Sunday, August 6, 2017

Life On Mars

Well, it's been six months since inauguration, meaning that we are only one eighth of the way through the first term of Trump's presidency. Every now and then I force myself to stop and look at what surrounds me and to remind myself the subtle changes that have already happened. We have already come to accept the fact that the leader of our country will go on Twitter to denounce his enemies, intimidate the press, and spew a torrent of lies and bullshit. That has become normal. Hell, it's become the daily entertainment for a lot of people. It reminds me of Kierkegaard's tale about a clown who rushes out to the stage of a theater to tell the crowd that the theater is on fire and they must leave. The crowd thinks it's a joke, and just laughs harder the more that the clown implores them, before it's too late.

We have made the destruction of our own democracy a kind of true life reality show. As I wrote about before, America went through a long Brezhnev period of rot, where the masses stopped actually believing in the system they were living under. I know more than one person who voted for Trump out of a kind of nihilistic glee. (At least one of them regrets it, but too late.) Even people who oppose Trump get fascinated by the show, forgetting the stakes involved. Back in the 2016 election, too many media voices treated him as a joke, and they still do. After all, they're not the ones getting deported, and it drives up their ratings and ad revenue. I get the feeling that Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death will be seen as a work of great prophecy by future generations.

And you what, I play my role in this. I watch Hayes and Maddow way too much. I spend a lot of time on Twitter. There is a difference between being engaged and being distracted, and I think I am becoming the latter. This morning I got a good reminder of that. I went to a nearby town to get some bakery bread, and there were folks setting up what looked like a protest in the small town square against Trump's immigration policies. At that moment I realized that while I had been diligently calling and writing lawmakers for the past three months, I had not been doing anything communal, not since I joined a protest for transgender rights in Austin, Texas, that I happened to run into back in March. That's not good enough.

Salvation is not going to come from anyone near the top. The top-level media still equivocates and still, after all these years, tries to play the false equivalency game. The Republican Party has signed a blood pact with the criminal in chief, and will not turn against him until maybe the 2020 election, if then. On the other side, if political smarts was TNT the Democrats could not blow their nose. Change is only going to come from those of us who take the time and make the sacrifices to act. That's a fact that I am going to try to keep in mind as the world around me becomes increasingly unbearable.

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