The latest commentary by David Brooks in The New York Times is titled, “Donald Trump Poisons the World.” Here is an excerpt:
Far from being a band of brothers, [the Trump White House staff’s world] is a vicious arena where staffers compete for advantage.
In [an essay in The Wall Street Journal], McMaster and Cohn make explicit the great act of moral decoupling woven through this presidency. In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest.
Brooks is on point. He prompts my own thoughts:
With every week that passes, a grim possibility becomes harder to ignore: that hatred, ignorance, and selfishness may prevail. I did not say will, I said may. Even at this late date, many of us are in denial over the reckless and destructive actions by the Trump White House. Surely something or someone will bring him down. Surely this cannot continue. But it can and will, at least for a time. The peaceful options for removing Trump and his wrecking crew are limited. There is no do-over of the election. Investigations have to play out. Hundreds of electoral contests must be organized and fought. Most Republican officials have made it all too clear that they do not care what harm they do to our commonweal. Yet our airwaves remain full of people urging the White House and the Twitterer-in-chief to be more disciplined, etc. Excuse me, I don’t want to call people dumbasses, but what on earth will it take to figure out once and for all that there is not another, better Trump, that this is it? As Hillary said last year, this is what we’re going to get. But it is now present tense. This in fact is what we got. Yes, it is this bad.
The question for the woke among us is this: do we have the clarity, discipline, resolve, and solidarity to see this struggle through? Our values, our freedoms, and the world are at stake. Do not be so quick to give me a confident answer. Do not say, “We got this.” That very much remains to be demonstrated. To invoke the most powerful film scene in recent memory: we are Little, the youngest version of Chiron in Moonlight, and are floating in the middle of the world. But Blue is not holding us safely in his arms. He is nowhere in sight, and we never learned to swim (as indeed young Alex Hibbert had not prior to shooting that scene). What do we do? If we put our feet down and feel no solid ground, do we panic? Do we flail about hoping someone will see us and come to our rescue? If we spot someone else flailing nearby, do we grab them desperately? That will just cause both of us to drown.
Blue is indispensable. Without him, our story ends. Blue represents our strong, adult, caring and nurturing selves–confident and sure and therefore reassuring. We must have one another’s backs. If not, if we lack the strength and perseverance to see this through, then Trump and his thugs will divide and conquer. We need cooperation now more than ever. We are in a hurry, but this cannot be done in a hurry. The computers in our pockets are powerful, but do not supply character and judgment. Look up from your hand-held device and see the person next to you. It was said two dozen years ago by Maya Angelou in her unjustly maligned inaugural poem:
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply