One doesn’t expect to have the urge to flee one’s country at the age of 62. But, to be honest, the urge is there. I can’t begin to describe just how disconcerting that is.
I have to be honest with you, Vera. If it weren’t for you and the rest of our family, I might be packing. Or if I were younger, I’d give serious thought to pursuing my education elsewhere, creating options for my post-graduate life. If I were heading off to college, I’d seriously consider a Canadian university. Interesting, recent data indicate more students are doing that very thing. (Canada even provides international students with a path to citizenship, apparently, in an enlightened moment seemingly rare south of the border, aware of the significant benefits educated people can bring to an economy and nation.) Actually, though, I wouldn’t relocate to Canada, mainly because, if Mr. Trump does what he says he’s going to do, he’ll wreak havoc on their economy.
I think I could be quite happy in New Zealand or Australia. Or perhaps even one of the moderate climate South American countries, although I don’t relish the thought of having to learn Spanish at this late stage.
I doubt I’d relocate to Europe. It’s a mess politically and fiscally. It’s quite possible it’s worst days lie ahead, especially with the Trump-inspired despot on the move to the east. Europe has a long history of being a warring continent. If the E.U. unravels, it’s quite possible the continent may return to its self-destructive ways.
England would be an option if it weren’t for their lousy weather. The gardens love it. But I’m not a plant.
So why do I have this urge? What would cause someone like me to even have this troubling thought?
It’s not complicated, I suppose. America, from my perspective, is becoming a very fearful and self-destructive place — a place that seems intent upon being the least it can be. It seems intent upon meeting low expectations. There is nothing great about the America Mr. Trump wants to create — except, of course, for Mr. Trump and his family, who stand to prosper immensely from his position, policies and decisions.
For the first time ever, I’m wondering just how fast one person can destroy a nation. I fear we may soon learn.
The election of Mr. Trump was a terribly reckless act. Daily, he embarrasses himself and his nation. Daily, he has shown us, as Roger Simon recently wrote, “that democracy is not inevitable. [That] it can fail. … how democracy can be transformed into something evil.”
Mr. Trump’s attack on a federal judge over the weekend, and by extension the rule of law, and constant disrespect for the constitution and our system of governance, only heightened my concerns.
So what is one to do?
I won’t flee, despite the impulse. I could never leave you behind, Vera, or your parents and other relatives. Moreover, as an American, I feel a duty to act. Frankly, it seems un-American to stand by silently and watch someone hijack our country. Passivity seems too much like complicity. So I’m left with only one option: to resist — to fight for the values and principles I hold dear — and to focus on the people I can help and the gifts I can bear.
I will resist not only Mr. Trump and the cowards, obfuscators, opportunists and thugs who stand with him in Washington, but also the elitists (e.g., Mr. Schumer) who seek a nation that primarily serves their own pecuniary interests. Indeed, if Mr. Trump were to retire today, we’d still be left with the problems that gave rise to him — problems that were ignored and, indeed, fed by an elite of both political parties for years. As I’ve said before, Mr. Trump isn’t the cause of our problems; he’s the symptom and inevitable, predictable product. Nonetheless, we must not allow him to have his way, for it we do, surely he will do much damage to this beloved country of ours and to many people who get caught in his wake.
And so, I will march. I will protest. I like how renowned attorney Mike Tigar put it in a recent blog post titled Crimes and Follies of Donald Trump — Fighting Trumpism Like a Lawyer: “Don’t mourn — organize!”
I will make known to my elected representatives my strong desire that they reject this charlatan’s leadership as well as the short-sighted selfish element that laid the foundation upon which this house of cards has been constructed.
I will support the voices of reason and the opposition. I will support candidates of reason — and elected officials who possess the courage, wisdom, compassion and vision to do the right thing. And I will support those who labor in the courts and elsewhere to protect and safeguard our freedoms — organizations like the ACLU.
I will help the victims. The oppressed. Those who are ill-deserved targets of hate or deeply flawed policies. I will help financially and with the talents and resources I have at my disposal. I will help people to the best of my abilities.
I will not, however, resort to violence. I will not seek to destroy. I will seek to build. I will endeavor to be not merely against something, but for something.
I will endeavor to be brave. I will strive to take risks.
This morning, as I’m typing these words, I read about the death of Brunhilde Pomsel, a former secretary to Nazi Germany’s propaganda boss Joseph Goebbels. Ms. Pommel died aged 106. I read a quote where she said she couldn’t have resisted the Nazis even if she had known about the death camps and other atrocities (she denies having known). Why? She said it was because she was a coward. I suspect I’m one, too.
Which is why I’m going to try to muster courage and resolve. There is no joy, or honor, in being a coward.
I realize some may think all of this borders on hysteria. Perhaps. But some of these people have far more confidence in our institutions than I do. I’ve seen how much of our judiciary, including our Supreme Court, has been willing to do the wrong thing when it served their selfish interests and those of their fellow elites. I’ve seen how Congress bends to the prevailing wind and lives in fear of Mr. Trump’s Twitter intimidation tactics; how little true leadership emanates from those hallowed halls. It’s just too hard to think anyone can depend on any of them.
If we are to defend our heritage as a land of freedom, tolerance and justice, as a land that forever strives to reach higher and stand taller, it will be up to the people.
It matters not whether I think we’ll be successful. If one never tries, one will never know. What I do know, however, is this: powers are vying for our allegiance that could be extremely damaging to us and the world if allowed to prevail.
And let there be no mistake: it is a conflict. With adversaries. But it is a battle worth having. The only alternative is to acquiesce.
Yet the very thought of doing so is antithetical to the ideals that undergird this unique land — a land that proclaims the dual virtues of liberty and justice for all. Indeed, it is antithetical to the very concept of democracy (especially considering only 26% of eligible voters voted for Mr. Trump).
There has never been a time such as this in my lifetime. Nor did I ever imagine we’d find ourselves at this place. This is not a kumbaya moment. This is not a Sermon on the Mount moment either. Rather, this is a moment more akin to the temple scene, when the master overturned the tables. This is a moment more akin to the scene when the great teacher, the one who challenged entrenched, deceitful and powerful systems of domination and subjugation, stood before the representative of that power and basically said, “You wouldn’t know the truth if it were standing before you.”
Some people think it was — the truth, that is. And it’s time for those people to be courageous. And engage. And fight for what which they (we) believe is right and true. And just.
But it’s not principally about overturning tables. Or bravely confronting the powers that seek to divide, dominant and subjugate. It’s about the basin. It’s about helping. And giving. And being for something. For, each other. For, justice. For, compassion and decency. For, each other.
At times such as this, Vera, much is at stake for my home and yours: the U.S.A. And I for one refuse to leave it to the likes of men such as Donald J. Trump and Stephen K. Bannon, or to the forces that inspire them or to the answers they provide.
I’m for something. But it looks very different.