A Madman's Rants
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
A Turning Point?
Tuesday, January 8, 2018
These are crazy times. A former Republican Speaker of the House is pushing marijuana.
Choose any time in the past, and try to imagine hearing that sentence. It’s not easy. As a child of the ‘60s I sometimes fantasized a future where pot would be legal, a fantasy that included my writing ads for weed-infused breakfast cereal. (“Get up in the morning. No, REALLY get up in the morning!”)
But my imagination was far too limited. It never allowed me to contemplate the possibility that we’d move so far beyond my fantasy that the former Speaker’s new gig elicits a ho-hum yawn. I think about it now as a symbol of these times when heretofore unimaginable things have happened, are happening, and are daily considered at the highest levels of power.
We have as a President a stunted man-child who has known nothing but a life of luxury, and who has learned, through life-long practice, a critically important truth about enough Americans: they want to be lied to. Any lie will do, even those easily refuted by unchallenged facts. As Abraham Lincoln put it, “You can fool some of the people all of the time.” In today’s reality, “some of the people” will adore this dangerously ill-informed and incurious man whatever he says, whatever he does. That they were able to put him into the White House through an arcane electoral system that permits the candidate with fewer votes to “beat” the candidate who received significantly more votes is a subject that demands its own denunciation, different from the subject of this rant.
What has inspired these somewhat random thoughts is the promise of a prime-time speech he plans to give to the nation this evening, followed by a dramatic appearance at the U.S.-Mexican border (no doubt with a prototype of his “wall” behind him). The speech is designed to convince us that there is a national emergency there, and that a down- payment of more than $5 billion will eliminate the crisis. That he will fill this speech with lies is a certainty. The question only is which lies will he tell, and how effective will those lies be.
Nothing about these times is predictable (though I’ve just predicted that our national Liar-in-Chief will do it again this evening). John Boehner is selling marijuana. I am married to the man I love. The most exciting new member of the newly Democratic Congress proudly calls herself a Socialist, while another, the first Palestinian-American to be elected to that body, Rashida Tlaib, says without apology, “We are going to impeach the motherf'cker.” And, the motherf'cker, the President of the United States is on record (literally) bragging about grabbing women’s vaginas, though that’s not the word he and the boys in his locker room use when talking among themselves.
The President has shut down a significant portion of the government over a manufactured national emergency, and in so doing, may be creating a real national emergency. Limiting the effects of this national emergency will require a degree of backbone among those in the President’s party we have not seen heretofore. Will we this time?
I want to hope Republicans in the Senate will finally stand and say, aloud, “This has to stop, and it has to stop here and now!” But even as I express that hope, I feel like Charlie Brown running to kick the football Lucy is about to snatch away, again.
“We the People” are probably the most celebrated three words in all our founding documents. Predicting that the President will lie this evening is as safe as predicting that beer will flow freely at Justice Kavanaugh’s next house party. But what isn’t safe is predicting how “we the people” will react to those lies – including the people who claim to represent the rest of us in our national legislature.
Whatever course we take, I think we are at a major turning point in the life of the Trump Administration, and, perhaps, in the country’s history. My vision, though, is again limited. I cannot see which direction this turning will point us: toward ceding even more to the little man who hungers for the power wielded by those he admires so much in places like the Philippines, Russia and Saudi Arabia, or toward “the better angels of our nature,” as Abraham Lincoln urged at the end of the Civil War.
Will “We the people” find our footing and celebrate a resurgence of democracy, or will we take to the barricades? These are crazy times. A former Republican Speaker of the House is pushing marijuana.