Archive for the ‘Politics’ Tag

The King of Nothing (National Poetry Writing Month 2020 #14)   Leave a comment

The king of nothing stares out
At the land of his ever growing ego.
He stands on his mountain to shout,
“I am the king of wherever I go!”

The people all pointed and jeered
At their “monarch’s” obvious delusion.
For the dynasty he thought was revered
Was all just his own sad illusion.

– SR Romney 2020

Posted 04/14/2020 by Shay in National Poetry Writing Month 2020

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American Monarchy (National Poetry Writing Month 2019 #28)   Leave a comment

The president shouldn’t be our king,
He’s a civil servant
But we’re obsessed with making them into
Something they can’t be.
Not just better than you and me
But perfect, a godling.
They have to be the man or woman of our dreams
Beams of light coming down
Angelic choruses sing
Trumpets thundering
Leaving us all wondering
Blinding us with amazement
A panacea embodiment
But whether a cad or a grand crusader
A grand persuader, or a humble worker
They can reach for greatness, but never perfection
And we shouldn’t expect them to.

– Shaman Romney 2019

Politalking: Why “#americawasnevergreat,” and arguments like it, won’t work. (Even if they are true.)   Leave a comment

I’m dusting off my opinions to write about a sentiment I’ve seen going around lately. More specifically, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently made waves with the below statement on August 15th:

“We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness, we will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged, we will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women, 51 percent of our population, is gone and every woman’s full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution.”

Now, I agree with the sentiment. I even think it was worded well, for the most part. But the issue I, and many others, took with what he said was the statement at the beginning: “America was never great.”

Cuomo is not the only person I’ve seen make this statement. I have seen it pop up on protest signs and on social media, as a pushback against Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again”. I totally understand wanting to push back against blind nationalism, and so I understand why the argument developed and why it can appeal to certain people.

Now, I don’t agree with the position that America was never great, and I feel I can make a strong argument as to why. But I’m not going to make that argument in this post. (Maybe as a follow-up.) Instead, I want to talk about why I think statements like this are not going to convince the majority of Americans, and how the same ideas can be stated in a much more appealing way.

First, I need to provide a summary of  Jonathan Haidt’s research into morality and politics. I’m going to briefly summarize it but I highly suggest you read his book, The Righteous Mind, and watch his TED talk.  His research entails looking at the basis of the moral values of liberal-minded people and conservative-minded people and how they differ. As he summarized in his book, he posits there are five moral foundations:

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness/Reciprocity
  • In-group/Loyalty
  • Authority/Respect
  • Purity/Sanctity

(Side note: He also posits there is a sixth (liberty), but the 5 are the main ones accepted in moral foundations theory, and are what I am basing my argument on. I do actually agree the sixth foundation exists, but doesn’t apply to this argument.)

His research found conservatives were equally sensitive to all five axes, whereas Liberals only scored high on the first two. These general trends may not apply to any particular individual, it is a useful framework to break down why this argument is ineffective.

The statement, “America was never great”, came from liberal arguments, and it makes sense why people on the left wouldn’t have any issue with it. Throughout history, America has caused lots of harm to its citizens, and hasn’t had the best track record of caring for the downtrodden. On top of that, we have had a lot of unfairness throughout our history; look at slavery or how we treated Japanese Americans in World War 2. Even nowadays we have rampant wealth inequality, and only recently extended equal rights to gays and lesbians. Viewing things from this lens, the statement seems fine to me.

However, this argument doesn’t acknowledge the other 3 moral foundations, and one could argue it goes directly against them. It insults the in-group (Americans) by stating their country is mediocre, and always has been. It is disrespectful, as it ignores what America has done to make the world a better place. Finally, it challenges the orthodoxy of America being a shining example to the rest of the world. From the lens of a conservative world view this is a bad argument at best, and an insult at worst.

The United States of America has issues, and I don’t think anyone would disagree. Almost everyone can think of some law we need to reform, or problem we need to solve. If we find a way to frame the argument in a way appeals to the most people, we might be able to actually make progress towards fixing things instead of yelling at each other on the internet. I am going to attempt to do so below:

A short, slogan like example would be:

“Make America Even Greater.”

This counters Trump’s sentiment (America is no longer great) without negative framing, and still shows we need to improve.

A slightly longer version would be:

“America is great because we are always improving our country. Let’s work hard to make it great for all Americans!”

Again, it focuses on improving our country, but doesn’t insult it in the process. It also combines everyone into the same in-group of American, instead of Republican vs. Democrat.

Finally, a longer form:

“America is a great country, built on ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Throughout history, Americans young and old have worked hard to make these ideals a reality that we all can share. Through our hard work, we are an example to the world of freedom and achievement. We can look around and see our accomplishments, while still accepting have more work to do. When our nation works together, we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to. So lets work together to make America even greater than we’ve ever been!”

This example (albeit a little grandiose) shows respect to the USA, asks us to all be one group, and pats us on the back for the good we’ve done so far. It still hits on improving things, and it could easily lead into listing off problems, as it has primed people to be more open.

By re-framing the sentiment in a positive light, you avoid people getting defensive. Instead of arguing whether America is good or bad, you get to have the important discussions: how to fix what is broken and improve what isn’t. Instead of fighting, we actually might cooperate with each other for a change.

Now, if you do agree that America is never great, feel free to keep using the argument. I disagree with you, but you have the right to say it. But I hope I have shown you why this argument fails to convince conservatives and, more importantly, moderates and independents. If that’s your goal, then I hope my advice will help you make more convincing arguments. If not, you probably stopped reading by now, but have fun being angry on the internet.

Thank you for reading,


Posted 08/24/2018 by Shay in Politalking

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Politalking: When Is The Right Time To Make It Political?   Leave a comment

That’s the questions everyone has after events like this. Fifty eight innocents dead, and hundreds more injured. A single gunman fired upon concert goers using a rifle modified to give it an automatic rate of fire. Once police made it to his room, he shot himself. As of this writing we don’t know a motive, and speculation is rampant. News is coming out, victims are dying and recovering, and vigils are being held.

America has put aside all of our political differences and came together to support the victims of this tragedy in a sign of humanity and respec-

Oh wait, that is what SHOULD have happened.

What ACTUALLY happened is a bunch of Democrats started screaming for gun control and blaming Republicans for the deaths, and a bunch of Republicans clutched their guns and screamed of Democrat false flags.

Some, like Hillary Clinton, didn’t even wait for all of the bodies to be picked up before pushing oddly specific political agendas. They didn’t finish picking up victims until 2 pm; she sent those tweets at 8 in the morning. The real icing on the cake is she asked us to put aside our politics so we can push forward with her politics. Because it’s not about politics, right?

Other people, like Hayley Geftmen-Gold, celebrated the deaths. We all know only republican gun-toting hicks listen to Jason Aldean, right? We all know your political affiliations make you worse that Hitler, right? I wish her opinion was an outlier, but it isn’t. Go on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube comments and you will see many people saying the same thing. She was just dumb enough to get caught.

The right-wing had their fair share of stupid behavior. In addition to the pearl clutching and fear mongering around guns that always happens, we had people like Alex Jones trying to claim this is a false flag. These claims have been rampant on Twitter, YouTube, and 4Chan as well. We have people claiming it was the government, or the casino owners, or the Illuminati, or some other evil entity. They don’t really care about the victims, except in their use as proof of a nefarious plot.

Bill O’Reilly said shootings like this are just the price of freedom. This one is a little more forgivable, as he doesn’t seem to have bad intent. But this was too soon for that sentiment. This was written before we even knew the final casualty report, and although Bill O’Reilly has never been the voice of reason, you think he would’ve known better. Although I feel his contribution is less bad, it still feeds into my main issue with all this nonsense.

I understand people are sad, and are upset. People are angry. People want to find something or someone to blame. Just like when an ISIS supporter shoots up an office building with his wife and people blame all Muslims, we want the easy answer. We should look for answers, and we should find solutions.

But just like you wouldn’t send an angry email to your boss, you should start prescribing solutions when you are seeing red and we don’t have information. Those of you on the left screaming for strict gun control right now, I ask: If the shooter was an ISIS supporter, would you support us banning all Muslims from America?

I would hope your answer is a quick and vocal NO!

Should we prescribe an extreme over reaction that doesn’t even solve the problem? Should we do it because people are angry? If you don’t support it, does it put the victims’ deaths on your head? Should you pray to God for forgiveness for believing in the First amendment’s free exercise clause?

The answer to all the above should also be no.

The same is true with this. We need to learn more about how this monster obtained his weapons, what his motive is, and what laws were missed or ignored. From what little bit we know now, there are some simple things we can do already. Regulating gat cranks and bump stocks is a good start, but nothing we know at the moment shows any of the policies democrats are screaming for would have prevented this.

That makes what they are doing seem like ghoulish opportunistic tribalism. I don’t believe in the tit-for-tat mentality. Even if Republicans were awful for politicizing the Pulse shooting, it doesn’t make you any less awful for doing it with this one. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and you pooping your pants isn’t suddenly OK because the guy next to you did it too. It’s still gross behavior, and we should be better than that.

That isn’t to say we don’t need to do something; we desperately need to take action. As I stated when I wrote about the Orlando shooting, we have been too complacent for far too long on issues like these. Stephen Colbert put it best when he addressed Trump directly on his show, and I’ve posted the clip below. We should do something. If Republicans don’t like what is being proposed, they should make their own proposals. Either come up with a better plan, or accept the one the Democrats have. Either way, do something.


However, before we act, can we take a little time to mourn? Can we take a least a day to be sad for the victims and their families? Can at least we give a moment of silence for the dead?

You may think by politicizing this you are helping. You think you are being respectful. You think that is shows you care about the victims. But it isn’t helping the victims, or your cause. Would you be screaming your political points at a funeral for a family who lost their son? Or for a husband who lost his wife? By jumping into politics so soon, that is exactly what you are doing.

You are taking a tragedy someone else is living through, and you are making it about you. You propose your solutions to their problem. You are ignoring their pain and suffering by not being there for them, and instead you are using it for your own means. You may think you are being noble and your intentions may be good, but it is selfish and divisive in a time where we need to be there for those in pain.

Be angry. Get motivated. Write down your thoughts, find your representatives contact information, and find out who pays them. Write down angry emails, work through your thoughts, and discuss it with your friends. But leave the specifics for a time when you are thinking clearer, like you would if it was an angry email to your boss. Take a moment to just feel the tragedy that happened. It will help galvanize you for when we start to solve it. The time for solutions will come sooner than you think.

So, when is the best time to make it political?

I don’t know. There’s not a specific rule in place for tragedies like this. But maybe next time, can we at least give it a day before we start making it political? If you are too impatient to do that, then can we at least wait until the bodies are cold?

I don’t think that it too much to ask for.

– Shaman

Posted 10/04/2017 by Shay in Personal Thoughts, Politalking

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The Surprising Solution to Homelessness   Leave a comment

This is one of the assignments I had to do for my recent return to college. I feel it was well made, and wanted to share it, in its original entirety below. The recorded version references the site I had to create for class. If or when I decide to re edit my recording, I will send it here.

How do we help the homeless? Simple, give them homes. In the below recording, I will explain why. (Transcript and further reading below.)

Homelessness is a major issue today, both in Downtown Salt Lake City, and in other major cities across the nation. Officials are scrambling for a way to tackle the issue that is both effective and low cost. But I believe Utah has found the most effective solution. It’s simple: if you want to solve homelessness, just give the homeless homes.

I know – it sounds both too simplistic and unrealistic. But from 2005 to 2015, Utah reduced its number of chronic homeless individuals by 90%. This was accomplished by giving the homeless homes first, before working on their other issues. It is almost impossible for someone to find a job, keep appointments, or improve their life if they don’t have a stable place to live. Our typical methods of providing job training, addiction therapy, and food, are well intentioned, but if you don’t get the homeless out of their bad environment, you can’t help them effectively.

Isn’t providing housing expensive? According to the Utah Homeless Task Force, in order to provide a home and social worker to a person in need, it would cost $7,800 a year. That sounds like quite a lot, but the average cost per year of a homeless person living on the street is over twice that amount at $19,000. That is the cost when you take into account emergency room visits, jail time, etc., in addition to the social workers and care programs we already use. Society is already paying the higher cost, so why not pay half of that in order to help twice as many people?

But are these figures true? Well, it is a little more complicated than that. Firstly, the numbers above are only for chronic homeless people. That means someone who has been on the street for over a year and has some sort of mental issue, like schizophrenia or drug addiction.They make up about 20% of homeless people. The remaining 80% of homeless people are temporary homeless. These are people who are in-between jobs and homes. Secondly, as Kevin Corinth from the Huffington Post has pointed out, Utah may have padded the numbers a little bit.

However, no matter how you interpret the numbers, there is a definite decrease in homeless. On top of that, whether we provide longer term housing to a chronic homeless person, or a temporary place to live while you get back on your feet, it still helps you recover. I understand it can seem too good to be true. But even a marginal effect is better than no effect, and that is exactly what we get right now.

For example, let’s talk about counselling programs. These are programs designed to help homeless people with addiction and mental illness tackle their problems, and integrate back in to society. At the moment, many of our housing programs are contingent on people staying clean or making all of their appointments in order to stay in their home. If someone messes up, they are back on the street until they prove they are willing to try again. But addiction and mental illnesses are diseases. We wouldn’t kick someone out for having an unexpected seizure or an allergic reaction, right?

Giving someone a home that is not contingent on them behaving “correctly” allows us to remove them from an environment that actively agitates their issue. If you are living in an apartment with other people who are trying to improve their life, it is going to be harder to do drugs than if you are sleeping on the street corner a block away from your dealer. I’m not saying we never have to push someone to clean up their life. But making someone’s chance to get clean their only chance denies human nature. We fail all the time, especially when we are learning something new, or gaining back skills we’ve lost.

I am not promising a panacea for the problem of homelessness. I also acknowledge in the long term we need to solve the issues that caused someone to become homeless in the first place. But if we focus on giving people houses first, it gives us a much better position to fix everything else. On top of that, it’s much cheaper that our current methods. So, if it is cheaper and more effective, what do we have to lose? Let’s give the homeless homes.

Thank you for reading,



Works Cited:

Posted 08/17/2017 by Shay in Writing

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Just Don’t Punch People, Okay? (Explicit) (National Poetry Writing Month 2017 #20)   Leave a comment

Don’t be surprised when someone dies
Because you started saying violence is fine from your side
It’s not their fault anymore, its yours
You made your movement rot to the core

You called their thoughts violence
So you could turn your thoughts violent
So you you could sit back in silence
While your friends act violent
Thinking “I would never try it.”
But you would if you could
Get past your cowardice, your avarice

You sycophantic piece of shit
You make me want to fucking quit
I hate that I care so much
I hate it, I’m aware too much
I hate you and I want to punch you lights out
This anger is too much

But I’ll be a better person than you
I care about the people
And there’s nothing I could possibly do
Worse than what you keep doing to yourself
I’ll fight with words, to fight your words
To fight your war, to fight your hate
To fight for love, for acceptance, for peace

Be glad for people like me
Be glad I’m your opponent
‘Cause I may shoot off at the mouth
But the people you fuck with?

Today is a punch
Tomorrow’s a knife
The next is a gun
The end of your life
And you may blame them.
But I don’t give a shit.
Because they may be the finish
But you started it.

And when the deaths start tolling
I’ll cry for both sides
I’ll mourn for us all

Because our country has died.

– Shaman Romney 2017

Change My View   Leave a comment

Changing your mind should be viewed
As a virtue and not a vice
A free flow of ideas is the price we pay
For the privilege of being challenged.

The gift of being told we are flawed,
We are wrong, we are imperfect.
We crave this advice, we need it to grow.
Impressing upon ourselves the advice of our peers
In an attempt to be a better person,
Creating a better world for others.

– Shaman Romney 2017

Posted 01/17/2017 by Shay in Poetry

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Politalking: 2016 Election Thoughts   2 comments

Ok, Wow.

This election was intense to watch. Obviously the majority of the media got it completely wrong. I know I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win. Even the most careful poll and aggregate sites, like 538, didn’t predict a high chance of this outcome. Some like the NY Times Upshot gave him a chance in the single digits. So this is a historic upset of a victory, regardless of the side you take.
Most of my friends are distraught over the news. I don’t think it is wrong to be so upset. People’s investment in this election was strong, and certain groups can be very negatively affected by the results. Although I didn’t have a strong pull either way, and although I feel that things are going to be as bad as people think, my heart goes out to you. Know I may not always agree with you on everything, but I will gladly lay down my life to protect your rights and freedoms.

So why did this happen? I don’t believe America’s bigots and racist all came out in droves, waiting for lynching to be legal. I don’t think it was a coalition of misogynist men who can wait to grab some p***y. I don’t think it was xenophobes wanting to get rid of “Jose” and “Muhammed”. I’m not saying people like that don’t exist, and I’m not saying all Trump supporters are saints. But I believe it is something much simpler.

Clinton’s supporters got cocky. Most of the liberals I know became too comfortable sitting in their echo chambers, feeling their sense of smug (and often unearned) sense of superiority. They kept downplaying the scandals Clinton was facing as nothing more than fear tactics and misogyny, and treated Trump supporters as nothing more than hate mongers and idiots. Supporting Trump became a scarlet letter, with people losing friends over even the inkling of support for Herr Furher Trump. I think Clinton supporter were well-intentioned in this, because a lot of the rhetoric being tossed around made him seem like the absolute greater of two evils. But by being so divisive, democrats created their own undoing.

When you make it so unpopular to support Trump that people can’t even speak his name, you don’t get rid of the support. All you do is shut down the conversation and eliminate your chance to convince others. People forced Trump supporters underground, making them insulate themselves in an echo chamber in order to save their own sanity. They stopped talking to the other side, stopped watching and reading most news, and gave up on challenging their own views. Only trolls, contrarians, and the true undecided continued the dialogue and only barely. I know I was terrified to speak out about the election at all, and had to constantly throw in jabs at Trump to show I don’t like the guy.
Come election time, however, his supporters came out in droves, and surprised everyone.

That isn’t the only reason Trump won, but I think it’s a big one. The emails are another reason, as is the 3rd party vote pulling a lot of the younger vote away. It is tempting to blame them for this election, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong to do so. I think Comey was in a tough spot, and if I were in his position I would probably have done the same. If he didn’t announce the emails and they found something incriminating after a Clinton victory, imagine how much of a shit show would have occurred. As for 3rd party candidates, can you blame them for wanting to buck the system? For wanting to convince people to vote for good and not just lesser evils? Or should we have just embraced the two-party system, and told Gary to smoke a bowl and sit down?

But in the end, it comes down to Clinton failing to convince more people to support her. If we as a country value democracy we have to accept the results, even if they aren’t the ones we wanted. Keep in mind even the popular vote is only separated by 0.1% of the electorate. That could mean half the country is racist, homophobic, and sexist. But I have faith in humanity, nor do I feel I have the right to pass judgment on a large group of people who have just as many diverse reasons for voting as their opponents.

So we are left with Trump as our president. We have to play the hand we are dealt. But I believe adversity begets change, and if you think a Trump presidency is going to be bad, then fight it. Work to defend the rights of you friends and loved ones. Make you dissent and disapproval heard. Pressure your senators to be honest and represent you. Fight for voting reform and what you feel is right. It may be a hard road, but if it is important as you think it is then it is worth it.

I hope Trump surprises us by actually not being the monster he seems to be. At the very least I hope his presidency convinces people that we need to pull the reins on presidential power, because every power Obama grabbed is now in Trump’s tiny infant hands.

But I honestly don’t know. It could be a real shit-show. Either way, we are all in this together. So breathe, think, and realize the sun will always rise the next day. We have made it through darker times, and we will make it through these.

I may talk politics in the future, but this is the last I’m talking about this election. We’ve dealt with this bullshit for a year; time to go back to our car videos and porn for a few months.

Thank you for reading,


Posted 11/09/2016 by Shay in Politalking

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Politalking: In Defense of Not Voting For President   Leave a comment

It is Election Day Eve in America. I’m sure everyone is currently filling up their bunkers and buying their guns. To say this election has been divisive would be an understatement. I’ve avoided talking about it for most of the time, but with it being so close to over I felt I should get this off my chest while this is still relevant.

I’m not trying to convince you to vote for any particular candidate. They all stink, and it’s just a matter of how strong the BO is. Not only do I think there is no good choice, but I believe voting should be as private if you choose it to be. What you do when you sign your ballot or go to the polls is your business, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is an ass who is trying to manipulate you. They don’t give two shits about you voting unless it is for their candidate. I will be keeping my vote private, except in discussions with close friends. I think more people should do the same.

That being said, do you even need to vote?

The answer is yes, but only because of all of the local issues. Those are the races that have a direct effect on your life, and the ones you have a chance to influence. Too many people get up on the  Trump Train, the Clinton Hill, the Johnson Bong, and the Stein Totally-GMO-Free-Rice-Cracker, and forget to even look into who their local reps and judges are. The vote for president is the least important part of your vote. Even in swing states (of which Utah is one this year) it doesn’t matter much.

As an example, I know many people don’t bother to learn about the judges in their district. I wish more people would. As a single father, I dread ever having to go to court in Utah, as I would have to face some of the most close minded and negative judges we have in the country. They pass down some of the most unjust and overbearing ruling to fathers who only want to see their kids. I’m not going into specifics as it’s not my case to talk about, but there are some horrific stories.

Many of these judges should have been voted out long ago, but they still serve. You know why? Because people don’t learn about them, and then check yes on reaffirming because they don’t give a damn. Imagine how much change you could make in people’s lives by voting informed. The president may hurt our standing with other countries, but these judges can and have destroyed many families and many lives.

You can prevent it. You could sway the results. Many of these elections ar only one by a handful of votes. Your voice and opinon can actually reach these politions, and you can have real change. I think that is a thousand times more important that deciding if you like spray tans or pantsuits.

So, if you find yourself feeling like you just want to stay home because you think the candidates suck; If you are a burnt-out Bernie Bro or a Guac-Bowl carrying Jeb supporter, please still vote. Nothing requires you to vote for a presidential candidate. You can leave it blank or write in your mom. But don’t ignore everything else.

I hope everyone has a good and swift election tomorrow, and I will see you in Canada as we all jump the border.

Thanks for reading,


Posted 11/07/2016 by Shay in Personal Thoughts, Politalking

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