Saturday, December 23, 2017

Better People

I read an essay by Ann Patchett about how Trump shock reduces her to compulsive on-line shopping. I spend hours scouring the Internet for signs that the Russia investigation will bring down the administration. When there's no pay dirt I too drift over to Zulily or Etsy just for some eye candy and maybe a couple of cheap garments. I've not only changed my Internet habits but I eat just as compulsively as I look for signs of Trump's demise, so some cheap blousy blouses augment my wardrobe. CNN blares for most of my waking hours except when I'm in the car listening to the political podcast Pod Save America. Teaching snaps me out of it to some extent but as my students present me with a gift card for Christmas I ache thinking that they are constantly being bombarded with immigrant-hateful verbiage. I will remember 2017 as being cloaked in a pall. Even after nearly a year, I see Trump on the tube and become physically ill and there remains too a strong sensation of unreality.

It is inevitable I think that it will be proven that the con-artist in chief is being blackmailed by Putin. Former CIA director Jame Clapper referred to Trump as being Putin's “asset,” Despite Fox labeling the efforts to uncover the relationship between the Trump administration and Russia as a “coup,” I suspect that even the dwindling base will forsake the liar-in-chief when the extent of his corruption becomes clear. My fantasy for 2018 is the Mueller bides his time and digs up more dirt. Pence is discovered to have been fully aware of the Russia thang or caught en flagrante in a men's room. At the beginning of 2019 the House and Senate will have regained a Democrat majority. The first priority is to dump Trump and Pence and then appoint the Dem speaker of the house as president. Then the nation can concentrate on undoing the damage. And I'll win the lottery too.

This I'm sure is too perfect a scenario. It's going to be a lot more messy with lots of palace intrigue. I suspect that soon we'll know if Trump is going to sell out Don Jr. and Jared. Advanced adulthood has diminished revenge fantasies and generally I don't wish anyone unhappiness. For years the exception to this mature compassion has been a palpable hatred for Clarence Thomas, Joe Arpaio and Sheldon Adelson. Since Trump, the list has gotten longer and I've particular animus for the Trump spawn and spawn-in-law. I never thought I'd whoop and holler about a special senatorial election in Alabama. I hope to have another opportunity for celebration with the arrests and indictments of some of the ickiest characters on the political scene since Joe McCarthy.

While my capacity for hatred is way amped up since the election, I am also more engaged than I've ever been. While I disliked Reagan and the Bushes I never sensed grave jeopardy. The current administration makes it impossible for me not to engage. And I am not alone. In January of 2017 I march along side of 20% of my fellow Angelenos and I will march again on January 20, 2018, carrying the same sign. “May these times make us better people.” I will skip teaching summer school and commit these months to working on behalf of ousting Congressmen Steve Knight and Darell Issa.

I wake up every morning and Trump is still president. Spuds graduates from college and we have a few glorious days in the Hudson Valley. John Lewis speaks inspiringly at the ceremony. A few days later Trump bashes Lewis with mean spirited Tweet. Trump has an uncanny way of disrespecting those who've made the biggest sacrifices for our nation Khizr Kahn. John McCain... When called out for this and asked about his own personal sacrifices Trump cites sacrifices made while building his business (with only a measly million dollars of seed money.)

After graduation Spuds and I drive from New York to Los Angeles. Long road trips are one of the great pleasures of my life and I am grateful to have two weeks with my freshly minted college grad. But at every gas station and diner I am aware that unlike in Los Angeles, the midwest is crawling with Trump voters. We will be analyzing their motives for generations. I happen on a quote by Lyndon Johnson that comes pretty close. "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

The kakistocracy will end. As the social safety net erodes and borderline (or maybe not even borderline) treason becomes apparent, Trump voters will regret the decision. The progressive movement becomes more cohesive and active in response to the catastrophe and I hope this steam lasts far beyond Trump being only a bad memory. Perhaps I'm being a Pollyanna but I really do believe that these times will make us better people.

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