     I am a Christian. My degree is in Biblical studies and this spring I hope to begin seminary here. I have weighed this scripturally. And I have called upon the wisdom of having actually experienced some of what has happened these last, nightmarish, 8 years. Something you simply do not have the benefit of doing. 
I wish Trump were less rough around the edges and more squeaky clean. But to be honest, smooth and squeaky clean is what helped create the policies that held me in my car for 6 years. Smooth and squeaky clean best describes all those Republicans who  fell in line behind Obama.  Six years, boys,. think about that. Think about six years of your life being lost to inescapable shame and embarrassment and hopelessness. I am certain you cannot understand that or grasp the impact. That’s why I wrote this today. Because you need to. You need to understand what has really happened out here in America. You need to understand why, at this moment in American history, we need a blunt instrument and not a scalpel. The time for a scalpel is later. Right now we need a sledgehammer. I worked construction for the better part of 20 years. I’ve used sledgehammers. They aren’t precise. They are heavy and loud and ugly and they make a mess. But when you have to demolish something to get it out of the way, there is nothing else that will do.
     This is why I am still voting for Trump. Because I have already lived a Clintonian nightmare. I have no desire to go back to sleep and have another one. I literally fear that will happen.  I am voting for him because I have experiences you know nothing about. Because I literally dread the thoughts of Hillary as president. And with good reason.

One day, when you have had life experiences and doubtless suffered losses of your own, you’ll understand this. Today, you simply do not. Perhaps after reading this, you will.

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