Grate; Definition (verb)
1. To reduce to fragments, shreds, or powder by rubbing against an abrasive surface.
2. To cause to make a harsh grinding or rasping sound through friction.
3. To irritate or annoy persistently.
In the past year as president, Donald Trump has been basically the same guy we anticipated he would be after seeing him in action over the decades, and especially on the campaign trail. For many reasons, which I will not go into here, this country elected a very unhinged and unstable man/child to the highest office in the land. There’s no surprises in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. It is the confirmation of what we all feared it might be like to have this self-promoting conman as Commander in Chief; the only surprise is that it took this long to pull back the curtain and reveal it.
And make no mistake – it is not just Trump, and whether he is removed from office in one month, one year, three years or seven, the damage done will be severe. It’ll be the laws and regulations changed, the judges who get confirmed, and the shredded safety net that poor and disadvantaged people have relied on for decades that history will record.
This country was founded on high ideals. It has regarded itself as a shining city on the hill, a beacon for all others to follow. “We’re #1 … USA, USA, USA.” Yet it has in its history from the start, actions that fragment those ideals, that grind down the shine on that image. Those horrible periods of blatant racism, whether against the Native people who were already here, or the African people brought here as slaves. Both of those legacies remain in effect today; institutionalized racism is pervasive, as deep in the culture as it is in the economic system. This country has repeatedly overthrown other countries’ governments for the benefit of our corporations. It cozies up to dictators who we like and ignores their human rights violations. These things were and are not great.
Yet there is a smooth veneer that exists, especially in the minds of its citizens, in our history books, and in our culture. We want to believe we as a nation are good, even great. And within the processes available, mobilized citizens have definitely made it better. Slaves were freed, women and Blacks got the right to vote. Through pressure from organized labor we got better working conditions. FDR’s New Deal brought us out of the Depression and instituted many effective social programs. Environmentalists got awareness raised and laws passed. We have the Civil Rights, LGBT and Women’s Rights Movements. All these were and are tangible good things, none optimal, but all steps in the right direction.
The Trump administration is like a harsh rasping sound to the psyches of thoughtful good people, and abrasive to all that good work. Our environmental regulations are being ground down. Our standing as a nation, already tenuous to the rest of the world who have a much better view, is being turned to dust, to powder, by bailing out of the climate agreements, bellicose rhetoric threatening nuclear war, and then the most recent, referring to other nations as “shithole countries.”
“To irritate and annoy persistently”? Yes, it is a horror to watch, and to watch the normalization of such activity by a compliant media and Congress is beyond worrisome. We need to wake up in this year of 2018, because this toxic authoritarianism is being promulgated by people who do not share the values most anyone reading this have. They don’t believe in science, they hate social safety nets, they seem quite comfortable with racist and sexist attitudes, they are extremely nationalistic, and they are hypersensitive to criticism and disparage protesters and dissent. This is the antithesis of great; they are taking us backwards.
But never forget: we are many, they are few. And please know that we have much work to do. D