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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135 replies
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  1. Mb
    Mb says:

    Biden was just summed up as a “VIRTUAL CANDIDATE.” perfect way to sum him up. You owe no apologies Penelope. Your observations were spot on.

    Reply
  2. Tanya Monteiro
    Tanya Monteiro says:

    Your ability to think, consider, say sorry, speak your mind and simply care is commendable and the reason I keep on reading your posts. Thank you for leading by example, that takes courage!

    Reply
  3. Mb
    Mb says:

    Penelope,
    I met a founding fathers bashed yesterday and thought of your blog and observations about Joe Biden. Other thoughts come to mind.

    You popped into my mind this morning because I’m ordering Pilates equipment for my home so I can get fit during the pandemic.

    As I was ordering I realized- Pilates was started by Joseph Pilates, after he immigrated to New York from Düsseldorf, Germany in the late 1880’s. He had created exercises during recovery from an illness and began helping others with his method, ill people as well as New York Ballet dancers who were getting injuries from their strenuous routines.

    After thinking about that I realized, the entire fitness industry was started in America. The entire computer industry, the telephone industry, television, movie projection, cell phones, record players and musical recordings, orthopedic surgery, all of these innovations which are enjoyed by people the world over, have had their germination, their birth, in the United States of America.

    How could it be possible that one nation could bring forth more innovation than all the world’s other countries COMBINED?

    It’s our form of government. That’s how.

    There is a reason foreign king’s and leaders from all over the world fly to hospitals like a Johns Hopkins in Baltimore when they need a life saving surgery.

    What is that reason?

    Because our doctors know that if they work hard and innovate the very best methods they’ll be compensated financially for their success. Therefore they do the work, put in the hours and become the very best they can be.

    Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in New Jersey. He knew full-well he’d become wealthy if he did; so he toiled around the clock to get it done and he lit up the whole world as a result.

    That’s called capitalism. Socialism is where political cronyism rules and there’s no incentive outside of politics. That’s actually what’s creeped into America’s capitalism and corrupted it. It’s not perfect. There are flaws but they can be fixed.

    I watched the Republican National Convention last night. There were some amazing black speakers with uplifting personal stories of hope and victory. Kimberly Klacik of bombed-out Democratic Baltimore was one of those inspiring voices.

    You have been sold a load of lies. The people spreading such brainwashing are setting themselves up for monetary gain on the backs of hardworking people like you and I.

    Donald Trump is a non-political disruptor who is reminding us of how Capitalism was set up to work and can still work as he drains the swamp of political cronyism.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts. You may not have remembered all the life enhancing innovations that have come forth out of this great nation.
    Everyday thousands of people risk their lives to get in to our country because their homelands are deplorable. Do you know what Venezuela is like? Brazil? Crime ridden, poverty ridden completely corrupt political socialism.

    This is a land of promise but we must be vigilant to weed out politicians who seek personal gain above serving the country which was established “for and by the people.” Politicians like the Clinton’s who are two lawyers from Arkansas who became multimillionaires in politics with pay-offs and bribes – sorry- but that is NOT the way it’s supposed to work. You shouldn’t become wealthy by being in politics. Your call in politics is to be “of and for the people.” Donald Trump is that- he forgoes a paycheck while serving our nation and donates ALL of it to various charities.

    A true public servant.

    Reply
  4. Fleur
    Fleur says:

    I think that it is very difficult to be a democrat. You are getting brainwashed by your own fellows and are not even allowed to write what you think! If you have a job, they would try and get you fired. Where is your freedom? How can democrats guarantee that our freedom is protected? All these censorship, these threats, are wrong. They are against liberty.
    Another thing: I can tell one thing I know about socialism. In socialism everything you do is a political act, the way you have sex, the way you pee, art, everything. Therefore, every act must be judged by the society, all the time. Well I won’t comply. Everything I do must be from my own will, and as long as I don’t hurt anyone, they can’t judge me. Freedom.
    PS I have been reading you since an eternity and it turns out that you now live around Boston, too?

    Reply
  5. harris497
    harris497 says:

    Mb,
    Your comments smack of a fanaticism that not only exhibits your blindness, but your intent to mislead others.
    The founding fathers were great but flawed men – as are all men. To deify them is to ignore that fact and to become what alot of people are today – SHEEP.
    Several of this nation’s founders pointed out the hypocrisy of their own ideas related to the use of the human chattel that was a foundational part of this nation’s growth, but they were prepared to make compromises in order to move the independence effort forward. Are we all to ignore these facts because they are inconvenient truths – for you? No!
    Even the Contrology (the original name for Pilates) that you mention is a glaring example of you ignoring the truth. It was started by an immigrant while he was at an internment camp for WW1 prisoners. Under today’s immigration standards being espoused by Trump, this man would never have been allowed to settle here. His Greek heritage would have made him an undesirable Southern European and he would have been barred, as your corrupt leader seeks to do with all darker skinned races, under the tutelage of Stephen Miller. What about that?
    Capitalism is great, but not when unchecked. The other developed countries know this, that is why they have socialized healthcare. Are Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the U.K. or Sweden communist? No they are not, but their governments exhibit caring for their people and do not adhere to extremism of thought as does your leader.
    You speak of political cronyism ruling, well isn’t that what the lobbying of politicians in this country is all about? But that is legal because it puts cash to the forefront and benefits the rich – Trump’s cadre – over the best interests of the people. Larry Householder (Ohio House Speaker and republican) was ousted amid racketeering charges involving millions of dollars received for his support of a nuclear bailout. Isn’t that cronyism?
    Your willingness to ignore the bad and only highlight the good of the refugee incarcerating, white supremacy apologist is appalling yet transparent. Trump forgoes a salary so that he can extort or exploit the system from on high for himself and his cronies.
    Stop being one of the flock.
    Mytwocentsworth

    Reply
  6. Jason
    Jason says:

    Keep the trainwreck coming Penelope. I don’t know how you do it. Just when I don’t think I can lose any more respect for you or the people for post on your blog, collectively you all work together and hit a new low. Amazing.

    God bless this new america.

    Reply
  7. adunate
    adunate says:

    Great post Penelope. I admire you in that you listen and admit if you have a change of thought. I feel many 2016 Trumpers don’t have this ability…they’re too proud to admit they were wrong, even though deep down they know they were.

    By the way, readers. Penelope isn’t apologizing for her original post and she has no need to. Her blog, her thoughts. But, she did admit she feels she was wrong. She made amends. Totally admirable. Give her a break.

    Reply
  8. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    The sequence of these past posts and commentary is interesting. You have been questioned, condemned and then championed, forgiven and praised. You have been warned, advised, punished and rewarded.
    People who don’t know you are profoundly affected by your ruminations. Interesting to witness.

    Reply
  9. Sean Crawford
    Sean Crawford says:

    I can remember when I didn’t have enough self esteem to apologize.

    I remember being almost being as bad as TV’s “the Fonz” and “Archie Bunker” who could barely spit out, “I was w-w-w-wrong.” Even now, if challenged, I have an impulse to “double down” on my position. Better if I can switch to my humble, curious, “I don’t have an identity to defend” gear.

    I think many of us here used to have a low self esteem. It’s sure nice to be better.

    Reply
  10. Amy M
    Amy M says:

    Penelope, it’s called cancel culture, and your “followers” just demonstrated how cancel culture works.

    I’m sorry to see all of it unfold on your blog. People come here for your writing, not your political views, and those few crybabies who threatened to unsubscribe are not worth your headspace IMO.

    Reply
  11. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    How many people canceled you (unsubscribed) over your last post?

    How many are canceling you over this one?

    Think about that when you’re thinking about what kind of a country you want.

    Reply
  12. JML
    JML says:

    Your first post wasn’t a mistake. I think a lot of people share your sentiment and still have a lot to figure out. It’s going to be really hard for some people to vote for Biden/Harris and not being Trump may not be enough. Maybe to some people it is that easy, but to others it’s a complex, philosophical discussion. What was most disappointing, to me, were the comments – on both posts. Lots of ‘bad girl!‘ for having the wrong opinion but then so many ‘good girl!’ for saying the right thing. I don’t know, but something about the comments on these two posts made me feel really sick inside. Which is sad because a big part of your blog are the commenters. I will never stop reading you, no matter what you say, but the comments got a lot less interesting after this.

    Reply
    • Nancy
      Nancy says:

      Perhaps for you it’s a philosophical question. For people whose children were stolen, or who are living with poisoned water or air, or watching the ocean rising into their cities, or wondering if they’ll even be able to vote, it’s a lot more concrete. But if you’re not personally suffering any of that, maybe it’s not worth worrying about.

      Reply
      • Ordinary Bob
        Ordinary Bob says:

        Fortunately President Trump ended the Obama policy of caging children at the border. He’s also done a lot to make sure the Democrats running the cities are held accountable. Like in Flint, where the a Democrats allowed poisoned water. Or Seattle where the peaceful protestors falsely imprisoned people, and attacked public buildings. Why wouldn’t your children be able to vote? Are they cognitively impaired?

        Reply
  13. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    In France the election is held in two parts: a free for all and then two weeks later the top two candidates face each other in a final election.

    In 2002 in France, Jacques Chirac was the Republican candidate and Lionel Jospin the Democrat. (their actual parties don’t matter, I’m using the US parties is to illustrate the point).

    It was expected that Chirac and Jospin would be the two run-off candidates, but Jospin did not come second. Le Pen, the leader of the fascist National Front party came second. And so the run-off was between Chirac and Le Pen. This meant that Democrats had to vote for Chirac in order to stop Le Pen turning France into a fascist state.

    It must have been awful for them. I am in the UK and I support the Labour Party. I would never ever ever ever ever vote for the Conservatives under any circumstances, except to stop the fascists.

    Bernie may be great. I don’t know enough about US politics to comment with good faith. But, Bernie can’t win because he hasn’t got the backing of the Democrats. So however, bad Biden is, and I am appalled that the Democrats chose him, he is the only way to stop Trump and whoever comes after him. And that needs to be done because thousands of Americans have literally died from the coronavirus because of Trump. And however bad Biden is, he is not going to kill thousands of citizens.

    You can read more about the 2002 French election here: https://en.wikipedia.org /wiki/2002_French_presidential_election

    Reply
    • Ordinary Bob
      Ordinary Bob says:

      In America, we like our individual liberties more than trusting a socialist politician to make us feel loved. I’ll take my conservatives over liberals all the time. I’m a citizen, not a subject.

      Reply
  14. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    For what it’s worth:. You are a free individual and you get to have an opinion, change your opinion, or not change your opinion and a million commenters don’t have a drop of authority to tell you who you are. Anyone can agree or disagree, but no one is your final judge. As far as I know, as a Jewish person, you know who your judge is.

    My Jewish stepfather used to share this pearl of wisdom with anyone who would listen:

    Opinions are like asses. Everyone has one.

    Reply
  15. Sean Crawford
    Sean Crawford says:

    I abruptly saw the bright side.
    The difference between us and a communist dictatorship (China) or an Islamic theocracy (Iran) or a non democracy (most of the Middle East) is that with our system we have to be the most uncomfortable and do the most work. As the poet Blake said, “I shall not cease from mental fight.”

    We won’t say “I only live here” any more than we would say “I only work here” if we had the key to the executive washroom. Not like in Russia.

    So our grey half-hopeless world of blowing ashes is also our glory. And that’s the bright side.

    Reply
  16. Em
    Em says:

    Penelope, I don’t know if you have already heard/read this analogy before, but it helped me come to terms with voting for Biden, even though he’s a nose-hold Candidate for me, and does NOT embody my own personal ideals as an individual or a policy-maker.

    Try to think of your Vote as if it were a Ticket to get onto Public Transportation: none of the buses (or Parties or Candidates) are going to take YOU personally to your doorstep, bcs hundreds of other people want to travel to other places, simultaneously. But if Public-Transit is your only option, then the only way you’ll get anywhere is if you go ahead and jump onto the next Bus that is heading in the closest approximate direction of Where You Want (this Country) to End Up.

    If you stand on the street-corner and refuse to get on a Bus, you’re not going to progress any closer at all. And if you find yourself accidentally on a Bus that is taking you in the Opposite direction, (and especially if you look up and find that it is taking you over the edge of a cliff where you see 180,000 of your fellow-bus-riders already Dead), then you will be much better-off to jump off immediately, and choose a different Bus that’s at least headed the right way, even if it doesn’t take you quite all the way Home.

    Americans are such Individualists that we sometimes are bad at thinking through and making decisions that force us to compromise. And of course self-governance is an incredibly complex task that requires constant compromising from all of us. And we have all seen several of our own form of government’s glaringly obvious pitfalls highlighted these past few years. It is not easy to reconcile our ideals with such flawed systems. But let’s at least try to get headed in the right direction.

    Reply
  17. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    You’re being bullied.

    Biden has done nothing in 47 years. He has dementia. It’s quite sad. But the global cartel including the Democratic Party keep pushing him forward. Because they don’t care about him. They care about themselves and their agenda….remember, communism. We live in baby China if you haven’t noticed.

    So, you’re correct. You’ve never backed down from an opinion. Stick to your guns.

    Don’t let readers bully you.

    Reply
  18. Jenn Sutherland
    Jenn Sutherland says:

    The original post was scalding, and upsetting…but 20 years of reading your writing and being a part of the various communities you create, I just set it aside. Waiting. Because I know that we’re all going to tell you that the original post was misguided. That we the people – have to look deeper. We’re not voting for a perfect person, we’re voting for a person who’s moving in the same compass direction that we’d like to go. The journey is not fast, and is full of disappointment, but also full of other people in the administration pushing hard to make a positive impact in people’s lives. And that’s what we’re voting for. Thanks for coming back to this, for listening, and adjusting. Voting – it’s critical to our survival as a nation, and to the vitality of the garden, wherever we find it.

    Reply
  19. dcline1701
    dcline1701 says:

    I’m struck by the number of people talking about Russian interference. The Russians, Chinese, and everybody else (including the U.S.A.) has always done this. Maybe the reason you’re noticing now is that American tech companies have made it easier and cheaper to do this at scale than ever before.
    If Russian interference really bothers you then, maybe, pay attentions in another 2 years and vote out the senators giving a free pass to the companies making it so cheap and easy.
    Also, please God, vote out the guy who used a congressional committee to ask Mark Zuckerberg about problems with his Twitter feed.

    Reply
  20. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    Jenn,

    I think you should stop talking about gardens and wake up. We are two minutes from becoming a communist country. Penelope, remember your outrage for Hong Kong? Yeah, same applies here. is Antifa ok? Or will we blame trump for that too? Let’s stop living under a rock and call a spade a spade – this is a George Soros funded hell we are living in with his demons Bill Gates, Jeffrey Sachs at the helm along with the head of Van Guard, state street, Hollywood all of wall street, all media outlets including Fox News the Rothschilds and Rockefeller’s and on and on and on….wake up. Do your research. Or that may challenge you. No forget it. Push Biden, then he goes away, Harris gets in then Clinton and Obama and pals go back to destroying America… right right. Cause that’s helpful. Oh yeah and we all get injected with several rounds of covid so big pharma can get fatter and fatter and fatter…

    Demand the Democratic Party be transparent and admit they are bought and paid for by China.

    You’re not mad at Trump. You like most are upset with your fellow Americans. So why don’t you go straight to the American people with your gripe. Oh that’s right, it makes too much sense.

    How about looking at folks like Whitney Webb for some perspective.

    Penelope I’ll say it again, don’t be bullied by these over educated liberal hacks that think they can boss you. Ignore them.

    Reply
  21. Geo
    Geo says:

    I am not in the US, but what I can see is that (as in all parts of the world anyway) politics are keeping you/us extremely divided and separated. It’s sad as this is what the real “leaders” want from us. It’s exhausting to keep voting the “smaller evil” :(

    Reply
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