Monday, January 02, 2017

If 2016 Was The Year America Had A Nervous Breakdown, Just Wait Until 2017

No matter what, there are bound to be big problems in a nation of 320 million with more guns than people, an unraveling social order and yawning gap between the rich and everyone else.  But the accelerating dialectic of violence and retaliation and emergence of a racist demagogue as the standard bearer of the Republican Party --and then president-elect on the wings of a Kremlin- and FBI-abetted gangbang of hacking, false news stories and spuriously interpreted emails -- are less reminders of the frailty of a democracy that has been historically short on delivering what its leaders promise than a full-blown nervous breakdown.  From sea to shining sea. 
Let's be clear that government has not necessarily failed America, but our politicians have, and this means we have too we since we elected the idiots, most recently that tweet-happy narcissistic boy-man who in clearer-headed times easily meets the definition of a traitor but is about to be handed the Pentagon's nuclear codes and not an orange prison uniform. 
It is no coincidence that in 2016 we were gifted Cheeto Jesus and She Who Wears Pants Suits, the former a consequence of a political party that has long pandered to hate mongers and the latter a reminder that beyond the well-funded malevolence of the right-wing noise machine the long overdue election of the first woman president was put on hold because -- face it folks -- of her Nixonian failings and the cluelessness of a Democratic Party that has lost its populist way and doesn't have a frigging clue as to why it was decimated up and down ticket on November 8.   
I can't say that Americans "supported" a president-elect who was rejected by 54 percent of the electorate, but we sure did earn him. 
And in perhaps the most inane twist on the "logic" that drove so many people to vote for Putin's poodle en route to that national nervous breakdown, they rejected the very economic policies that are doing a pretty decent job of relieving a good many of their anxieties, thank you Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, because they would rather "shake up Washington," including the evisceration of the federal safety net that has been there for them when they slip or fall, or -- heaven forbid -- decide to retire.   
This is because any enhancements to that safety net a la a Clinton or Sanders talking point, according to how these extraordinarily dumb clucks have been conditioned to view things, would disproportionately help the "wrong" kinds of people even though those people often are their white working class selves.   
A corollary of this is perhaps the greatest of lessons not learned in the campaign just past by that feckless news media: While it would treat Donald Trump's outlandish behavior -- whether his history of sexual predation or personal financial chicanery -- as disqualifying, his supporters believed otherwise.  Which is not to say that many of these supporters went for Trump although he was a bigot and racist, which is another post-election media fiction.  They voted for him precisely because he was. 
Nevertheless, there were things that were right about America in 2016.   
This included that two-term African-American president who has been the right leader for the times despite obdurate Republicans and the stench of racism, which had been lurking in its hidey-hole and never really went away, a fairly robust economy, a revival of the vibrant big city, significant strides toward equality for gays, and a timely reminder that despite the stop-and-frisk carnage most cops are good people doing a tough job.  But none of that really counterbalances, mitigates or nullifies the awfulness. 
In 2016, America was first among so-called developed nations by some measures, but all of them are negative.  These include infant mortality, incarceration rates, health-care costs, obesity and child poverty.  And it was last among those nations in commitment to infrastructure development, broadband access and arts funding, while millions of people struggle with crushing student loan debt as a result of outrageously expensive but mediocre college educations that do little to prepare them for the real world, only a life of gobbling anxiety-disorder medications to make it through each day.   
And America attained another first with the "election" of a kleptocrat for whom character assassination by tweet is as reflexive as eating French fries. 
Who will be the first chief executive to juggle his weighty responsibilities with being executive director of a reality television show and leveraging the presidency to expand his family businesses, his pious claims of avoiding conflicts of interest notwithstanding, and who has purposefully restocked the swamp he promised to drain.  This includes a prospective Cabinet that includes an HUD pick who doesn't believe in discrimination, an HHS pick who wants to kill Obamacare and gut Medicare, a Commerce pick who is a fraudster, a Labor pick who believes in depressing wages, an Education pick who despises public schooling, an Energy pick who wanted to eliminate the department, a State Department pick who slavishly supports Vladimir Putin, an Attorney General pick who is a flaming racist and wants to turn back the clock on marijuana decriminalization, as well as a security chief who traffics in right-wing conspiracy theories.   
Mr. Swamp Draining Populist's Cabinet-in-waiting is worth a mind boggling $14 billion in personal income, at least 50 times greater than George W. Bush's circle of department heads and advisers. 
Is anyone really surprised that Trump reverted to form as quickly as he returned to his Fifth Avenue palazzo from the campaign trail?    
If you are shocked -- just shocked -- that he threw over his baseball cap posse in a New York minute, then you are a sucker.  And if you didn't think the entire purpose of his post-election modus was to reorder the universe to suit his crony capitalist wonts, then you need to get a prescription for a heavy-duty sedative before Obamacare is abolished.  Especially if you live in one of the states that went cherry red and has benefitted so greatly from Obama's historic health-care reforms.   
As for Social Security and Medicare, tighten your seat belts.   
Federally-mandated improvement in wages?  Fuggedaboutit.   
Consumer protections?  You have got to be kidding. 
Despite natterings to the contrary, our nervous breakdown cannot be blamed on ISIS, Brexit, Putin, Twitter, energy drinks, the Cuisinart food processor blade recall, rising sea levels or the war in Afghanistan, which at 15 years and counting is far and away the U.S.'s longest overseas military misadventure.  
No, our breakdown is entirely self-inflicted.  
What is happening to America is a kind of entropy, a gradual decline into disorder.  Our selective outrage -- pretending that one person's pain is greater than another's -- only makes things worse and Trump is merely a symptom, not the disease, although it is certain that the case of presidential buyer's remorse that will begin unfolding after his inauguration will be unlike anything ever seen in American history.

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