Editor’s note: This commentary is by Walt Amses, a writer who lives in North Calais.
eing able to observe the entire world or the back road where I live and then sit at my desk — as I’m doing now — forming an opinion or noting an observation and then sharing it with readers, is not lost on me — I know it’s a privilege. Being creative, however we can, whether words or wood, plumbing, painting or poetry, is one of the necessities of a satisfying life, too often perceived as a luxury. Although we have a well documented need for others — family, friends and community — reflections of our individuality, why we’re unique are just as vital.
Psychologists believe our ability to express ourselves and having the opportunity to do so might help conquer our fears and soothe our anxiety; enhance our relationships both with others and ourselves; assist us in developing stronger boundaries; boost our creativity; and even expand our sense of time. Well, I’m not sure if my sense of time is expanding, but it certainly feels at times like it might be running out.
When I think back two and a half years, I remember cautioning against “normalizing” our president and his decidedly abnormal behavior but wonder now if we’ve unwittingly contributed to that very thing. The inherent humor or absurdity in certain situations, is what I frequently try to convey, with the success of that little endeavor often dependent on the alignment of respective viewpoints. One thing is certain though — mining the treasure trove of Trump lunacy may have already reached its apex: The absurdity has become increasingly redundant and the humor isn’t nearly as funny and considering where we are, maybe it never should have been.
However ignorant or ill-informed the president might be, his transparent effort to consolidate power has remade the Supreme Court in his image and threatens to obliterate Congress as a co-equal branch of government. The implications of our political process and perhaps the pillars of democracy unravelling in Trump’s America, simultaneously, on a multitude of fronts, brazenly, in full view, have become as disheartening as anything I can remember since 9/11.
And as horrifying as the terrorist attacks were, we came out of them — at least for a while — with a sense community: From the devastation in New York City to Washington, D.C., to a field in Pennsylvania, lifted by the empathy from every town and hamlet across the country, we found our collective identity when we needed it most. We were Americans. We cried together and we stood together. We stood tall and we spoke with one voice. We were down but certainly not out. We knew our world would never be the same but failed to see that our vulnerability would soon be manipulated by devious elements of our own government, taking us into the wrong war, at the wrong time against the wrong country.
Nineteen years down the road, it’s more than troubling to watch another president, even less qualified than George Bush, again beating the drums of war in the Middle East based on a conflict that he himself created by pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal last August. What’s worse, Trump ditched the deal despite the fact that — according to multiple sources — the Iranians were complying with the treaty’s stipulations and the agreement was essentially working. The main concern was that the deal was negotiated by Barack Obama and individual number one lacks the capacity to tolerate success attributed to anyone else — especially his predecessor.
Our previous experience tells us that another war in the Middle East would be ill-advised for a number of reasons, none of them very funny. National Security Advisor John Bolton, who — like his boss — managed to avoid going to war when he had the opportunity, appears to be running the show. He’s quoted as saying “I didn’t want to die in some rice paddy” … as if other young men did. According to Judd Gregg, writing on The Hill, Bolton “has a dark and foreboding view of Tehran.” Fears have also surfaced among Democrats that Trump is listening to his bellicose adviser in the belief that a war would take the focus off the controversy surrounding the Mueller report and the growing calls for his impeachment.
There’s not an awful lot to laugh about domestically either, as it becomes increasingly clear that Trump considers himself the president of only a portion of the country, as though having voted against him constitutes a breach of patriotism. As Christian evangelicals rejoice at the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court, the president and GOP seem content to shred the Constitution, allowing one religion to dictate policy for the rest of the country. And after a woman’s right to choose is dismantled, don’t think for a moment that the LGBT community and gay marriage are not firmly in the religious right’s crosshairs.
Not only is all this disheartening, but personally, I’m rethinking my own tendency to go for the laughs … what Trump is doing to the country is no laughing matter. As important as our individual self expression might be, our collective voice needs to be heard as well. The president being idiotically unsuited for the job is no longer a joke. He gets more dangerous by the minute.
America cannot allow Donald Trump to have the last laugh.
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