Your comments make me realize my last post was a big mistake

Over the past twenty years of writing this blog, many posts have been controversial. A controversial post begins with some people attacking my position and some people defending my position, then people debate each others’ opinions. My last post was not controversial. It was just bad. I knew it was really bad when the most mainstream readers and the most radical readers were both telling me the post was not making sense. No one was agreeing with my position.

Many times you ask me how I cope with haters—people who tell me I’m an idiot or wish I were dead. Actually, those are really easy comments to deal with because those comments don’t make me reconsider that I might be completely wrong in my thinking. Well-reasoned comments from thoughtful writers make me think deeply about myself. Those are the difficult comments to cope with. And I’ve read about 250 of those comments this week.

I kept trying to figure out why I would write a post about a topic I didn’t know enough about. I didn’t say anything new. Why did I do that? I think I wished that I knew more than I did. I guess I tricked myself so well that I thought I could trick you.

I hate writing that, so I will have to change topics.

I work a plot at the community garden. It’s two blocks from my apartment but it’s like a century away from my blog: almost everyone there grew up farming in the South and has been growing vegetables in this community garden for the last 40 years. I take care of a garden plot when someone is sick or busy. And I listen during breaks when people sit in the shade talking. They’ve known each other for so long.

At night everyone takes vegetables home. I stop and buy sugar. We haven’t had sugar in the house for three months. I bought a box of sugar and used it all up this week. I put it on everything. Because it’s hard to be wrong. It’s hard to be wrong and have people work so hard in such genuine ways to explain to me why I’m wrong.  What helps is telling you what I learned from all of your comments. Here’s what I learned:

  • A vote for Biden is a vote for an administration not for just a person.
  • Black people don’t need me to protect them by complaining about Biden.
  • I don’t understand enough about socialism to forfeit my vote in the name of socialism.
  • I can hate Biden and still vote for him.
  • I can understand that our democracy is near a breaking point and still participate in it to try to save it.

Being a good writer is being honest, constantly, about what we know. And then checking again. To make sure. What I know is that I’m trying really hard to be part of this community garden and I’m gentrifying it and I don’t want you to see that. And I love the people in it so much and instead of just being with them and loving them I have this urge to write an academic paper or something because they are history. I want to tell you about each of the people I love but I worry writing about them on this blog will turn them to stone.

I want to do good. I thought I was doing good by telling you that voting for Biden is scummy. But one of the most popular topics at the garden is how important it is to vote. The community at the garden is vibrant. They are activists. They talk about getting relatives in other states to vote. I am ashamed that I told people not to vote. The truth is that my blog community and my garden community are aligned and they are not two blocks away or a century away. My blog community and my garden community are both in my heart, and I have to keep them there by writing honestly and being open and not being a poser and a jerk. That is hard for me. Thank you for helping me by taking the time to tell me when I’m wrong.

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  1. John
    John says:

    I’m grateful to you for listening and owning up to your mistakes. But I’m angry that the last post, which you yourself call a “big mistake,” is still up. It does its damage by existing and being read. That’s what makes it a big mistake. Taking it down would be the first step in making up for it. That’s the first action (of ideally many) you should take after apologizing for it, and to show the apology is genuine.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      John, I respectfully disagree. I’m sure there are many frustrated citizens who have the same thoughts that Penelope wrote about. The “well-reasoned comments from thoughtful writers” that were posted in response may help to convince those citizens, too, that *not* voting is not a good choice. Penelope may choose to post a note at the end of the last post mentioning her change of heart and linking to this post, but she should not remove the post and the replies.

        • Kate
          Kate says:

          Maybe at the beginning of the post instead, with a link to this post? People may not see it at the end.

          BTW I love this sentence ” I want to tell you about each of the people I love but I worry writing about them on this blog will turn them to stone.” I work in documentary film and we think a lot about the challenges presented when real people are your raw material. It’s hard. As always, I appreciate your thinking things through.

          • Shannon Graham
            Shannon Graham says:

            Yes, at the beginning. And thank you Penelope. I bet it feels like eating shit but sometimes you have to.

        • Susan
          Susan says:

          Bravo for your honesty and reflection. Being able to listen to feedback and grow from it is all too rare in our society, especially this year. But if we all keep working to move toward a better future, however haltingly, we have a good chance of getting there.

          I’d also suggest that if you add a message to the previous post, add it at the beginning, so that people with shorter attention spans are sure to see it!

  2. James
    James says:

    I wrote ‘wrong and foolish’ and thought you might contest that! I’m in New Zealand, but have family in the USA, so I worry about what’s happening there, and read as much as I can. I saw Hilary’s faults, didn’t like her much, still hoped she’d win. I can see Biden’s faults, and why Kamala might not be for everyone, but still deeply hope they win. The alternative is so terrible.

  3. Kate
    Kate says:

    Being open minded, admitting mistakes, identifying flaws, improving yourself – all fantastic things. Giving into harrassment and abuse and cancellation – not good. It can be confusing to try to make sure you are doing the first one and not the second. I have always admired your courage to express your views even when I disagree with you as I did with your last post. If you have changed your mind I admire that also. Just make sure to take care of yourself. As a fellow citizen of one of the free-er parts of the world you have the right to say what you want – don’t let anyone take that away from you – not on your blog, and not in your election.

    • Kitty Kilian
      Kitty Kilian says:

      You got a point there, Kate.
      I also think your apology is very eloquent, Penelope.
      I think you are allowed mistakes, just like we all are. You experiment a lot, and sometimes you overreach. It’s unavoidable.
      It’s just that in this case the stakes are so high. Trump is not only ruining the US, but the entire world. He must be stopped, etc etc. So you were maybe a tiny bit naive in posting it ;-) I am sure an editor would have said no.

    • Jennifer Warner
      Jennifer Warner says:

      I often think of Brené brown’s quote: I’m here to get it right, not be right. Appreciate the about face. Now help us Democrats figure out how to turn out the vote.

      • Vern
        Vern says:

        I struggle with this idea. Does getting people to vote mean to vote either way or to vote for Biden or to Vote for Trump?

  4. Chang Han
    Chang Han says:

    Nice work.
    One of the better ‘mea culpa’s I’ve read/heard in a long time.
    The only thing that may have improved it would have been adding an express apology.

  5. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    I actually really resonated with your last post. Even if, at the end of the day, Biden it has to be, truly the lesser of two evils, there was no harm in you voicing your opinion, or outlining the utter corruption of the DNC. I wish millions of people WOULD write on Bernie and we could have ourselves a true revolution. I hope you don’t delete the original post, it makes some very valid points. I’m sorry you’ve been bullied into such an apology.

    • Dave
      Dave says:

      If you wish for people to write in Bernie then you are wishing for a second 4 years for Trump. Nothing against your reasons for wanting Bernie, just reality. One person – even as the president – doesn’t make a revolution. They can set the agenda and heavily influence the national narrative but change requires congressional action (despite Trump’s belief that he can will like a king with his executive orders). Democracy isn’t guaranteed – it takes effort and involvement. When people abdicate their civic responsibility to vote we move closer to a country when a small cabal of people re-write the laws in their favor and we wake up and wonder what happened.
      I have voted republican more often than not but I voted independent last time because I didn’t like either of the headliners. Now, 4 years later, I feel I wasted my vote and plan to vote for Biden – not because he’s perfect, he’s far from that – but he will hopefully settle the chaos aka the Trump Presidency. And he’s likely to be a one term president which sets the stage for new leadership from both parties and maybe an intelligent discussion of ideas *and* how to pay for them without bankrupting our future. Also, I think Biden is more skilled at foreign policy which Trump so terribly lacks and the president *can* make a difference there. (Note: Trump was right to take on China but he can’t get the job done – and he’s scared of Putin – the *much* more dangerous world actor, IMO – Putin probably has videos of him).

      So, sorry for the long rant but when I hear of people advocating a write-in or not voting at all I fear for our future. 100 years ago the Germans thought they had a charismatic leader who would take them to being a strong country again and look where that got them. And if you think that could never happen to us, don’t kid yourself.

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      Caitlin, I was stopped by a single word in your comment and I want to respond to that word. I think it’s relevant to the whole discussion, but maybe not. That word is “truly” as in Biden is “truly the lesser of two evils.” Maybe it’s just a throw away word in there and you didn’t give it much thought, but there is nothing “true” about your comment. Your comment about Biden is an opinion. You’re welcome to your opinion and you’re welcome to voicing your opinion, as you advocated to PT, but where we get it wrong again and again is claiming our opinions to be truths. We might have more open discussion and less need to apologize if we treat our opinions as opinions when we disagree with others.

    • Lee Reed
      Lee Reed says:

      I am a black man, and I also agreed with Penelope’s prior post, with its links to sources on the points she made. I resonated with that post and it makes me sad that she would be driven to apologize for her position.

      • Simone
        Simone says:

        I’m a black woman who mentally high-fived PT’s prior post and shared it with everyone I know giving us hope that people are finally wising up to our crooked, irreparable government, where truly the only thing next is a French-style “off with their heads” revolution. Those chiding us to vote for Biden just don’t want to face reality and just want to continue with their pretend democracy tea party. They see real patriots on the streets getting tear-gassed and fighting back at the system and are terrified of what would be required of them so they’re screaming for safety expecting Biden/Harris to save them. Good luck with your return to the status quo. Meanwhile, those of us who are truly sick and tired of both parties are ready to fight for the new world that we know is possible. So yes, I will be writing in Bernie for all I previously stated and because no one should tell anyone who to vote for and then deride Trump for being a fascist. We are a country teeming with cowards and hypocrites, may we all get what we deserve and Trump is the least of it.

        • Nancy
          Nancy says:

          I would have preferred almost any candidate over Biden, but Biden or Trump is the choice we have. That’s reality, because even with every Democratic voter choosing Biden, Trump could still win. So how does voting for Bernie make Trump not win? And how is “fighting for a new world” going to be more successful with Trump as president for four more years? Our country and our world have multiple catastrophes headed our way, with no possibility of avoiding them, and limited time left for mitigating them. Trump will be actively working to make all of them worse. Rereading your letter, it sounds like that’s what you want — if Bernie can’t win, we should all be punished because we deserve it. I guess you’re still young enough that the end of the world sounds like fun. Or at least, noble and heroic. There are an awful lot of refugees, in any number of countries, who might have a different opinion about that.

        • James
          James says:

          thanks for the reply, made me smile and agree, somebody knows what’s happening and if somebody does other folks do as well and united we can change going back and start to move forward.

        • Shannon Graham
          Shannon Graham says:

          White in Canada here. We are waiting for the revolution to start. You’ll have plenty of allies when it does.

      • Mercedes Argo
        Mercedes Argo says:

        I agree! I’m sad she was bullied into changing her mind and retracting her heart felt prior post.

    • mb
      mb says:

      Have you heard of Kimberly Klacik? She is an amazing black woman in Baltimore speaking the truth about the long history of blue leadership in that city and what it’s done to the black community. Our common enemy is the political cronyism at the top manipulating and playing us all like a fiddle.

  6. Garen
    Garen says:

    I am glad that readers brought many of the points that so desperately needed to be said. That post had been so jarring, illogical, and narrow in perspective that I had struggled to respond in a positive way. Democracy is messy; but nonetheless you got there. Many things can be true concurrently, and our search for the ideal is a long and fruitless one. Being open to reason and painful reflection is a skill and an emdearing (and rare trait): it is why reading your thoughts after so many years can be a wild but rewarding venture. Thanks for taking us along on your [wild] journey!

  7. John
    John says:

    Biden is senile. Biden was no good when he was not senile. Biden is a crook. Biden is a sexual deviant. Read more on his life. His son Hunter lives near me. He has Chinese bodyguards. He’s a crook like his Dad. Get educated.

  8. Frank
    Frank says:

    Thank you. I hope people understand you’re not apologizing for your position so much as how poorly thought out it was. For such a big issue, one can’t shoot from the hip. You are so much better when you think about what you’re thinking. The worst never do, and sometimes even the best fall short. It’s so tempting to just punch it out and get it done. I’m sure that was a part of it.
    And thank you so much for not doing the “I apologize if anyone has felt offended by blah blah blah…” It was nice and clean. Politicians could take a page from that book.

  9. Tony
    Tony says:

    I didn’t read your Biden post. I am a Trump 2020 person so if you said anything bad about Biden that is fine with me. Don’t let Biden supporters change your gut feeling about him. Anyway people aren’t voting for Biden. He will only be President for a few months and then he will be deemed not mentally fit. That horrible woman will be the President and the country will be destroyed.

    • Tammy
      Tammy says:

      I am Trump 2020 as well. You should read the comments on her Biden post, it’s eye opening. I’m just preparing for the horrific response on election night when Trump in fact wins.

    • Dave
      Dave says:

      II find it interesting how many Trump supporters want to cast Biden as a mentally unfit or as a crook – I suspect they think it will make the candidates look more even in that regard

    • Barbara
      Barbara says:

      I didn’t read your Biden post. I am a Trump 2020 person… Of course you’re a “Trump person.” Your first 3 words says it all: “I didn’t read…”

      • Frances
        Frances says:

        She didn’t have to read it because her mind is already made up and she doesn’t need to read anything else about Biden because she is not voting for him. People are allowed to vote for whomever they want.

  10. Liz
    Liz says:

    Thank you for reconsidering, and for your support of people trying to make what incremental improvements they can.

  11. Ordinary Bob
    Ordinary Bob says:

    After a half a century of Democrats promising to fix the country, I think we can all agree that they have no interest in fixing anything. They want poor people to remain poor to play on your emotions. They will fix nothing. Trump has accomplished more for blacks than any president in the last 50 years. That’s just a fact. Stop voting for Democrats.

  12. Sara
    Sara says:

    I see in these posts / a very clever woman trying to figure out who is reading her body of work. This is marketing ploy with a thought experiment. We are all Iiving in a time of cascading spectacle, performative politics, and theatre of the absurd. Her post is an intentional feed into the frenzy.

    • Tatianna macchione
      Tatianna macchione says:

      As one of the most successful blogs ever, I’m pretty clear Penelope knows who her target audience is, and her readership certainly appreciates her distinctive lack of marketing. She’s an honest writer and a bold thinker. It’s a rarity in modern times to find a public figure willing to think outside the box and also learn in a public way, gain insight and expand perspective, to acknowledge subtleties. What Penelope demonstrated was courage and grace, something we can all learn from.

  13. Les
    Les says:

    Because a bunch of Biden supporters disagree and comment on your blog, you’re wrong in your own thoughts and feelings? Very interesting.

  14. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    Thanks. I considered unsubscribing at the shock of your earlier conclusions. Glad I didn’t bother. I mean you’ve said shocking things before. Reading this has made me think more about the mistakes I’ve made in my own life, and how I have moved forward. These are difficult times. (Please do add a forwarding note on the beginning post, because I’ve read many of your posts out of chronological order, over the years.) Boston’s advantage has been strong neighborhoods, I think. The Mayor encourages this, pretty well. We’re all thinking about local government more, and the record level of testing going on these past two weeks, here is under-reported. A lot is under-reported on the local level. Anyway, I see it as the Republican agenda has been to remove FDR’s great deal improvements (social security, gov’t jobs, state grants) from the 1930’s. Otherwise it’s just a billionaire buying the election. The founding colonialists that encouraged industry to foster independence from England could not have imagined the 1920s Tammany Hall corruption, or what has happened in 2016 with Russian assistance. I voted for Bernie in the primary and will gladly vote for Biden/Harris in the general. I also am very happy I live in a Blue State, (even with our token “red” governor) we have generous health care support and an intense focus on education and more support for diversity than in Pennsylvania or Kentucky or Florida, for instance. States I spent a decade in, each. Anyway, love the comments section here, too.

  15. Meg Wolf
    Meg Wolf says:

    Well said! When supporting my clients to show up with authenticity, I will use this latest post of yours as an example of how to apologize with grace.

  16. LE
    LE says:

    The last post had factual errors but it did characterize the DNC very accurately. I second the folks who said it had much truth to it. My first-time voter son was so excited to vote for Bernie. Now he’s not going to bother.

    • Susan
      Susan says:

      Is your first-time voter son really so eager to see another four years of Trump’s court picks, attacks on women and minorities, voter suppression, avoidance of global warming issues, etc.?

      If so, he is missing the issues and must have just been voting for Bernie as a trendy thing. Bernie has endorsed Biden for a reason, and if your son really supports Bernie and the dream of more progressive times, he should continue to listen to him. Aim for a Democratic White House, Senate and House of Representatives, and then push forward to the next election to build from there. Or re-elect Trump and watch him try to manipulate the voting rules so that he can establish a dynasty.

  17. Naseem
    Naseem says:

    I appreciate your ability to accept that you made a mistake and correct a wrong. It takes a big person and a thoughtful one to put it into words in the way that you did. I admire that.

    • Jennifer Warner
      Jennifer Warner says:

      I often think of Brené brown’s quote: I’m here to get it right, not be right. Appreciate the about face. Now help us Democrats figure out how to turn out the vote.

  18. Patti Nash
    Patti Nash says:

    Thank god you are retracting. What a head scratcher. I’m still trying Ron figure out how you didn’t understand that attacking Biden is a vote for Trump? It’s not rocket science. I’ve seen you say some dumb things before, but w it appeared though you had suffered a neurological incident. I’m so confused.your above entry still doesn’t explain how you missed that simple equation.

  19. Jay
    Jay says:

    You were just shamed like everyone else who disagrees with liberals and you caved. With the exception of the BLM point these are all talking points and shamefully embarrassing rationalizations to vote for someone. And socialism – really?
    A vote for Biden is a vote for an administration not for just a person.

    Black people don’t need me to protect them by complaining about Biden.

    I don’t understand enough about socialism to forfeit my vote in the name of socialism.

    I can hate Biden and still vote for him.

    I can understand that our democracy is near a breaking point and still participate in it to try to save it.

  20. Rita
    Rita says:

    I was disappointed last election when you wrote a post saying you ‘secretly’ wanted to vote for Trump “My Forbidden Fantasy: Voting For Trump”. You write nothing about politics, even when it seems impossible to be thinking about anything but politics, and then you write some clickbait post about how you’re going to vote for Clinton, but you secretly want to vote for Trump. Your brand of unconventional wisdom doesn’t seem to fit well with political comment. I wanted to respond to your last post, but I was so pissed off I just kind of walked away. You’ve made a big difference in my life, I first discovered you when I was searching for consolation/advice about being with a longterm boyfriend who was umming and ahhing about commitment and babies, as I raced towards 40. We eventually did have two boys, and your homeschool posts helped me build up the bravery and confidence to homeschool our oldest, who we didn’t think would do well in school. Now we love having both of them home with us, and out at our day long nature play groups, reading great books together, having interesting conversations, playing Minecraft, hours on the trampoline, building forts etc. Thank you!

  21. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    This might be your best post ever and why many of us did not unsubscribe after the last one. For those of you living in hard core blue or red states, it might feel better to vote Libertarian or Green. But, if you live in a contested state, you need to vote Biden. Most importantly, follow and support the Democrats running for the Senate. You want change? Get the Senate to flip! Best revolution in decades if that happens.

    • Not that Melissa
      Not that Melissa says:

      An excellent point. I was missing the acknowledgement that it’s extremely important to vote for senators, congressional representatives, state senators, mayors, judges, district attorneys, sheriffs, school board, and so on.

  22. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    I am happy to hear that you have realized that the reasoning that it’s not worth voting for Biden over Trump because Biden is insufficiently leftist is unsound.

    If your political goal is to expand European-style social policy, this would not be furthered by tacitly voting for Trump. Certain leftists have argued perennially that appeasing the populace through the niceties of liberalism only postpones a necessary political revolution, but that’s been a foolish argument in the past and it remains so. In this instance, with a man in the White House who has absolutely no love for democracy, and instead idolizes dictators and fascist strongmen, we can already see that popular demonstrations are met with unleashed, unconstitutional, and unpunished violence, and then recycled to whip up hatred among his base.

    The only way Trump would be removed from office other than through the ballot box would be a coup from the military, which in this day and age has become one of the most liberal institutions in America, in the sense of respecting diversity, science, and democracy. Trump is overwhelmingly unpopular among our troops and military leaders, a first for a Republican president. If Trump is reelected, he will likely go after the military next, with an ideological purging of ranks, to prevent that possibility.

    It’s understandable if a kid like Yefet has silly ideas – like that we can learn about modern politics by reading the Communist Manifesto, or that if we just made the “workers collectively own the means of production.” This is what childhood is for; such mistaken fervor is a sign of a healthy mind, and he will grow out of it. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but he isn’t even old enough to vote yet, so the danger is limited. What isn’t understandable is when an adult who should know better lets herself be led by juvenile idealism.

    In regards to Biden, I share the view of many that he’s a somewhat disappointing result from a very strong field. We do, however, have to look at why he was the nominee, and the answer is simple: Black women are the heart of the Democratic Party, and he is the one they chose. I am not a Black woman, and I cannot pretend to see things from their perspective; it’s my responsibility to accept that perhaps they know things I don’t, and that their perspective is important. They knew he would pay them back, and he did. Biden has made it clear repeatedly that he sees himself as a transitional figure, and his choice of Vice President is a good indication of how he plans to pass the torch.

    In terms of the strengths and weaknesses of your writing, perhaps it’s worth considering that your writing seems weaker when you think you know the answer, and stronger when you recognize that you don’t. This post is far more interesting than the last one, and has much more lingering impact. It is really hard to find oneself in the role of gentrifier. I fixed up my last house considerably, got many thanks from people in the neighborhood, and then when I moved it was bought by trustafarians who couldn’t tell a wisteria from an ailanthus. A guy who owned it before me still works at a hardware store; I see him sometimes. I made a bundle selling the house. He didn’t. And the money I made went right into more equity.

    I don’t like it that, increasingly, it takes money to make money – even as the amount of money I make off my own money only grows. I don’t like it that, in this country, the poor are ever poorer and the rich are ever richer (even as I am ever richer). This is not an ideal situation. COVID has only made things worse, as the poor lose their jobs and the rich keep them. The upscale housing market is going crazy now, as (other) people realize that working and studying at home means a bigger house is a good idea. Meanwhile, there’s a foreclosure crisis looming, and evictions coming for those who can’t work at home.

    I don’t know what the solutions to these problems are. I feel sure, however, that returning American government to the hands of responsible, competent adults instead of hateful, venal grifters is a precondition to developing solutions. The CDC must be unmuzzled, NASA must be unchained, agencies must be put in the hands of competent specialists, rather than lobbyist and campaign donors. We must return the executive branch to people who actually listen to, and believe in, science. Then the hard work of drafting effective policy can begin.

    • Dave
      Dave says:

      Thank you! Exceptionally well written (not that you need anyone’s approval). We need adults not actors

  23. Jay
    Jay says:

    Imagine if Penelope had said this (I will substitute Trump for Biden). The house would have burned down. This is everything wrong with the democrats and our society a tlarge. Opinions that differ get shamed and threatened, not debated.

    A vote for TRUMP is a vote for an administration not for just a person.
    Black people don’t need me to protect them by complaining about TRUMP.
    I don’t understand enough about socialism to forfeit my vote in the name of socialism.
    I can hate TRUMP and still vote for him.
    I can understand that our democracy is near a breaking point and still participate in it to try to save it.

    • Not that Melissa
      Not that Melissa says:

      Really great work on moving that goal post! You still left a gaping hole in your argument.

      • Jay
        Jay says:

        You have no idea what that means. Yypocrisy is the point. She was essentially cancelled by the intolerant ppl.

  24. MB
    MB says:

    I think it’s sad you couldn’t be candid about what resonated true for you about Biden without so much backlash and intolerance. Today I got an email with video footage of a guillotine being rolled into a suburban neighborhood in Portland. First a Teddy Bear was on it with it’s head through waiting to be hacked off, then the Black Lives Matter protestors hoisted an American Flag on it and were burning it. The mob is making threats using a bullhorn to the neighbors. They’re using weapons, lasers, etc. IS this what you are FOR??? How is a mob rule disrespectful dangerous event like that bringing about positive change for blacks or anyone else? I think we should deport the protestors out of the country they hate so much. Drop them off in Africa, or economically destitute crime ridden Venezuela. Actually, we won’t have to, if the left wins, Venezeula’s problems will be here, the rioters will get exactly what they wanted, more economic depravity, more lawlessness! YAY for the U.S.A. Wait, I better not say that. If we hate this country that much we’d better think of a new name for it. A vote for Biden is scummy. Seriously scummy and no it’s not just an administration you’re voting for. Maybe you should do what Biden would do, say you’re sorry, admit he’s the best choice given the circumstances and then behind closed doors vote for who you really want. Keep your blog audience happy. That’s what this is about now anyway.

    • harris497
      harris497 says:

      To protest is not synonymous with the act of hating. Sometimes protesting a wrong is a supreme act of love. Just ask Christ when you have a few moments alone.

        • harris497
          harris497 says:

          Ordinary Bob, you obviously lack cognition or cannot read. I said protest, not physical violence. Why are you trying to distort my words? Is it because you have no logical or moral counterargument? To disagree with injustice is an act of love.

          Incidentally, when he whipped the money lenders and profiteers in his father’s house, driving them out, that was no threat, it was use of force. Don’t start discussions you are ill-equipped to participate in.
          Protest takes many forms, but the losing side of a moral, social, political or any cerebral argument often labels any opposing display or discourse as “violent.”

          • Liz
            Liz says:

            I love, love, love this response. I don’t know why people who spout the bible at others never seem to have read it or remember any part that contradicts them.

          • Ordinary Bob
            Ordinary Bob says:

            You were responding to someone who was talking about violence. So maybe your cognitive skills need to be reviewed.

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            And writing a sternly worded letter, he requested that they all go out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he disparaged the coins of the money-changers and suggested an ordinance against their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Please take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”.

            He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have an envelope for your sternly worded letter, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two envelopes.” “That’s enough!” he replied.
            “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a really sarcastic tweet.”

  25. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I have read your blog for years. After reading your blog post on Biden, I have decided to unsubscribe moving forward. I wish you well.

  26. Hillary Samson
    Hillary Samson says:

    What a brave, honest post full of love. I’m Canadian, so although I have no formal stake in this election, the outcome certainly does impact your northern neighbours. I’ve been thinking a lot about your last post. My understanding is that their is no real mechanism for a protest vote in the US; with a 2-party system with no proportional representation, it is seems to me to be all or nothing. (We sadly don’t have proportional representation in Canada, but we can and do elect minority governments that need to work with other parties, such as the Green Party.) May I suggest an option to consider is to vote in a more progressive party using the only mechanism you have (vote for Biden) and then fight like hell for electoral reform? Sending love

  27. Etienne
    Etienne says:

    Your vulnerability and honesty, your desire to grow in public, your willingness to engage in dialogue instead of rushing to defend your fears, this is why folks should continue to follow you. THIS is the work; disentangling privilege and forging new understandings of citizenship; dismantling assumptions and biases that were forged before our time; sitting in the ugly space of community engagement, economic transformation (i.e. gentrification), and activism, and yearning to make sense of it all. I did not respond to your prior post, but I will respond here.

    First, a vote to many people means more than simply casting support behind a politician, especially those without the privilege to escape the implications of racial capitalism and neoliberal politics. For many, voting is simply an affirmation that their voice matters, that their citizenship means something, that their parents or grandparents or aunts and uncles did not march or were not beaten or did not immigrate in vain. Yes, Biden represents – in both his past and present moral/political stance – some of the deepest flaws of politics, much less the baggage of a white male who has endured immense challenge, yet experience immense privilege.

    But for some folks in some parts of this country, there has never been a politician that represents real change; only glimmers of hope they could believe in, glimmers that came and went too soon. For some, that hope is enough to keep them working the 9-to-5 as essential workers, as breadwinners, as dreamers. I am not saying that we should not press for revolutionary change; I am simply acknowledging that the very act of voting, for some, IS a form of protest – an affirmation of their humanity in a country that has historically viewed them as “less than”, as “other”; a country that still carries the sting of racially biased policing, segregated living, and unequal educational and work opportunities.

    So, a vote for Biden amidst the reign of Trump is far more than a vote for a person with a sullied past or an administration with a progressive vision; it is a declaration that the “freedom dreams” of marginalized and subordinated peoples still matter, a commitment to the marching, a willingness to put it all on the line one more time in the hopes that America, as Langston Hughes once wrote, might be America again.

    You can hate Biden as a person because of his past. You can even hate what Biden represents politically by his affiliations. But your freedom to hate a politician is also a form of privilege. Even after embracing hate and divorcing yourself from political life (in a sense) by note voting, your privilege grants you the comfort to experience your vision of the good life in your safe space, your bubble, your farm. For some, there is no safe space or private garden or secluded farm to enjoy and escape to; for some, hate is a poison that would cause the self-destruction of a will that is already dangling by its last thread. Some MUST choose love. Some MUST run to the nearest church and raise their voices to the sky and find love to give their travail meaning.

    Not love of a politician. No, those people have learned, time and time again, that politicians will not save them. Such people grab hold to love because all they have left is the IDEA of America. A love in what American can become, so much so, as Baldwin said, that they choose to criticize America perpetually, they choose to stand up while the hose beats them down, they choose to vote again and again and show up, demanding more. Demanding more. Demanding more.

  28. Ron
    Ron says:

    Penelope, I’ve been reading you for years and I appreciate your admitting that you made a mistake. And I’m extremely happy that you’ll be putting a link to your new post to let others know where you now stand. With the November election, I like the lessons you learned and shared in your latest post. Yes, you might not like Biden but could still vote for him and see the larger picture (of his full administration and not just him). Our Democracy only exists because we work to keep it. When we don’t vote, we’re not taking part in the process. Is the process messy? Yes. Would I personally like to see more progressive beliefs injected into Biden’s platform? Yes. But change takes time.

    Thank you again for taking the time to admit your mistake. We all make mistakes, but how we handle them is what matters.

  29. harris497
    harris497 says:

    You are a courageous woman. I have respect for you, not because you changed your stance on this topic, but because this post today, was an exhibition of vulnerability. You read your community’s thoughts, and you learned! You were not bullied into submission. I’ve seen you be bullied and not cave (I’m thinking of the B 2.0 days).
    You actually read our comments and seemed to learn from them. Thank you for giving us that amount of respect as a community.
    Do not take down the old post. Diversity of thought is important (even when I consider it dead wrong). Your right to express your thoughts is YOUR RIGHT! I just hated it:) I guess I’m learning too. Not everyone has the need to be wrong and strong. Maybe I go out today and try to be more open to understanding/discussing other ideas that differ from my own…
    Much Respect Penny.

  30. kat
    kat says:

    Your apology reminded me why I’ve been following you all these years. Now, I’d love to hear your perspective on why people should vote for Biden and what we need to do to make it happen. It’s been 28 years since a sitting US president lost an election. (President Bush Sr.). For the strong, persuasive, passionate – voting is not enough. I’ve signed up to make calls for the Biden campaign – starting with 1xweek on Monday nights! Join me!

  31. Jean Nickerson
    Jean Nickerson says:

    Hello Penelope,

    I’ve been following you since 2005 after I saw you speak at the CMA convention in Toronto. I look forward to every post and did not comment on your last one. I agree with the comments and as a Canadian with a British Parliamentary system we vote locally and trust our fellow citizens agree and we get the leader we want. A vote is a vote for the administration that we believe offers the best path to good government.

    It’s good that you’re gardening. As a Gen X woman you haven’t been taught that developing your own self-worth and putting on a healthy oxygen mask first is mandatory life choice. The interesting benefit of this practice is that when you value your own self worth, really love yourself, you’ll have even more kindness and compassion to give. Having a healthy ego is not the same thing. You can be confident in your own truth and honour the truth of those around you.

    Stick with it, the anger will dissipate and you’ll be happier. Good must grow not bad must stop. Socialism at it’s heart is the principle of being productive and happy and a building a sustainable legacy of healthy communities. An investment in your future because you want to create opportunities for your children. A good, democratic country is defined by how it treats it’s children and seniors. Hence the focus on Education and Healthcare.

  32. Joe
    Joe says:

    “No one was agreeing with my position.”

    Several people agreed with your position. Moreover, others disagreed but felt having a diversity of opinion is important—which it clearly is. Plus, I will bet many others didn’t weigh in because they didn’t want to be torn down by the mob.

    The country’s issues are myriad and complex. You can be extremely well informed and still not think that the proposed solutions are adequate. You can want change but not be certain as to what kind of change will be best.

    It’s important to read comments and have dialogues. It is normal to change your opinion—a little or a lot. I think it’s scary to cave. I’ve never seen such collective righteous anger when a different opinion is expressed until Trump got voted in. Dialogue is wonderful. Insults and threatening to unsubscribe? Not so productive.

  33. ellen
    ellen says:

    what a relief to read this, Penelope. Since I read your last post, I’ve been meaning to leave a comment and say, “I love your blog, and a few times you have been so way off base”. I am glad to see lots of people beat me to it. Trump and his Republican cronies, and Putin are creating and consciously feeding evil forces in our country and world; the power that they are yielding is abusive to the American people. Our democracy is truly at its edge. We must vote for the party that actually looks to help the most vulnerable among us. We must not, not vote and not vote for a party that will just divert votes from the Democratic party. Please correct this on your blog. Thank you for all you do and I always look forward to reading your writing and your ideas.

  34. Bob
    Bob says:

    I disagreed with your position but had no problem with you expressing it. Opinions aren’t “wrong”. At least you weren’t taunting and calling people who disagreed with you stupid. Unlike many of the commenters.

  35. Luna
    Luna says:

    I agreed with your last post. I would never vote for Joe Biden for all the reasons you listed and I know many people who feel the exact same way. The democrats are deluding themself to believe we will all vote for Biden because he is not Trump. I’m a black woman and I think Joe Biden is definitely more racist and just as bad as Trump. He has been in the Senate since the early 70’s and he has done nothing beneficial for my people. I will be voting down ballot.

  36. RustySynapses
    RustySynapses says:

    I always say about humor, “you can’t be really funny without risking saying something that’s not funny.” I think a similar thing applies here. You post a lot of really interesting thoughts/perspectives that often challenge mainstream thinking. So you posted one and got a lot of feedback that made you rethink your position. Good for you for having the strength to do that, but don’t beat yourself up about your original post. Thank you for your blog.

  37. Caprice
    Caprice says:

    Thank you for writing this. I was so turned off by your last post regarding not voting for Biden I almost unsubscribed. While he may not be ideal we need to get rid of Trump and repair our country. This follow up post was beautiful. Except I don’t like the word hate, that is pretty strong. I don’t even use that word regarding Trump and I very much dislike him.

  38. Kimberly Rotter
    Kimberly Rotter says:

    Thank you for this post.

    Maybe it was already said in the hundreds of comments on the other post.

    You are voting for an agenda, not a person. Biden or Trump will win, that is guaranteed. Neither one is a knight on a white horse, no matter what side of the fence you prefer to sit on.

    You need to vote for one of them anyway. Vote right-to-choose or right-to-life. Vote for LGBTQ/Trans rights or vote for heterosexual rights only. Vote for welcoming immigrants or vote for closing our borders. Vote for greater environmental protections, or vote that climate change is a hoax. Vote for broader access to healthcare or vote to restrict access to only those who have a job with benefits (or a lot of money). Vote to allow corporations to give unlimited funds to political campaigns, or vote for limits and transparency on contributions. Vote for the person who will choose the next supreme court justice. Vote for the person who surrounds themselves with those whom you want to write the policy that directly affects your life.

    I’m sorry you are so unimpressed with Biden. But Biden is not the point.

    I love that you are opening up the discussion, and I love all the comments on this post.

  39. Ralph Kenol
    Ralph Kenol says:

    There is an interesting Line the the Documentary the “13th” wherein Van Jones basically says that after dealing with assassinations of the 60’s, the malaise of the 70’s and Reaganism, black folks weren’t ready for Clinton. What do you suppose he meant by that? An interesting little addendum to that is how a potential VP pick for Biden, Susan Rice, took an unfortunate position with regard to Rwanda. I guess that would be kind of ok, but then a fairly decent Professor by the name of Adolph Reed Jr. pointed out that folks got more from Nixon than anybody else in the last fifty years. The pearl clutching on the corporate progressive democratic left rings hollow when you look at it that way. See, I’m a black guy who grew up in Queens, New York in the eighties. I’m about the same age as the guys Trump pulled out the full page ad on. I guess I should be mad at him but shouldn’t I also be mad at the people who went to his wedding? I mean, let’s take this argument to its logical conclusion: If Trump is bordering on, or is quite literally a fascist, aren’t folks who went to his wedding knowing what we all know collaborators? If that is not the case, aren’t we being just a bit hyperbolic? Not Biden you say? Isn’t that the same guy who had flowery words for Senator Eastland? My point is that the people on the bottom have been getting eviscerated by both sides but I guess Biden & the corporate Dems have done it in a more acceptable way. The reality is that this kind of pearl clutching at standing up to corporatist Dem is garbage is really only about protecting the sensibilities of the Liberal foxes as opposed to the Conservative Wolves. Let the folks of color who depend on paychecks you write continue to tell you that things have never been worse in the black community under Trump. The truth is that Trump is a vulgarian and he is the logical conclusion of the putrid state of the Democratic Party. Win or lose, Trump and his kids will be at all the “cool kids” parties in five years. Just like Bush, Bush Jr. McCain & Romney. Meanwhile, black folks were drinking poisonous water in Flint (while Obama was President) living with sewage in their backyards in Alabama (while Obama was President) and working class whites have watched their communities destroyed over thirty years because Yuppies wanting M Series BMW’s made a couple of extra bucks to move factories to China so they could make the washing machines with more plastic and with slave labor (under Bill Clinton). Voting for Biden is not about protecting the less fortunate. It’s about protecting the economic position of a limited class and not offending their sensibilities. The bottom is far less fearful of a second Trump administration then you might think. They have been catching hell the whole time.

  40. Bart
    Bart says:

    I have no love for either candidate but if you want real change from the Democratic Party I don’t know how you vote for Biden.
    Its pretty simple.
    With Trump you get 4 more years and then, hopefully, the democratic party realizes they need to change radically.
    With Biden./Harris you are getting at least 12 years of the status quo. That is what you are voting for. 4 years of Biden and then 8 Years of Harris. That’s what the DNC wants and is proposing.
    If you want that, vote Biden.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Anyone who can contemplate four more years of Trump — or 12 more, which is what Trump fantasizes about — has no grasp of what has really happened to this country in the past four years. And has no grasp whatsoever of what this pandemic, plus all of the huge natural disasters, have done to the economy.

      Just talking about “the Democratic Party” and talking about “Trump” (which is what the used-to-be-Republican party has become — foolish and useless.

      Make an effort. Try to UNDERSTAND what has happened to the entire country. How many people sick, how many dead, how many lost jobs, how many foreclosures and evictions. The list is endless.

  41. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    The combination of this post and the previous one feels really manipulative and attention-seeking, but perhaps I’m being harsh. Glad you posted this but you should take down the last post. You have readers and so you have responsibility. I nearly unsubscribed after your last post.

  42. KS
    KS says:

    I kept thinking about commenting on your last post. I voted for a 3rd party candidate last time around because I couldn’t stomach voting for Trump even though I tend to lean moderately Republican in terms of most policy questions. Your list of things you learned are very interesting to me- they are basically all the reasons that many Christians decided to vote for Trump. I will likely be voting 3rd party again – Mark Charles or the American Solidarity Party. They both align more with my values than the other two parties. I don’t agree with either Republicans or Democrats on most things really. I will say that if I lived in a state that actually had a chance of being a swing state, I’d feel worse about “throwing away my vote,” but as it is I already know Biden will get our electoral votes. I love your connection with this to the community garden! Thanks for sharing your journey.

  43. Mb
    Mb says:

    I hope all you Democrat’s are watching the Republican convention because it is incredible. You can learn what President Trump truly stands for and has achieved. Watch and learn and vote with your own brain and not the lies and influence of CNN, and other mass media outlets. The invitation is especially for you Penelope. This country has given the world more inventions to improve the standard of living for the entire world’s population. Where did Albert Einstein chose time go when he was fleeing for his life from the Nazi’s? To the Inited States of America. Home of the free, and the brave. Keep America Great.

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