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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Letter To An Unknown Woman

I don't post as much these days as I once did -- like so many others, I have retreated into my family and teaching life a bit as the madness of the larger world is swept with destructive gale-force winds. But I am still writing my way through the distress and provocation of day to day life as ever nowadays, it's just that I've re-connected to some of my oldest and most trusted friends in longform letter-writing over the last year. It has been literally life-saving. Anyway, I'm deep in end-of-term teaching demands at the moment, little likely to craft a new post for a few days at any rate and this excerpt from a letter last weekend felt a bit like a blog post, so I have culled it of any tell-tale references, adapted it a tad, and pass it off as a blog-entry....
I enjoyed your optimistic appraisal of the Trump investigation -- I assume Europeans are eager for ANY sign of a resumption of "regular " order here in America. I'm afraid it looks less like that here. For me the Mueller investigation is a bit chilling right now -- because it really does look like demonstrable wrongdoing has occurred (I wasn't sure even the Trump bunch was THAT clueless and venal). Unfortunately, that does NOT mean that impeachment is any more likely than it was a year ago (which was nill), it is a political not a legal process in a very significant way. That very probably means Republicans will soon violate yet another set of governing norms to maintain their hold on power even as this destroys the viability of the Republic over which they hold that power.

I personally believe Trump will serve his full term. He may quit at that point (before that it is possible, but the chances are very slim in my opinion), because he seems miserable, but I strongly suspect he will run again because his ego needs the affirmation. I believe he has exactly the same path to re-election as he had for election in the first place. He might lose, he is unprecedentedly unpopular, but if the GOP activates its bigot base and promises to punish the ones they hate and fear it may well work again to the ruin of us all. How can we deny this? IT HAS HAPPENED ALREADY.

Perhaps Republican dysfunction will screw up their efforts to demolish the tax base on which our devastated at best never more than notionally sustainable social democracy depends. (We'll know three weeks from now, tops, just how bad it's going to be -- I am steeling myself for the absolute worst, vast wealth transfer upward, fatal sabotage of health care, abortion rollback, guns everywhere, the "tax" bill is becoming a fascist christmas tree in a room nobody gets to see.) But perhaps they'll screw it up, the negotiations are delicate even if it is all unfolding recklessly in darkness too fast for accountability. Perhaps paralysis and fear will undermine next year's efforts to re-enact all these efforts yet again, when battered and exhausted from this years struggles, we begin them yet again (thank the Goddess the Virginia off-year election has been read by both sides as a referendum on Trump that he miserably failed), and then perhaps a blue wave could overcomes gerrymandering and disenfranchisement enough to give Democrats control of one or both chambers of Congress (odds are against this, I fear, but it is probably a necessary result if we are going to make it through this emergency intact any time soon, I also truly fear) and gum up Trumpmerican efforts still more. Democrats would have to tread carefully then, minimizing Trump damage while trying to ensure the country blames Trump and not them for the next two years of inevitable frustration leading to the next Presidential election. Such a strategy will likely antagonize the progressive base in ways that will make the next primary as contentious as the last one -- and with exactly the same result, division, demoralization, self-sabotage.

If Democrats managed to control all the layers of government in 2020 somehow in spite of all the reasons everything is likely to go wrong instead, America can get roughly to about where we were in 2010 by 2022. Who knows what kinds of economic, environmental, or military catastrophes could happen between now and then to derange all these fragile calculations? Signs of another dot.bomb and bursting debt bubbles are everywhere, tyrants with arsenals (not just our own) are barking at one another, planetary alliances are shifting disturbingly (American exceptionalism is over, come what may, which is a plus for the world). Who knows if I'll even still be alive in 2022?
And even if we manage to pull off those miracles, at what point does greater progress happen? America should be like a continent-scaled Sweden already if the world is to turn back and save itself from eco-tastrophe. And, never forget: eco-tastrophe also means world war and world depression and social violence and existential threat. It would take a quarter century of vast effort to get where we need to be already. Instead, if Democrats save the country again (among other things, from themselves) it is most likely that we will have set the stage for yet another inevitable bigot backlash that smashes everything to pieces again by 2024, 2028 at the latest. I mean, demographic tipping points will presumably get us off this see-saw eventually -- but in time?

I doubt such speculations are much help when it comes to your panic attacks! But you are like me -- you don't have the option of NOT thinking things through and so the only sane option is to think things through as clearly as you can and then seek the support of those you care about while supporting those you care about as best you can. This is my own strategy, I suppose. Please take care of yourself, too.

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