I apologize to anyone who cares that I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks. Part of the problem is the enormity of the crisis at hand and the difficulty in breaking it down into bite-size pieces.
Consider: On the one hand, our chief administrator is a pathological liar who is brilliant at demagoguery but largely ignorant of the basic history of our country and apparently has little understanding of how the government he presides over works.
At the same time, because of cowardice and hypocrisy, the branch of government that could effectively check him has failed to exercise its constitutional responsibility.
We’re also learning the cost of decades of congressional delegation of its powers to the executive and the more recent failure of Congress to come to grips with the problems confronting us.
On top of all of this is the quite evident fact that the president is in violation of his oath of office and the law. He gets away with it though, doesn’t he? Unlike Ronald Reagan, who earned a reputation as the Teflon President because none of his malapropisms and blunders seemed to stick to him, the current officeholder gets away with it because of the sheer volume and constant flow of new outrages. We have hardly absorbed one when another comes cascading down so that it becomes difficult to focus on one long enough to digest it.
The sheer volume is overwhelming: Undermining the Western alliance while paling around with Russians, especially Vladimir Putin; pursuing inhumane policies toward refugees seeking asylum; making racist statements that apparently encourage white supremacists to commit acts of violence; declaring a false emergency to circumvent Congress to build an unneeded wall on our southern border that he promised Mexico would pay for; violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution (and, by the way, the terms of the lease for the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC), withdrawing from the Paris Accord on climate change and simultaneously loosening the restraints on coal production and use in electric power generation—one of the leading causes of carbon release into the atmosphere and on and on.
The sheer volume of it all is one thing. The accompanying effect is to overwhelm us, of course, and to keep us from digesting any one of these acts, like a bad meal that leaves us feeling nauseated. In addition, though, is the long-term impact of our becoming accustomed to these outrages, wearing us down and wearing us out, just one more thing to incorporate into our daily lives. We run the risk of becoming inured to it, expecting it and ultimately unable to be outraged by it. It becomes the new norm. But we can’t allow to become the new norm because it simply is not normal.
This pattern may be more than simply the compulsive obsession of an angry, twisted mind—although it may well also be that. There may be method to this madness, a strategy to accomplish what I have just described.
Whether it is planned or not, though, we have to keep reminding ourselves that none of this is normal or acceptable. We have to maintain a positive vision of what normal is—not some notion of a conflict-free world but one in which differences can be settled reasonably through an orderly process of discussion and compromise. That vision is idealistic enough. It represents a goal that we can aspire to, rather than submitting to anger and narrow self-interest.
Meanwhile, be grateful that we haven’t had a foreign policy crisis. Our ship of state is without a captain.