Like most everyone else with at least a few surviving brain cells and a modicum of moral judgment, I spend a part of each day wondering what the hell is going on. What went so badly wrong with this country?
Having spent a chunk of my life opposing one or another thing my country was doing at home or abroad, I'm no stranger to outrage, nor to disappointment about the gulf that too often separates the ideals I was taught and the realities of our nation's behavior. But what is happening now just refuses to make sense. Everything has been stood on its head.
None of the old paradigms seem to fit. Working people vote in large number for plutocrats. "Christians" vote for the most un-Christian of men. Liberals and progressives equivocate about how much evil they're willing to vote for even when blatant evil shows its face daily in the form of a rich egomaniac whose lies are so obvious and poorly crafted that it's hard to believe there would be more than a handful of rubes who would buy them.
And, after a lifetime of hearing the right wing castigate Democrats for being soft on communism, how can I now make sense of a Republican Party that is completely unconcerned about Russian interference in an American election and equally indifferent to the bromance between a thuggish kleptocratic former KGB agent and the President of the United States?
The party that purports to be about "free enterprise" provides socialism for corporations, welfare subsidies for the rich, all while preaching that the poor and the middle class should just ramp up their work ethic and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
The party of so-called fiscal "conservatives" is just fine with deficit spending, so long as the money goes to more military waste, fraud, and out-of-control profiteering by "defense" contractors, and Republicans are equally content with a health care system that rips off taxpayers as outrageously as Big Pharma has been doing.
The party that purports to be about "free enterprise" provides socialism for corporations, welfare subsidies for the rich, all while preaching that the poor and the middle class should just ramp up their work ethic and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The party that has long sold its "brand" with the image of clean-cut, churchgoing, family values patriots supports a philandering sexist swine who paints himself with the thinnest coating of false piety and ersatz Christianity.
So, like many others, I'm just lost these days. The old right vs. left battle lines have been redrawn, and the verities of political division no longer are as clear as they once were. It seemed easier for liberals like me to know the enemy back when Nixon was the face of Republicanism, or even when Reagan or Bush/Cheney were in office. But when working men and women vote in decisive numbers for a man like Donald Trump, we are through the looking glass. Is this really who we are? The polls say no, but the wreckage of our heritage continues unabated.
In these strangest of strange days, it just doesn't seem like the struggle is between left and right anymore, nor between liberal and conservative, Democrats and Republicans, management and labor. No, we have gone far beyond those old polarities, beyond the parameters of politics as we once understood them.
With Trump and Bannon at the reins, with people like Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions so prominent in the transition to power, with so many truly dubious human specimens in charge of important governmental agencies, with the Saudis and the Russians now treated as our nation's best friends while our NATO allies are treated with gratuitous disrespect, and with Trump spitting in the face of world opinion by pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, this has come to seem more like a question of good vs. evil, decency vs. indecency, sanity vs. insanity, honesty vs. dishonesty, the few vs. the many, survival vs. suicide.
Trump's election "victory" no longer seems like just an unfortunate reactionary turn away from progress, or another setback for progressives; it seems like a hostile takeover by an international criminal cabal that owes no allegiance to any flag or any creed, a dark consortium of international bankers, oil sheiks and execs, and thugs with no ideology beyond the pursuit of ill-gotten gains, the enrichment of gangsters from Riyadh to Russia, from Wall Street to Ankara to Manila.
Politicians from Doug LaMalfa to Donald Trump and oligarchs from the Koch brothers to Sheldon Adelson have preyed upon our darkest fears, and now we are left to the untender non-mercies of unscrupulous people who say they love the American people, but clearly don't. We are led by a twit on Twitter, tweeting bird-brained inanities as the darkness descends. God help us all because Trump, Putin, and the Saudi oil thieves sure as hell won't.