1. It’s Monday, May 22, 2017.
2. It’s the 161st anniversary of an incident in the House of Representatives in which a South Carolina congressman beat a Massachusetts senator who had spoken passionately against slavery.
Just a reminder that evil in this country is not restricted to the second decade of the 21st century.
3. I’m rebooting these blog posts after a long absence. There were two reasons for the hiatus.
One that was I was in the throes of teaching my two journalism classes. And while giving my students a lot of homework doesn’t endear me to them, it also doesn’t endear me to me – I was consistently about two weeks behind on my grading.
But the semester ended last week. I’m still recovering from reading 31 final projects and – more tiring – judging them. Making decisions is wearying business.
The second reason is one I’ll write about in more detail sometime soon but one of the last things I mentioned – the deaths of my father and father-in-law on consecutive days. As you all do when you face the loss of loved ones, I’ve thought about them in the past three months – and, at some point, with your help and indulgence, I’ll try to sort this out.
It might sound weird to say not much has changed since my last post on April 19, in the wake of Jon Ostoff’s first-place finish in the Georgia 6th Congressional race.
Because if you experienced the past week, and all the blockbuster events that occurred each day, you’d think things are changing at supersonic speed. (For a great summation of last week, see John Oliver’s brilliant take in last night’s “Last Week Tonight”)
4. But if you’re really think about it, what has really changed in the four months since Trump was inaugurated?
He’s still president. He’s still tweeting stupidity at all hours. He’s still doing his damnedest to minimize how much the Russians helped him get where he is. He’s still doing whatever he can, in cahoots with the quisling Republicans in Congress, to shred the social safety net and give those who have more.
Despite all that has happened in the past few months – the firing of Comey, the meeting with the Russians, the effort to sabotage Obamacare, the reign on terror on those who’ve come here seeking a decent life – the basics remain the same. Trump and his Republican henchman are in power and trying to expand it.
The approval ratings are about as low as they’ve been all along – maybe a little lower than Inauguration Day. And they might get lower still, because a few of Trump’s supporters will come to their senses and realize how much this travesty is hurting them.
But as long as Republicans crave office, as long as Fox News can draw people to watch propaganda and fabricated scandals, as long as people choose to ignore what legitimate news sources are reporting, there’s nothing that is going to change between now and Nov. 6, 2018, when the next Congressional election takes place. And even then, it’s unlikely.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be fighting this crap. Democrats should be focused on winning every single election in their sights – from seats on a sanitation commission to town council to county executive to congressman to governor.
And don’t accept what’s going down. I have no doubt Republicans are ready to pass their act dumping Obamacare and replacing it with all the things that make health care nearly impossible for people who can’t afford it. Anybody who believes the Senate isn’t going to cave is deceiving themselves.
But we gotta keep fighting. Impeachment is unlikely, and is no solution with craven jerks such as Mike Pence and Paul Ryan next in line. Trump would just take our money and run, and then spend the rest of his miserable days at one of his gilded properties tweeting potshots that his sycophants cheer.
It’s a bad time, and it’s hard to be optimistic. The question is whether we who still cling to the idea that America should be a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world believe restoration of that notion is possible after the last four months.
I’ll expound on all this in the days ahead.
5. One quick thought on the students who walked out at Notre Dame yesterday.
Good for them.
It’s not an easy decision. Commencement, especially at a school as impressive as Notre Dame, is a big deal. If you’ve earned a degree from the school, it’s not just for watching football games – this is one of the best institutions of higher learning in this country. Their families are rightly proud – not to mention somewhat lighter financially.
For these students, Mike Pence flies in the face of what they think they’ve learned in South Bend. He’s an intolerant fool, and fools aren’t suffered lightly by those who believe thinking is a big deal.
So the students made a statement that they would not listen to someone who is not worthy of them tell them how to live their lives. I’d hope I’d have the guts to do what they did.