Snippets of A Gloomy Day: Hoping to Hear He’s Been Impeached

In the gym yesterday, one of the younger men, in his late twenties, turned off CNN on the tv monitors above the elliptical machines and stationary bikes. He said, “I am sick of watching politics.” I understand how the news has become too disturbing for many to watch. But for this man, the news itself was political; facts were opinions or political statements, not statements about what was real.

 

This is one legacy of all the fake news we’ve been witnessing. And it is truly frightening. If all facts are opinions, mere statements of likes and dislikes, or arbitrary, with no basis in truth, then how can I trust in anything people say? How do I know even what words mean to you? A word’s meaning is a fact of language.

 

While some people can’t stand to watch the news, others fear turning it off. They are afraid of what they might miss. Watching the news has become like guarding your home from attack, or guarding your prized possession, your sanity, so it won’t be stolen.

 

I notice a little of both in me. The President is in the news so frequently that it is difficult to hear about anything else. Part of me likes this, because I’m waiting to hear the latest stupidity, the latest revelation of possibly treasonous acts, of obstruction of justice, of him using his position to make money for the family businesses, etc.—What I am waiting to hear is that he has been kicked out of office.

 

But his possible crimes and misdemeanors blind us to other equally disturbing actions, like on health care for women, the environment, undermining the separation of state and religion, undermining voting rightsfree speech and controls on Wall Street and bankers. Trump might be the first President to use his own impeachment to distract voters from even worse actions he is party too, if there are such.

 

His narcissism is so deep it is contagious. It is like he is subconsciously trying to give all of America the anxiety and disordered thinking that lies at the root of his psyche. What a generous man.

 

One of his biggest gifts is to comedians. He has revived the profession. President Obama was, by comparison, so boringly dependable and literate, so normal. Now, comedians are swamped with material, helping us laugh at what we would otherwise cry about. They have become heroes. They are able to say things that otherwise couldn’t be said on a public stage.

 

Life before Trump felt relatively predictable to many people. No more. He has awakened us to the fundamentally unpredictable and unknowable nature of reality.

 

The Republicans are re-shaping America’s expectations. Before Trump, people wanted health care that was reasonably priced and comprehensive. Now, many will settle for insurance that is cheap but covers almost nothing, or costs less than double their rent or mortgage. Republicans are trying to pit men against women, the young and healthy against the old or those burdened with pre-existing conditions. Make America Great Again seems to mean make health care another vehicle of redistributing wealth—or of making life so expensive that only the wealthy will have the energy or resources to participate meaningfully in politics.

 

Republican politicians and their supporters have been saying for years that they want to reduce the size of government. Is it possible that all along, their strategy was to make government so intractable and toxic, so lacking in compassion that even Democrats would come to hate it and let whatever controls there are left on the wolves of greed be dismantled?

 

And in all of this, FB and other social media have become the place to share information on petitions, letter-writing campaigns, Town Hall meetings and other demonstrations. But it can be shocking to see information on government crimes and lies, on a possible loss of health care coverage for millions, alongside cute cats and our best friend’s latest vacation. The extent of his destruction alone makes it difficult enough to accept; the camouflage of “fake news,” lies, and distractions, of saying one thing one minute and another in the next, makes speech seem meaningless and facts difficult to discern. Hoping for the best and “liking” posts on FB is just a beginning.

 

I think we are re-creating what it means to participate in governing, despite the administration trying to stop us. We are learning not to ignore the difficult, and how to muster in ourselves the strength, compassion and persistence needed to resist Mr. Trump and create a new political reality.

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5 comments

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Thank you, Ira. Very powerful and oh, so, true. I’m exhausted with all of it with no end in sight. Lots of grief for my country every day.

  2. Dorothy Sander

    Always a relief to run across someone who echoes my version of truth and understands deeply my confusion. Thanks for this. I wait right along with you on this gloomy day in my neck of the woods for . . . impeachment, and sanity at last.

  3. Skip Conover

    Time to rise above the fray, and make our own judgments about what is true and what is not. About 30 years ago, I turned off the news entirely for 1 year. Twice (or so) during the year, friends would say, “Did you hear about …?” I would turn on the news to get the details. If it’s important enough to actually impact our lives, someone will tell us. We don’t need cable news, except as a soporific–watch the channel that makes you feel good about yourself. The only thing in the news that ever really impacted my life directly was the American reaction to the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” (a colossal fake news fabrication), which caused me to serve in the Marines for 23 years, and lose 5 men I knew in combat. Well, I take it back, when Wall Street dumped the economy, they stole my life’s savings, and now they’re doing their best to take my home, which will mean they’ve been paid double on my mortgage, because my credit union was paid in full in 2004, and any losses of mortgage backed securities investors were covered by the federal government, not my credit union. And then, there was 9/11, but I would have heard about that anywhere. But by and large, we don’t need the continuous stream, and all of the anxiety it represents.

    • Thank you Susan, Skip, Dorothy and Elaine. And Skip: The treatment you faced or are still facing, is awful. The way our economy runs is often criminal, rewarding the wrong person or group of people. Changes are certainly needed. I wish you a better outcome.

  4. susan scott

    Thanks Ira, though I’m not American I watch the news fairly avidly but am aware of how it affects me. I agree, people are becoming more vocal and involved and this is to the good.

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