Sunday, June 11, 2017

Watching the Fire

About twenty years ago our good friends, the Blakemores, moved to Australia, where they settled in a little beach town.
One year, there was a fire in the forest uphill from their neighborhood. Naturally they were worried. They and their neighbors brought their yard chairs out into the street and sat there watching the progress of the fire.
I imagined them sitting in the street, watching the fire as if it was a soccer match, wondering if they were going to lose everything.
They were fortunate. Their homes were not burned.
I’ve been thinking lately about the surreal notion of watching a fire as if you were watching a sporting event, because I have had a surreal feeling watching the news.
It has been obvious right from the get-go that 45 would most likely shoot himself in the foot (I mean that metaphorically, but with this guy you never know). Recently it has been one damn thing after another. A little obstruction of justice here, the firing of three people who were pursuing the Russian involvement there, a first call for impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives, the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Oh, I know there are people out there who think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and will be remembered as the greatest president we’ve ever had. I heard a man say that on the radio. I have been assured that there are millions of people who believe that. Pssst: you are all wrong.
His antics are keeping us distracted from all the mischief being done in Congress. I think of all the people who gave so much, including their lives, for the freedom, fairness, safety, and equality we have in this country. We were not finished assuring liberty and justice (not to mention health care) for all, not by a long shot, but we were working on it. Now our children and our grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, are going to have to fight to regain lost liberties, lost justice, lost healthcare. That thought grinds my gears.
Now, mind you, I was raised by Republicans. I put my hand over my heart when I said the pledge of allegiance, still do. I get choked up when I sing the Star-Spangled Banner, and I stand up and put my hand over my heart when the guys in the color guard go by in the Festival Parade and I choke up then, too. I was taught that the Commies were trying to bury us, and that America was the last best hope for the oppressed people of the world. That there was nowhere else to run.
That is how I was raised, folks, and I believed all of it.
The Civil Rights movement changed my views. The Vietnam war changed my views. The way vets are treated changed my views.
Watergate and its aftermath and Ford’s pardon of Nixon changed my views. Carter was a decent guy, a genuine Christian, so we had to get rid of him. The election of Reagan was frightening and turned out to be worse than I could imagine, even though I had watched what had happened to California under the tender mercies of his governorship. Reagan’s election was when I knew we had become an oligarchy, although I didn’t know the word for it at the time.
Bush Sr., was an epilogue to Reagan. I had hope for Clinton, but it turned out his pejorative nickname, “Slick Willy,” had more meanings than one. George W. Bush – wow. He was surrounded by guys who wanted revenge for what happened to Nixon. People are still coming home maimed and in boxes thanks to him. And there was that little economic collapse.
Obama – now we’re talking: health care, and a few other advances in spite of the incredible obstruction and racism he faced. He didn’t get everything right. The drone attacks on civilians. The way the bankers did not go to prison. I do not remember a president in my lifetime who was not vilified for his actions and policies, e.g., Nixon, LBJ. Obama was the only one demonized for his skin color before he ever took an action or made a policy.
And now, ladies and gentlemen and others, we give you the fabulous imploding presidency of 45.
It isn’t only him. It’s the guys at the top who sailed into office with him, and the guys they answer to, and those millions who voted for him and them. This fire has been building and burning for years. I blame myself now for a lack of imagination. I did not believe it could get this bad in America.
Pssst: I was wrong.

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