This was the year that all the old, discredited, long-buried political ideas, practices and groups sprang back to life and took center stage. Trickle down economics. Brazen racism. Xenophobia. Tricks to keep the dark and the poor from voting. The KKK and the Nazis, A new Gilded Age with much more gold in fewer hands than ever. Demagoguery on steroids. Nuclear boat diplomacy. Selective coddling of autocrats and a genocidal head of state. Virulent nationalism. Sexist laws. Confederate icons. Homophobia as law and attitude. And that’s the short list.
The real zombies are running the show and they are way scarier than George Romero’s movie version.
Beyond that horrid but accurate image and thinking about how to describe in a nutshell my own feelings and those of millions of Americans about Year 1 of Donald Trump in the White House and the Republican juggernaut in Congress, I kept coming up with many apt words. Most happened to begin with the letter “d.” What could be more appropriate for an administration of the living dead? I went with that. Here it goes:
Despicable. Destructive. Disastrous. Dishonest. Delusional. Despotic. Dumb.
Then I reached for my dictionary and confirmed just how appropriate these adjectives are.
Despicable. That is or should be despised; contemptible.
No single word defines for me better than this one the totality of the first year of the Trump-GOP Congressional juggernaut. It applies to just about everything that this made-in-hell executive/legislative junta has done.
Trump that started even before he became a candidate, with a contemptible and persistent campaign of lies questioning the birthplace of President Barack Obama. Trump’s “birther” disinformation campaign was a way of challenging the first black president’s very legitimacy and of stoking, among the bigots and right-wing conspiracy nuts that make up the electoral bedrock of the GOP, smoldering racist rage and incredulity about the very possibility of an Obama as president. Don’t you have to be free, white, and 21 anymore? Take our country back!
That was the start of a pattern we have come to know all too well. After attempting to besmirch the prime symbol of African American triumph in a long and brave struggle from utter powerlessness under slavery to the pinnacle of world power, Trump naturally went after the Mexicans, the biggest Latino group in the nation.
For Trump the Mexican immigrants who help put affordable food on our tables and who Americans trust for the care for their young children and their aging parents are nothing but a bunch of rapists and drug dealers. The Big Lie in the service of channeling hate.
Destructive. Plenty of examples. The fierce crusade to dismantle Obamacare by any means necessary at the cost of denying millions of Americans critical health care coverage. Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, an international consensus reached after long and difficult negotiations and joined by very other nation to try to keep the Earth from burning and millions of people from drowning or dying of hunger and disease.
Disastrous. It has been a year of error and incompetence from the first day. Utterly unqualified appointees to top posts. Critical positions unfilled. Entire departments like State intentionally decimated. The mission of one department, environmental protection, turned on its head leading to a mass exodus of disgusted top-rate employees.
Dishonest. Examples abound. Running as a populist and governing for billionaires is only be the worst of a long list of outrageous lies.
Delusional. To begin at the beginning, Trump’s claim that his inauguration drew the biggest crowds ever was instantly belied by comparing aerial photos of the Obama and Trump inaugurations. Delusion after delusion followed. The latest fantasy is the administration’s claim that the just-approved colossal tax cut for the very rich won’t blow up the deficit. The worst is failure to accept the facts that when it comes to climate change, we have met the enemy and he is us.
Dumb. When it comes to ignorant presidents, George W. Bush set a very high bar. Donald Trump cleared that bar with ease just by expressing his belief that the great Frederick Douglas, dead for more than a century, is doing a great job.
Despotic. The fact that Donald Trump tries to govern like a bully is evident in his many threatening and hate-filled tweets. That he laments that a little old document, the Constitution, prevents him from ruling like a full-fledged autocrat explains his envy and admiration of Putin and his praise for the murderous Filipino leader Duterte.
Finally, the times we are suffering through remind me that we have been here before. McCarthyism; Japanese interment; Indian removal; the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1871; the 1924 immigration quota law intended to prevent southern and eastern Europeans from coming and changing the nation’s ethnic makeup; the Mexican, Vietnam Southeast Asian, and Iraq wars, trumped up on the pretext of non-existent acts or intended acts of aggression; Watergate, many Americans assumed all that was dead and buried. It wasn’t. The epidemic caused by the bacillus in Albert Camus’s novel The Plague ended. But the bacillus didn’t die. It lay dormant ready to reappear, bringing great human suffering. In the year 2017, the living dead rose from their graves and Plague made another visitation.
Dismayed but not defeated, I wish you a Happy New Year.