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Potomac River, Washington, DC, USA © Kevin B. Photography

Venal “Leaders” Are Fleecing America

Americans seem unable to perceive the present peril to the vitality of the nation as a whole.

Recent “breaking news” coverage of the Mueller investigation of Trump and his cabal and everything Stormy leaves the impression that lawyers of every stripe have their tentacles in all aspects of the sordid Trump drama. And just when you tire of legal insight from actual lawyers, up pop the non-lawyers to offer their “legal” insight, including the almost daily fountain of lies from the White House Press Office and the occasional “legal” tidbit from Trump himself.

Next up is the Zuckerberg performance before Congress. Three things were abundantly clear: 1) Mark Zuckerberg listened to his wife and got a suit to wear; 2) Zuckerberg listened to real lawyers about never admitting anything of legal import after you apologize for being a way too trusting type of guy; and 3) virtually none of the senators and representatives took the time to learn anything from their tech-savvy staffers before embarrassing themselves in front of the cameras.

As if this isn’t enough, the speaker of the House of Representatives has decided not to run for re-election so he can spend more time with the family he says he has neglected because he cared so much about us. This is the same guy who led the charge against access to meaningful health care for millions of other people’s family members and designed a massive corporate tax cut that largely favors wealthy individuals at the expense of the infrastructure, health care and education investments so critical to the rest of us. I guess he values his family a lot, but doesn’t want to waste any more of his time making life “better” for other people’s families.

Oh, and just to complete the picture, there is the rogues gallery of cabinet officials who seem to believe that America is so lucky to have each of them on the job that we should overlook their ethical shortcomings. With Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency at the head of the class, there is a cascading sense that even Trump can’t believe that his swamp is filled with so many petty thieves who only serve themselves while shinning a bright light on Trump’s ethical void.

There is a common thread in all of this depressing imagery — the morally blank stare from venal “leaders” as they fleece a nation unwilling to gather itself to collectively demand something better.

Americans seem unable to perceive the peril to the vitality of the nation as a whole. But, at the least, they ought to be able to understand that the public institutions at the core of the nation’s governance are under attack and failing. Meanwhile, as the Facebook saga indicates, corporate behemoths rise to fight for themselves with neither regard for, nor interest in, the public good.

So we are adrift with no life raft in sight. Trump will fall before long, but already weakened public institutions will be slow to respond to calm the storm. Practiced political paralysis is likely to ensure an uneven response at best and a dangerous drift to violence at worst. Those looking to find solace in Mike Pence will find a moral midget enthralled with his own rapturous glow.

With key players already lawyered up and a public dumbing itself down by feeding on lies and false narratives, it is hard to see how this ends well. I have been among those suggesting the likelihood that Americans will awaken only when the nation hits some unspecified rock bottom. I now think that we have hit that bottom, so this would a mighty fine time to collectively smarten up. There isn’t enough time to educate too many more folks, nor is there a collective willingness to be educated.

Even the public spectacle of the fired former FBI director, James Comey, engaged in a personal food fight with Trump doesn’t seem to have awakened those who have remained silent for so long. This is in part because Trump tweets and the press chirps, each avoiding seriously confronting the significant conclusions that Comey has reached. As a former high-level public servant, a Republican and a lawyer trained to collect and analyze evidence, his willingness to provide public testimony has put on the record what so many others are too cowardly to say: The president of the United States is morally unfit for office and a pathological liar who is corrupting the very institutions he is charged with managing.

Wake Up, America

So, the present challenge is how to awaken the nation from its dumbed down slumber and quickly galvanize an awakened populace to forcefully respond. Normally this takes leadership, but I can’t find any.

The most hopeful sign that I see is a growing awareness among progressive activists that this time around it is time to put our litmus tests on hold and find candidates who say they are Democrats and can win in the coming November elections. Democratic Party control of the Congress is not a choice any longer; it is an imperative.

It can only be hoped that women of conscience will continue to express their fear and loathing of the Republican agenda in general and Trump in particular. Whatever it takes, these women must lead the march to the polls.

Meanwhile, the kids from Parkland and the movement they have birthed can’t take a summer vacation. Every day, in every way they can, they and their young allies must work hard on voter registration of the many young lives that matter in every state in the nation, but with a clear and well-organized focus on districts with vulnerable Republican Party representatives. Then, through astute use of social media, they have to deliver those votes, their parent’s votes, and the votes of the millennials who have been galvanized by their younger brethren.

If somehow the women lead and the kids vote, there should be enough additional caring men and still-committed baby boomers to sweep the trash out of Washington this November. I, for one, will happily volunteer to help remove the resulting sewage from Washington’s beloved Potomac River.

*[A version of this article was also featured on the author’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Kevin B. Photography / Shutterstock.com