I have a problem that’s pulling my focus away from work and decreasing my enjoyment of life. It has led me into non-productive arguments on Facebook and is causing me to avoid people. This problem has me rethinking whether or not I want continue to live in the United States, whether or I want to continue to practice law, whether I want to leave the State of Florida, and whether or not I want to disown some of my relatives.
My problem is a growing sense of anger and disgust with Donald Trump, the people who support him, and our current political situation. This is contrary to how I want to live my life. I believe in tolerance, civil discourse, giving people a chance, forgiveness, and diversity in the broadest sense of the word, but I’m failing to live up to my ideals as the anger and disgust I feel grows each time I see a news article about Donald Trump’s latest tweet or press conference. I feel like I’m living through a dystopian nightmare. I am constantly reminding myself that it’s not my job to judge other people, it’s not my job to tell anyone how to think, and that the only person in this world over whom I have any control over is me.
Donald Trump is merely the symbol of a democracy that I’m rapidly losing respect for and faith in. I understand that some people don’t care for Hillary Clinton, but there were several ethical and qualified Republican and Democratic candidates from whom we could have chosen. That a human being as ill-equipped, divisive, and offensive as Donald Trump would win the contest for the presidency, while losing the popular vote by millions, is appalling to me. As the evidence mounts of Russian interference, Trump’s possible collaboration with the
Putin government makes this seem even less like an election and more like a military coup orchestrated by a foreign government designed to destabilize my country. That Trump continues to refuse to disclose or divest himself from his business conflicts of interest while denouncing our own intelligence agencies and cozying up to Putin makes me even more suspicious that Trump is far less than loyal to our nation. Trump will likely ask our young men and women to sacrifice their lives in defense of our country, and yet he is completely unwilling to undertake any personal sacrifice for the good of our nation. It’s simply appalling.
Under normal circumstances, Mr. Trump would be counter-balanced by the other branches of government, but that seems less likely these days. Statesmanship is lost in our current partisan system where the well-being of the nation is secondary to party loyalty. Gerrymandering to ensure party control and to remove the accountability of elected representatives to the voters has given us State and Federal governments that are increasingly Republican dominated. As voters, we ignore this and never question why, for instance, Florida has more registered Democrats than Republicans, yet our government is so Republican dominated that there is virtually no Democratic voice in our state government. We now see this happening at the Federal level as well.
I’m disgusted by the Republican refusal to honor the will of the voters on those increasingly rare occasions when a Democrat can win an election. Republicans in Congress did all they could to prevent President Obama from being able to make progress on the issues voters twice elected him to address. Republicans stood by and tacitly condoned and exploited what were too often racist and bigoted attacks on President Obama, even calling into question his birth and religion. Most egregiously, they refused to even consider his nominee for Supreme Court Justice, a moderate who was well qualified for the appointment.
Refusal to allow elected Democrats to govern is not limited to our Federal government. Compromise is gone. Obstructionism at all costs is now part of the Republican play book. The North Carolina legislature, a Republican dominated body, passed laws, signed by the outgoing defeated Republican governor, restricting the powers of the governor’s office upon the election of Roy Cooper, a Democrat. Fortunately, this effort was blocked by the Courts on constitutional grounds, but I doubt that the North Carolina legislature will slow down one bit in their efforts to make him as ineffective as possible. I don’t think we’re even close to seeing the end of this. The Republican mantra of the day seems to be “the will of the voters be dammed, party above all else”.
The costs of this partisan anger hardly seem to matter to anyone. We’re now seeing both Trump and Congress rushing full-speed into a repeal of the Affordable Care Act regardless of the consequences on vulnerable Americans or the healthcare institutions that serve our communities. We hear nothing substantive about what comes after the repeal other than one of Trump’s bullshit promises that it’ll be great and we’ll love it. Do I even need
to mention that mother-of-all government boondoggles, Trump’s promised wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which we are now being told we have to pay for out of our tax dollars that are too limited to pay for good schools, good infrastructure, or health care.
This is not to say that I give the Democrats a pass on our current situation. For too long Democrats have been nothing more than “Republican-light”. The DNC has ignored the strong populist support for candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, while backing establishment candidates who offer little in the way of meaningful change. Hillary Clinton might have been a historic candidate by virtue of her gender, but her policy ideas rarely drifted far from the safe mainline script of business-as-usual. Locally, I would point to Bill Montford and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who were both elected as Democrats. Vasalinda, who left office in November, left the Democratic party and declared her support of Trump in the recent election. Perhaps her move is more honest than Montford, who promotes a good-ole-boy persona while accepting massive campaign donations from corporate special interest groups and is more of a closet Republican than a progressive Democrat. Montford has remained almost silent about the economic well-being of people in Florida while voting in support of anti-consumer measures such as legislation that carved out exemptions for dishonest car dealers and restricted the ability of injured individuals and families to sue dishonest dealerships under Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
This partisanship and vile political discourse are paralyzing our government and creating very hostile divisions among us. I recently had dinner with a relative whose eyes burned with fury as she parroted fake news stories to denigrate all Democrats, including me and friends of hers. Her anger seemed to obliterate all the good memories and acts of kindness in those relationships. Many of us seem to be falling prey to this anger and hostility. Several people on different ends of the political spectrum have told me that they are withdrawing from social groups to avoid dealing with the growing political anger. For the first time in 16 years, I’m contemplating not going to Sun-n-Fun because I simply don’t want to hear the political discussions and opinions that sometimes get shared there. I should be better than this, but it’s difficult. Facebook has become a loathsome place to visit due to the never-ending feed of people sharing angry political posts and fake news stories that do nothing other than feed the growing anger. I’m tired and worn out by all this, but I don’t see it ending. I see us going down the very dark road of fascism and it’s a journey that I really don’t want to take.