Empty, Spent, Blank, While the Pundits Catch Up


Image: salon.com

Image: salon.com

Blank is what my blog has been lately, and blank is what my mind is right now. Blank, empty, with nothing left to say other than “I told you so, America”.

For decades, I have been railing against American authoritarianism, America’s flirtation with fascism, the dangerous lack of education and critical thinking skills. I have alienated people–my husband’s high school friends, teachers at my kids’ Montessori school, and I forget who all else–by comparing the Pledge of Allegiance in Pre-K to Hitler Youth indoctrination. I have gone on and on about the uncritical or, at best, complacent way (white) Americans accept fascist police behavior, etc, etc, etc.

I have often wondered if I was going crazy because it felt like I was the only one who got incensed about any of it. Whenever I brought these issues up, the best I could hope for was blank expressions, as if I was speaking through airplane-thick glass.

And since I started my blog, about five years ago now, many of my posts have been about the same issues. When Trump first began running for president, I described him as a fascist while at the same time wondering if I was exaggerating, knowing that almost everyone I know would be sure that I was. Nah, the sky wasn’t falling–sure, Trump had instigated some immigrant-bashing here and there, but overall he was still not much more than grist on Jon Stewart’s mill.

When he lost the Iowa primary and most pundits were convinced that that was the beginning of the end for Trump, and I described a scenario of Trump thugs intimidating anyone who stood up against him, I may have sounded crazy, but at least I still had something original to say. And again I was proved right when, a short time later, Trump began to openly encourage his supporters to use violence against protesters at his rallies and threatened riots if he didn’t get the nomination at the convention in June.

But gradually, falteringly, grudgingly, folks started cottoning on, and now that Trump is the Republican presidential candidate, now that it might be too late–we have about a 50% chance of a Trump presidency–now every other article I read is saying what I’ve been saying all this time. It’s the lack of education, it’s the notion that facts are just opinions (we have the religious right to thank for a lot of that), it’s the unquestioning authoritarianism, it’s the dysfunctional political system, it’s …

For a while I still posted articles that said what I had been saying for so long, only much, much better, on the Resident Alien Facebook page. I was excited to finally see others, Americans, saying the same things, and I wanted to show that, see, it’s not just me; here’s one of your fellow Americans saying it.

But that gets old.

So I’ve been quiet. My mind is blank when I think of possible new posts. To write about anything other than these big issues that have led to a Trump presidential candidacy would seem tone deaf, and yet I wouldn’t be saying anything new in yet another post.

Of course the whole disaster is not just something for us to write about, to show off our insight or lack of it; this is real. It has been for a long time, but it took Trump, as the logical next step in American politics’ downward spiral, to open some eyes. Glad as I am that eyes are opening, it’s hard to remain optimistic. I wonder if we’ve passed the point of no return, at least until we’ve really hit rock bottom. And Trump seems fathomless–in his stupidity, his ignorance, his hatefulness, and in his ability to keep millions in witless adoration despite it all–so hitting rock bottom could take a while.

To end on an upbeat note, at least for me: here’s one last link to a told-you-so article, which even addresses the role of the Pledge of Allegiance in this whole mess. I never thought I’d see the day!

Anyway, enjoy your barbecues, America.

3 responses to “Empty, Spent, Blank, While the Pundits Catch Up

  1. Michael Ignatowski

    “… it took Trump, as the logical next step in American politics’ downward spiral, to open some eyes.” While I share your frustration and bewilderment over the nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president, I want to challenge the idea that America is on a downward political spiral. Parts of it may be, but if you step back from the political noise that passes for daily news and look at the longer term trends instead, you come to a different conclusion. The country as a whole is steadily getting more tolerant and progressive, and the trend in this direction is accelerating. A fast rate of change will naturally produce a backlash, and the size of the backlash will ebb and flow in proportion to the latest successes in the progressive trend, and there have been many successes in the last few years.

    The popularity of Trump is not a triumph of the conservative right in American politics – it is actually a refutation of it on many issues. He was one of the most progressive Republican candidates in terms of his stance on the culture war issues of abortion, LGBTQ rights, and support by the religious right. Regrettably, he does appeal to those who desire a strong authoritarian leader, more so than any other candidate in the race. He has also been appealing to the racist fears in society, something that has always been present though it’s gradually declining. The overt racism in our society will continue to decline in the long term whether Trump gets elected or not, just look at the polls of people under 30 and the trend is obvious.

    I don’t know who will win the election in November. The best analysis still has Clinton on top, but this has been a very difficult race to predict, and unpredictable events could easily swing the results one way or another. The noise that passes for daily news does a poor job of putting the big picture into context. Just remind yourself of two things: (1) only 23% of the people voting in the primaries so far voted for Trump, and (2) if the presidential election were held tomorrow pitting Bernie Sanders against Donald Trump, Bernie would win in a landslide of epic proportions. That’s tell you what you really need to know about the bigger long term picture.

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    • Barbara Backer-Gray

      True. Like MLK said, the arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Nevertheless, we could be in for a huge step backward if Trump is elected. As far as Trump’s stance is concerned: I don’t think he really has one. It’s whatever falls out of his mouth at any given moment, and it also greatly depends on who his audience is. I agree that the numbers show that if there were an election tomorrow, Bernie Sanders would win, but it’s not tomorrow, and if Bernie Sanders became the candidate, that would be the first time he’s ever scrutinized. So far it’s been in both Clinton and Trump’s interest to keep him in the race and not piss off his supporters too much. I hope you’re right and all will end well, or at least not Trump. I’m just not in a very optimistic mood. I know only a small percentage has voted for Trump to begin with, and you’d think that cooler minds would win, but those would have to be the special delegates, and they are falling over themselves to show how spineless they are.

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  2. Good post and good link. The Donald is appalling, but many of his supporters are more so. Ignorance, militarism, nationalism and religiosity are a poisonous combination.

    Like

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