America is a tragic place, we were told, besotted with legislative fat cats, rampant lawlessness, violence, greed, and carnage. Our children are dumb and can’t walk the streets. Terrorists lurk behind the spinach in every produce aisle. It isn’t a place anyone would want to live, even immigrants and refugees.
What happened to my America, the one where people smiled at one another, said “how do you do,” and treated one another with respect, not hate? Something went terribly wrong this election cycle. It may have been the overconfidence of the Democratic candidate whose Teflon coating had worn so thin that the patty melt, finally, stuck to the pan. It may have been the Howard Beale syndrome, even deafness, but whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
Perhaps, people misunderstood who was responsible for gridlock in Washington and blamed the wrong guys. It may have been hatred of Hollywood movie stars for having the lives most people will never live. More likely, however, it was, simply, the size of everyone’s paychecks. We deserve more, ergo, the guy who has it all can show us how to get more. If you believe that, registration at Trump University is still open
Regardless of the cause, the dawning of the New Age of Aquarius has evolved into Mercury gone retrograde. The hopeful rhetoric of Kennedy, even Nixon, has given way to an apocalyptic vision of unimaginable bleakness. This is not draining the swamp; it is the swamp.
Far less than half the public say, “give him a chance” while the rest are preparing for the end of times and lighting candles. Church leaders, meanwhile, are peddling dialogue faster than indulgences as they eagerly await private school tuition vouchers. The winners are smug and exultant, like the new president, and this bravado obscures the truly anxious and distressed, particularly, children.
Trump spokespersons and Republicans strategists continue to talk over journalists on TV. That’s not how winners act but, maybe, no one told them they won and the race is over. The national discourse is, now, about as polite as a food fight. The worst part is that the people likely to be harmed most by a Trump presidency still have cancer, their children remain underfed, lead continues to course through their veins, and any hope for change seems as remote as ever. They know, intuitively, that the higher the mountain the longer it takes for anything to trickle down. Clean air, clean water, and clean hands are out of sight.
St. Elsewhere healed more people than Donald Trump did this January 20th. The loyal opposition is still the “enemy.” Instead of hope he saw tombstones decorating our landscape. This America is a place that’s unreal, anywhere, no matter how bad, except in Donald Trump’s mind. That’s very sad.
The jackasses came out, of course. They’re the same people who burn police cars when the home team wins or loses a championship. Their presence is as inevitable as it’s tragic because their antics distract from the people with something they feel they need to say, however unpopular. The hooligans on both sides, routinely, reinforce the belief that shouting is the new polite.
The tone of the country comes from the top. If the chief executive is coarse, flip, and combative his subordinates will possess similar faults. Donald Trump’s Achilles heel is his lack of gentility. Diplomacy, at home and abroad, is more subtlety than bombast. Once a subject is cast in black or white, however, it’s extremely hard to change the narrative to account for any shadings. Blunt talk can be refreshing, but when it’s used to inflame passions it serves no purpose except to harden hearts. It has been known to incite violence.
Donald Trump promised he’d never let the American people down. So far he hasn’t lifted them up, either. That’s the president’s job one. The best thing this new president can do in the short term, for his nation, its people, and the world, is to dial down the rhetoric and accept the fact that there are other voices than his own. He’ll do it if he truly loves the nation he now leads.