Living In Interesting Times

Most of you are probably familiar with the ironically worded curse credited to the ancient Chinese, “May you live in interesting times.” And boy, do we live in interesting times.

Having a president in the White House as dangerously weird as Donald Trump is reason enough to feel that our times are far from stable — Even during the Cold War when nuclear annihilation was a major geopolitical consideration, the ultimate decision makers were, thankfully, rational men.

And what has been almost as disturbing as our president’s conduct, is the behavior of so many of his Republican Party enablers. His defenders in every level of government, his media cheerleaders, his staunchly loyal voter block, all continue to appear oblivious to the long-term harm he is doing to our nation, and the world. They remain unmindful of the repercussions of his behavior, and uncaring about who or how many are hurt by his ego-driven and self-serving whims.

How does he keep getting away with conduct that that would destroy the careers of more conventional political figures?

First of all, it’s wrong to assume you can lump Trump’s supporters into a few general categories to explain their loyalty. (I’ll let you fill in what you think those categories might be.) I’ve concluded that if you scratch the surface of a Trump supporter to see what keeps them loyal you won’t find some blanket mental state, but instead a single issue that they believe Donald Trump is defending for them. Trumpsters are willing to look the other way or remain willfully ignorant of facts, no matter what Trump does, as long as he continues to give lip service to their specific “cause” while thumbing his nose at anything said or done that is “against their cause.”

It’s an effective strategy that has been used to control groups for centuries. So is the United States inevitably destined to be cripplingly divided? — As George Carlin said when asking if we should care about the length of his hair, “au contraire, mon frere.” Things may change for the better sooner than we might expect.

The signs that a growing majority of Americans want to walk away from our “interesting times” grow stronger each day. In 2018, when Democratic voters got their act together to take back control of the U.S. House, Donald Trump’s behavior was their motivation. — Here in Illinois, progressive voters had the added incentive of candidate Bruce Rauner to drive them to action.

Since that important Democratic victory, President Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior is stimulating even more movement toward progressive policies and candidates. Even as Executive Branch operatives stonewall against a co-equal government branch and millions of dollars of propaganda have begun to fill the airwaves, a national poll released yesterday found that 58% of Americans approve of a House impeachment inquiry. 

This is not the direction Trump and his shadowy backers had hoped for. The more Donald Trump reveals of his hollow self, the less attractive he is finally becoming to more people across the country.

And what of the single issues that have held the loyalty of the voters Republicans need in 2020? Well, Democrats are championing issues with the power to win some of those voters. Notably climate change, which can no longer be ignored, despite Trump’s denial of its existence. 

So, we really shouldn’t be pessimistic about the direction of things to come. And here’s one more reason for optimism. At last weekend’s DPOE Dinner, State Senator Laura Fine and our State Reps Robyn Gabel and Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz reported on an impressive list of new legislation they introduced or supported that will make life better for Illinois residents. — I hope you visit each of their websites to learn what has been accomplished in the first year since Rauner’s removal. You’ll be proud of their work.

Yes, these are indeed “interesting times.” But scroll down this newsletter and you’ll find a number of opportunities that will make 2020 and beyond ‘interesting” in a much more positive way.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973