It was about a month after Donald Trump was “elected” President by the electoral college, and not by a popular vote.
I was swimming laps at the Ida Lee pool in Leesburg, and had stopped to retrieve a kicking board from the pool deck.
The woman, the next swimming lane over, said, “I used to love listening to the news.”
I could think of no words to ease her dismay.
A moment passed, and she continued, “I’ve gotten rid of my TV.”
Across the nation, our friends and neighbors have found different ways to cope with a President who is a brute.
On twitter today, a friend said that she played Jimi Hendrix’s “All along the Watchtower” over and over, shouting the lyrics, “There must be some kind of way outta here” given there’s “too much confusion” and “I can’t get no relief.”
Millions deal with the psychic pain of the Trump presidency by shutting Trump out of their consciousness.
But that’s probably not the best answer.
New Yorkers knew Trump.
They’d seen and knew Trump for what he was.
They’d asked how did his casinos ever lose money?
Why were Trump’s business deals so often upside down in debt?
What was Trump doing with these mobsters?
Roy Cohn, the ultimate fixer, was his lawyer and represented these same mobsters. Michael Cohen succeeded Cohn when Roy died.
Trump hired folk including Cohen to shout and scream at people to get things done.
Trump short-changed those he hired.
Trump had successive open affairs that played out large in the NY tabloids. As long as he was mentioned, Trump was fine with that.
Trump tirelessly promoted himself, lying almost as frequently as another person might draw a breath to speak.
Trump announced his run for the Presidency after descending an escalator before an audience of cheering paid hirelings.
Trump hurled bigoted slanders against Mexican and South American immigrants who would think to become Americans.
Many commented that his true slogan was “Make America White Again.”
He rejected this nation’s original promise when we declared our independence, that notion, that all are created equal, and that our constitution and government began and remains about “we the people.”
Russia went all out to help Trump defeat his Republican rivals in the primaries, and Hillary Clinton in the General Election.
Trump had long been visiting Russia to make deals and he had worked with Michael Cohen to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The Russians doubled down in the General Election with emails and data dumps they’d stolen from various Dem servers, belonging to the party, staff and key Dem leaders, hoping to split the Democratic Party at the Convention, to favor the political landscape for Trump.
The release of the stolen intelligence was dropped, seemingly for its maximum damaging effect against Hillary Clinton.
The Russians told Trump’s son that Dad Trump was their favored nominee, and Don Trump Jr. welcomed whatever dirt they had on Clinton, meeting these Russian emissaries, in the same golden tower where Trump launched his presidential bid.
The Russians wanted America to end its sanctions against Russia. Shortly after Trump was elected, Trump’s national security adviser spoke to the Russian Ambassador to discuss these sanctions, and then lied to investigators, claiming, “No,” he’d never had such a conversation with the Ambassador. He’s since pleaded guilty that he made such false statements.
In the two years that Trump has been in office, he has run down significant trade treaties, broken faith with our allies, discriminated against foreign nation states, and any leader, or private person who got in his way.
Trump has shown a willingness to cut through the law, the constitution, tradition, and civilized deportment.
He has shown intolerance toward women, persons of color, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and many more.
He has caged immigrant children at the border.
Trump has spent the rest of his time in office doing everything he could to discourage the investigation of his relation with Russia, hammering potential witnesses, threatening reprisals, dangling pardons, and trying to get others to do his dirty work, cut-outs he could deny later had acted on their own.
Trump started his obstruction campaign, going public, when he fired FBI Director Comey, and boasted to the same Russian Ambassador in the Oval office that the firing had eliminated this serious distraction.
Of course, that wasn’t true.
The investigation continued under a Special Counsel, Robert Mueller until recent days when it was shut down. We are still learning how that happened.
But back the beginning, Trump left no doubt why, he said on national tv that he fired Comey because of the Russian investigation.
Before the firing, Trump had asked the FBI Director Comey for his loyalty, to say he Trump wasn’t under investigation and to go easy on his security adviser. But he never got the assurances he wanted. So he fired Comey.
At every turn Trump conducted himself, like an organized crime “Don,” tried to obstruct and interfere with an investigation of what Russia did and why they wanted him President.
Everyone asks, “how can Trump get away with this?”
Hendrix sang the answer loud and clear, “None were level on the mind, Nobody up at his word.”
Too many of our leaders have slept on their sworn obligations to the nation.
The answer may be a sentiment from a Mel Brooks’ comedy, Blazing Saddles, that our elected reps were more concerned about keeping “their phony baloney jobs” than doing their jobs.
Congress has failed the test that Robert Kennedy set for himself, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
The people that were intended to be the checks and balances among the elected and appointed class across all three departments, have faltered and failed in their duty, shown wanting of the spinal resolve required to do what they must.
Thus, justice is now a coincidence of our system, and not a consequence of it.
Consider one simple example, how can a prosecutor past puberty state the President’s son was too ignorant of the law to be prosecuted?
Tell that to an inner city black teenager arrested for pot, or an accountant in an alleged complex fraud investigation.
A street kid could probably tell you, “Hey, you now, ignorance of the law is no defense.”
Unless you are the President’s son.
The Hip-Hop Wu Tang Clan nails it in “A Better Tomorrow,” when it urges one and all to “wake up,” to get a hold of your life, go get your cake up,” for “the motto in the streets is you eat, or you get ate up.”
They instruct that “politicians gotta listen to opposition.”
But they’re not right now – not listening – nor acting – with some notable exceptions – so what must we do?
Resolve to persist.
Let’s “pour wisdom in the cup so the truth overflows,” as Wu Tang says, because, surely it’s true, “the world won’t get no better if we just let it be.”
The reaction from the logical proponents in the Congress, the Democrats, to check our imperial chief exec, has been tentative, cautious, indeed, so weak, it makes you want to cry.
Hendrix sings, “There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.”
Many have the impression that our elected officials are “handling” us.
Hendrix goes on, “But …. you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate, so let us stop talkin’ falsely now, the hour’s getting late…”
What am I talking about?
We have talented elected officials, muzzled, who could make a difference but the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, so strong in the government shutdown, has lost her nerve, acts as if this is a trivial matter and, in the bargain, pumped the brakes on Impeachment, and thus fed the beast Trump, who now insists that he’s not bending to any oversight demand by congress for documents, information or witnesses.
Amazing posture, when you consider that this very same obstruction of Congress was the third Article of Impeachment cited against Nixon.
One democratic presidential candidate has said, there is no “political inconvenience” exception to the Congress’ responsibility to conduct an impeachment hearing, and to scrutinize the President’s inclination to favor a hostile nation over America’s best interests.
The nation longs for a classic hero, a Beowulf, to defeat Trump as was Grindel.
In Michelangelo’s rendering of David, the posture the grand sculptor captured was that moment, before David acted to take on Goliath, when his body, seeming at rest, had resolved to engage and defeat the monster, or to die in the effort.
We are at that juncture, the moment of commitment and engagement.
Our leaders, however, have come up wanting.
It’s up to us – what Wu Tang sang, “We gotta change it yeah, just you and me”
You know what to do. No guilt. Do what you can – even if it’s only to talk to your neighbor. But it would be better if your neighbor was a member of Congress.