Friday, February 17, 2017

How Did We Get Here?

I started this blog nearly a decade ago because I needed a place to vent. We were in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, bogged down in two wars, deficit spending was out of control, and an overheated economy was about to crash and burn. In spite of all this, Democrats were relatively silent on these matters. Yes, the Democrats had taken over Congress in 2006 and we were about to elect our first African-American president, but there wasn't all that much outrage being voiced over the failed policies of Republicans. I felt like I needed a place to unleash my frustrations even if only a handful of people would read it.

Then Barack Obama became president during one of the dreariest periods in our country and, slowly but surely, he started turning things around. An infrastructure bill created much needed jobs, a loan to GM and Chrysler saved the American auto industry, and work began on the Affordable Care Act. Democrats felt like they had found a savior, and my frustration and outrage started to ebb. My posts shifted from a political nature to grousing about football and baseball. I, like a lot of other Democrats, decided that we were now safe and could go back to living regular lives.

Sure, I didn't like the racist tone that seeped into the right-wing rhetoric, particularly from the Tea Party Movement as it was usurped in its mission by white supremacists and Christian extremists. I was concerned when the Democrats didn't turn out for the mid-term election, causing us to lose the House. I was even more concerned about the continued loss of Democratic seats in Congress during the 2012 election, but hey, Obama got a second term! That had to count for something, right?

By 2016, the field of presidential candidates was not looking good. The Democrats had the inspirational but clearly too-liberal-for-middle-America Bernie Sanders and the extremely qualified but extremely reviled Hillary Clinton. I kept wondering, where's the young blood? Where are the Gen X-ers and Millenials who have been trampled by this rigged economy? Are we still letting the Baby Boomers call the political shots after half-a-century of "Look at me! We're the most important people on Earth!"?

Despite all this, I took solace in the fact that the Republicans were rolling out the same clown car of idiots, racists, and con men, including the biggest con man of them all, Donald J. Trump. I'd always been physically repulsed by the man since he made himself a household name in the 1980s. In the era of runaway avarice and classless conspicuous consumption, Trump was the personification of everything I hated about the Reagan era. But things were different now, right? Nobody was taking this blowhard game show host seriously, right?

As the results rolled in on election night, I had that same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I do when the weathermen suddenly realize that that 1-inch snowstorm they'd been forecasting all week has turned into a whopping blizzard. I mean, I knew with Hillary there was always a chance of failure, but surely people could not want Trump as our president? I got a hard lesson in just how little the American people understood about the complexity of the office and the fragile state of Trump's mind. This was not another case of, "Oh well, our person lost, Maybe next time." This was, "Oh my God, the American people just put a mentally unstable person in charge of the launch codes."

So here I am again, frustrated, angry, and venting. The only difference is, there is an awful lot of people out there venting with me. The Americans who see this man (and the Republican Party) for the true threat that it is are voicing their concerns, backing liberal causes like never before, and in general fighting to retain our principle values and thwart what could become our descent into fascism. I think Democrats stayed silent for so long because I believe, by nature, progressive thinkers are reasonable, rational human beings not easily swayed by hyperbole or given to impassioned demonstrations. We couldn't bring ourselves to believe that things could ever slip to this level. That was our Achilles' heel, and the Republicans had the perfect knife to slice it.

Once again, I'm writing to get my thoughts out there for what they're worth. I turning off the comments on this blog because I'm not about to fall into the rabbit hole of right-wing trolls baiting me with straw-man arguments or talking points from their favorite alt-right sites, Besides, I'm not here to pick fights. I just want to sort through where I see our country and some possible ways out of the mess we're in. I truly have sympathy for many Trump voters who were looking for someone to create new job opportunities and an economic system that helps bring the poor and middle class out of this downward spiral we've been in for the last 36 years. I would say that is a goal most Americans want.

The real villain here is a political system that favors the wealthy and lines the pockets of the politicians. In upcoming posts, I hope to offer my two cents on how we got here and how we might get out. Lord knows I've been wrong quite a bit, and I don't profess to be any more learned about these subjects than others, but I need to get these ideas out there and I hope you will find them interesting.

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