Thursday, June 28, 2018

By Kevin Brooks


Everybody’s talking about putting America first lately. And like every other hot-button issue of the day, everybody has an opinion about it. You’re either for it or against it; it’s great or it’s terrible; it’s a xenophobic dog-whistle or just plain, simple common sense.

Depending on the color and opacity of your bubble.

The News used to be 22 daily minutes of FCC-mandated airtime that Dad drowsed to as he dove into his first six-pack after work. Today it’s a 24/7 all-access entertainment industry; sponsored, incentivized and tarted-up like Björk goes to Mardi Gras. Whatever bubble you’re in, you can be sure it’s full of your bubble’s spin on The News of the day.

So, what is it that’s infotaining enough to make cross-bubble headlines in the summer of 2018?

• Our Democracy’s most recent national election was very successfully compromised by a foreign adversary—our long-time nemesis and “Evil Empire”—and one of the two national political parties with the means to investigate exactly what happened in order to implement prophylactic measures against a similar attack occurring again this year just. Isn’t. Interested.

• On the other hand, there has been a Special Counsel investigating the election tampering bearing down on the new President almost since Day One. The new President has responded by doing everything he can to impede and discredit the investigation and its investigators personally, including impugning the integrity of every branch of our country’s intelligence services and inciting crowds at campaign rallies against members of the media in their midst.

• The United States government is proactively working to estrange itself from all its closest international allies of the last 75 years and at the same time, cozying up to the most reprehensible nuclear-armed international bad actors and tyrants alive.

• Maybe coincidentally, a quirky first in American politics since Reconstruction; the candidate with the official backing of both the KKK and the American Nazi party won the Presidency on the Republican ticket, formerly the party of Lincoln.

• An eleven-day period of time is now commonly referred to as a “Mooch.”

This doesn’t sound like a chapter in an American history book, it sounds like the prologue of a dystopian sci-fi beach read.

At its best, America has always been aspirational. We’ve set lofty goals and we’ve fallen short of them… but we’ve set lofty goals. There was a sad grandeur even in our failure to achieve them. I never idealized America for its lofty ambitions nor condemned it for failing to meet said goals, but I always respected us for trying. For saying, “Dammit, we care about doing better; we stand for something bigger. Come on, watch us give it our best shot!”

To completely renege on the covenant we made with the world at the end of WWII to be its democratic exemplars is the very definition of un-American. Americans lead, we don’t quit the game and go home; we tried that 100 years ago and our isolationist policies at that time helped enable two world wars in 20 years. Now we’re ready to sit back on the sidelines and watch it all happen again, this time with nuclear-powered adversaries?

I thought this administration’s slogan was, “Make America Great Again,” not “Make the Same Mistake Again.”

I’m afraid we are about hip-deep in a paradigm shift. That the America our grandkids grow up in isn’t going to resemble the America our grandparents grew up in even remotely. But elections have consequences, and although the eventual winner never agreed to honor the results if they didn’t go his way, most Americans turned out to be better citizens than that.

Speaking of the 2016 election, I think it’s critical to remind people that the country never got together and said, “Let’s fundamentally re-direct the course and definition of American democracy!” We (enough of us) got together and said, “Man, do we hate Hillary Clinton!” So the collective ‘we’ denied her the Presidency.

The rest of us get it now. Point made, loud and clear. Hillary = bad.

But contrary to what one might think if all one consumed was conservative media, Hillary Clinton lost the election. She’s not President now, nor will she ever be. Mission accomplished! Yay! [insert: party hats thrown in the air]

So with the alleged existential threat to the nation’s existence that Hillary represented having been quashed, we’re already late to correct course and say, “Now it is our duty to deal with the monster we created to crush the one we destroyed.”

It’s past time for the villagers to revolt again.

Specifically, I’m calling on conscientious members of the GOP, both rank and file as well as elected office-holders, to please take off their partisan red ballcaps and put their statesmans’ hats back on again before it’s too late.

Just because you voted for the guy doesn’t mean you have to stick with him like he’s the home town sports franchise. Your home town sports franchise is Democracy, not party or politician.

For example, nobody supported Bill Clinton with more zeal than I during Monicagate. No one believed his glib denials more sincerely. But the second the smoking stained-blue-dress hit the Zeitgeist—and revealed to me that I had been deliberately misled, repeatedly—I had no option but to follow the objective truth even if it damned my cause.

Especially because it damned my cause.

Why did I stop defending Bill Clinton’s use of his Oval Office personal time? Because there was no alternative; I’d been defending a proposition based on a lie. If I had chosen to set aside an uncomfortable but objectively true fact for what would have amounted to brand loyalty, I’d have no one to blame but myself when I couldn’t look in the mirror. When my leader turned out to be lying to my face with malice aforethought on matters of substance, I no longer owed him my fealty. Betray my trust once, shame on you…

What chapter of “The Fall of the American Empire” do we have to get to before 2018’s Conservative patriots begin peeling away from the partisans?

Buyers’ remorse is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially when avoiding dealing with it is enabling the further deconstruction of the inclusive, Norman Rockwell American Dream most of us grew up believing in and aspiring to.

My Conservative friends are going to love President Pence; he is absolutely their kind of fella and will be so much easier to defend at Thanksgiving dinner.

‘Put America First’? Yes, let’s!