2017 has been one of the strangest and most disorienting years that this aging Baby Boomer can recall. And believe me, I’ve experienced some very bizarre years.
I think of myself as an optimist, but maintaining a positive outlook as this chaotic year draws to a close has been quite challenging for me. So much so that even my eternal optimism has given way to considerable doubt and a lot of concerns.
Our American democracy has become incredibly fractured along political, religious, cultural, and economic fronts. Everything, from abortion to gun control, and even how to conduct oneself during the playing of the national anthem at football games or how to respond to accusations of sexual misconduct, has become intensely partisan.
Listening to and trying to understand perspectives and opinions that differ from one’s own now seems to have become a lost art. Negotiation and compromise are treated like four-letter words.
Virtually everything is politicized in this winner-take-all world in which we now find ourselves. You’re either with me or you’re against me. My religious beliefs are true and yours are false. My opinion is worthwhile and yours is worthless.
Everything is either black or white; there are no shades of gray anymore. Opposing points of view are met with disdain, contempt, and outright scorn. Politics in America has devolved into blood sport.
Attributes like character, truth, and decency don’t seem to matter in Donald Trump’s America. What might happen should Donald Trump move to fire Mueller or to sabotage the Russia investigation? Will our democracy survive or will it trigger a new American civil war?
The only way to make America great again is to abide by the Constitution and to follow the rule of law. We need to end the madness that has hijacked our government and our society. In 2018 we must do whatever we can to put the country we cherish back on the right track before it’s forever gone.
Just some year-end observations from one jaded, cynical blogger who is hopping for a better, happier new year.
As we enter the sixth month of the reign of Donald Trump, I fear that there is little that anyone can do to rein this guy in. I’m seriously concerned that this man — this incompetent, blustery buffoon who managed to hoodwink enough Americans to become President of the United States — is going to wreak havoc on our beloved American democracy as well as all around the globe.
To my fellow Americans and to all citizens of the civilized world, we must, somehow, make sure he doesn’t rain on our parade.
This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday weekly prompt. We are tasked with composing a post using the words rain, rein, and/or reign.
When I woke up this morning and saw today’s one-word prompt, “meddle,” I thought of two things. One was serious and the other was nonsensical.
Serious: Russia meddled in our election
Without a doubt, Russia did meddle in our presidential election last year. And I — along with many others — believe that Russia’s meddling affected the outcome, resulting in the election of the most incompetent person to ever assume the role of POTUS.
I also believe that the Russians, flush from their success last year, continue to meddle in our democratic processes. If we don’t — or can’t or won’t — do anything about that meddling, our democracy will never be the same.
Nonsensical: Malcolm in the Meddle
I know that the actual name of the 2000 – 2006 TV show was “Malcom in the Middle,” not “Malcolm in the Meddle.” But as I read the prompt shortly after waking, “Malcolm in the Meddle” was the first thing that popped into my head. Which is a strange thing to have occurred to me since I never watched that show. Never ever. Not even once.
I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, you know. No siree, Bob! I’ve been around long enough to have experienced Vietnam and Watergate and how terribly divided this country was at that time. But I’ve never seen anything quite like what is happening now to the sanctity of American democracy under President Donald J. Trump. It’s taken its toll on me. I’m tired, very tired.
It’s not because I’m old, though, or because I’ve been having trouble falling and staying asleep at night. No, the reason I am tired is because something devastating has been happening in and to the country I love. And it’s draining me.
Fake News and Alternative Facts
For months before the election in November, we had been inundated with fake news, alternative facts, lies, racism, and misogyny. Since the election things have only gotten worse, given all of Trump’s conflicts of interest, blatant nepotism, and unprecedented incompetence at the highest levels of the government.
Our new president is purging (or buying off?) his perceived enemies and anyone he believes might do him harm, FBI Director James Comey’s firing is the latest example. Donald Trump is successfully … so far, anyway … turning our country into an authoritarian dictatorship.
And what I find truly remarkable and upsetting is that the spineless, gutless, “party over country” Republicans in Congress are just sitting back and letting it happen. They know that Trump is an unhinged, delusional narcissist who is also a pathological liar. But he’s their unhinged, delusional, narcissistic, liar who will sign whatever bills they put in front of him.
Trump is engaging in a war against the legitimate media. He is spreading outright lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories in an effort to divert and distract attention from the many self-inflicted wounds he’s created as a result of his more outrageous tweets and his asinine behaviors.
Treason or Stupidity?
He has yet to admit that Russia interfered with the election and seems to be giving Putin and the Russians cover. And while he’s saying “America First,” his actions appear to be putting Russia first. He even shared highly classified information with Russian operatives in the Oval Office. Is he intentionally committing treason or is he just incredibly stupid? Or Both?
Respected scholars of history have expressed concerns about how Trump seems to be leading our country down a path followed by despotic 20th century and contemporary leaders.
He has sung the praises of Vladimir Putin (“a strong leader”) and Kim Jong-un (“a smart cookie”). He congratulated Turkish leader Erdogan on winning a referendum that expanded and consolidated his authoritarian powers. He praised the autocratic Egyptian leader el-Sisi as well as Filipino strongman Duterte, a man who likens himself to Hitler.
At the same time, Trump has denigrated and challenged the judicial branch of our own government and seems to have co-opted congressional Republicans, who hold the majority in both houses.
So back to my original question. Can American democracy survive Donald Trump? The short answer is yes, but it will take four types of people to make sure it does.
First, courageous employees within the executive and legislative branches of government who recognize the damage to our national security and our way of life that Trump is causing must be willing to risk their careers and leak documents to the legitimate press so that the unhinged actions of Donald Trump will see the light of day.
Second, brave journalists and reporters must do their jobs and continue to research, publish, and report on what is going on at the White House and in Congress.
Third, concerned citizens need to continue to reach out to their senators and representatives and hold them accountable for their actions. And if these elected officials in Congress don’t have the backbone to put country over party and to do what’s right and best for their constituents by standing up to Trump, they need to know that they will be voted out of office.
Finally, GOP members of Congress and Trump loyalists must stop turning deaf ears and blind eyes to Trump’s faults and follies. They need to honestly and objectively see him and the danger he posed to our country. They also need to stop getting all their news from Fox News.
If these groups of people do the right thing, democracy in America has a chance. If not, well, it was good while it lasted.