One of the great achievements of free society in a stable democracy
is that many people, for much of the time, need not think about politics at all.
We need some people, of course, to think about politics, and help us keep aware. But the great achievement has been that many Americans have not felt compelled to stay on top of it out of fear that “the authorities” are likely to blow the world up, or attack us directly on any random day.
The president of a free country may dominate the news cycle many days – but he is not omnipresent – and because we live under the rule of law, we can afford to turn the news off at times.
A free society means being free of those who rule over you
– to do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your loves – to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene.
The US in general has tried to achieve this freedom from constant worry about “the authorities.” And for a large majority of those who are “white”, we have felt that freedom.
No longer.[These quotations are from an article by Andrew Sullivan, “The Madness of King Donald.“]
In that sense, it seems to me, we already live in a country with markedly less freedom than we did a month ago. It’s less like living in a democracy than being a child trapped in a house where there is an abusive and unpredictable father, who will
- brook no reason,
- respect no counter-argument,
- admit no error,
- and always, always up the ante
- until catastrophe inevitably strikes.
This is what I mean by the idea that we are living through an emergency.
Like a child trapped in a house with an abusive and unpredictable father.
That is simply terrible. But it is how it feels.
Of course that feeling of unpredictablilty and danger is – not at all completely, but partly – because it’s the beginning of a new administration. The first weeks of Obama in ’09 were very disappointing and frightening because of cabinet choices, and actions or inactions, that went counter to his campaign themes; and we paid and are still paying for some of those. But he did not launch a broadside of “Executive Orders” against vast areas of the American populace. He did not immediately begin personally insulting leaders of other nations.
And Obama is so much more intelligent, informed, and classy in his ways of speaking and relating!
This year reminds me much more of Bush’s first two years – incredibly dangerous initiatives shoved with great vigor. And Trump seems to be moving at 10 times the Bush speed, smashing things right and left. Plus, he is so uninformed and so volatile.
We have lost our freedom to not watch the government day by day, out of concern for our own self-preservation.