In seemingly endless times of “trash talk” that led to an improbable and unpopular political victory, the newly minted president clamors:
“Now arrives the hour of action.”
Fleeting relief comes to the nation as the transition of power portends the end of trash talk; yet in a consummation of necessary untruths, it ironically reminds most Americans that they are now more powerless than ever.
The Trump transition signals the consummation of the great deed–transferring an overwhelming concentration of power to the already concentrated 1%, while wooing working Americans P.T. Barnum style. As the digital and media worlds hold theater, a reality show host takes the wheel. Perhaps the most consequential and telling line in the new president’s inaugural speech was “Now is the hour for action.” Thank God?
Could there be relief in this transitional moment; are we now moving on with work, friends, family and community? Hmmmm? Likely not.
Is this really the time for action? For whom? With whom? And in whom’s behalf? We will have the next few short years to figure this out. In our democratic tradition of sharing power through the results of a competitive electoral process, the losers pay their price by tolerating the resulting inconvenience of a let down. No matter the circumstances of that let down, we look forward assured by our historical traditions, our patriotism and our national pride. In the meantime, we are living in a reactionary world, to be sure, with too many complacent, moderately educated, and politically simple American voters, and apathetic people as well, nevertheless laboring and working to pay for it all.
Like a long and tortuous lampooned article of The Onion gone bad, this election outcome, although mechanically prosecuted with the usual inaugural pomp and circumstance, belies reason and hope; yet it now gets legitimized by the very institutions and colleagues Mr. Trump has rhetorically referred to as mere swamp rats–the “insatious” (i.e., insatiable) media notwithstanding. Anger, sarcasm, and vitriol powered this man’s rise to power, not action, not truth, and not a history and track record of honesty and good deeds on behalf of most Americans. At last, life imitates art and “greed is good,” in deed.
The action line seems “consequential” because after much of Trump’s less than eloquent and repetitive years of hyperbole, his words only give us further uncertainty and emotive internal, and sometimes social, conversation–conversation that, like much of our recent political discourse, seems to go nowhere. Think before you act … We have much thinking to do.
Ironically, most Americans now do much more and get less. Clearly in the ongoing efforts to pull and rebuild our families and America from the Great Recession ditch, itself a direct result of previous ambitious administrations, most of us have already been “acting” to the tune of two or three jobs per household. In the best sense, action and work mean the same for most Americans for whom “action” or work are not a choice.
Although there is much we can criticize our country and its leaders about, it does not seem plausible that we are in a moment where immediate and imminent action is needed–as if there were an imminent and present danger situation that needed to be explained, acted on … Think before you do. Talk, agree and plan before you act with others … Who is Trump talking to? Who is he inviting to his inner circle? Not me… I’m sure not most of you.
Entertaining America with drama and hyperbole is simple. Bringing America together to build a barn large enough to accommodate a diverse and growing American village is quite another show.
Here’s hoping for success to the showman. Because like it or not our lot is now cast under him and his deeds.
It remains to be seen if America can come together, mature, valuing and appreciating what Obama did for this nation in one of its gravest economic hours, for millions of families who needed a doctor, and for the nation’s world image as a place of hope and opportunity for all.
As per our farewell to the outgoing man, in the words of Joni Mitchell,
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got till its gone. They …”
Ironically, Barack Hussein Obama II may now go back to not being able to hail a Big Yellow Taxi …