Once it began to sink in on election night that the anticipated Great Blue Wave was not going to come and wash away the insanity that has gripped this land, the sad-but-obvious conclusion that I was forced to confront is this: We are a deeply divided nation.
Some 78 million Americans saw what has been happening to and in our country over the past four years and were motivated to wait in hours-long lines in northern cold and southern heat in the midst of a pandemic to rid our nation of Donald J. Trump. At the exact same time, nearly 73 million Americans braved those same conditions because they saw what has been happening to and in our country over the past four years and concluded that what America needed most was four more years of it.
Last week we learned that world leaders all think that Donald Trump is doing a great job handling this pandemic. “I spoke with Angela Merkel today, I spoke with Prime Minister Abe of Japan; I spoke with many of the leaders over the last four or five days. And so many of them, almost all of them — I would say all of them, not everyone would want to admit it — but they all view us as the world leader, and they’re following us.” That was a bit of a surprise to a lot of people, including the world leaders themselves. Because they don’t actually think that.
This week we learned that Barack Obama committed many crimes. Which crimes? Obvious crimes. Disgraceful crimes. Crimes that shouldn’t be allowed to happen again. So many crimes, in fact, and of such great magnitude that they deserve their own designation: Obamagate. And that’s how you know they happened. And that they were bad. Because they don’t just put -gate onto anything.
On Monday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed America that the reason the Trump administration’s response to the current health “situation” has been so dismal is not actually due to any fault of the Trump administration. Rather it is the fault of the Obama administration for failing to adequately prepare them for it. “[C]learly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this,” McConnell said.
This is a pretty big whopper, even by current whopper standards.
This is my sixth week living in our new paradigm. For the most part I’m doing okay, but there are times I feel an overwhelming emotional exhaustion. It isn’t brought on by fear of contracting COVID -19 or anxiety for the future or even the demands of social distancing. It’s because I feel like we’re walking a long road while at the same time those who should be leading us forward have tied a rope around our waists and are pulling us backwards. It’s like swimming against the tide. An uphill climb. Or walking into a headwind. Pick your metaphor. But it’s wearing me out.
Last week’s news was filled with reports that Trump was told back in January of the potential spread of the new coronavirus in the US and that millions of lives would be in peril unless he took immediate action to keep Americans home. Which, of course, he didn’t. Instead, he downplayed the threat and told us that everything was under control. Which, of course, it wasn’t. Unbelievably, in March when he finally admitted that this was serious stuff, he seemed “baffled” (according to his associates) by how events had played out. He said “no one could have predicted” such an epidemic. Which, of course, plenty of people did. These news reports were accompanied by logical, factual, unassailable evidence in the form of emails, memos, and quotes from administration officials as well as analysis of the results of his failure to act.
The concept of judgment has been on my mind a lot lately. Why are people so reluctant to judge? Why do we assume that we shouldn’t be judged by others? Why do we condemn people who judge? And why do we reject our responsibility to examine the words and actions of our elected leaders and to form opinions about their character?
Coincidentally, judging came up just yesterday in a conversation with my friend “Cynthia.” Cynthia supports the president (yes, it is still possible to have friends on the other side of the political spectrum), and our conversation was in the context of his idiotic rambling speech about wind. She defended him, once again — this time by saying that not everyone has the gift of oration and after all, aren’t we all misunderstood from time to time? She went on to say that in spite of all she’s seen and heard from him, she didn’t and couldn’t know what’s in his mind or in his heart. And then: “Who am I to judge?“