Curtain Raiser

The Bitter-Sweetest of Times, Colltalers

This era mirrors what being an adult is about. Take good news, for instance: receiving it is, well, great, for it means that, for a moment, things did take a turn your way. But, and that’s the thing: there’s always a qualifier ‘but,’ following it, and more than ever, what follows cancels it.
Our sense of fulfillment with reality has to be tempered and weather resistant, so we can survive the far more numerous times when it’s not. Life often happens when we’re making those ‘other plans,’ as someone who was killed doing just that, put it on a song. And we carry on.
Good news is that French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was defeated yesterday. But the next president, Emmanuel Macron, is no poster boy of France’s humanistic ideals. In fact, he may proceed with dismantling them. Besides, Le Pen is in no way done with it.
Make no mistake: Americans wouldn’t be dealing with the onslaught of bad news unleashed by Trump, if Hillary Clinton were the president, and that’s a fact. So, her election would’ve been good news to most. Then again, by now, she’d be facing impeachment for a fraction of flaws she shares with the current president. And just as her GOP opposition has been shameless while in power, it’d arguably be too, if it were not.
It’s all a matter of perspective, one would say. But that’s the false equivalence that fools those who ‘couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton’ then but now don’t have to deal with losing healthcare either, or having to go out of state to have an abortion, or, out of the country for not having papers. Many also like to say that there’s no difference between the two parties, and if the discussion veers that way, run.
Yes, American politics in general, and the two political parties in particular, are money making machines and neither represents fully the people who vote for them. Yes, millions tossed around, to ‘purchase,’ er, fund candidates could boost the economy of many a small country.
And yes, often the realities of being a political leader, or rather, a condition that some are built for them, can change any idealist, if he or she are not swift on their feet, or adapting to new realities without betraying principles. But, and here’s it again, most of them do not, or won’t.
When Trump had his own infamous Mission Accomplished moment, last week, 14 years almost to the day when George W. played dressed up on an aircraft carrier, many of us had trouble holding our meals. A percentage couldn’t do it any longer, when the media showed their smiling beer-swollen faces celebrating a ‘healthcare’ bill that would give a $765 billion tax cut to the very wealthy, over 10 years.
Now, many are still puzzling that a big percentage of Trump supporters are women and an aging, disenfranchised and uneducated white demographics, that’d be hit by some of his campaign promises, but didn’t seem to realize it. Now that both segments are actually facing that reality, and it’s unmistakable who’s responsible f

or it, some hold the not completely sound hope that they would see it for what it is.
But, it’s time to consider also the impact of that support turning into raw anger, as if we need any more of it, and how even more callous Republicans may become, in the face of their misery. Does the Democratic minority in Congress really have practical answers for that?
That’d be a point for those who equate both parties. But, and it works both ways, while Democrats are mostly at loss for fresh ideas and yet, still stand for minimum wage increases and free education, the current version of the party in power has kept its eye on the prize.
Since before the good ol’ days of the black president, the GOP has been the party that caters mostly to corporate interests and the wealthy and downplays income inequality. For it’s really the only way to ‘shoot somebody on 5th ave,’ as Trump himself put it, and still get elected.
It’s great news that Americans seem more politically mobilized than ever, and after 100 days plus of staggering incoherent and potentially disastrous policy turns, the administration seem to be running out of the well of supporter’s goodwill it received. But institutions created to check and balance the executive power, Congress and the courts, have shown a disappointing, and dangerous, partisan bias and moral vulnerability.
Also, with many ongoing re-staging of lost battles – along healthcare, the environment and climate change, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and net neutrality – there’s a risk for ‘rally fatigue.’ Change results not always come straight out from street protests; open-ended mobilization has an expiration date. At some point, institutions and progressive forces are supposed to pick up the torch and carry the fight to another level.
Trump’s popularity, however, remains low, which is doubtless good news, specially when it seems to have been the main cause of Le Pen’s downfall. But this is no time to lower anyone’s guard: another segment, inexplicably supportive of Trump, has just been rewarded by the man it chooses not to hold accountable for despicable morals: evangelicals, who’d benefit from his commitment to lift the Johnson Amendment.
Considered one the tenets of the separation church and state, if the GOP, and the religious groups that support it, have their way, it’d impact negatively the LGBT community, already under fire from conservatives, and almost stripped of protections passed during the Obama years.
As adults, we’re expected to teach our children the value of tolerance, of hard work, respect to nature, and to the diversity of the human experience on this planet, being it racial, sexual, or religious. It’s the right thing and it happens to be what this nation’s Founding Fathers wanted.
But it’s not a given, and it may not even be the ‘natural’ way to be. It’s something that that same human experience has taught us as the way to live peacefully, side by side with billions of people. Don’t let them believe that Trump changed all of that; he just stands against it.
Remind them that there will be more days like these, yes, but not all days will be like these, not if we can help it. And that we’re given a responsibility, entrusted on us by those who are not yet born, and those long gone. And that is to preserve and protect our dignity as species, our right to receive fair pay for work done well, and freedom to be. Be gentle but firm: there isn’t any other way to be or live on Earth.
It’s great to get good news, but life is not all about that. It’s wonderful to do the right thing, but no one is entitled to be rewarded for it. It’s utterly fulfilling to live with love and compassion, but that’s not always the side the majority chooses. Be the one who does. Let your kids know that we have a choice, lucky us, that many around the world don’t. And to fight for a just world is non negotiable. Have a great one. WC


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