When all the promises you’ve believed your whole life ring hollow, where in the world to turn?
The world is going in the wrong direction, and the US is doing at at high speed. I'm not disappearing, but most of my writing will be done from Eastern Europe . I never saw THAT coming.
I do not disagree with anything you said. I can't even claim with certainty that I haven't lost faith. I just haven't recognized a better place to be, so I will stay here for now and try to do my part to at least slow things down.
Well, this is depressing news. Although I don't blame you -- America really does seem to be slipping towards the nightmare world of Gilead -- to paraphrase the great Joe Louis: we can run but we can't hide. The conditions that allow authoritarian leaders to rise are already present in most countries, and will be exacerbated as global warming/climate chaos makes life more difficult everywhere. There will be terrible droughts and fires here, horrendous floods and monster storms there (all of which are already happening), and rising seas on every coast that will severely disrupt the lives of huge numbers of people. From the countries that take the first and worst hits will come tsunamis of refugees fleeing towards those countries deemed safer -- and we know how that works out. Consider the flood of Syrian refugees over the past few years that fueled the fires of fear, racism, and resentment that then brought right wing parties to power in Europe. The same will happen in every "safe" country as the climate refugees beat on the doors to be let in. The ever more chaotic weather will hit agriculture hard, causing prices to skyrocket, food shortages to become common, and economies to suffer, which will lead to ever more jobless, desperate people ready to do whatever it takes to survive ... and that means a steady increase in crime. With populations increasingly gripped by fear, the drumbeat for strong leaders to take charge will dominate the political scene. Dissent might be tolerated for a while, but eventually will be brutally suppressed as conditions continue to worsen until the world becomes a violent nightmare akin to the cinematic Darwinian apocalypse of the "Road Warrior" sagas. Adding to the misery, warming temperatures will bring a host of nasty tropical diseases to areas that have never had to deal with such maladies, and with a medical infrastructure under severe stress, there won't be much relief for most people. None of this will happen tomorrow, but it's coming. Looking ahead, I don't see much hope that what we've known as "civilization" can survive.
I hate to see you go, Bob, and wish you the best -- hell, I wish all of us the best -- but from here it looks more likely that we'll be getting the worst. Buckle your seatbelts, because we're in for a very bumpy ride.
Very well said.
My family left for New Zealand in 2019, for the same reasons. It wasn’t Trump, it was what he revealed about America. It was the realization of how deep the rot really goes.
Some things, you can’t accept. If you can’t fix them, all you can do is walk away.
Can't thank you enough for sharing this. It is a 100% echo of my outrage and exhaustion with witnessing the destruction of all that was good in my country. I won't rub elbows with the bastards and in a way, I'm thankful for the pandemic for pulling me out of the office and away from the worst of them, to work at home. Now I'm retired and some of my former colleagues express their outrage at the cesspit it's become, whereas I'm free of it. If the Tories lose control of government in the UK, I'd like to live there.
We live and work in a civilized country--- Japan. No desire to ever go back.
"I’ve lost faith in my country because of what he revealed."
Bob Garfield wins the internet.
The nice thing about living in Japan is that I don't have to worry about being shot in the street. The other thing is that I can walk home from the station at 11 PM in perfect safety.
Bob Garfield perfectly captured the debauching of American democracy thus: “I haven’t lost faith in my country because of what [Donald Trump] did. I’ve lost faith in my country because of what he revealed.” I would go one step further. Trump didn't just reveal the true character of a huge swath of America. He also gave that swath license to celebrate its crudity, its intolerance, its utter debasement. Trump set the example and encouraged people to follow it.
I am, he proclaimed in deed if not in voice, the quintessential scumbag, a liar and a cheat, a serial bankrupt, a failure at countless businesses (how on earth does someone fail at running a casino?), a megalomaniac to my core! I'm proud to be a scumbag and you should be proud nu too. I've ridden scumbaggery to wealth and fame. Why shouldn't you?
And they were proud and they remain proud. Some of them are even Proud Boys. They were proud of him for recognizing the fear and the ugliness inside them, for embracing it, for celebrating it, for shouting it at his rallies, for transforming it from unspeakable to … to ... to patriotic!
There had been a time when they knew shame or at least their forebears did. In the 1950s another populist Republican, a senator named Joe McCarthy was busy tarring nearly everyone who fell under his gaze a <i>communist</i>, often with no evidence. McCarthy destroyed countless careers and reputations, until he was stopped in his tracks by an outside counsel to the US Army who, in defending a young attorney from a spurious attack interrupted McCarthy:
“Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
In fact McCarthy did not have a shred of decency left but most of America, even those drawn to his tactics and his politics still did – or if they didn't, they weren't willing to admit it to their neighbors. That exchange marked the beginning of the end. McCarthy was ultimately condemned by the Senate (though fully half of his Republican colleagues voted against his censure). He continued to serve, continued to rail against communists though now his speeches were delivered in an empty chamber when his colleagues and the news media had mostly all gone home.
It wasn't quick and it wasn't pretty but in the end shame saved the day.
Donald Trump changed that. The man famously claimed, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" And he was right, metaphorically anyway. Ten months later he was caught on a hot mike bragging to a television personality that:
“Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
“Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
And he was right. Didn't appear to cost him a vote, even among the evangelical set. Note to the white collars in the audience: hey reverend, that's your daughter's pussy that Trump was talking about, and the daughters of your congregants.
In 2016, Donald Trump was elected and the shameless genie was out of the bottle for good. And after a presidency defined by a non-stop stream of lies and misrepresentations, scandals and outrages, yahoos attacked the Capitol waving Confederate battle flags and wearing animal skins and goat horns. A disturbing number of Americans cheered. A disturbing number of elected Republicans lined up to kiss the ring and the ass of a boisterous buffoon, the pied piper of the dark and disturbing underbelly of America. Without the constraint of shame, with the furies of id and impulse unleashed, how does this end? Is this the new normal?
It is a futile hope that as Trump slides kicking and screaming into history, his legacy of shamelessness will slide with him. Joe Welch is not here to ask if decency is dead and if he was the answer to him would be a resounding YES! The last time we found ourselves in a time like this Preston Brooks was beating Charles Sumner nearly to death with a cane on the floor of the Senate - all for having the affrontery to oppose slavery.
But we will not have another civil war. That is not to say there will not be violence. But civil wars are just so 19th century. These days one side has all the firepower. More likely we will have the 20th century equivalent, the collapse of the Republic from the inside into autocracy. What are Proud Boys if not Brown Shirts of the new century?
How else can this end? A <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/18/us/politics/midterm-election-voters-democracy-poll.html”>NY Times – Siena College</a> poll showed that “Voters overwhelmingly believe American democracy is under threat, but seem remarkably apathetic about that danger, with few calling it the nation’s most pressing problem.” Many church leaders including most of Evangelicals are on team chaos. The handful of Republicans who rebelled are almost all headed for the sidelines, giving it up or being voted out by their electorates.
Funny, isn't it? After 250 years all that stands between America and the abyss is you. You and your friends and your relatives and your neighbors. And you're sorry, it's a shame, but you really have other things to do.
Bob, always the drama queen 🤣. Bubby, you fail to see what the fix is. You know why it's actually broken?
Because you are not directly represented. You have faux representative gubment. How? Because, after you vote in your chump candidate, their power is stripped and consolidated upward. How do we get powerful House majority leaders and powerful Senate speakers? Because they take that power from chump candidates that let them do it in a parliamentary process that is designed to strip power and consolidate it upward.
Once power is consolidated, corporate interests only need buy a few at the top. This is how your vote is wasted on duopoly establishment candidates!
The answer then, contrary to popular narratives, is not to continue maximizing the power of the duopoly in a pendulum swing of power, but install a power fulcrum that can balance power making all parties minority parties! Third party is the answer even if you think they are dopey. Maximizing power which the candidates tell the faithful they should do cycle after cycle is the problem and the answer counterintuitively is actually to minimize their power.
A small number of third-party candidates could change the way the parliamentary process works making house majority leaders and speakers meeting administrators instead of authoritarian leaders controlled by corporate interests. It would also depower corporate influence to a large degree because they would have to spend even more dollars to buy more people likely making it unfavorable or at the very least reduce the return on investment.
Power and the power dynamics like this in the halls of power is the problem. This is what you are grasping at in your piece but never get hold of.
I'm running for office in my state as a third party candidate and this is my message to the voters who tell me they do not want to waste their votes. I explained to them how they already are counterintuitively doing so because of this process in which they do not understand. Once they understand it the light bulb goes off and even if they don't like you...they like you.
Well, sir, whereever you go, you will be missed by those of us who have no choice but to stay. As people with a disability, my wife and I have discovered that very few countries, if any, would let us emigrate. So, here we will stay. I am curious what country you’re speaking of. If I had my choice I’d probably choose New Zealand. I have friends who live there and it seems that they do things right--for now, anyway.
Bob, you are such an important journalist. We, too, are weighing our options. I can't continue to spend my days feeling despair and fear. Too many of us share the same feeling, this is not my America.