Today, June 1st, is the perfect moment for the US of A to realize that what it wears on its head is catastrophe, not helmets.
Voters on both sides of the aisle have had a field day laughing at, belittleling, teasing our Dear Leader and his cohorts, men and women of little learning, less accomplishment, and basically no governmental experience. Legislative triumphs are at most non-existent, international agreements have evaporated, our international standing has sunk.
This past week has begun to see a hardening of battlelines against ignorance and shooting from the hip.
Alas, this has made America’s bed rockier and more unforgiving.
Going ‘way back some sixty years, in the study of the English language, we found the embryonic set-to between “The New Criticism”(F.R. Leavis’s baby) and a more traditional critical stance, based almost entirely on emotional, nature, and nuture.
Leavis, at large in England during the med-forties to the later seventies, seduced his followers into accepting only the unemotional presentation of ideas. Not for him the petticoats of Austen or Disraeli, or even Dickens. What Leavis favored was unfiltered fact. It was not enough to toy with country colors, birdsong, atmosphere. Leavis wanted reality. “The New Criticism” was meant to be bare-bone. He didn’t need to or want to understand the trauma of his fictional characters. It was enough that they were human and flawed and dependable in their actions and their choices. Their family situations were entirely beyond the point.
For undergraduates at the time (ourself among them) this made life exceedingly simple. No Freud or Adler, Jung or Lawrence. We read for understanding of human error, for taking a right fork rather than a left. Those choices lead our protagonists to easily sympathetic and understandable behavior. There was a cause-and-effect pay-off that could not be denied. (Side-bar: we’re writing this based on our memories, rather than on research.)
What this led to was simplicity itself: depend not on flora and fauna of disguise and subterfuge
Stare straight ahead at fact, result. It was not enough to rely on color, music, make-believe.
What this means for today’s Americans –either engaged or separated from the future – should be equally simple. In effect, what the new administration does matters more than what it says.
What the Donald is engaged in doing is destroying purposefully the pillars of a democracy that have proven to work (moderately, after all ) for more than two hundred years.
This does not come as a bulletin.
What does come as a terrific shock is the purposive destruction of what has made our nation great.
There is, around us all, nothing that indicates hope, progress, learning, self-defense, international cooperation. Day by day we find ourselves more isolated, more the object of ridicule.
As we watch and listen and read commentators today we are beginning to get a whiff of impatience, anger, fear. Not from the Donald, who knows not and neither does he care. He’s apparently free to excuse all kinds of wretched behavior just because he wants to, and nothing it seems can be done. Our separation of powers is melding into one giant hand of cards over which the Donald holds sway.
We are unprotected. Our allies are turning their backs. Our enemies do not bother to disguise their motives.
To write critically of his administration has reached a point of no return: prose doesn’t stop the Donald, weapons apparently do not, Congress hangs onto the Second Amendment without having anything in mind to do with it. Poverty grows. Wealth explodes. National goals disappear. Morals become only transitional.
Worse, the Donald’s base is bored beyond belief at listening to his critics, or even to his lies entertaining though they maybe.
America is replete with millions of people who believe that whatever the Donald is doing is done for their benefit. Including the final message to a once great nation: Donald Trump is the Party. Donald Trump is the King. The United States may well be sinking below the level of a Third World Country. No one seems to care.