What We Can Do - 1/26/17
Fuck if I know, kids.
After one Saturday where it seemed like the spirit of America could take the proverbial light as millions marched across the country, Trump's first week in office went on to be a relative nightmare. Those who falsely assumed his idiocy and mismatched cabinet of hired goons would pave the way to a stagnation administration were instead cold-cocked with a series of surgical executive orders that were doled out with reckless abandon. It's the kind of thing that has Bannon's fingerprints all over it (who I should remind you, is smarter than Richard Spencer). The tact is simple: Press hard. Press everywhere. Press all the time. And then get away with everything you can. These orders ran the spectrum, a War on Science. Women. Inner cities. Muslims. Immigrants. You name it.
It is a war on the America that is, all in the name of an America that never was.
Within all that, the most weirdly troubling notion might be Trump's batshit fixation on voter fraud, all stemming from his narcissistic fear that he lost the popular vote and that makes him illegitimate. While some like to take heed in the notion that he's unhappy with this fact, we now have more than enough evidence to know such unhappiness and perceived slights just fuels more destruction. And this will not just be a distraction, mind you. It will be a huge agent in creating new voter discrimination laws designed at minorities and liberals (they've literally made this clear. There is nothing to debate). But what actually strikes fear in my heart is that what fuels Trump's certainty is not some Machiavellian plan, but instead some pro-golfer's story about witnessing voter fraud, merely complaining about others being there at the polling "who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote." (read: minorities / actual racism). And this was a story from a German golfer who I shit you not, was there to vote illegally.
You can not make this stuff up.
To that, we are living in insanity. The President of the United States is an unstable, thin-skinned egomaniac who is wreaking destruction with every sign of his pen, every irresponsible claim, and every ludicrous tweet. He is hell-bent on undermining just about everything in our modern democracy. And behind him, 1/3 of the population echoing every bit of sentiment, embracing the upside-down logic, and more or less just rejoicing in the idea that their enemies (read: liberals, non-white people) are crying and back on their heels. Make one comment and they show up five hours later on the dot, ready to unfurl hate and then accuse you of failing to embrace rational and logical discourse (don't worry, the block button is strong these days). It is very easy to look at all this and despair, but hey, a third of America was on the side of the Brits during the American revolution, so maybe that's just how things go.
But here's what we can do.
Admit this is really happening.
Yes, this is happening in a lot of complicated, nuanced ways. As far as I can tell they're using about 19 different disinformation tactics right now and it's coupling with the Trump's ugly psychology, but the end result is simple and beyond clear: we are now living under an administration whose primary aim is fascistic chaos. And it is real.
Perhaps the confusion comes from the fact that we all have some Orwellian image in our minds of what living under fascism is like, troops rampaging the streets and whatnot. But I assure you, it's so much more ordinary than that. Heck, there was a good long while where living in Nazi Germany was quite pleasant, even as the men in uniform conducted a blitz and the Rosenbaums and Gorfiens down the street seemed to disappear. But it didn't affect you like that, so how can it really be fascistic? I don't make these comparisons because I want us to be hysterical about this. I make them because want us to be sober about this.
Because I think it's the only way to figure out how to live within it.
To be clear, it is patently unfair to compare any peace state to that of someone living in a state of actual war, in which the trauma and hardship is incomparable. I would never do that. But I still keep thinking about the psychology of that phrase "life during wartime" when it comes to trying to figure out the act of daily living in a world where everything, everything is now heading in the wrong direction. I keep picturing Trump and all those men in that room signing horrific thing after horrific thing and there is a stunning sense of powerlessness that accompanies it. After this week, I was looking at a subject for "what we can do" and it's like, what could you even focus on? I find myself reading constant articles about constitutional law and conflicts of interest. What can I do that fixes all this? I want to fight all of it, all the time, in every direction. But in that dizzying space, I can't help but fret which one is the solution. Which button do we press that makes it all go away? And that's when it hits you.
There is nothing you can do to make it go away. It is here now. It is a given.
So there is only what we can be in spite of it.
What I think we must realize is this is not a consolation prize. This is life. And it is yours. And it is ours. So we just need to take everything we believe in and make it part of the fabric of our lives. Is it me, or should there be a march EVERY Saturday in the Washington mall? A new cause every week. There's more than enough under threat. I want bigger crowds than his inauguration each and every Saturday (shouldn't be that hard). I want our democratic leaders to feel supported and our conservative ones having second thoughts. I want us to live in the kind of lives where it's just part of the fabric of the world we've fought for. Take it from your national parks, daily acts of kindness and intelligence are acts of subversion. So be vocal about your America every day. Make your America every day.
And to that, I'm going to do things in the world around me. I'm going to make it simple. I'm finally going to finish this column on The Knick, dammit. I'm also gonna donate to Planned Parenthood. I'm gonna call senators. I'm going to cook yummy food and openly brag about it on my Instagram. I'm going to read. I'm going to read everything. I'm going to promise to stand up for every disenfranchised person I can. I'm going to go to the New Beverly. I'm going to answer your emails as best I can (I will be sure to take 15 minutes every day, apologies as it's impossible to get at all of them). I'm gonna work on a dream project, and I'm going to make it the best thing possible. I'm going to march. I'm going to get drunk sometimes with friends. I'm going to struggle to get health insurance to treat this pre-existing condition from a false diagnosis. I'm going to tell friends I appreciate them. I am going to tell them I'm here if they ever need to talk. I'm going to admit I don't have the answers. I'm going to be kinder. I'm going to criticize every hateful thing the government does. I'm going to espouse every good virtue that I believe. More importantly, I'm going to listen to people who struggle and fight on the front lines of those issues every day. For them, for you, I'm going to try and make the world we want to live in.
With that, make your America every day.
Because it's the one that's really happening, too.
And I love you so much.