Surviving the Trumping Down of America

When something goes wrong
I’m the first to admit it
I’m the first to admit it
But the last one to know

(Paul Simon, Something So Right)

Every month, for the first year of his presidency, I reported here some of the events of the Trump administration that were most disturbing and disheartening to me. I called the series of posts “Something So Wrong.” Pick a month, something so wrong happened:

Issuing an order banning Muslims from entering the United States (January); expediting deportation of unauthorized immigrants (February); supporting health care legislation that would end health insurance coverage for 24 million people (March); directing the Secretary of the Interior to reopen previously protected areas in the Arctic Ocean and Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas leasing (April); telling the Russian Ambassador that firing FBI Director James Comey had relieved the pressure he had felt from the investigation Comey was pursuing into Russian meddling in the US election (May); announcing that the US would unilaterally withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change (June); announcing that transgender persons would not be allowed to serve in the US military (July);  defending white nationalist groups by blaming “both sides” for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville after a “Unite the Right” rally left one person dead (August); ordering the end to the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program as of March 5, 2018 (September); refusing to certify Iran’s compliance with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (October); appointing budget director Mick Mulvaney to be acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency that Mulvaney, as a member of Congress, had proposed eliminating (November); signing the Republican tax-cut bill that reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent while enacting temporary individual tax reduction provisions that expire in 2025 while also eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to have health insurance, opening 1.5 million acres of the Alaska National Wildlife refuge to oil drilling, and adding $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit by 2027 (December).

Donald Trump, the earwig of American politics, is the annoyance you can’t get out of your head. I resent the time stolen from my day, every day, by thoughts of what he is doing and has done to tear the country apart.

Over the course of my lifetime I have witnessed the nation’s progress to become more perfect—in race relations and civil rights, for example, or in environmental policy, for another—progress that I have witnessed with some measure of optimism. Now all that is being systematically undone, and with that undoing I am finding it more and more difficult to feel optimistic.

The “Something So Wrong” series was a kind of bearing witness, a calling-out of what is going on and going wrong, but it also consumed a significant number of hours of my life to research, write and condense. I have decided to discontinue the series. Wrong things will continue to happen, but readers of this blog have many news sources available for more complete information about political events than I could ever provide in a few short paragraphs. I will reclaim my time. It does not belong to Donald Trump, after all.

It has become a matter of survival—survival of some enduring flame of optimism, perhaps. For me, survival does not mean disengagement from the news, but it does mean consciously re-centering, reminding myself of what is most important to me in my remaining years.

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