I know you’re no deplorable. You were kind when I visited Idaho in the ‘80s and saw the fruits of your successful life. You’ve taken pains to explain to me why you support Donald Trump. So I say this with all respect: You are the most dangerous man on earth.
Not actually, which is why I use the initials of a hapless character in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”: Benito Hoover. Uncork some Snake River Valley red, gaze upon your splendid ranch, and consider this note meant as news analysis, not insult.
You told me Trump wasn’t perfect, “just 100 times better than Hillary,” and sent me a link to a loony website that posited “the brain might be wired differently for liberals and conservatives to explain how they look at things so differently.”
Conservative and liberal? Two one-word labels for 320 million Americans? You’re smarter than that. A lot of honest reporters risk their lives out in a complex world so that voters like you can make nuanced, informed judgments based on hard reality.
Still, you wrote, “We will never convince each other so why worry. If I could leave you with one thought it would be this: When Obama was elected we feared the very worst, and we weren’t wrong. But we didn’t try and sabotage him.”
Oh, please. Bias colors perceptions, but facts are black and white. (Double entendre intended.) Obama reversed George W. Bush’s mess, despite a Republican stone wall. Relaxed borders and trade accords buoyed the global economy. Rising employment predated Trump.
You asked, “What if even more Americans think lower taxes aren’t so bad after all and some draining of the swamp could be a good thing. The Left and the media won't buy it but it seems their credibility is going down the toilet.”
That’s the trouble. You may be right. Roseanne redux shows a broad fringe of Americans are happy to pretend there is no world beyond our borders, that a temporary burst of irrational exuberance will spare excruciating, increasing pain once reality bites.
Benito Hoover evokes a parade-loving Fascist and a president whose closed mind sank us into the Great Depression. Think back to the 1980s, when we met. That’s when Neil Postman foresaw the future in his book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism.
“Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.”
Huxley was wrong about easy sex. Now only our president gets away with boasting about pussy-grabbing. Otherwise, he pegged it perfectly: a people freed of disturbing memory or critical thought focused on amusement and mindless consensus.
In sum, as Christopher Hitchens wrote later, “For true blissed-out and vacant servitude, you need an otherwise sophisticated society where no serious history is taught.”
The Soviet Union, an Orwellian dystopia, broke before it bent. Vladimir Putin, a Huxleyan, feigns democracy at home while undermining it in America with what Lenin called “useful idiots” in Washington and closed minds in the heartland. He hates Hillary Clinton because she understood his new Evil Empire, and she pushed back.
In the ‘80s, as Neil Postman did his research, the Kochs began crippling our education, helped by Ronald Reagan’s reverse Robin Hood approach of taking from the poor to give to the rich, Today, we see the result.
America cannot survive, much less thrive, in isolation. We do not get to define how others see us. Your misguided partisans only make them scorn us or hate us. As for the Trump Bump-now-Slump, have you checked your brokerage account this week?
“Benito Hoover” says it all. The world saw Mussolini as a preening petty tyrant, deluded by narcissism. It did not end well for him. Herbert Hoover had lots to brag about as Wall Street soared after his Inauguration. That, remember, was at the beginning of 1929.
You bolster your case with two “foreign” examples:
—“(Trump’s) tough talk on mid-east peace and recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel didn’t start a war and may be positive in bringing people to reality…What if his Jewish son-in-law actually helps bring factions together in the region?”
—“What if our blustery President could startle "little rocket man" to want to talk? Oh, that may now be happening.”
Provoked Israeli troops gunning down Gaza rock throwers hardly portends peace. Remember, it was once David who only had stones? As a reporter inconveniently named Rosenblum, I’ve watched the unholy land fester since the 1960s. Now heavily armed militias and an infuriated populace respond as expected to Trump’s political pandering. Be very worried.
Korea? Trump has given Kim Jong-un the status he craves. Let’s bet on whether he spikes his nukes. Unless John Bolton outdoes himself for craziness, China will defuse a war it hardly wants. And that will cement its role as the new big dog.
The real problem is why friends and foes alike hold us in such contempt. They see Americans like you make excuses for a man who revels in others’ pain, lies outrageously, and bows to the swamp rats he reviled during his campaign.
As you say, I will never convince you. That’s not my purpose. This is another reminder from an old-crocodile correspondent that democracy can no longer be a spectator sport.
When we met, Mitch McConnell was just another narrow-minded senator backing Central American tyrants, defending “freedom-fighters” who trafficked drugs in CIA aircraft and caused so many people caught in the middle to seek refuge up north.
Today, smug in his encrusted place at the public trough, he rallied his party to block a perfectly balanced Supreme Court nominee. Trump sold his snake oil. Too many sat out the elections or shunned the woman you say is 100 times worse than what we’ve got.
Checks and balances is not about who writes checks from their outsized balances. The America presidency is about character and integrity. Congress answers to the people, not a party. Okay, sorry, now I’m sermonizing. But, please, check my facts.
You helped pioneer northern Idaho when its rivers and forests were pristine, when the Indians who preceded us were taken into account. Yet you champion a regime that is destroying wilderness and Native American cultures for immediate profit.
I’m down near the southern border, where Mexicans have had “Americans” attached with a hyphen for eight generations. If you think that insane Wall will stop “aliens” or stem the drug traffic that began booming in the ‘80s, come down and see for yourself.
We can curb immigration by helping others live better where they’d rather be, at home. We can combat drugs by enriching our own kids with better education, accessible health care and a larger slice of good old American pie.
At one point, you said about Obama, “In fact, we prayed for him, if you can believe it.” I can. But I also know the billions on our planet worship a lot of different Gods and gods, with values that extend beyond themselves alone.
Even if you think we should be “first,” we can’t be a society that that would disgust Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, or I’itoi, the Tohono O’odham’s Creator. America is not about some people getting to earn more now at the expense of everyone’s children.
Damn, I’m preaching again. I’ll leave you with Tom Russell’s apolitical little ditty, “Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall?” It is Mexican-accented but depicts a universal theme that Benito Hoover would recognize. Here are a few lines and a link:
“As I travel around this big, old world, there’s one thing that I fear,
“It’s a white man in a golf shirt, with a cellphone in his ear.”