The Random Driver and the Motorcyclist: Creation of the Anti-State
I’m not sure where to place my pain and rage. The state of governance hurts, enrages and startles me. It’s like rounding a curve on a quiet country road only to find a motorcyclist lying in your path — bloodied, broken, silent. As the driver, you’ll never, ever forget that moment. As the cyclist, your life was irrevocably changed in the crash. I have no doubt that as Americans we are at that curve. I just wonder which part we play.
If we’re the witness, we have choices. We could, in theory, ignore the devastation and drive on. More likely we would stop and do everything possible to help the motorcyclist. First aid? 911? Flag down the next car? Many options. On the other hand, if we’re the victim, we can only wait silently, and hope.
Speaking for myself, I am becoming increasingly silent as the daily devastation mounts.
I think many of us have run out of adjectives. Some of us had already used up all levels of descriptors by last November. Seven months into this, we live in a country run by an amoral, scandal-ridden regime that loves power and despises government. Maybe where we bear responsibility for the current government catastrophe is in electing representatives year after year that ran on anti-government platforms.
Reflect for a moment on what the U.S. Constitution entrusted to government. It was expected to ‘form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty.’
I read improving our union as a call to acceptance of diversity and bringing all of us under its wide umbrella. I understand establishing justice as a mandate to keep an independent judiciary — including the DOJ. To ensure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, I believe means being responsible to the vulnerable, and caring about the well-being of all — all — the governed.
Look at the moral imperative in these three words — ensure domestic tranquility. I don’t see how a constant rhetoric of anger, hate and division from the highest levels of government can possibly support peace in the nation.
I’m not saying we have a constitutional crisis. I’m saying we have elected representatives that stand in opposition to democratic governance. They’ve brought wrecking balls to D.C., and the swings are getting wider and cutting deeper into democracy. In a way, we can’t blame them. They told us they were anti-government.
Especially now, with a mind-boggling license to destroy, they use their power to smash every institution and structure that was put in place to carry out the mandates of the Constitution. Unqualified, undeserving appointees are tasked to search and destroy. An education secretary that doesn’t believe in public education. A head of HUD that objects to helping the poor get affordable housing. Head of the EPA that wants it destroyed. Etc. Etc. Etc.
The wrecking balls knock out their own foundations as well. We have seen the refuse to carry out the roles and responsibilities of their offices. We have a regime so hell-bent on shutting down constitutional imperatives that it functions only in the negative. Take away regulations. Take away protections. Take away health care. Take away money for education. For the elderly. Take away immigrant labor. Take away taxes from the uber-wealthy. We’ve created a House, Senate and Executive that use their wrecking ball in place of process. These disdainers of all government stands for, now govern us.
Because of my career in communications, part of it in the US government, I have to say a word about the new communications director, the Mooch. Within a few days of his hire, he showed himself to be a divisive, mean-spirited, raving, cursing egomaniac. And worse.
The president’s communication director, ultimately responsible for all that comes out of the WH, should be the opposite. Think Constitution. Think diplomatic, supportive, open to diverse approaches, respectful of foreign and national dignitaries, the press, the media and the individuals all these people and institutions serve.
Meanwhile, make no mistake about the power of that position. It molds and puts on display what the WH wants the world to see, hear and know to be true. It is there that reality is turned into perception. It is there that the lies, obfuscations, spins and ‘alternative facts’ become reality. This hire, while anathema to democratic governance was perfect for an authoritarian, divisive, inept and ill-informed regime that masquerades as a constitutional government.
The Senate’s most recent prime time show on health care was no accident either. Among other components, it was a public display of wrecking balls in the halls of power. At its extreme, it was a battle between the forces of inclusion and those of nihilistic authoritarianism.
Which brings me back to my shock, my startle response, my lack of adjectives. I see us in a mind-numbing, quasi-anarchistic anti-State. I see us in the midst of the abuse and dissolution of the fundaments of democracy — free and fair elections, independent press, independent judiciary, and open discourse within the halls of power. Inside the whirlwind of scandal and attacks, I see the conscious disassembling of democratic governance.
And we the governed, who are we now? Going back to the accident, are we the driver? Or are we the wounded victim? It matters how we view ourselves. If we come upon a helpless victim, we’re likely to be galvanized into action. It will call out our compassion and humanity, and we’ll do whatever we can to save that life.
But what if we’ve become the unconscious victim? Then we have abdicated choice. Then, all we can do is stay silent and broken and hope that someone will come and save us.