Last night marked another one of those times when I harked back to a comment a friend made the day after the 2016 election: he said he had awakened that morning with a feeling that he was living in a different country. Of course, for most of us at that point, the election result evoked a sense of profound disappointment: our political system—yes the one we had mocked and criticized and lamented all our lives but which had somehow served us despite its shortcomings—that system had been exploded, and we faced an uncertain future maneuvering through the detritus left behind.
We’ve been living in that new country for nearly two years now: if only it had all turned out to be merely problematic and not the full-scale horror with which we are now confronted daily, its specifics ubiquitous and inescapable.
•We see it in the heartless and sadistic separation of immigrant children from their parents.
•We see it in the tacit acceptance and normalization of bigotry, racism, and intolerance.
•We see it in the daily attacks on the laws of our land by those who have sworn to uphold them.
•We see it in the willing authorization of illegal and immoral behavior by the erstwhile leader of the free world and the slavish officials who do his bidding.
The extent of the damage at so many levels exceeds our ability to keep up, the actions so insidious they beggar belief. On any given day we can pick up a newspaper and find more concrete evidence that our country is being remade into something unrecognizable. To wit:
In the America of 2016 an act that would turn back the clock on pollution standards and imperil the lives of thousands would have incurred nothing but scorn, but in our new country scorn serves as the barometer of effectiveness: the louder reasonable people cry foul, the more certain the president is that he’s following his mandate.
In the America of 2018 we are indeed living in a new country, something foreign and discomfiting; and every day this new autocracy takes hold under Trump’s egomaniacal control, the road back—already strewn with debris and overgrown with invasive weeds—becomes more difficult to navigate…or even locate. It’s just a matter of time before we forget there was ever a road at all.