INTRODUCTION


There seems to be a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice) and in the absence of my being able to read about other people's experiences, I instead offer you my own "Great Big Retirement Adventure."

My husband (Mister E) and I have moved from the initial concept through the planning stages to implementation and this site is intended to record the whole process. What I am seeking from retirement is now very different to what I thought I was planning and has gradually developed into a quest for fitness and a desire for simplification, with a transition away from both a highly organised lifestyle and the personality traits reflecting a pedantic professional career. Indeed I recently described myself as "a goofy idiot" who enjoys smiling at sunflowers; a far cry from the pre-retirement professional and an indication of just how far I have travelled.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. The blog is in reverse chronological order but popular posts and those highlighting our journey are specifically pinpointed below on the right hand side together with a list of topics covered. Alternatively you may prefer to look at the summary or wisdom we have acquired or even our have done list with its retirement atlas and dip in and out of the blog using the links given.




Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Letter to America




Dear America,

I have just returned from a 4 week stay in the USA in which Mister E and I have travelled from Boston to San Diego spending time in Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and California. I can't claim to know you but we had a fantastic trip meeting many friendly people all in the grip of election fever. Fortunately we had the foresight to be flying home on election night at the same time as West Coast polling stations were thinking of closing.

We learnt the result at approximately 3am Pacific Coast time, speeding 34000 feet above the Atlantic with the assistance of a 120 mph tail wind. The British Airways Captain was ultra professional in the way he announced it: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I have received the result of the Presidential Election from Canadian Air Traffic Control. For those of you who wish to know it, I propose to give you it without comment: Trump 289 seats..."

I'm not sure that I even heard or took in Clinton's tally (at the time I think it was 218) but I had absorbed enough during my stay to know that 280 seats would clinch it. I looked across the aisle at the woman in the reclining seat opposite Mister E; she was stunned. The man at the other side of the screen to me appeared similarly dumbfounded. There was a collective silence; a mutedness that continued for the remainder of the journey.

Neither the result nor reaction was a surprise. Throughout our stay we have conversed with what the Press is now describing as suppporters of a liberal elite (I think they mean free thinkers); they were all united in their intense dislike of the racism, homophobia, hatred, misogyny, policies, political inexperience and lack of statesmanlike dignity of Trump. They were also all of the view that Clinton was not the best candidate the Democratic party could have fielded and that as a result Trump might just do it and he did.

Back in the UK political commentators have been falling over themselves to describe it as a bigger calamity than the Brexit Referendum result and indicative of far right nationalist forces at work across the globe feeding off the misery of the poor and those estranged from the  political classes. Our left wing politicians have been quick to condemn the approach outlined by Trump during his campaign trail; the right wing as espoused by the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and (good God no) UKIP big mouth, Farage, to express their willingness to work with the President-elect. Sycophancy at its worst.

The left of course sees it as further evidence of its interpretation of Brexit: a cry by the unemployed and working classes against privilege and political elitism. How else can those MPs now justify support for the triggering of Article 50 and our exit from the EU as well, conveniently, of retaining (they hope) the support of a small majority in their constituencies? Not surprisingly it might also help their re-election. 

The right see it as further legitimisation of the outcome of the referendum when 51.9% of the popular vote decided that despite 40 years' membership of a Union that has brought so many benefits to the UK, it should now turn its back on the source that has proven itself  able to deliver on human and workers' rights, clean air and water, food quality (the list goes on) but also and, just for the capitalists reading this, economic prosperity as a nation. The right too are banking on that 51.9% for re-election but won't yet call a General Election to actually test the water.

I remain to be convinced that the outcome of the UK's referendum and the Presidential Election is attributable to a surge in right wing nationalism arising from poverty and estrangement. Such similarities as there are lie more in the tactics deployed to manipulate a popular vote than the outcome. Politicians have long known that the easiest way in the world to grab votes is to peddle their policies for the masses, offering different sectors of the population what it thinks they want without coming clean on the effect on others or society as a whole; how easy to blame failing social and economic policies on foreign migrants; to whip up unity based on hatred and to tell lies. We all know politicians lie (isn't that why we are supposed to dislike them so much) but, when the media repeats those lies day in, day out, some of it sticks.

In the UK we were subjected to an appalling referendum campaign but in the area where the politicans ran a positive campaign, Scotland voted to remain. That's right: Scotland; a country which flies its own flag and is inhabited by raving nationalists and high unemployment, showed the people of the world that not all of the UK lives in fear of Eastern Europeans taking their jobs, Angela Merkel telling us that our supermarkets can only sell straight bananas or Jean Claude Junker taking NHS money to spend on undemocratic Parliaments in Brussels.

America, it was the same for you. Although only half of you bothered to turn out to vote the majority of those who did cast their vote for Clinton. Like the Brexiteers not everyone who voted for Trump is really racist; I'm pretty sure that they don't all support the views he expressed on abortion or gay people either and I'm fairly certain that you are not about to undergo a resurgence of nationalistic populism of the type expressed in the 1930's.

Ultimately and like the UK, you have a free press, the rule of law and the ballot box. What perhaps we both need, going forward, is a review of our election processes making them fit for the 21st century digital age and influence. Fortunately for you, there are already strong voices indicating that their opposition in Congress will be loud and effective and you get to go to the ballot box again in two years for those House of Representative seats that weren't up for grabs this time around. As here there will be instances of deplorables, as Clinton undiplomatically named them, thinking that the outcome has legitimised terror on those whom Trump has castigated in his rallying calls. As here, the rest of you (no matter for whom you voted) will refuse to condone such behaviour and will stand up against illiberal and unfair practice. Moreover you will do it in an upright and honest way with good faith and understanding and, unlike the voices in the wilderness currently agitating against a "hard" Brexit, you will know you are in a majority.

Yours sincerely,
Caree


11 comments:

  1. Thank you so very much for this. Truly.

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  2. Maybe there is something to be said for compulsory voting after all. In Australia we are encouraged by the Democracy Sausage provided in most school yards and risk a fine if we don't vote. Opinion here is we are unlikely to follow the trend with our vary on racist Pauline Hanson as PM but probably only saved by the high turnout. Never say never.

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    1. Unfortunately not voting has become a protest vote in itself.

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  3. There was a movement during the election to write in Bernie Sanders name on the ballot. Whether he would have done better against Trump than Clinton did will never be known. I also know of a number of people who voted Libertarian. I believe that neither Trump nor Clinton represent a majority of people in the U.S. Yes, Trump did get the majority of the electoral votes but Clinton received the larger number of popular votes.
    No matter. What will come from this Presidency will be fascinating, like watching a car crash. You can't take your eyes away from it.
    As a Canadian I have many concerns regarding climate change (Trump believes it's a hoax), free trade, the sovereignty over our fresh water, completion of pipe lines etc etc.

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    1. It's a pity though that we cannot be on the outside looking in when the position of US President is the most influential role in the whole world and we shall all potentially be affected if some of the mad things spoken about are actually enacted.

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  4. Thank you for your reflections. I am one of those horrified Americans who still looks like a deer caught in the headlights. Below is the link to an article I read yesterday - also reflective. I think it is a worthy read.

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/217831/what-to-do-about-trump?utm_term=What+to+Do+About+Trump%3F+The+Same+Thing+My+Grandfather+Did+in+1930s+Vienna.&utm_content=nov2016&utm_source=fb&utm_medium=post

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    1. Thanks for sharing. Five months later we still can't believe that the UK is going with Brexit and can only continue to try to make our voices heard. Lately I have been wondering if there is actually an undiscovered contintent on the planet that all liberal thinkers (regardless of race, religion, or gender) can flee to (a little like America in times passed).

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  5. It's been two weeks since the election and the sinking feeling of fear and depression hasn't gone away. I wish this was something on the side of the road. Unfortunately it right in the middle (and not just for Americans). I'm about to drive to Chicago to meet my family for Thanksgiving. Some of whom have already said they can't talk about it (too upset) and will leave the room if it comes up. On Friday we are seeing Hamilton, and I can't imagine how emotional this will be for all of us.

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    1. I know the feeling. I just slumped in front of the TV after the Brexit result absorbing every minute of political commentary. I needed somebody to say it wasn't true but nobody did. It was just like the various stages of grief starting with denial and then moving into anger and depression and back again. I can't say that even now I have reached the acceptance point; that's a very long way off and not a plateau that I am even aiming for at the moment.

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    2. We agreed at dinner that some of us had gotten past denial but no one had conquered anger.

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