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Thread: Well thought out reminders

  1. #1
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    Well thought out reminders

    This was forwarded to me by a Canadian friend. The author was a surprise to me. YLMV



    Why is it that some things we never forget and other things we never remember? I work with those ideas a lot.

    But one answer I know without flaw: I had a mother who assiduously insisted that there was something to be learned in everything. I'd pour out my losses or celebrate my gains and my mother — somewhere along the way — managed to make her ever-living point: "And what did you learn from that, Joan?" she asked. Over and over again. Always.

    It's a tiring exercise if you're a child. It's an everlasting path to wisdom when you get to be an adult who knows without doubt that just because you want something — a particular position, a given candidate, encouragement for a plan that failed — there is, lurking within it, a lesson.

    And, note well, it will be a big enough lesson to carry you beyond where you are to where you must go if you are ever to come to wholeness.

    For that unseen lesson you must be grateful.

    That's where I am now. I've learned a lot from President Donald Trump in none of the ways I wanted to.

    First, I want to thank Trump for exposing to us how dangerously fragile a democracy really is. What I had been taught was that our democracy — American democracy — unlike all those pseudo-systems like Argentina or Turkey or Germany in 1939, was impregnable.

    People like Trump, narcissists and power-patriarchs, can simply shape our political world, not around our values, but around themselves and their personal goals, their ill-gotten gains, their blatant disregard for any values we thought had been unalterably baked into the system long before they came. On the contrary, I have begun to think that politics is a kind of while-we-slept game.

    Second, Trump has shown us how baseless democracy is if it is not understood and protected by all of those who take an oath to preserve it. A presidential election is not meant to give any single person power alone. It is meant to surround a president with representatives, senators, cabinet officers and officials of conscience and character, who are first and foremost responsible for the preservation of the Constitution. They, too, are also deputized to make themselves as responsible for defending the ideals and vision of the Constitution as is the president. And so those values, that document, must be protected — even from the president if necessary.

    We have seen so little of that these last four years.

    Third, Trump has shown us that the makings of a coup run through every form of government, including democracy. Thanks to him, we must never be so blasé again about the possibility of the overthrow of democracy as we know it: As in, "but we're a democracy so that can't happen to us." On the contrary.

    The fact is that rather than work with Congress — including his own party's Republican representatives and senators, a system as powerful as his own — he trampled them. And Republican representatives, intimidated by him they tell us now, simply allowed it. No wonder we have so few profiles in courage from this period.

    Fourth, in the end, I learned that even "party" meant little to Trump. That seemed to be a refreshing thought until I realized, too, that though party did not move him, cronyism did, "loyalty" did, personal power did — in fact, personal power was his fatal addiction.

    But unfortunately, he taught me too that the likelihood of members of Congress to yield to intimidation for the sake of saving their own seats and putting petty power above the welfare of the country is itself a political virus. I admit I was shocked.

    I remembered the Republicans who heard every word of testimony against Richard Nixon and then themselves went as a delegation to tell Nixon it was time for him to go.

    We, on the other hand, saw three — three — brave Republican senators put commitment to the country above loyalty to the Trumpism that threatened them. So, how can we trust them again?

    Fifth, I am grateful to past-President Trump for demonstrating how easy it is for a president to simply pull the boat away from the shore by himself. Thanks to Trump, we learned the hard way that government by executive orders — presidential determinations neither vetted nor voted on by Congress — is not a democracy. It is at best a monarchy in disguise, a monarchy in waiting.

    The executive order is a legislative tool that has been growing in popularity. In the modern era, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the face of a recalcitrant Congress, launched his New Deal. Worse, he also incarcerated Japanese Americans with it. Before that era, western states had been created by it.

    Yet, for all intents and purposes, that approach to national legislation sank back into the shadows to be used for little more than minor issues in a world of more important debates or national emergencies.

    In our time, however, those doors have been blown open again by the plague of polarization. Presidents have little power in the face of political rejection to get anything done except by taking things into their own hands. But the process deserves watching. It's Trump's executive orders on border protection, immigration and immigrants, ecological reversals, federal land usage, infrastructure and the Affordable Care Act that are clear indicators of how easy it has gotten to legislate outside of legislation.

    Clearly, it is a time for serious vigilance if democracy is not to slip away, at the end of a single pen, unseen.

    Sixth, I am also grateful to Trump for taking one truism out of the American vocabulary. As in, "No, I don't vote. My single vote won't change anything."

    In fact, your one vote — or its lack — is still changing things.

    Finally, I am grateful for the gift of reality Trump has given us as a people. He has forced us to face the difference between bullying and leading. Leaders who bully are dangerous. Full-grown politicians, whose own motives are so gross, so self-centered, that they bend to the local bully for the sake of a longer term, are selling this country out for Scripture's famous "thirty pieces of silver."

    The fragility of our system, the complicity of Congressional representatives and senators to curry favor with the executive branch of government in order to secure their own place in it, the American-style monarchy in the unrestrained use of executive orders, and the common lack of citizen commitment to the privilege of voting — reflected in the glee of a 40-something mother who voted for the first time in this election — has brought this country to the brink.

    May God help us all, citizens and political figures at every level, to figure out that the lesson that will make or break our future lies in realizing that politics is a seriously righteous act — a socially ethical responsibility, a deeply spiritual one. The great political question in this country now is a moral one: Are we devoted to such public morality? Are we up to it?

    From where I stand, through it all I learned that the complacency of "it can't happen here" has died here these past four years. Just as it did in Munich in 1939.

    [Joan Chittister is a Benedictine sister of Erie, Pennsylvania.]

  2. #2
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    She is not alone in her thinking. There is a farm that I pass by periodically who has had signs up praising Trump and all his actions to date over the past four years. I don't know this man's background or why he is doing this. But why such thinking presented by large signs in Canada? Trump is not our leader, for goodness sake. The signs were down when I went by this morning though. I wonder why?
    As Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    I didn’t expect the Republicans to continue to be afraid of Trump once he lost the election. Watching this happen shows that we don’t have enough checks and balances to prevent someone equally as evil but smarter and more charismatic to turn into a dictator.

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    Simpleton Alan's Avatar
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    I thought the continual references to executive orders was both timely and interesting. I think they're an effective means of accomplishing a goal but they'll always be controversial. There will always be a sizeable portion of the population in any democracy who will approve of their use under the guise that it's the only way to accomplish something they approve of when there's an opposition majority in congress. At least that was popular here during Obama era executive order discussions but interestingly the role of Congress seems to be considered more important among the same demographic these days. I consider that to be one of the most interesting aspects of politics, you just never know what people care most about until they're in the minority.
    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

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    "Trump".. it's just a name. I still don't get it. I don't understand how such hate, nastiness, egotism, etc. could have done the damage to this country that it did. I don't understand why people think this, the anti-thesis of the basic goodness we try to teach our children from day-one, was allowed to reach such a point of acceptability in our country. I don't understand why good people allowed hatred to anyone be an acceptable behavior by anyone - let alone being done by the leader of our country. I am so confused as to why GOOD people not only allowed this to happen but also accepted it as a "good" thing! I just don't understand how anyone who calls themselves a "good Christian" or any other religion, could think these behaviors and hatreds and etc... could think this is all "good". I really just don't understand.
    To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." Mahatma Gandhi
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    I think the Trump administration was a national embarrassment, but it takes a certain level of hysteria to treat it as a brush with fascism. It almost feels like the whole country has succumbed to a sort of clickbait culture and needs to overstate every argument in the most apocalyptic terms possible. Both on Trump’s part and his enemies. There was never any chance bluster was going to make America great again by reviving dying industries and slowing down illegal immigration. But I don’t think that made Trump Hitler any more than it made his enemies preening about being in “the Resistance” anything other than ridiculous.

    Trump’s extravagant and inconsistent claims were silly, but so were the farcical impeachment proceedings and SCOTUS confirmation hearings. QAnon and Russian conspiracy theories competed for attention in the nutsphere. We were asked to believe that tens of millions of Americans were either socialist snowflakes or gun-clinging, god-bothering pillbillies.

    It will be interesting to see where we go from here.

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    Hopefully, with a sane leader ... life will be calmer. trump left a lot of problems and is trying to leave more by not cooperating. It will be an uphill climb but surely there will not be the constant chaos he caused.

  8. #8
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    I think the Trump administration was a national embarrassment, but it takes a certain level of hysteria to treat it as a brush with fascism. It almost feels like the whole country has succumbed to a sort of clickbait culture and needs to overstate every argument in the most apocalyptic terms possible. Both on Trump’s part and his enemies. There was never any chance bluster was going to make America great again by reviving dying industries and slowing down illegal immigration. But I don’t think that made Trump Hitler any more than it made his enemies preening about being in “the Resistance” anything other than ridiculous.

    Trump’s extravagant and inconsistent claims were silly, but so were the farcical impeachment proceedings and SCOTUS confirmation hearings. QAnon and Russian conspiracy theories competed for attention in the nutsphere. We were asked to believe that tens of millions of Americans were either socialist snowflakes or gun-clinging, god-bothering pillbillies.

    It will be interesting to see where we go from here.
    You've done a great job of supporting team red in this response. Your ability to ignore the worst of what trump did and over-inflate the justified reaction to it is impressive. You're much more low key than Alan and as a result likely way more convincing than he is. Congratulations?

  9. #9
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I don't think Sr. Joan's admonition was hysteria--I think it was a very well-reasoned appeal to be ever-vigilant. That slipping off the path can creep up on any group of citizens and become a movement, and that movement can overtake the fundamental values of our nation.

    Trump hits a chord with many people who want certain things that by themselves are totally reasonable things to vote for: the hope of jobs and security is partly what got Trump elected. What I don't understand is how he casts a spell that gets his followers to forget about Trump's own motivations for being in office--they overlook the tawdry aspects of his character. I personally do not feel that a leader who comes to the task with a high degree of personal ambition--ambition that will throw millions of people under the bus just for his own gain--can redeem him/herself with efficacy in executing any policy or platform. Face it, all politicians are ambitious, but there is usually a balance between ambition for self and ambition to serve. In Trump's case, the degree to which good, decent people can turn a blind eye to pure megalomania, xenophobia, and mysogeny is scary to me. I don't think it should be taken lightly. I do think his behavior brushes up against fascism, but thankfully there were enough of us who recognized that and got out there to stomp it out before we found ourselves too far off the road.

    I want a leader with character. I heard a Fox News reporter saying something like: "We'll see what Biden gets done. So far, all I've heard about is a change of tone."
    That sounds good enough for me. A change of tone is the right first step.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    "...I heard a Fox News reporter saying something like: "We'll see what he gets done. So far, all I've heard about is a change of tone."
    That sounds good enough for me. A change of tone is the right first step."


    With Mitch McConnell in power, he probably won't get much done, unless a sizeable number of Republicans find their spines.

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