Somewhere around the year 2042 or so, I hope to remove from my pocket a shimmering, translucent, flexible square about the size and weight of a hanky and use it to read this B-section article in the NEW New York Times:
Hope springs eternal, mostly. And yet. Ryu Spaeth published a piece in the New Republic last week that stuck with me because it captures the sense of trauma and despair of the Trump era so well:
There is so much selfishness and ignorance and hatred in this county, and they have found their concentrated embodiment in Trump, who bludgeons us with the worst aspects of humanity every single day. This is self-evidently traumatic for the body politic, harming our capacity for empathy and reason and decency. And yet it is difficult to express just how awful it is: how it makes us worry for our children in existential terms, how it makes our lives a little more sordid every day, how it slowly bleeds our world of joy and purpose.
The traditional response to bad presidents is to resist, to organize, to prepare for the next election—to have faith, even if everything else fails, in democracy. But democracy already failed us once, handing the presidency to a man who lost the popular vote by a resounding margin. It has been subverted by gerrymandering, and is being weakened by those working to keep minorities and the poor from the polls. It was compromised by the intervention of a foreign government, and the president is reluctant to even acknowledge that fact, let alone make sure it doesn’t happen again…
This is the point in the essay where I should say that we mustn’t lose hope, that we must impede Donald Trump at every step, and I do believe that. Still, to quote Howard Beale, everyone knows things are bad. I wake up each morning prepared for something terrible to happen. But something terrible is happening, every day, all around us. The most frightening part is that we’re not sure if Trump’s America is rock bottom or if we have further to fall.
All of that. The only way out of this mess is to roll back Trumpism and make the GOP pay for damaging America so grievously. But it will be a long, hard slog; we don’t even know yet how long or how hard. And the outcome is uncertain.
Yesterday, I spent a few hours registering voters and collecting signatures for a ballot initiative in support of ex-felon voting rights restoration. Taking even modest action like that makes me feel less powerless. But after this week, it also feels a bit like throwing a thimbleful of water on a raging grenade warehouse fire.
Many of the people I talked to yesterday seemed similarly overwhelmed and despairing. But in a way, that’s a hopeful sign, I think, the widespread horror at the damage done.
Thimblefuls of action — volunteering to assist immigrants, helping people get ID to vote, showing up when Nazis try to assert ownership of our streets, voting in every single election — add them up, and they become a deluge. I hope? I hope. I hope!
Anyhoo, open thread!