It’s Time to Demand Something Better
Without collective introspection and a marginalization of those who aren’t interested, the human tragedy that plays out every day in America will continue to be normalized.
It seems like “implosion” should be the word of the day or week. I think that the end of the Trump disaster is at hand. However, I just want it to come slowly enough and painfully enough that the Republican Party in America emerges from this disaster gravely wounded for generations. This will give the rest of us a new opportunity to try to realize some of what the American dream was supposed to be.
Having any chance of doing this will require the renewal of a contract between the governed and their government that embraces both the expectations and the responsibilities inherent in a society free to choose its leadership class. It can only be hoped that as Trump is swallowed by his own swamp, most Americans will come to realize that good government is a large part of the solution and almost no part of the problem. And, perhaps most critically, that good government requires good leadership.
The federal government is in crisis at Trump’s hand, with institutional decline accelerating rapidly amid the growing avalanche of evidence of the criminal enterprise that Trump, his family and his friends have run for years and that now reaches deeply into America’s public domain.
Migrants at the US Border
To better understand the extent to which corruption and venal intent can undermine institutional integrity, take notice of the images that have recently appeared of migrant children and adults at the US border with Mexico having numbers etched on their forearms with permanent markers. While some of them may be too innocent to know, I know and you know how horrific that image is. While it is unclear who decided this was a good idea at the southern border, it is clear that the US Department of Homeland Security and Trump don’t seem to have noticed or don’t care.
To turn a blind eye to this symbol of human depravity is so wrong and so misguided that it should serve to remind each of us of just how rotten our institutions can become and how quickly it can happen.
Maybe America needs to see its soul etched on the forearms of innocents to begin to recover some semblance of decency, some collective notion that we are all better off when each of us is better off. But this is just a starting point for the much larger national discussion to come during and after the fall of Trump — how does the nation go about repairing the damage to the governmental institutions required to respond to its human and humane needs.
A sure first step is for Democrats in Congress to identify the executive branch excesses, demand accountability and reaffirm the oversight role of the legislative branch in the Constitutional design touted by all, but completely disregarded for the last two years by congressional Republicans. Then, a grateful nod can be made to the judicial branch where at least some of the most egregious executive branch excesses were halted before more extensive damage could be done.
These domestic concerns must be confronted before any meaningful approach can be made on the world stage to begin to repair the damage done there by Trump and his cabal. A weak and wounded America that cannot address its internal decay will have a hard time regaining the trust essential to the partnerships required to meet international challenges.
As I have noted previously, Trump’s only meaningful domestic accomplishment has been to bring racism out of the caves to be more readily exposed, better understood and possibly confronted. In the international context, Trump’s personal arrogance of power has allowed for a more open examination of the ravages wrought by America’s historic national arrogance of power.
World leaders, both good and bad, seem freed to ask questions out loud that should have been asked for decades since America emerged as the self-proclaimed leader of the “free world.” Trump’s notion of a world order that has every nation clawing for its own version of greatness has finally engendered a critical examination of America’s stewardship of the existing world order. With America’s exaggerated footprint in every corner of the world where death and destruction rain from the skies and from behind bunkers, it is high time that the rest of the world starts asking why this is so and who is really responsible.
With the end of Trump in sight, it will be incumbent upon America’s leaders, old and new, to understand the institutional damage that has been done and the critical need to begin the long slog toward repairing as much of it as possible. This will not be easy. “American exceptionalism” still clings to the psyche of way too many Americans, acting as blinders that routinely allow for distortion of historic reality and a misguided sense that we are “good” people at heart.
Be Ashamed and Get Angry
In this context, there is just too much room to gloss over too much and allow the calming notion that “good” people lost their way for a little while on the path to “greatness.” That arrogance provides a vacuous exit ramp for Trump, free of the national introspection that is critical to a better America. Without this collective introspection and a marginalization of those who aren’t interested, the human tragedy that plays out every day in this land of plenty will continue to be normalized.
We cannot stand by and let this happen anymore. In recent years, America has seen so much tragedy unfold without the collective will to respond that almost nothing seems capable of provoking prolonged shame and outrage.
Now, the nation’s moral fiber has been stained again. This time the stain spreads from the bodies of two Guatemalan children — Jakelin Caal Maquín, age 7, and Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, age 8. They both died in the last month in the custody of the United States government while seeking a better life in the United States of America. Think about that, be ashamed and get angry.
*[A version of this article was 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.