State of play

State of play is a British expression meaning “the present situation.”  And a situation is what we’ve got.  Decorum a quaint notion of the past, hatred emboldened, entire ethnic groups painted with racist tropes, progress toward combatting climate change not only stymied but reversed, conspiracy theories and the nutjobs who espouse them given credence while real journalism, with research and corroborated sources, is discredited, the ability to destroy every living thing on the planet by allowing nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of religious fanatics made more likely by a fit of pique over the previous president, and a “base” willing to stampede off a cliff in furtherance of a regime that honors their unquestioning loyalty and praises their stupidity, elevating it to the level of a virtue.

How many of you are out there, like me, waiting for something really bad to happen?

How many of you are filled with a sense of dread?

We feel ashamed, because the presidential election of 2016 was a test of our national character and we failed.  We were given a choice between two less-than-ideal candidates; one was a qualified candidate who brought with her the blemishes of a past that had some baggage which could most charitably be described as “questionable" and an innate ability to make you feel like you just swam through slime whenever she spoke, while the second was a patently unqualified candidate, a reality-TV gameshow host and real estate huckster who displayed his trademarked brand of insecurities and instability combined with racist and authoritarian tendencies in a schtick that was entertaining in the way that a multi-car crash during a Formula 1® race is.  The former was a politician — and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing; electing her would be like having to eat your vegetables — it’s not that tasty but in the end it’s good for you.  And the huckster?  Well, that’s like having ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We chose the huckster. 

sick to my stomach

Now we have upset tummies; we gorged on ice cream, and it was too much.  But ice cream has its defenders and they’re quick to point out the lying, the rejection of anything even remotely resembling objective reality, the racism, the irrational, dangerous, and misplaced combativeness, and the authoritarianism were there from the start, so “no fair” crying foul now.  We had ample opportunity to see what we were choosing and we chose it anyway.

Charles Blow in a piece at The New York Times pointed out:

Either way, the people who elected Trump and those who continue to support him are to blame for what they have inflicted on this country.

Republicans had a choice of 17 nominees; they chose Donald Trump. The party threw its weight behind him. Many of the candidates who had vigorously opposed Trump, including on moral grounds, endorsed him. Millions of voters who had voted for other candidates also voted for Trump.

So never let these people feed you the lie that they voted for Trump only because they didn’t have a choice and they wanted to vote against Hillary Clinton. They had a choice, and they chose the magnification of their darkest demons.

We love to talk about American “values” and yet we ignore those at the core of our founding as a nation.  We declared ourselves an independent nation based on the equality and dignity of all people, yet our president vocally and with his Twitter finger supports the ideology behind white supremacy, degrades women by seeing and treating them as objects rather than human beings, and incites the kind of dismissive disrespect that comes from childish name-calling which can lead to violence and even, because of the position he holds, war.  But make no mistake, thoughtful reader, we are to blame.

I hear you say ‘how?’.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

It’s time to act.  We need to eat our vegetables.  And Congress must pull its head out of the sand and jettison this fairytale that the President’s party by virtue of having a president of their party will be able to enact its agenda, so they’ll give him a pass on behavior they wouldn’t tolerate from their own children.  This president has shown himself to be more worried about settling scores, stroking his ego, and the size of his… um…   hands   inaugural crowd, than protecting the American people.  His is a country of one — Donald Trump.  And if it’s good for Donald Trump, it must, by definition, be good for America.

Earth-destroyed

We often talk about the need to run the US government more like a business and less like a bureaucracy; that was supposedly the selling point for a Trump presidency.  Interestingly, it was also one of the selling points for our last worst president in the history of the country — George W. Bush.  But businesses, at least publicly traded ones, have clear methods for getting rid of a disastrous executive so he cannot continue to do harm unchecked.  The President of the United States controls the most advanced, powerful military and the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, so the possible damage of letting someone unfit for office continue in the job includes war and global catastrophe.  Were the government run more like a business, I think the current level of shareholder discontent would cause the board to have a long, hard look at the chief executive.

Checks and balances only work if they are used.

We also talk about our responsibility to future generations, to those who will come after us.  We are setting ourselves up for them to say, “What the hell was wrong with you?  You knew.  You knew everything you needed to know to stop this and still you did nothing."

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