Social media provides a window into how our friends, neighbors and acquaintances view the world that wasn’t present when Hitler rose to power. One of the best, and, at the same time, most terrible things about the current political situation in America is that it provides a glimpse of our community that did not exist in times past. And while social media is often justifiably blamed for exacerbating how lies, distortions, and false narratives are shared and adopted in support of those promulgating nefarious agendas, it can also play a highly positive role in debunking falsehoods, in uniting people together in positive directions, and in understanding whom within our circle of friends and acquaintances does not support the basic democratic ideals that have traditionally united us as Americans.
Today we celebrate President’s Day, a patriotic holiday that is normally a time when we commemorate our history and our democracy, and we honor those who have served to lead it. But this year is different… it comes as an opportunity to contemplate the horrific reality that We the People have created for ourselves, and to reflect upon how we might move forward as a nation to remedy the situation.
America had been comfortable for awhile. The country went through a golden age of sorts in the late 20th century, making significant improvements in terms of the health, education, and affluence of its citizens. That age has ended and those trends have seen dramatic reverses in recent years. Life expectancy is declining in America, and the American system of healthcare available to all but the wealthiest of Americans lags that of many other parts of the developed world. Much of America wallows in deep ignorance and embraces alternative facts and shuns science. (See: Let’s Make America SMART Again.) The income divide between the have’s and the have-not’s grows on an ongoing basis. The secular values of our founding fathers are under assault.
We are not making this up.
In case you were somehow off the grid for the last two weeks, let’s briefly recap just a few of the more salient and perfidious events of the past fortnight before we take a look at how the dominoes may fall in the near future.
On May 9, 2017, United States President Donald John Trump fired F.B.I. Director James Comey, who was also leading the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian tampering in the 2016 US presidential election as well as the possibility of collusion between Russia and members of Trump’s campaign and administration. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly urged Trump to take this action.
America has a pre-existing condition, and it’s name is Donald John Trump.
As this column goes to press, there are 1353 days left. Now that all the efforts to review the Trump administration’s first 100 days are behind us, today we look deeply at how we can use what we have learned over the first 108 days to make educated predictions at what lies in store for the American people over the remainder of Trump’s term.
The climate is changing.
This past Saturday I joined an estimated 1,200 other people in the March for Science in San Luis Obispo, California. Our march was one of more than 500 such marches that took place around the world on Earth Day, April 22, 2017, likely involving more than a hundred thousand people world-wide.
It was a day for celebration. Celebration of the benefits that science and technology have brought to each of us to improve our quality of life and our ability to understand the universe in which we live.
There are some things that transcend party politics.
These are perilous times, and looking past superficialities to see deep repercussions is important. The current US administration is treading into territory far removed from anything we’ve seen within our lifetimes, from either Democratic or Republican administrations. When basic liberties are threatened and the possibility of nuclear conflict edges closer on a daily basis, it is incumbent on each of us to seek truth, to look at world events with real depth, and to use our voice to say, eyes wide open and with love for America: “No, this is not okay… I will not go quietly into the night.”
The images of dead and suffering children following Tuesday’s gas attack by Syria (with Russian complicity) on its own people were tragic and compelling. Syria was believed to have used chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin, killing more than 80 Syrian civilians.
The chemical attack by Syria happened only days after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Donald Trump made statements indicating that the US had no interest in interfering in Syrian events and that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad remaining in power was an internal Syrian matter with which the US had no interest in interfering. (See: Rubio: It’s no coincidence that Syria gas attack happened after ‘concerning’ Tillerson comments).
Things are not going very well for Donald Trump. But they have the potential to get a lot worse… and not just for Donald Trump, but for America and the rest of the world too. Before we discuss how the dominoes might come crashing down, let’s set up them up with a brief recap of the first two months of Trump’s administration:
- The health care legislation Trump proposed went down in flames in a Congress that is dying to replace Obamacare… because he tried replacing it with something far worse that utterly failed to meet the promises he had made for such legislation.
- Trump has exploited the Presidency and proven himself to be a self-enriching snollygoster in a way well beyond anything any American politician has ever done before.
- After telling us he would release his tax returns, he didn’t. After telling us he would donate his salary, he recently pocketed his second paycheck. After dissing Obama for his annual golf trip, he spent 5 of 7 weekends on vacation playing golf, and spent 1 out of every 3 days of his presidency enriching himself by visiting a Trump property at the taxpayer’s expense.
- Trump promised to drain the swamp but instead has turned his administration into a kakistocracy filled with alternate-reality philistines lacking a rudimentary grasp of basic science, along with wealthy lobbyists, oil magnates, and wall street executives. Their emphasis seems to be on removing regulations that prevent businesses from poisoning our environment, and on decimating our educational programs (particularly for the neediest), while lining their own pockets and the pockets of their wealthy friends.
- He has turned America into a global laughingstock, praising our enemies while offending and alienating our greatest allies.
- He has broken promise upon promise upon promise… just to name two of the bigger ones: The Keystone XL Pipeline is going to be built with Russian steel. His wall, if it is ever built, will be paid for with tens of billions of American taxpayer dollars, rather than by Mexico.
- He and his team have fabricated false terrorist incidents in Bowling Green, Atlanta, and Sweden to attempt to justify their actions.
- He seems incapable of speaking for five minutes at a time without lying, including slanderously labeling a former American President a felon in order to try to distract the nation and Congress from investigating his ties to Russia.
- In the very best case, he has acted as a naive and unwitting co-optee serving Russian interests, and he has been an active collaborator with a white nationalist, and self-proclaimed Leninist, who advocates for a revolution that will turn our country towards Christian fundamentalist fascism.
- And in the worst case, people who are or were in his close circle have engaged in misprision and/or treason.
- He has played on America’s fear of terrorism to draft illegal Executive Orders and advocate expensive public works programs that do nothing to address actual security risks while simultaneously flaming racial and religious hatred.
- Amidst all of this, Trump is doing something he hates more than anything else… He is LOSING.
- And he has shown a degree of utter incompetence in all of the above that not even his greatest detractors ever believed could have been possible.
And as horrible as this might seem, it is nothing compared to what might be coming our way courtesy of Kim Jong-un and North Korea. But before we talk about North Korea, we need to talk about white nationalist, alternate-reality-ist Steve Bannon, who is Trump’s White House Chief Strategist.
He wounds the autumnal nation. A corroded knife, plunged and twisted into the very belly of our Republic, leaving us hemorrhaging from our core, pushing to the front the very worst of what We the People represent.
Donald John Trump has given us a mirror, and what we see in it isn’t remotely pretty.
And amidst the writhing and the screams of the agony inflicted, the casualties are our dignity and our honor and our pride; along with truth, justice, and the American way, all of which he has made a mockery of in the very worst ways imaginable.