April 9, 2019
Every morning between five and six a.m., I open the door of our condo in Winston-Salem, bend down and pick up my copies of the Winston-Salem Journal and the New York Times. Sometimes that’s the only exercise I get if I am involved in some project or another.
Starting the morning with the newspaper and cup of coffee is a ritual that no amount of progress in the digital world is going to change. But something is changing and it is way beyond my ability to cope with without intense psychological therapy.
I’m losing interest in tracking the latest misdeeds and lies of our…okay, President. There was a time when I would devour at least the domestic news in a rigorous commitment to being an informed citizen. There was also a time not so long ago that when I read something that particularly angered me I would rush into the bathroom, where Carole was brushing her teeth, and exclaim: “Do you know what that idiot has done today!?” No more. There was a time when we would have a brief discussion about whatever misdeed had been done, but no more. Now she just raises an eyebrow and says “He’s a bad man!” (By the way, if you’re interested, that combination of an exclamation point and a question mark is known as an “interrobang.” It’s fun to use.)
I’ve labeled him an “idiot” and that requires some context. In ancient Greek, the word “idios,” from which our word “idiot” is derived, means “self.” Depending on how it is applied, it can mean someone who does not demonstrate social responsibility and political awareness and, since the ancient and modern Greeks are very political, it can also mean, in that context, that you are apathetic, uneducated and ignorant. In some translations, it has also meant someone who is only concerned about himself.
I think Trump qualifies. The thing is, I’m beginning to think that if my mounting apathy continues, I am in danger of becoming an idiot by my own definition.
I guess I’m just exhausted by the constant display of incompetency and malfeasance. Sometimes I can get reenergized when friends come over and we get into a robust political discussion. Lately, however, those discussions seem to peter out with a sad shake of the head. But at least no one makes the profound observation that we get the government we deserve. No one deserves Trump. Except his enablers.
I’m also embarrassed for our country. On a recent trip to Scotland we encountered a number of Scots who delicately avoided any questions about Trump or America. Usually, when we traveled abroad, friendly natives would regale us with stories about their vacations in America and express an admiration for us and especially for Barack and Michelle Obama. Maybe we’ll have to take that long-postponed trip to Russia.
Now, having ventilated, let me end on a positive note. I believe we are engaged in the most important national colloquy about what kind of a country we want to be since the Vietnam War protests and we are doing it without bloody violence on the barricades. Granted that significant violence is being done to the norms of political life and the rule of law. Still, our offended citizenry is patiently waiting until 2020 to express their feelings.
And that’s a good thing. But only if we can restore the norms and respect for the rule of law by dumping Trump in 2020. And that will happen only if the offended resolve not to become idiots themselves.
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