My First 100 Days in Office

I remember that I’m invisible and walk softly so as not awake the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them; there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.
— Ralph Ellison

Even though there is a presidential election, and everyone is frantically voting for someone on Tuesday, and even though I have been encouraged by strange dreams and fantasies and the voices in my head to run for President, I am not actively campaigning to become the next President of the United States of America, at least not this year. Still, I would be remiss if I did not participate in the narcissistic joy of saying random things aloud in a tone that make my words sound like proclamations warning of an apocalyptic future where John Oliver and Trevor Noah are forced to work for Fox News and to report the news exactly as Fox News imagines it to be true.

Because you are not me, you may think I am a narcissist, but I am not a narcissist (and trust me, only someone who is truly not [or is it not truly?] a narcissist would say that they are not a narcissist, and only an authentically narcissistic narcissist would accuse me of being a narcissist because I claim not to be a narcissist); so, to return to the beginning, I am not a narcissist, nor was meant to be, but I, like the rest of us, do want my own reality television show, because nothing is real until it is real, and it is only real after it has been determined to be real by having been photographed or  having been recorded, then seen (and ideally liked) by someone other than by ourselves. (And, just a casual heads up, if you like something that you post yourself, we know who you are, and there are reasons that we avoid you when we see you on the streets; that is, if you ever venture out onto the streets.)

“The futility of everything that comes to us from the media is the inescapable consequence of the absolute inability of that particular stage to remain silent. Music, commercial breaks, news flashes, adverts, news broadcasts, movies, presenters—there is no alternative but to fill the screen; otherwise there would be an irremediable void.... That’s why the slightest technical hitch, the slightest slip on the part of the presenter becomes so exciting, for it reveals the depth of the emptiness squinting out at us through this little window.”  ― Jean Baudrillard

“The futility of everything that comes to us from the media is the inescapable consequence of the absolute inability of that particular stage to remain silent. Music, commercial breaks, news flashes, adverts, news broadcasts, movies, presenters—there is no alternative but to fill the screen; otherwise there would be an irremediable void.... That’s why the slightest technical hitch, the slightest slip on the part of the presenter becomes so exciting, for it reveals the depth of the emptiness squinting out at us through this little window.” 
― Jean Baudrillard

And even though I am not running for President, I think all of us should contemplate what our first 100 days in office would be like, what we would focus on accomplishing. If all of us devoted time in our daily lives to reflecting on what we truly value, and then devoted time to discovering ways to bring those values into the world, then perhaps we will no longer need politicians. Instead of politicians promising hope and change, or promising to make America great again, or promising that we will be stronger together, imagine if we respected ourselves deeply enough to be able to respect those around us (especially those who are different than us). Imagine if we were so comfortable in our own skin that other people in their own skins were not threatening to us. In fact, instead of feeling uncomfortable or threatened by those who are different than us, imagine becoming curious of difference? (I know you think I am going to bring Jacques Derrida into this. But I am not going to do that. I am speaking of difference, not differance, or am I?)

Imagine an America without politicians.

Imagine committing ourselves to doing, instead of merely, and passively, sharing and liking memes. (I know that word—meme—is pronounced mēm, but, take a moment, look at it—me me. Now, stop being so silly. Unless, of course, you have graduated from the Ministry of Silly Walks and cannot help yourself.)

What are we doing beyond all this? To own our lives. To live this time we were given at birth.

The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned. I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will. The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.
— Antonio Gramsci
“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” ― Angela Y. Davis

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” ― Angela Y. Davis

So, as a beginning with more to come, in my first 100 days:

I would change the names of all the streets in America, but I would particularly focus on neighborhoods that are predominately white. Dig, if you will this picture, a white family, living in an all white suburb, giving a white friend these directions to their house: “First you get off Highway 50 at the El Dorado Hills exit, then you make a left onto Martin Luther King Blvd, then at the second stop sign, you make another left onto James Baldwin Avenue, then a slight left onto Nina Simone Place, then an abrupt left before the next traffic light onto Frederick Douglass Street, pass through the intersection of Malcolm X Way and Rosa Park Avenue, and go under the Roberto Clemente overpass, then make a final left onto Harriet Tubman Street. We are the third house on the left, number 21.” Now, imagine that family driving or walking up and down those streets everyday and their children asking mommy and daddy who the streets were named after.

I would eliminate cup holders in cars. People lived without them and drove their cars without them until 1983, when they became standard in cars the same year mini-vans were marketed. (There is a connection and the connection should make you and your family sad.) Rather than buying coffee to go, or rushing out of the house with a cup of coffee in a travel mug, and drinking the coffee in the lonely isolation of a sad car, I would encourage people to slow down, to sit at the breakfast table and devote time to being with your family, or to sit in cafes and talk with each strangers.

I would cut off all electricity in America every Wednesday of every week. (I would, of course, allow necessary electricity to continue to be delivered—electricity to refrigerators to keep beer cold, and electricity for hospitals and other health related needs.) Stores would be closed every Wednesday as well. I know this is reminiscent of Blue Laws that most often were enforced on Sundays, but to avoid any sort of conflicts between my presidency and religious practice, I decided it would be safest to do this on Wednesdays. Hump Day. Doing this on Wednesday, also will not create conflicts with people desperately needing to watch football games.

My Blue Laws on Wednesdays are NOT religious in nature or belief; rather, these laws will allow us to rethink why we exist.

I would unplug the internet every Wednesday.

I would do unspeakably sad things to people who go on social media to say that they are unplugging.

I would design cell phones that can only be looked at four times in any 24-hour period, then they would shut off automatically. 

“In general, I try and distinguish between what one calls the Future and “l’avenir” [the ‘to come]. The future is that which – tomorrow, later, next century – will be. There is a future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future, l’avenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected. For me, that is the real future. That which is totally unpredictable. The Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future, beyond the other known future, it is l’avenir in that it is the coming of the Other when I am completely unable to foresee their arrival.”  ― Jacques Derrida

“In general, I try and distinguish between what one calls the Future and “l’avenir” [the ‘to come]. The future is that which – tomorrow, later, next century – will be. There is a future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future, l’avenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected. For me, that is the real future. That which is totally unpredictable. The Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future, beyond the other known future, it is l’avenir in that it is the coming of the Other when I am completely unable to foresee their arrival.” 
― Jacques Derrida

I would change the workweek to six hours per day, five days a week. Eventually we will become bored with consuming, and, because we will no longer be exhausted by work, we will have the energy to create, to dream (it does take energy and passion to dream), to put into action our desires.

Creation in place of consumption.

And as we do this, our values will change. We will no longer judge ourselves or others by what we have (or too often by what we do not have); rather, we will celebrate ourselves, and each other, through what we create and give to each other. In fact, it would not matter that we had more than others or that others had more than us. This will then change our definition of success and change our sense of what it means to live a meaningful life.

And if we share what we create with those we love, instead of selling it to strangers purely for profit, we will commit ourselves more directly to our hearts and to our souls and to our minds, not to that which society demands we value. (Those marketed values crafted to keep us in our place and them in positions of power.) Imagine the kinds of creative risks we would take with expressing our desires? Our dreams? Our ways for loving?

Sit down with one friend this week and sit with at least one stranger and listen to them tell you a story about something or someone that matters to them. Carry that story to someone else.

“The gift is contact, sensuality: you will be touching what I have touched, a third skin unites us.” ― Roland Barthes

“The gift is contact, sensuality: you will be touching what I have touched, a third skin unites us.” ― Roland Barthes

And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.
— James Baldwin

Please vote god.

Please, vote god.

Please, vote, god.

Please vote, god.

Commas mean something, or the other. And Sometimes commas do more harm than good. So be careful.

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