That is the politest thing I can say at the moment. It will get worse from here.
I am Angry. Capital A angry. Our system of governance went off the rails several decades ago and no one seemed to really notice or give a shit. It has been the longest running reality train wreck in history and we, as a people, have become numb to the images, the facts, and most horrifically to the consequences.
But right now, the Anger is paramount.
Justice Ginsberg’s inevitable passing triggered a blowout of the safety value on the pressure cooker of my soul. I was close to the end of my rope as it was. 2020 has been a trial full of the worst kind of sinister we have seen as a global culture in memory. It has included a vicious rise in anti-Semitism that has been coupled with an explosion of racial injustice that laid bare the baseline inequities we have fostered for hundreds of years. Add a Biblical-style plague that completely upended our entire world and you have a populous ripe for the picking by any and all right-slanting, uber-zealous, hate-fueled minorities that thrive, multiply, and symbiotically enhance each other.
But as a child of the 1960’s, one who saw Kennedys rise…and fall, one who watched the denouement of Vietnam with more than a jaundiced eye (I was number 13 in the draft lottery at age19), and one who cheered as the treachery of Nixon was exposed and expunged, I am utterly furious at most of our leaders in our the most recent past.
I am beyond angry that Bill Clinton could not keep his dick in his pants and his mind on his country and gave the far right the crack they needed to drive a legal and social wedge into our politics that has poisoned the communal well ever since. Whatever good he managed to accomplish, despite the never-ending investigations and defenses he had to mount, is forever tainted by such pasty compromises as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Clinton was a master orator and had a mind for the ages. In the end, he was a coward, a liar, and most of all he was addicted to power in the way so many in politics are; he was a needy supplicant whose every motivation was calculated to keep him in power. Valiant leadership, courageous position taking, moral forthrightness, were luxuries a person like he could not afford. He did not set the stage, but he pulled back the curtain on Act I in Oz.
The machinations of national politics have had many twists and turns since then; presidents of dubious qualifications and motivations, Machiavellian sycophants-a-million who have crafted, cajoled, and stolen laws into effect that have systematically degraded the human condition, the environment, the poor, the vulnerable; the most of us. And all the while we watched, expressing varying degrees of mild to moderate indignation at the injustice of it all….from our comfortable homes….watching the horrors of the “others” unfold on our televisions every night. We have clung to “our” newsreaders like a 4-year old to its mother’s hand in a crowded mall; a mall which is closed and painfully out of date now I might add. We secret ourselves away from the “other’s” news and sources because, frankly, they are bullshit and we know that to be fact. But in doing so we only encourage the same from the other side and so here we are, caught in a Mexican standoff, literally, with Mexico and every other great nation we once worked closely with and that once held us up as a beacon of strength if not right-ness.
And then we climbed the pinnacle, we summited with the election of a Black man as president. I think we all had an illusory image in our fevered minds that we had somehow, in one night, in one election, overcome the 400 years of our own shame and sedition and somehow cleansed our country’s collective conscience of all past sins.
We were wrong. We were shockingly lazy in our ignorance.
I am Angry at Obama and the Democratic congress that held the reins of the majority in their hands for two solid years. Whether too weak to know how to wield the power they had, or too intimidated by the threats from the right, or simply too “democratic polite” to get down to business and correct, at the very least, the faults enacted in the previous 8 years of Bush it no longer matters. What we DID do was sit back and let the republican minority hold us all hostage and tell larger and louder lies about our “agendas” that fueled their base with the fears of the ignorant. If the low-information voter is a real thing (and I believe it is) then why couldn’t the best and the brightest of us manage to up-inform a bunch of them into a place where common sense prevails and moral decency is more than a bumper sticker for the pickup people of middle America?
Instead, in an election so obviously tainted with the stink of Russia, we “selected” a tyrant TV shock jock whose very existence should be anathema to the middle class he purports to speak for. They did this to themselves They did this to us. And instead of raging louder than any nation has ever roared we watched this train wreck itself on our own shores, ruin our own lives, and hasten the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors because of what? Inattention and lack of education about our own world and our own country and our own complacency. We were sheep to the slaughter and deservedly so.
So now, as I stew in my own personal pot of anger and angst, I ask myself; what do I do from here? What can I do with my rage? How can I manage to not harm myself any further with internalized regrets and rage that eat away at my every good intention? As yet, I have no tangible answers. As yet, I work every minute to open myself to others who I know are here with me. I hope for inspiration and insight and maybe, through active, attentive, listening…..maybe then….
I can make Ruth Bader Ginsberg proud.