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Apocalypse Refocused

Author: Gary Hart

Many if not most of my generation envisioned apocalypse as nuclear.  That threat is still there.  Now, however, it turns out that nature’s survival is threatened by chemicals and the creators of chemicals, mankind itself

In the interim decade or two, science has required us to concentrate on the warming of the climate and the resulting glacier melting, sea levels rising, coastal inundating, crop destroying, inward mass migrations resulting from rising temperatures.

The recent United Nation’s consolidated report, however, broadens this new apocalypse.  Upwards of one million natural species are threatened not only by warming climate but also by habitat destruction, including massive deforestation, expanding urban populations, extensive transportation systems, and general destruction of biodiversity systems more intricate than we could have previously comprehended.

Why did it take even supposedly sophisticated humans to begin to appreciate how intricately interwoven were biological systems, soil that sustained tiny insects that in turn sustained birds and bees, who then spread seeds that grew into plants and trees that are necessary as habitat for a myriad of creatures on land and in seas, and on and on.

We have only recently discovered that we are the beneficiaries of an incredibly complex natural environment that has sustained itself, at least until recently, by…yes…sustaining itself in an almost divinely inspired natural system.

That system, or those many subsystems, now faces its possible elimination from…humanity.  Whether in centralized or capitalistic economic systems, growth was and is the watchword.  The equation is simple: expanding economies accommodate growing populations; growing populations seek opportunity; opportunity is another word for jobs and income, which in turn provide food, shelter, and cell phones.

Oddly enough, the greater the economic opportunity, the smaller the family.  Strangely, provided with opportunity people have fewer children, and limited population expansion may help save the planet.  Except, newly enabled middle-class families become greater consumers, and consumption wipes out the environmental benefits of smaller families.

Politics, especially in an age of populistic nationalism, seems to offer few if any solutions.  Just prior to the nationalistic surge, there seemed some hope with the Paris Accords designed to organize international carbon limits.  But, alas, along came he who shall not be named.

So, now apocalypse grows.  Climate change and stunning biodiversity destruction.  And Western democracy dis-integrating.  Oh, and let’s not forget infectious outbreaks, currently measles, brought on by another round of distrust of science and politics.  You may encounter difficulty finding a seat at your neighborhood bar.  If so, expect churches, synagogues, and mosques to begin filling up.

One of the many human curiosities is the ability, perhaps necessity, to avoid what someone has already labeled the Great Extinction by reminding oneself that he or she will be gone before it actually happens.  I won’t be around so why should I care.  This works, but only if you have no sense of accountability to the next generation, presumably including your own children.

I repeat: how can people of means think only of the financial legacy they leave their children and not the public legacy?  This is a moral flaw of significant proportions.  And it is created by those who think only of personal wealth and not social responsibility.

And, if you have the quixotic goal of making America great again on the backs of everyone else in the world, forget international accords and cooperation…and, by the way, the hope that goes with them.

 

There is very little chance for a return any time soon to good government in the national interest such as we have experienced during the nation’s best days.  Once again, it must be restated that two events have historically brought Americans together: depressions and world wars.

Right now, Republicans have a strong economic tailwind.  And, thank Providence, no epic war looms on the horizon.  So, there is little incentive for a Party in the White House and the Senate to moderate or seek Democratic cooperation.

In fact, Republicans reward office holders and candidates who promise not to cooperate with Democrats.  Given gross gerrymandering and polarization of the nation into red and blue enclaves, the worst fear of those Republicans with even a thought of moderation and bipartisan cooperation is a right-wing challenge within their own State or district.  Witness the march out the door of the handful of Republicans with this instinct.

The struggle within the Democratic Party is over whether a center-left strategy or a more dramatic shift toward a form of socialism, so far defined primarily by taxes on wealth, Medicare for all, and a Green New Deal, is preferable.

The default leader of the Democrats, Speaker Pelosi, is struggling mightily to keep the Democratic agenda from alienating moderate centrist voters without whom national elections cannot be won.

National elections overwhelmingly favor the Party in power when the economy seems to be strong.  Don’t rock the boat, is the underlying theme.

So, the Party controlling the Executive and half the Legislative branches is totally controlled by the Trump/Tea Party legions and riding, at least for the moment, an economic tide.

Which leaves the busload of Democratic Presidential candidates to propose new approaches to health care, affordable education, conservation of natural resources, and prevention of further climate erosion.  All important for the nation’s future.

But what may sway the 2020 election is the bizarre behavior of the chief executive.  Even as 56 percent of polled Americans were pleased with the economy, only 43 percent thought the president was doing a good job.  If swing voters uncouple the economy from overall presidential performance, then the unhinged twitterer-in-chief may become the issue.

But any thought by ardent Democrats that anyone can defeat Mr. Trump should be overwhelmingly discarded.  Righting the ship of state will take experience, statesmanship, gravitas, stature, and trustworthiness.  Not all the many candidates possess this combination of attributes.  The Democratic nominee must be presidential.

That is the standard, not gender, race, ethnicity, geography, finance, or photogenicity.

The nomination prize will be awarded to that candidate who proposes a steady, thoughtful, affordable progress toward universal health care, increased investment in public education and assistance with higher education loans, protection of public lands and resources, and realistic paths toward job opportunities.  Combine those themes with open leadership doors to Congressional Republicans willing to approach half way, restoration of international cooperation on trade, mass migrations, and security, and return of maturity to the White House.

A presidential Democratic candidate will place hard-shell, intransigent Republicans under a harsh spot light.  Resistance for resistance sake to constructive ideas in the national interest will demonstrate once and for all that those who put rigid ideology and power ahead of the common good are the ones who deserve to go home and stay there.

Rethinking American Democracy

Author: Gary Hart

Whatever else happens, and “else” in this case is meant to include a second Trump term, American politics has been altered.  How much and for how long remain to be seen.

Counting the ways confounds comprehension and expands almost daily.  The most obvious, if not also the most profound, is the gap that is becoming a chasm between the Democrats and the Republicans.  There are rare bipartisan legislative efforts, but their rarity illustrates the point.  There have been partisan confrontations in our history, most notably leading to the Civil War.  But ending slavery was epic.  Now there is a partisan divide over virtually everything from judicial and executive appointments, to foreign policy, to trade, to resources, energy, and the environment.

Now the president has declared war on the legislative branch, most notably the House of Representatives.  Principally this involves total resistance to Congressional subpoenas necessary to carry out the Constitutional oversight mandate.  Trump has declared that he alone can decide whether and when to cooperative with a legitimate function of the legislative branch.  This is a giant step toward autocracy and a unilateral denial of the checks and balances system of government bequeathed by our Founders.

The Trump administration has without precedence decided to conduct American foreign policy in secret, most notably where Russia is concerned.  Though it is difficult to imagine, there might be exceptional international security reasons for doing this where the British, French, or Germans are concerned.  But not with a former Cold War competitor and current antagonist.  Such conduct is made many times more suspicious given the hand-in-glove relationship between Trump, Inc. and the Russian government during and after the 2016 national campaign.

Further, Trump foreign policy, like virtually his entire domestic policy, seems to have but one central organizing principle: overturn anything and everything carried out by the preceding Obama administration.  Other than blatant hatred of Barack Obama (because he is a Democrat, or because he is black?), no reason has been given for this massive effort to eradicate any memory of the previous administration.

Then there is the voter suppression campaign, itself propelled by a racial undercurrent.  Under Democratic party leadership in the 20th century, massive national and local efforts have been made throughout the country to encourage much wider-spread voter participation, participation as the foundation of democratic government.  This is democracy in regression, once again a hallmark of autocracies.  We will decide who gets to vote, is the motto.  Despite proclamations to the contrary, wide-spread voter fraud simply does not exist.

This administration now has a cabinet almost totally composed of acting Secretaries.  This avoids embarrassing hearings about lack of qualifications or special interest conflicts even before a Republican Senate.

Further, there is no precedent in modern history of presidential leadership aimed almost exclusively at a particular “base”.  An election, in this case a minority election, produces a president of all the people, not some fans.  In more than two years, and a year before that, there is no instance where the current president personally addressed a cross-section of Americans.  The only possible exception is the Inauguration and one doubts there were very many citizens outside the “base” that bothered to attend that.  Rather, history will categorize the incumbent as the “twitter president”, comfortable only in a cocoon inhabited by his children, current wife, Mar-a-Lago and Sean Hannity.

Having shattered all norms for conducting the presidency, Trump seems perpetually angry that well over half of the American people, save for Fox all the press, and scholars of American history and government find his conduct disgraceful.

And to all this, add disdain for diplomacy, vacant ambassadorships, partisan favoritism in Israel, rejection of the two-state solution, destructive trade tariffs, privatization of the nation’s public resources, attempted privatization of the public school system, subtle support for white nationalism, dismissal of scientific evidence across the board, appointment of lobbyists and industry hacks to positions of public trust, a massive effort to tilt the entire judicial system to the right, obsessive attention to a dysfunctional border wall, and, beyond all that and more, congenital commitment to lying against all evidence to the contrary.

One might fervently wish our nation would return to traditions of pursuit of the national interest, communitarianism, honesty, decency, respect for the opinions of others, collaboration with democratic allies to solve collective problems, stability, humanitarian immigration policies, and integrity in government in the aftermath of Trump.

But there is no guarantee of this.  Instead, one Trump might follow another.  The nation may have made a more or less permanent turn down a different path characterized by all disruptive and unprecedented actions outlined here and much more.

If so, it will not be the America most of us have known and revered throughout our lives and which we have sought to perfect even more.  Despite false leaders, each generation must renew its Constitutional mandate to “seek a more perfect Union.”  Whether we choose to do so is genuinely a test of our patriotism toward the democratic ideal and our nation.

Turning on a Dime

Author: Gary Hart

How do political institutions change directions?  This question obviously arises regarding the Republic Party since 2016.

Since the end of the Cold War, at least, Republicans believed in several immutable fundamentals: balanced budgets; deep suspicion of Russia (and previously the Soviet Union); the “moral majority”; law and order; respect for the military; expanded international trade, among other solid doctrines.

Today, with the exception of “never Trump” Republicans, the Party has exploded deficits, held secret meetings with Russian authorities during and after the 2016 election, fallen in love with a twice divorced President with highly questionable conduct toward women, defied and demeaned domestic law enforcement agencies including the Department of Justice and the FBI, demonstrated contempt for the intelligence services, upset security and economic alliances, cast established trade agreements aside, and generally run rough-shod over the rule of law.

All this amazing transformation in about 24 months.

Did the traditional Republican Party lose its soul?  How can a long-established American political institution make 180 degree turns on so many fundamental beliefs so quickly?  Is there any precedence for this, including in the Democratic Party?

The closest one can come to an answer to the last question might be the embrace of a wide range of civil rights policies by the Democrats in the 1960s that cost the Party the “solid South” and enabled Richard Nixon to turn the South into a Republican stronghold.  That was the only modern realignment even close to the bizarre Republican conversion to the current anti-Republican Party.

Explaining this phenomenon requires a profound scholarly understanding of political institutions and their ability to cast aside overnight established beliefs.  Those of us confused by this virtually unprecedented mass role reversal eagerly await such explanations.  Surely, economic upheaval, including in Germany in the 1930s, offers one explanation.  Except, the American economy has been relatively stable and growing since the Obama years after 2008.

Demagogues in America and in Europe have capitalized on discontent caused by migrations south-to-north to foster pseudo-nationalistic movements.  New social media have offered platforms for demagoguery.  Yet none of this accounts for the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation of a formerly conservative political party virtually overnight.

It is a mystery awaiting authoritative analysis, discussion, and explanation.

Political pundits, lacking other categories and congenitally committed to established ones, refer to the Trump “base” as conservative.  But that “base” has abandoned traditional conservative principles and is, instead, highly reactionary.  Reaction is the dark side of conservatism when it cannot get its way.

This observation offers one possible explanation, that is that conservatism has been unable to address sweeping global changes, including technology disruptions, mass migrations, and globalization itself.

During the Republican nomination process, Trump, largely through ridicule, marginalized the field of presidential contenders and revealed the confusion and disarray within current conservatism.  He essentially held the previous Republican Party in contempt and opened the door to what Mrs. Clinton unfortunately called “the basket of deplorables” to enter the hallowed halls of traditional conservatism and sack the place.

His coup mimicked the actions of barbarian raiders throughout history and got him to the White House, leaving behind the field of conservative nobility so sorely used.

Once again, however, the speed with which this happened could only have taken place due to considerable long-term undermining of the pillars of conservatism and the Republican Party.

So, today we have the dominant party in the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court unmoored from conservative ideology and, at least in the first two branches of government, beholden to reactionary forces.  Those forces are reacting to immigration, international alliances, the emergence of minorities, the rise of women to positions of authority, and to polite society (generally called “elites”) founded on collective respect.

And, on the other end of the political teeter-totter, a Democrat Party in search of new directions in an interesting and colorful array of aspirants.  That is a subject for another discussion, but not one in which the traditional Democratic Party is going to reverse course like the Republican coup of 2016.

[A lovely Passover Remembrance and Buona Pasqua to all: GH]

Judgment Silenced

Author: Gary Hart

What follows seems to be about religion, and especially about the Christian religion, but it is not.  It is about moral leadership.  So please don’t see “religion” and run away saying “enough already about religion.”

The question is why the so-called “mainstream” Christian churches and their leaders seem so quiet in this Trumpian era while “Christianity” seems to be represented in the public square almost exclusively by evangelicals, one tributary of the Christian river.

This is not one of those “I haven’t heard it, therefore it hasn’t happened” arguments.  For all I know, pastors and theologians of various denominations, including but not limited to, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many others, are speaking and writing daily either praising or judgmentally condemning Trumpian excesses.

After all, the seminaries and divinity schools across the nation virtually all teach the notion that Christians are called upon to render judgments between good and evil and to provide a prophetic voice, in the lineage of Jeremiah, on secular actions contrary to the Testaments, Old and New.

Religious journals, along with Sunday sermons, are abundant, beyond the ability of a single person to read or listen to them all.  So, once again, the complaint here may be wide of the mark.  But some of us pay close attention to the national dialogue and, in this commentator’s case, find almost nothing from “mainstream” Christian leaders in condemnation of administration’s actions destroying immigrant families, failing to pursue climate protections, ignoring the plight of the poor and homeless, neglecting health care for the needy, and the list is endless.

And if there is a prophetic word said from the pulpits about the Trump era destruction of the earth that God made, the climate life depends on, and the preserved natural heritage he is desperate to give to the commercial interests it is being whispered in the dark.

These are moral issues that transcend the limited focus of evangelicals on abortion and anti-abortion judges.  Rendering moral judgments should not be partisan.  If a Democratic administration were as far outside the American historical tradition as the present one, it should be equally condemned.  And it undoubtedly would be by the now very partisan evangelical movement.

Isn’t it strange how the moral compass can swing in the direction we want it to?  In such cases, the compass is no longer moral; it is partisan.  That is why we have scriptures and religious texts.  To bring the compass back to true North.

But the issue is the seeming silence of mainstream Christianity.  Where are the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs when we need them?  Lots of explanations.  The congregation is politically divided, therefore don’t raise political issues.  But wide divergence from moral Biblical teachings as they affect society require condemnation.  Jesus took a whip to the money changers in the Temple, thereby insuring His fate.

There are deep divisions within Christianity, as there are within Judaism and other religions.  But there are, or at least should be, rock solid truths that require observation regardless of partisan ideologies.  These require the voices of the clergy, the ordained leaders of the faith.

There are prophets who should be praised.  One is Jim Wallis, of Sojourners, who is a true Matthew, chapter 25, Christian.  There surely are others who do not attract the attention of the press covering the evangelical self-promoters flocking in and out of the White House.

I vividly remember the pastor of the most prominent church in which I was raised preaching from the pulpit the Sunday before the 1960 election that “God does not want a Catholic in the White House.”

Had I not been sitting with my wife and her parents, prominent in that denomination, I would have walked out.  And often wished that I had, regardless.  Instead, shortly thereafter I abandoned that denomination.

Where are the prophetic voices of today?  Where is the moral leadership?  Where are the leaders of mainstream Christian churches calling down God’s judgment on a government that has demonstrating it is capable of anything?

Judgment silenced is no judgment at all.

By assuming that the Democratic Party will undertake massive voter fraud in 2020, Donald Trump has unleashed an effort to de-legitimatize the outcome of that election if he and/or his party loses.

His statement last week to the Republican National Committee Conference that all votes must be counted  and “be more paranoid”  20 months from now begins a drumbeat that will be endlessly repeated on Fox News and countless tweets.

This is the latest in an increasing series of presidential efforts to call into question the rule of law and dependability of political institutions upon which our Republic depends.

He wants the “base” to expect an illegitimate election, to consider the process of a national election fraudulent, to accept that one of our two major Parties is corrupt and sinister, that it will bring hoards of illegal aliens to the polls on its behalf, and that, despite all evidence to the contrary, there is every expectation that it will do anything to win.

All this despite also the “hanging chad” fiasco in 2000, the “swift boat” campaign against John Kerry in 2004, the Willie Horton campaign against Mike Dukakis in 1988, the “birther” campaign against Barack Obama virtually throughout his presidency up to and including Trump’s perpetuation of that totally false rumor in 2016.

Other Democratic candidates for the Presidency during this entire period were victims of Republican sponsored “set ups.”

If any Party should know about campaign frauds, it would be the president’s.

All true patriots must be prepared for any eventuality as the next election approaches.  Poll watchers must be seriously trained.  Election lawyers must be identified and deployed at polling stations where mischief might be expected.  State and local election officials must expect efforts at voter intimidation.  Massive challenges to voter identification will surely be used to delay voting in heavily Democratic districts.  And maximum pressure to tilt the vote will occur in so-called “purple” States.

Senior judicial officials should be prepared for court challenges on election day concerning voter qualifications and voter intimidation.

In the words of the old movie: “These are desperate men and they will stop at nothing”

The stakes could not be higher.

Government for the People

Author: Gary Hart

There is nothing wrong with our economy that getting rid of all those bureaucratic regulations won’t cure, seemed to be the mantra of Ronald Reagan and generations of Republicans before and after.  That, together with tax cuts and military spending pretty much summarized his governing philosophy.  Oh, and there was that quaint notion of balancing the budget also, but President Clinton was the last one to do that and deficits have grown under all Republican presidents since Reagan.

What are regulations and why do we have them?  The passengers of the two recent Boeing 737 Max 8 planes probably could not have told you, but they were assuming US Government officials in the FAA had written regulations for their operations and trained pilots on the requirements of those regulations.

Wrong assumption because the FAA, which still does not have a director confirmed by the Senate more than two years into the Trump administration, chose to let Boeing certify its own planes, crews, and their performance.  That was the easy way around those pesky federal regulations on flight safety.  And people died.

We have regulations because Congress is not capable of spelling out the detailed functions of complex legislation that it passes.  That is for career civil servants who apply the laws to everyday circumstances to protect the public interest.  They are not “out of control”.  They are well trained and highly accountable to the Congress that passed the laws.

If there is a “deep state”, it is populated by thousands of career civil servants who know the laws and how they should be applied in everyday circumstances.

Tragically, the sloppiness of the FAA is being mirrored in virtually all federal agencies.  From cabinet level officers down, the natural resource agencies such as Interior and EPA, the education department, the health and safety agencies, and almost all others are administered by political appointees whose philosophy is laisse faire, whose loyalty is to Trump, and whose connections are with the industries they are supposed to regulate under the law.

Meanwhile, those industries, whether airplane manufacturers or extractive resource companies, rewrite restrictive regulations behind closed doors in their own interests and not in the public interest.

The damage being done to the public’s land and resources and our environment will take years, possibly decades to repair.  Because at least until the last election, the Republican Congress refused to hold the regulation wreckers to account.  American peoples’ lives, their health and safety, and their children’s legacy have been jeopardized in the service of “too much government.”

Political ideologies and beliefs have consequences.  Whether food and drug inspections, climate protections, transportation safety, or a host of other public interest laws and regulations, we take government protection for granted because presidents take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

That oath is being violated daily now and people’s lives are at stake.

Under the Constitution, Congress is obligated to oversee the operations of the Executive branch to ensure that the laws it has passed are being faithfully executed.  But if you are a Republican Senator whose ideology is opposed to “big government”, and your campaigns are financed by regulated industries, you are certainly not inclined to hold regulators to account.  Indeed, you are most inclined to tell them to lay off your corporate friends who we expect to obey the law.

Knowing little to nothing of the national government and how it operates, or is supposed to, under the Constitution, Donald Trump found himself hamstrung from eviscerating regulatory agencies and decided that there was a “deep state” out to thwart him.  Even a casual reading of the Constitution or open-minded lecture on how government works would have let him know that the so-called “deep state” was composed of knowledgeable career civil servants doing their jobs.

But, of course, with this president that is too much to ask.

As a result, everyday Americans and their children will live with the deregulatory chaos that has resulted.  Pick your airplanes, as well as your food and medicine, very carefully.

Ex parte Trump

Author: Gary Hart

The investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is over…but it is not finished.  What Mr. Mueller struggled to keep nonpolitical is now ultra-political.  By leaving the many issues related to obstruction of justice as a jump ball, he all but guaranteed a long twilight partisan struggle among the two Parties, the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.  And that does even include the courts where all this will inevitably land.

Do not expect the fallout from this report to be concluded before the 2020 elections.

Mr. Mueller does not seem to be a man who punts.  But that is the result of his amorphous conclusion on obstruction.  The phrase “does not exonerate” will rattle through the halls of politics and law for decades to come.  Donald Trump can claim whatever he likes.  But he was not exonerated.

This loose ball now bounces around the Department of Justice whose Attorney General gratuitously joined the “witch hunt” brigade months ago, thereby insuring consideration for the position he now holds.  Why it will take weeks for him to confirm a decision he made months ago is yet another mystery.  Appearances of fairness and justice must be upheld.

The points of obstruction have been well documented in the press: the firing of FBI Director James Comey for refusing to turn a blind eye to short-term National Security Adviser Flynn; the possibility of pardons trolled across the paths of several White House staff and personal servants; false statements about ties with Russians; rants against then Attorney General Sessions for recusing himself and failing to shut Mueller down as the President demanded; and on and on.

If all this is simply a President carrying out his executive duties, as Mr. Barr argued months ago, these are duties no other President in American history has undertaken.

There is the increasingly distinct possibility that this President is fundamentally altering the highest office in the land for as far into the future as can be imagined.  For every misdeed and ethical departure expect future unmoored and unscrupulous Presidents to claim “I’m just doing what Trump did (and got away with).”

Let’s hope not.  It is still too soon to determine whether Article II authorizing a chief executive will, post Trump, resume its original and intended form or become the template for future executive mischief and mayhem.  But, in the immediate moment, it seems it will never end.

Already, Constitutional scholars are concluding that Mr. Mueller’s ambiguity has greatly widened Presidential authority and not to the good.  As Mr. Trump is fond of saying, let’s wait and see.

One thing, however, is clear: the unresolved issues at stake are larger than this President and this Administration.  Those include: the breadth of Presidential authority; the role of Congressional oversight; the rule of law itself.

There is every evidence that Mr. Trump does not understand what the rule of law means, and even if he does, he doesn’t care.

Accept Your Death…

Author: Gary Hart

At a very low point in my life, I saw an improbable but achievable goal disappear almost literally overnight.  Thereafter, I received upwards of ten thousand letters, overwhelmingly kind, generous, understanding and supportive.  But, of course, this was thirty years ago before the age of trolling, bitterness, and meanness.

Even after this much passage of time, one letter is indelible.  It came from a college friend of even more decades ago.  This is what it said: “On the eve of a great battle, the chief of a large Native American tribe gathered his warrior-braves and said this: ‘Accept your death and become dangerous.’”

Accept your death and become dangerous.

Long reflection has led to this interpretation.  To accept your death does not mean to become reckless or needlessly to throw your life away.  It means to know that life is finite.  At some point it ends for all of us, whether in battle or on a hospital bed.  With all the joys, and heartaches, it may hold, for all of us it eventually comes to an end.

Accept that fact.  Do not try to avoid it.  Do not think that money or fame or power will provide a way around that conclusion.  It is man’s fate.  It is the human condition.

But what about becoming dangerous.  That seems to mean throwing away the hesitancy that bind us, the fear that prevents us from accepting challenge, all of life’s roadblocks.  Cast off self-doubt, a sense of personal limits, all those reasons that tell us what we cannot strive for or try to achieve.

Becoming dangerous certainly does not mean risking the well being of others, driving recklessly, endangering those around us, or being casually destructive.  It is a much more profound insight than that.

Becoming dangerous means questioning authority.  It means operating on the frontier.  It means leaving behind conventional wisdom and yesterday’s methods.  It means offering new approaches to new realities.

It often means being ahead of others.  Establishment wisdom, in politics and often in life, considers anyone out of the frame to be out of control and therefore dangerous.  This is certainly true of politics.  Danger in this sense is exciting to some but frightening to most others.

The idea of danger and dangerousness almost always involves peril, risk, and hazard.  As used by the tribal chieftain and intended here, it is different.  To lay aside concern for life and wellbeing is to enter a realm of possibility, especially creative possibility.  Anyone who challenges the status quo is considered dangerous to the established order.  This is especially true for those in power.  The new woman or man is considered a threat, a kind of danger, to those in power.

This becomes even more true when the liberated man or woman has nothing to lose, who figuratively if not literally has accepted that life is limited and finite.  In his beautiful poem, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, W. B. Yeats has this line: “The years to come seemed waste of breath, a waste of breath the years behind.”

And in Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses these thoughts: “Life piled on life were all too little, and of one to me little remains: but every hour is saved from that eternal silence, something more, a bringer of new things…”

The thought is the same.  Live in the moment and bring new things.  There is a kind of danger in this…letting go of sameness, forging ahead often alone, exploring the new and different.  For many this is called seeking progress.

Death is ahead for all.  Accept it and move on.  Do not accept ease and comfort.  Accept the danger of breaking with stale convention and breaking new ground, even if that represents a threat to those around us.

To become dangerous is to shape one’s own destiny and possibly the fate of others.

 

 

Amerexit

Author: Gary Hart

Great Britain was awash in immigrants, many from its former empire and therefore of darker color.  It was enmeshed in complex trade agreements that convinced those whose wages had stagnated that those agreements were profiting trading partners at their expense.  The bankers in the City of London were perceived as the elite whose children went to the best public schools and chartered the largest yachts in the Mediterranean.  The worst of it was the European Union whose bureaucrats were running everything.

Most of all, Britain was no longer great.  So, the British Government provided a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union and in 2016 the Leavers carried the day.  Britain would be great again and possibly recapture its imperial status into the bargain.

It seems odd that few, if any, have seen the remarkable parallel between Great Britain and the United States since 2016.  It is all there.

An immigrant army is crossing our border daily spreading crime and disease.  Our economy is too constrained by trade agreements.  We are providing security for European and Asian countries who are not paying for it.  The elites in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles are getting everything and Americans in between are left out.  (How a lop-sided tax cut for the rich would fix that has never been explained.)  And our bureaucrats are in Washington not in Brussels.  They have formed a “deep state” that frustrates our Administration at every step.

So now we have our own Brexit.  Let’s call it Amerexit.  We’ll walk away from trade agreements and stimulate trade wars even at the expense of our own farmers and factory workers.  Who needs NATO or our European partnerships.  Toss the Iran nuclear agreement because we like the Saudis better and besides it was negotiated by…Barack Obama (hiss).  And it may also give the jack of all deals, Mr. Kushner, a chance for a sweet deal with the Saudis for nuclear reactors.

All these post-World War II agreements have done nothing but tie the mighty United States down.  Who needs allies.  Who needs cookie-pushing diplomats.  The world is just New York real estate on a bigger scale.  Our power will get us all the respect we need, and we’ll use it to make our country great again.

We’re America.  Get out of our way.

Britain has its Brexit and it’s a mess.  They can’t get out and they can’t stay in.  And worthy of the irony of the year award, the main sticking point turns out to be the Ireland-Northern Ireland border.  It was a hard border during the thirty-year Troubles, then soften with the Good Friday Agreement.  And things have been fine…up to now.  As part of “Great” Britain, Northern Ireland will follow its leader out the European door.  In the referendum, Northern Ireland voters voted to Remain.  But the Republic of Ireland is a member, and a profiting one, of the European Union.  Oh, boy!

The Leavers hadn’t thought of this.

And the ironies continue.  Amerexit is also about a border.  And a wall.  A “big, beautiful wall” promised by candidate Trump to his delirious “base” to stop the hoards of Mexican bandits from taking over our country.  Except, there are no hoards, the Mexican Government is not about to pay for the wall, as Trump promised, and he has turned his Party and our country into a political pretzel from which we can’t escape.

Winston Churchill is rolling over in his grave, as are Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman among others.

Amerexit is dismantling almost 75 years of patient alliance building with European democracies and other nations in collective security, manageable trade, freedom of movement, and shared values, including the GF and NATO, among others.  That’s a legacy for our children.

But, we are America.  Get out of our way.

[Addendum: Donald Trump’s depravity knows no bounds.  His rampant jealousy of John McCain rages on even after Senator McCain’s death.  A genuine hero, which Trump will never be, he had the courage and character that Trump will never have.  There must be a special place in hell for those whose bitterness even death cannot quench.]