Curtain Raiser

Beat the Big Brother, Colltalers

Hard to believe it, but this is only the second Monday of the Trump administration. And things are already at least as bad as we feared. The reality TV host who now occupies the White House had a busy week, tweeting and lying, while checking items off his agenda of diatribes.
In fact, he threatened to executive-order America to death. But if his actions had any substance, they boosted at least one professional field: that of therapists and mental health workers. It’s that old cautionary tale: if the leader seems insane, everybody doubts their own sanity.
From the get go, he invested against Obamacare and abortion funding, revived the Keystone pipeline, hand-cuffed the EPA, terrorized immigrants, picked up a fight with China and Mexico, bullied our U.N. allies, while pushing his vote fraud fantasy. Nothing on Putin, though.
Did we mention that he and his minions lied too? A lot. By the end of the week, several groups had taken the streets to protest, and there was chaos at major airports, with mass detentions of refugee applicants. No wonder, several senior State Department agents wound up walking out too.
Luckily, as government workers, they’re insured, unlike so many who are now realizing that they voted for a president who wants to do away with their health care. Not be cynical about such a scourge as the opioid epidemic, but it’s likely that drug companies won’t have any trouble filling it in for long-term therapy: a study found out Trump won in counties with the highest rates of death from drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
Yes, that proves little without the context of a widening income gap. The resurgence of large-scale addiction to opioids, heroin and other street downers, has the common element of hitting those the GOP leadership deems freeloaders: the long-term unemployed, with chronic, and costly, diseases, Vets, former unionized labor, that is, hardcore blue collar workers, once a dignified staple of American workforce.
They were the ones a well-funded, comprehensive, and market integrated social welfare system was supposed to help back to their feet. But social programs and networks of support

have become synonymous to laziness to the political elites of America. And they got the ear of a segment of the population, manipulated into thinking that that sort of expenditure is not as important as the next Pentagon’s shopping list.
Among the many nightmarish signs that we may be facing the rise of an authoritarian regime in the U.S., there’s also been a surge in political movements based not on a partisan line, but directed at specific targets, which makes a lot of sense. Led by the Women’s March in DC, last week, there’s seem to be a renewed spirit of organizing to protect, protest to be heard, and keep the pressure to remain on the issues.
It’s an energizing sentiment. No relevant movement of resistance can exist without this clarity about what’s at stake, what are the resources available to pursue an agenda of radical change, and how deeply involved are the people directly affected by it, to make it all happen.
But it’s also crucial that voting suppression, voter apathy, class and racial divisions, and above all an easily understood and agreed upon set of unifying priorities are addressed at all levels of representation, from a local food bank to student organizations to community centers.
That’s when the power of a party machine, such as the Democrat, may be needed. Or, if we really want, that still remote dream of a third party, whose supporters always show up when it’s ‘electoral primetime,’ i.e., presidential election, but hardly anytime else. A year ago, crowds supporting Bernie Sanders were ready to bring on the revolution. But since November, they seem to have all but abandoned the Senator.
They need to come out of the woodwork, along seasoned Occupy Wall Street activists, the already out there Black Lives Matter, an array of LBGT militancies, and so many others, to present their contribution to an at least 4-year battle for the hearts and minds of Americans.
Time is ripe to all join in those segments already being pushed back by the Trump doctrine, women, immigrants, Muslims, environmentalists, so far, with more certainly to come, to unite and decide on a common strategy of action. Because, after all, street rallies can only go so far.
We can’t expect to resolve all differences before getting our feet wet; it’s a given that our strength is on chaotic diversity. Waste time on the finishing, and we risk losing sight of the big picture: human rights are at stake. Which issues should prevail will depend on where and how. The essential thing, though, is to retain and build upon this momentum, without giving them the luxury of a single good night of sleep.
Publishers and bookstores have seen a recent surge on sales of literature about dystopias. Suddenly, classics about totalitarian regimes, still present in many countries around the world, have a new found resonance on contemporary U.S., in ways many never thought possible.
Among such classics, George Orwell’s 1984 is back at the top of best selling list. Thus it’s almost poignant that we lost John Hurt, last week, the great British actor whose portrayal of Winston Smith – cue the torture scene – will be forever imprinted on our collective nightmares.
We’re not close to what Eric Blair feared, but not too far either. No matter what the Big Brother thinks of himself, there are over two centuries of the Constitution staked against him. We’ve come too far, or not enough. But it’s up to us, no him, to decide which is which. At some point, we may need to change the conversation but for now, he’ll not divide us; awareness trumps intolerance. Welcome to the Year of the Rooster. WC

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