People who write and people who compose music share a common challenge. Both start with a blank page to be filled with words or notes of expression. For some of us, that’s the toughest challenge. How and where to begin.
Since our November election - and for the first time in over 50 years in some form of journalism - I’ve been stumped. Unable to begin. Unable to meet the first rule of both writing and musical expression - to begin. To express. To undertake and overcome challenges of dealing with a given set of facts. In my case, election of D. Trump.
I’ve tried. Were the computer screen replaced with pages of white copy paper, and the keyboard with pen or pencil, the wastebasket near my desk would be filled to overflowing. Several times. Unable to begin. Unable to capture necessary words to coordinate thoughts and message.
I’ve previously expressed admiration for Ridenbaugh Press Prop. Randy Stapilus for undertaking - and completing - 100 columns of 100 reasons why Trump should not be President of these United States. He did so prior to the election as a countdown series. Clearly, articulately, well-researched and professional. I don’t know anyone else who could have accomplished such a task.
Now, on the eve of swearing in the most unqualified and unfit person as President in our modern history, the logjam of my own thoughts - kick-started by a forced reality - have broken the intellectual logjam. Perspective, I’d guess, of time and distance.
Trump scares the Hell out of me. He does so for all the political ignorance he represents - constant lies, a lack of skills of reasoning, judgment, ability to articulate in an intelligent manner and his massive ego. Yet he seems more a symptom than the cause of our national sickness. A by-product of our many national divisions.
If, in the next four years, his many character flaws don’t kill us all in some vain attempt to assuage his immature personality needs, he’ll eventually be swept off the world stage and into the oblivion he rightly deserves. If the nation survives - and I believe it will - there’ll be far worse issues to be solved.
In just the last few years, our nation has arrived at a “point-of-no-return,” ceasing to be the type of Republic we were raised in. We’ve turned a corner to something else. Permanently. The word “union” no longer describes the relationship of the various states. Politics, ignorance, disgraceful actions of corporations and the billionaires who own them, racism, sexism, misogyny, false allegiances and fear of the future are separating the 50 states more distinctly than the North/South of 155 years ago.
We’ve become immersed in “globalism” which is our new reality, forcing all nations to adopt new ways of doing almost everything. Many changes are often undertaken more for survival and benefit of corporate interests and less for the survival and benefit of whole countries. Our nation is no longer the leading producer of goods or “things” but is now a leader in “services.” Creation of middle class jobs to replace those lost when we were a “producer” nation, hasn’t kept pace with exporting other jobs. Companies now chase international profits rather than just those at home.
Many state and national laws are now written to please narrow interests rather than a need to address an issue. We’re seeing the use of faux “religious” intent on the part of minorities to control the majority i.e. abortion, same sex marriage. We see smaller, more narrowly focused zealotry invading our political system. Organized Western religions are losing adherents.
We’ve lost the “melting pot” dimension that made us great and so much more diverse than nearly any other country. We separate, cluster, fend off differences, create boundaries and make exclusive communities rather than welcome and honor our many heritages.
National politics has turned from civic service to continued “career” employment. Collegiality, comradery, willingness to compromise have been replaced with strict party divisions regardless of effects on the citizenry. Determined ignorance has overcome research, study, enlightenment and a willingness to learn. Scientists and researchers are being handcuffed and ignored. Personal pursuit of riches has overcome service to constituency. Service to self denies service to others.
We start or enter wars without due declaration, putting the burden of living sacrifice on others while requiring no personal sacrifice of ourselves. We fill our political bodies - and our media - with minutia while ignoring needs government was created to serve. We allow millions of citizens to suffer from lack of human necessities of food and housing while enriching those who live in mansions.
We’re ill-served by a failed media - poorly trained and seemingly dedicated to ratings and corporate enrichment rather than informing and enlightening. We listen to - and legitimize - gossip, hate, division, racism and division. We’re directed to focus on what separates us - not what unites us.
There’s more. Much more. Trump didn’t manufacture it. He didn’t invent it. He used it. He spread the ignorance, subjugated truth to lies, sowed division rather than unity. He lied. He manufactured whatever twisted logic was necessary to feed those willing to follow. He ignored law, protocol, truth and even the basics of decent behavior to accomplish his ends. He’s a symbol of the divisions, malaise and distortions we’re living with. He didn’t create ‘em. He simply used ‘em.
Our nation - divided and about to be without a leader of honest character - is stronger, more civilized, richer and more accomplished than this political vagrant. Our national survival is assured. His is not. Our pages are filled with words. His remain blank.