I grew up in the duck and cover fifties, was young and scared during the Cuban missile crisis, and trembled for a while in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but have never felt the kind of imminent threat I do now.
It’s not the fear of full-fledged war, of bombs or towers falling. It’s watching the real-time collapse of my country’s fundamental institution, government, and the structures that are supposed to support it, as enumerated in the Constitution, its foundational document – separation of powers, checks and balances, and above all, the rule of Law. Congress is paralyzed, the Supreme Court is ponderous, and the Executive out of control. One after another, they’re incapable of doing anything to avert the constitutional crisis we have arrived at.
If hope is a thing with feathers, I feel shot right out of the sky.
There was a time – most of her life, actually, when my mother, an acute observer of politics and government, said, I want to stick around long enough to see how things turn out. Shortly after Reagan was elected, she said she didn’t feel that way any longer.
I couldn’t imagine what that must feel like. Now, unhappily, I can. Failed by my usual go-to’s for existential malaise – denial, distraction, dogs and dope. At best, those old standbys of humor, love and friendship can divert my attention for a short time from the ongoing destruction of much of what I once counted on to define what my country meant to me.
While the other exigent crisis – the environment – engages my thoughts, I don’t expect it will be resolved in my lifetime. This one, though – it might be. I’d like to stick around till the election to see.