Donald Trump is a Despicable Human Being and Should Not Be President


Voting for President isn’t just about political preferences, it’s about selecting a human being to sit in the White House. To be the Leader of the Free World. There are standards for the position that should apply to Republicans and Democrats alike. Donald Trump fails the test against those standards.

I used to be popular political blogger in another life. I don’t intend on posting on politics at this blog, pretty much ever…with this being a perhaps singular exception. Fighting back against the scourge that is Donald Trump is necessary.

There are many take downs of Trump if you really want to read in greater detail, such as:

  • From the left, Ezra Klein reviews how Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be President, including this succinct riff:

Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

Feb 24 UPDATE: And related to temperament, Trump really is a sexist pig , including terrible jokes about “banging his daughter.”

  • And from academia, some thoughts on how our society is complicit in aiding and abetting Trump’s rise (thank you mainstream media!). Yeah, there are some Nazi analogies, but it’s disturbingly on point, even if it does violate Godwin’s Law.

Here’s the irony about me flaying the current “Republican” front-runner: I’ve identified as a Republican my whole life.

I worked for a Republican U.S. Senator. I worked in George W. Bush’s Administration as a political appointee. I wrote at the most popular conservative political blog in Washington state for over two years. Today, dramatic life changes and all, including a yoga and vegan-infused lifestyle, I still identify as Republican (though least imperfectly in the “Crunchy Con” mold than anything else).

And I won’t vote for Donald Trump.

He’s neither a Republican nor a Democrat. He’s an oligarch, whose animating political philosophy is whatever is in his head at the time…which invariably relates not to a set of core political beliefs, but whatever Donald Trump thinks is best for Donald Trump in the moment.

If he’s the “Republican” nominee, I won’t vote for President.

I won’t vote for Hillary or Bernie either based on political preferences. But, I won’t shame myself by voting for someone my conscious says is not fit to serve as President of the United States, regardless of party identification.

That is a legitimate worry with Trump. What do people who are hate-spewing demagogues, ignorant bullies, and shameless liars act like when they come to power?

Tyrants, that’s what.

There is a lot of world history on this. And it’s the antithesis of what the American Republic has stood for since its founding.

As Republicans and Democrats we can argue about the issues of the day. Lament the actions of each other’s parties. Cheer for our preferred candidates. And hopefully still be able to sit down for a beer or cup of coffee from time to time.

In the meantime, we must stop Donald Trump. Now. All of us.

The alternative: steel ourselves for  trench warfare between branches of government as the Courts and Congress — including Republicans and Democrats alike! — serve as a necessary check on the Oligarch in the Oval Office.

Feb 24 UPDATE: It might be easy to say if you’re a Democrat, “Trump has the highest unfavorable ratings of a prospective general election nominee…pretty much ever. We’ll crush him in November!”

Yeah. And no one thought him becoming the Republican nominee was seriously possible either.

Meanwhile, he’s winning as Republican turnout soars and Democratic turnout drops during the primary season. Yes, Trump is a horribly flawed general election candidate. But so are Hillary and Bernie (for very different reasons).  Wishing for Republican nominee Donald Trump is playing with the worst kind of fire.

Finding respect, even love, for our political opposites



What’s interesting about this image of the recently deceased Justice Scalia and his near polar ideological opposite on the Court, Justice Ginsburg?

They were friends (more here).

The joy some have expressed at the passing of Justice Scalia and the immediate high dudgeon descent around the politics on both sides of filling his seat puts a fine point on something that was all too evident during this already boisterous election season: too many people hate those with whom they disagree.

That, my friends, is really fucking sad.

We should be able to disagree — even quite heatedly — with someone’s political views without thinking that person is evil, stupid, or mentally ill. Because bad news: no one side of the political spectrum has a monopoly there. There are bad, dumb, sick in the head people that affiliate with both our major parties in America (some of them are even running for President!).

I used to be a political blogger, and a damn good one at that. One reason I don’t miss it  is the inability of so many people to grasp that basic point of giving the grace of humanity to one’s political opponents; something Justices Scalia and Ginsburg apparently did quite beautifully.

I wasn’t successful blogging in politics because I didn’t have a strong voice or point of view. I most definitely did. But, I also wrote from more than a view point of pure ideology, I wrote from a viewpoint of humanity. And I had people on the opposite side of the spectrum respect me and my work, even when they often disagreed with my take on an issue or election.

I wrote like that in part because I’ve seen people in public life be more successful when they display and live a degree of humanity that can transcend the partisan knife fights that are sometimes the reality of our representative democracy (and have been from the first days of our Republic as Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians exchanged insults and accusations (and worse!) that would make us blush today).

One example of that humanity: my first professional boss was the subject of tributes on the floor of the U.S. Senate after his defeat that were “personal and passionate and bipartisan“…and delivered in that tone in the midst of the terribly divisive Bush-Gore drama that followed the 2000 Election. Say what you want about the Senate, but a man or woman who can serve with partisan success and bipartisan admiration in that body over time has at their root, a sense of humanity. Success in that body requires building meaningful human relationships.

Today I count friends that are my political opposite. Friendships, both in person and online, that in many cases started with the foundation of knowing we were political foes. Those friends were on the other side of  key issues and races of the day when I was blogging, but we learned our shared humanity could transcend those differences.

I worked for George W. Bush as a political appointee in the U.S. Department of Education. One takeaway for me from that time: W, for all his acquired political enemies, was a man of immense human dignity and compassion. If you doubt that I give you one of the best pieces of evidence of the man’s heart: his AIDS initiative in Africa that saved millions of lives, and came to fruition primarily because George W. Bush cared.

When Barack Obama won in 2008, the days of all the Bush appointees were numbered, with the long-standing tradition that political appointees resign by Inauguration Day when a new party takes the White House. Word came down quickly after the Election of W’s direction: this transition would be conducted with dignity, respect, and appropriate assistance to Obama’s incoming team, because we were Americans first, partisans second.

During the transition I was contacted by a Democratic friend, and admirer (though not supporter!) of my blogging. He asked if I’d be willing to meet with an Obama hand who was looking at the very Department of Education job I held. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. In part because my of respect for W’s wishes, in part because I admire anyone, of either party, who works on a major campaign.

Say what you want about the pros and cons of each candidate for President this cycle, their staffs deserve appreciation. I sure as hell don’t want most of them to win, but I honor the passion for our country and the ideas in which they believe that compelled them to take jobs so difficult, for such long hours, for so little pay…many of which will end in defeat.

The Obama staffer I met with was an organizer for the campaign, starting in Iowa, then all the way through the long primary and general elections of 2008. We weren’t soon going to agree on politics, but she too was in the game for the right reasons. So I gave her all the advice I could about securing a political appointment and what to think about in considering different opportunities in different agencies and offices. Toward the end of our conversation she mentioned word was getting around how upstanding W and his team were being during the transition and she joked she had more advice at that point in landing a political appointment in the Obama Administration from a “Bushie” than from her own team.

That’s the way politics should be played. Fight like hell for what you believe. But never lose basic human respect and decency for those with whom you disagree.

And hell, the way this Presidential primary season is unfolding, we all may be putting that to the test in the months ahead.

Life Change is a Helluva Experience…and Makes for Great Conversations!


Try announcing you’re blowing up your life. The response to the announcement is an experience in and of itself.

Here’s a response that surprised me: some people find my life change fascinating. Truly, and deeply fascinating.

There’s a range from: the true skeptics (or haters)…thankfully few and far between; the people who authentically say the equivalent “not my choice, but good luck to you!”; and the people who are genuinely enthusiastic for you.

Then come the fascinated. The ones who ask questions. The ones who have been reading my blog, including some intense, raw re-counting of life change but never commented publicly or privately. Until now.

That reaction from the fascinated stirred a lot of thoughts in my head, none of which were clear until I listened to an absolutely fucking incredible podcast by Michael Gervais (of Seattle Seahawks fame), with one of my role models, Rich Roll.

Why “fucking” incredible?

Because I listened to that podcast not when it first came out January 20 or when I downloaded it a couple days before my trip to New Orleans on January 29, but on the plane back from the Big Easy on February 2, when the events of that exploratory trip and thoughts about this journey and series of life change my lovely bride and I are on were bouncing around my head with vigor. That timing is not a coincidence. Such things never are.

Here’s what happened: for the first time listening to Michael’s wonderful podcasts in which he interviews people who have achieved mastery in their pursuit, I found myself thinking as Rich was starting to answer many of Michael’s questions: “how would I answer that? What’s that answer for me?”

Rich Roll was an upper middle class kid. Academically successful, good athlete. College grad. Successful professional. All the trappings of life that society usually says – and sometimes demands – is the formula for success…and happiness.

I was the product of an upper middle class family. I had academic success. I was a good athlete. I graduated from a good college. I’m a successful professional.

And just like Rich, the pain of that formula’s failure to align with my authentic self eventually forced a change.

Rich’s guardrails on the journey are wider than mine. He went to a high-end prep school in DC. He was part of an elite college swim team at Stanford. He graduated from there as well as an Ivy League law school, Cornell. He became a successful corporate lawyer.

And then it all came crashing down when the spiral of addiction led him to treatment for alcoholism. Came crashing down, but also started a new fork in his path that led him to quit his corporate job and leap – with a whole lot of faith and trust in the Universe – into something that produced what he does today: fitness and plant-based living evangelist and advocate. And a fabulous one at that.

Take some of the highs and lows out of that roller coaster and you have me. I went to a good, but not elite college prep high school. I went to a good but not elite college, the University of Mary Washington. I was a college athlete, at a NCAA Division III school, which is the minor leagues compared to a top Division I program. I’m a successful white collar professional: an executive at a large health insurer.

And just like Rich, pain is what forced me to my crossroads. I’m not an addict, but I had to spend a lot of time in Al-Anon and counseling to get out of the fucked up patterns of my living, get real with myself about my role in the pain of the past, and how I want to, should, and can live in the future.

Rich couldn’t go back to his corporate job one more day. I realized I could, but it would kill me if I stuck with it over time.

Rich does herculean endurance events, like Ultraman. He’s an athlete the likes of which many people can’t comprehend. He’s also one of the most famous advocates for plant-based living in the country.

I’m an athlete, but with a less mind-blowing resume. I run Tough Mudders. I swim. I lift weights. I practice (and teach!) yoga. I’m now plant-based, and step-by-step growing into my own practice of mindfulness and being present.

I’m not Rich Roll.

I am, however, Eric Earling.

And listening to that podcast was so enlightening for me not simply because of what Rich and Michael discussed (which was awesome!), but because of what it forced and triggered me to think about in myself.

I knew Rich Roll was a famous, plant-based, stud of an athlete before I listened to this podcast. I never knew the many parallels our different paths have included.

Emerging from listening to Rich and Michael talk, I can speak with even more clarity what I’m out to do in changing my life:

  • To help people live healthier, happier lives.
  • To love (a simple statement with a lot behind it that merits another post in the future)
  • To live and spread the empowering reality of an authentic life.

That’s why I’m moving from Seattle to New Orleans. That’s why I’m creating a new path professionally. That’s why I’m studying to be an integrative wellness and life coach. That’s why my transition at my current employer means jumping from being a Vice President of Corporate Communications to a Culture Change Evangelist.

That’s right, Culture Change Evangelist. At a health insurance company. How cool is that?!?

I wrote that title while ideating on what a transition out of my employer in the Seattle-area could be before my wife, daughter, and I move elsewhere. The title for the temporary role stuck as the new gig came together. Talk about writing your dreams into reality (and talk about gratitude for my employer being willing to explore a great fit for both the company and me in way that is truly mutually beneficial).

People at my job have come out of the woodwork to say they love that title. They have a twinkle in their eye, a spark in their voice, eagerness in their questions about it…just like those on Facebook or elsewhere that are fascinated with my bigger life change.

There’s no universal reason people ask about those things. They all have their own motivations. Just like everyone has their own reason for making changes in life, big or small.

Here’s what that tells me: there’s a hunger for this. A hunger for the raw, authenticity of living that change out loud, warts and all.

Warts, because sometimes change is a bumpy road. There’s a vulnerability to this journey being public. Transparency means people see your success, and might see your failure.  Being that vulnerable is good. It’s how we get real with ourselves. And often how we can influence others.

I identify with so much of what Rich said in that podcast, but some comments went deeper to my core, like referring to knowing when he gets off kilter. Rich said, “a good barometer of my spiritual fitness is how irritable I get.” Because when he’s centered, present, and mindful, he’s not as irritable.

Hello laser to my soul.

When I get real with myself, I’m irritable when I get similarly out of whack. And when that happens, I’m rarely the husband and father I want to be, and less likely to be the professional I want to be too. I had an experience in the last couple days where I got irritable with circumstances coming back to life life in Seattle, and most definitely did not show up well as a husband and father.

That’s unpleasant to admit, vulnerable to say…and powerful to publicize.

Because acknowledging that publicly will trigger something, for someone. Just like Rich and Michael triggered something for me. Just like this journey my lovely bride and I are on is triggering thoughts and feelings for others. And not only triggering them, inciting people to talk to us about it. People with whom we don’t often converse, but are now sometimes having the most interesting of conversations.

Conversations about the things that really matter in life: like happiness, love, and fulfillment. Not degrees, titles, and a pat on the head from a societal stereotype. Conversations about things that lead people to make their own changes…again, big or small.

That’s fascinating. It starts a snowball rolling down a mountain that will create something spectacular in many people’s lives over time.

I believe that and am truly grateful to play some role. For now, I’m eager for more fascinating conversations on this journey to come.


Update: title changed, along with minor edits.