the state of the union

Almost four years ago to the day I wrote:

On Election Day, we must consider more than just the cost of college or rebuilding infrastructure or even a wall along the Rio Grande. It’s about the preservation of peace and the future of the world system that has preserved it. I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because “stronger together” isn’t just a campaign slogan. It’s a worldview. We’re stronger when we work together with our allies.

Thinking back to my published work in 2016 like…

‘Too much at stake’ to trust Trump’s foreign policies” where I quoted George Keenan’s “Sources of Soviet Conduct”:

“To avoid destruction, the United States need only measure up to its own best traditions and prove itself worthy of preservation as a great nation.”

Or “Fates of Syria, Ukraine hinge on U.S. presidential election” where I argued:

There is not now, if there ever was, any evidence that Trump may be taken seriously as a candidate for the highest office in this country. We now face a choice as to whether we continue to lead the world’s democracies in military, economic and political power. For all of the nonsense that Hillary Clinton will be a step backward, or that she represents this or that or the other, for whatever the left of the Democratic Party could throw at her in the primary, the choice we now face could not be more clear nor could it be more vital. A vote for Trump or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is a vote for a foreign policy that is unhinged from reality. A vote for Hillary Clinton — in spite of her many public faults — represents what the United States and the world need more than ever: stability that Trump can’t provide.

Someone has to stand up for Kiev and Aleppo. If not the United States, then whom? The whole world is watching.

And the week following election day:

If Trump is to be believed, we now live in a world where the proliferation of nuclear weapons is not prohibited, it is to be encouraged. If our allies no longer believe that we will have their backs, they will be forced to turn inward, to build their own fortresses. If what Trump said during the campaign is true, if his words are to be believed, his “vision” of foreign policy, of American isolationism, makes violence and large-scale conflict more likely — not less. And that is truly frightening.

What has happened in the past few days has been scary enough: attacks on the LGBT community, against Muslims, African-Americans and against women. The answer is not for we who condemn such actions to retreat, but rather for us to organize, to work, to campaign and to win the 2018 mid-term elections and the presidential election in 2020. The solution is not to move to Canada. The solution is to stand for our values of decency and compassion, of openness and diversity. And not to hate those who hate us for those values.

But the last four years have been revealing. Both for this nation and for myself. Who the hell would have thought we’d be here now? Rereading my writing from then is proof enough.

I can barely stand to contemplate things from the same place that I did in 2016. Maybe out of self preservation? After we abandoned our brave Kurdish allies in Syria? After the President attempted to coerce Ukraine into generating propaganda on his now opponent for the presidency.

At least we haven’t started a World War?1

Now That’s What I Call Optimism 2020!

When I returned to the US in 2015, I was genuinely optimistic about the chances to make things meaningfully better! “by golly let’s get the neighborhood together and in support of some minor ordinance to improve the sidewalks!”

[hollow laughter]

Living in my solidly upper middle class neighborhood in one of the wealthiest parts of the country, most of the residential streets around me lack sidewalks. Not because the local government can’t afford them, but because the people on each block have an absolute veto on the safety of people walking on that block. By God.

I’ll never be able to buy a home here, not alone on my current salary. Even a condo is out of reach. I’m tired of watching Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Oracle, and ohhhh yes, Google (et al.) dominate ever larger portions of everything.2 Meanwhile, we’re accelerating a climate disaster that threatens the existence of our species on this planet. Don’t even get me started on the state of American transit and transportation policy. Please. Members of every community of color are slaughtered by those ostensibly sworn to “Protect and Serve” all of us.

Oh. And there are fascist gangs like Patriot Prayer, the US Park Police, the Proud Boys, ICE, etc. all roaming the streets of major American cities, actively encouraged by the President and leading members of his party and empowered by the far-right judges that Republicans in the US Senate have rubberstamped with alarming speed. In the midst of a pandemic that has been appallingly mismanaged or completely ignored.

I’m just starting at the words I wrote and it feels so unspeakably cursory a way to put things. But it was exhausting to write.

We can all play a role in preventing a fascist coup. But the most important thing may yet be simply to remember. Remember the death, the suffering, the remorseless cruelty. And more than anything, remember that Fascism never goes away.

God help all of us through this long dark winter.

  1. Yet. ↩︎

  2. Please for the love of god, DON’T USE CHROME, USE FIREFOX and Fastmail instead of Gmail. Your privacy is worth it and switching is easy. ↩︎