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Trump voters, hyou have canceled your right to look me in the eye

To The Daily Sun,

Donald Trump is one of you. He doesn't spit on long-standing political norms and centuries-old conventional wisdom just for show or to create smoke-screens. He's here to drain the swamp. You can tell because perceptive world leaders congratulate him and acknowledge his bravery.

For example, take people like Vladimir Putin. This rising international star has been irresponsibly accused by the FBI and CIA for interference into our presidential elections and for military provocations around the world. Or Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines. Some genetic mutation has caused thousands of Filipinos to protest this self-appointed magistrate, personally cleansing droves of alleged criminals with waves of death squads. Or David Duke, that venerable leader of the American Nazis, who has seen fit to arrange a victory parade for the far-right (Breitbart, Ku Klux Klan, et. al.) in Donald Trump's honor.

Don't listen to your grandfather's garbage about World War II, fascism and sacrifices. Finally, these Trump-class world leaders have a fighting chance to get their message heard. Isn't that right?

I'm so excited to finally get an average Joe into the White House. And a smart one at that. Trump has always belittled those who avoid litigation battles in order to settle. Let's face it — those people are cowards. When he goes after someone, he always wins and makes money. Because making money is the only thing this country is about. Ask him; he said so. But, he is the president now, and I applaud his decision to settle the Trump University "scandal" right before taking office. He's a national hero! Right?

There was never a reason for Trump to reveal his tax returns. Just because all presidential candidates do so doesn't mean there's a reason for it. I mean, why should he divest his national and global business interests. He earned it. Those liberal pretty boys are just steaming jealous. Right?

When it comes to draining the swamp, roll out the sludge vacuums boys. Between the Goldman-Sachs and the fringe-right cabinet appointments, you would be hard pressed to line up a finer group of average, swamp-scum hating Americans. Cuz he's here to help you. Right?

You have canceled your right to look me in the eye. Don't embarrass yourself with a Roseanna Roseannadanna response. This is the dishonor about to be rained down on all of us. I can understand blunders that are made in tough situations. But make no mistake. This victory was the cognizant decision of millions of politically disenfranchised voters ... who decided to take the low road and vent their child's rage — just like the president-elect — and to hell with the consequences.
He really is one of you. Isn't that right?

Paul B. Utiger

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Alan Vervaeke - Cocooned from a world of misery

I joined the Navy years ago because I didn't have money for college. My first time overseas I learned what it means to be an American.

My first port of call was the Philippines. The minute I left the Navy base, I entered a town of ramshackle buildings filled with bars, massage parlors, and small restaurants. But to get into town, I had to cross a bridge over a "river," rife with raw sewage. Small boats carried young boys and girls, placed there by their families to beg for money. Sailors and Marines threw one-peso coins into the water, knowing the boys would dive in after them. Some would toss them to the girls in white dresses, to catch in butterfly nets. In town, the bars were filled with girls selling their bodies for money. It was eye-opening to see what people did to survive.

Many would do almost anything to come to the U.S.

I volunteered once at an orphanage, and it was the same thing. They wanted to go to the States. The grass was green, sky was blue, everybody had cars, and no one starved. That was their reality. Across Asia I visited places with poor people desperate to leave. People living on boats, in shacks without running water. I did my best to help people. Don't get me wrong, as a 20 year old I did my fair share of carousing. I was no saint. But being an American took on a different flavor, a feeling of privilege — a responsibility. MY country was where everyone else in the world wanted to go.

I saw how good I'd had it all my life. Food. Clothing. A home. School. What I'd taken for granted was a beacon of hope, a place where anything was possible – for people outside the U.S.

We sailed towards the Indian Ocean, and came upon a heavily laden boat, low in the water and packed with people, Vietnamese who'd fled the communists in what was a forcibly-united Vietnam  — men and women, elderly and children as young as one week old. The engine leaked diesel fuel into the boat, where it mixed with saltwater that spilled in during a storm. Those with exposed skin in that water had raw wounds and shedding skin. We rescued them all and took them back to Thailand to a relocation camp. The Boat People (as they came to be called) were so thankful for food and medical care and blankets and shelter that they would grab our hands and just bow constantly. I gave my mailing address to many of them when they asked, so they could presumably write to me in the future. Many of them did: Christmas cards for many years after they'd immigrated to the U.S.

I visited Kenya and Pakistan, saw poverty everywhere, and people asked about here. New Hampshire or Florida or North Dakota or Iowa or Utah. Anywhere and anyplace as long as it was HERE. And over the years since I left the Navy, I've traveled to India, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Places where people beg to come to the United States. The Statue of Liberty calls them to a place to chase their dreams, and free themselves from filth, poverty, war, and despair.

In the past two decades, we've had Somalia, Darfur, and now Aleppo. Millions who've been bombed, strafed, and shot at, left diseased, disabled, dismembered, homeless, childless, parentless, and lifeless. These are the people who beg to come here. They don't come for a handout. They come to LIVE. They come to escape certain death, their reality, and it's one that Americans don't comprehend because we've not experienced it since our Civil War.

Why? A lack of global perspective. We're a selfish and insulated culture because we, unlike Europe or Asia, have oceans as borders, and friendly neighbors. We're cocooned from a world of misery. Sure, we loosen our purse strings when money is going "there" and "those people" stay "there." But when they want to come here is when the greed and selfishness and distrust start to flow. It flows from people who've never experienced true loss, from people who are afraid, from a certain knowledge that America was made for white Christians of European descent and that when our Founding Fathers said "All men are created equal," they didn't mean anyone else. They only meant men from HERE. Not slaves. Not other immigrants. Not other religions. Nope — just us. White people. White Christian people. Preferably male.

If we want to make a sea change in how we view the world, then we need to see the rest of the world. Not just the Lakes Region or New England. Further than Florida. Places where we're the minority. When I was in India, I was the first white person that anyone in one village had ever met. A woman followed me for half a mile carrying an infant and begging for money. I gave her the only local currency I had, a 100 rupee note (about $2.25) and she dropped to her knees and kissed my feet. All I thought of was all I have and all WE have. This is why I'm pro-immigration. We, who have so much, can afford to share.

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all speak directly to charity, to opening up to those with less, those in need. We elect our government to fulfill on our wishes, so if we have charity in OUR hearts and elect people to fulfill our mandates, then how can the U.S. be uncharitable, be a nation where 25 percent of voters support a man pledging to make the wealthy wealthier, the poor poorer, and immigrants unwelcome? We've become a nation of selfish, isolated, and Godless men and women, a nation of the unequal. We're becoming a nation that other people will no longer want to come to. And when that happens, we're no longer the nation our Founding Fathers created for us.

(Alan Vervaeke is a veteran and father, happily living in Gilford.)

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