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A couple of weeks ago there were two town hall meetings, one with Joe Biden in Philadelphia, the other with Donald Trump in Miami. They aired at the same time.

At the Trump show, a woman came to the mike and said, “You really are handsome when you smile.” And Donald Trump looked at her – surprised and slightly embarrassed. He grinned and actually looked handsome.

How did that woman know to do that? Was it spontaneous? His reaction was.

Whatever the woman’s reasoning, if any, it worked. She made a normally unsympathetic man look relieved and approachable.

When many of us were young, really young, we were taught not to lie, cheat or steal. We were also told that anyone could become president. It was never mentioned, and never occurred to us, that only White boys could be president. Or astronauts. Or ranch hands, surgeons, chauffeurs or famous for anything other than being created from some lonely guy’s rib in a garden that had a talking snake.

At least Black boys could be saxophonists.

Girls were ideally suited to be teachers, secretaries and nurses because girls liked having lives of service and didn’t mind being paid squat since they could live on less. They didn’t need their own cars or homes, thus didn’t need their own money. Girls were slower eaters, so they required less food.

Girls were such good assistants. Everybody said so.

It was standard unspoken operating procedure for females of all ages to learn how to defend themselves from gropers, abductors, sockers and maniacs.

That made them survivors. They learned good from bad on their own, whereas boys, who were expected to presidents of things, learned to fight in order to inherit. Or at least rise to manager.

And of course, this is true in some cases but not all.

All sorts of things have flipped upside down since we were given early information that we didn’t realize wasn’t necessarily true. We believed we could be anything as long as we didn’t lie, cheat or steal.

Yes, there are really good White guys. Bret Maverick. Lou Gehrig. Al Franken.

Al Franken did a most remarkable thing when he was in the U.S. Senate – he was accused by women of being raunchy and disrespectful. He apologized and quit his job rather than make any of them, or him, turn a mistake into a public battle. He did not sue them or tweet about them. He had made idiotic macho decisions on USO tours and gave up his job as Senator rather than have an ethics jury drag everybody onto TV.

It isn’t the awful things we do and wish we hadn’t, it’s how we deal with our awful decisions.

Democrats all across the country are disheartened by Amy Coney Barrett’s elevation to Supreme Court Justice, but good heavens, maybe she’ll get up there and say she’s sorry that she’s treated poor people and women and old people and gay and trans people with an icy shrug.

Maybe she just doesn’t know that there are other ways to look at things than the ways we were taught. Thinking for ourselves is powerful and valuable, maybe she’ll entertain that. We can only change others when we change, we can’t change others by dissing them.

Suzie Bell understands this. Vote for her. Her mistakes will be because she didn’t know, not because she knew and did it anyway.

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