Once upon a time, America had a block party. The street was packed with smart, decent people of all political persuasions, races, origins and religions. There was lively conversation, sharp disagreement and shared laughter. It wasn’t perfect, far from it, but it was livable and hopeful.
Then a tabloid celebrity spouting hate-bait showed up. The decent people had endured party crashers before, but always sent them scurrying to society’s pathetic fringe. This new guy would surely meet the same fate.
Something strange happened instead. The new guy bellowed — Mexicans are rapists! Ban all Muslims! Look at that funny disabled reporter! I can grab women by the (crotch)! I like people who weren’t captured! A free press is the enemy!
The decent people thought his words were vile and anti-American, but many others began to cheer. They came from Heartland Avenue looking for 1950s jobs. From Old Republican Way seeking 1950s white America. Fine people from Neo-Nazi Lane arrived. A huge flock from Evangelical Trail held their noses and prayed.
Then things got stranger. A shirtless Russian stood behind a curtain nearby. A pudgy North Korean wore a T-shirt that read: Respected on the World Stage. It became Opposite Day. Europe is a foe. Russia is a friend. Dictators are strong. Democracies are weak. Lies are truth.
The decent people wondered among themselves: “What kind of deranged person would cheer for this?”
And then the party turned into a war for America’s soul.
After President Donald Trump’s diplomatic debacle with Russia, and other instances of psychological trauma, I never thought I’d live to see the day a a sitting president could best be described a “Manchurian Candidate.” Had this been Barack Obama, he’d have been impeached and run out of town within 24 hours.
How much more can Trump say or do to be tried as a traitor? (Defined as a person who commits the crime of treason by levying war against his state or country, or adhering to enemies of the United States, giving them aid and comfort.) It’s also available to remove a president from office through the law of high crimes and misdemeanors, covering allegations of misconduct peculiar to officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming, or refusal to obey a lawful order.
Trump is a laughingstock to the whole world, and a picture perfect caricature of a person unfit for duty. Were he not so dangerous this would be hilarious. What more can he say or do meet the criteria for removal of office? How much more America? How much more?
Perhaps the most critical element of democracy is the free press. Dictators around the world ensure acceptance of their power grabs by whittling away at the ability of the press to hold them accountable.
When the press is controlled by a political leader, anything he says or does is explained how he wishes it to be believed. He can do no wrong, at least in the only explanation permitted to be offered to the people. Missteps and misdeeds, without consequence, accelerate as he becomes increasingly wrapped up in his quest for power. It is sometimes a slippery slope, as is happening in the U.S.
We have a leader who so constantly lies to the American people that one wonders to what degree he actually believes what he says. He appears to believe that if you tell a lie often enough, it will come to be believed. At his oft-repeated cry that the press is the enemy of the people, the crowd loudly agrees, some shaking their fists and shouting expletives at the attending press.
The press reports on our leader’s lies and are promptly labeled “fake news,” and Trump supporters cheer? Do they really think it works best for our democracy to hear only Trump’s version of events? Don’t they understand that this brings us ever closer to losing our most important safeguard of freedom?
We are currently on a slippery slope to autocracy. How much closer we get depends on whether we are able to awaken to what is happening.
For the record: I would gladly serve Sarah H. Sanders dinner, as well as President Trump — and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I would bake the cake for the gay wedding and arrange the flowers for the bouquet.
I’ll officiate your wedding. I’ll perform the funeral. I’ll preach at your church — any church. I’ll listen. I’ll respect you. We will differ. That’s OK. Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist or agnostic: I’ll be your friend. We only have a few years here. Big opinions or small, Rep or Dem, gay, straight, transgendered, rich or poor, black or white: the graves are all the same size. Lighten up.
Don’t take all of this so seriously. Turn down the anger. If you are going to be known for something, I hope it’s for your love.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV)
Normally I’d be amused, but but these days I am saddened by the ignorance regarding the harsh rhetoric about immigration. So here’s something to think about. Unless someone is a Native American, every one of us came from an ancestor who was an immigrant. That’s how we got here, so people should look in the mirror when they speak against immigration.