The winter solstice is approaching, and it feels as if there has been a death in the family.
In some sense there has been.
Our country has been wounded, perhaps mortally, by the blunt trauma of a Trump presidency.
The president-elect has shown no loyalty, no decency toward anyone, except some of his sycophants.
He has not been loyal to his cronies, like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, who are no longer worthy of a cabinet post; nor to his party, whose former national chairman, Reince Priebus, he now embraces but whom he criticized during the primary season when the Donald felt that the RNC wasn’t being fair to his Trumpness; nor to his supposed, political hero, Ronald Reagan, who despised the Soviet Union and who would be mortified at Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin; nor to his, ahem, wives; nor to his country, which is useful to him only insofar as he can cash in on some moneymaking deals to extend his brand.
No, Trump is loyal only to the world’s autocrats, like Putin, with whom he undoubtedly wishes to engage in a modern-day Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, as I noted back in September.
But, we are now in December, and we are approaching not only the solstice but also December 19, the day when electors will cast their ballots, the day of reckoning.
Many commentators and others are beginning to wonder what kind of country we are going to be in the future.
Are we going to be a country that tosses aside the rule of law, as well as basic facts, as Carl Bernstein noted, principles for which our founding fathers fought and gave their lives?
Are we going to dispense with four-thousand years of Judeo-Christianity with its code of ethics, going back to Moses and the Ten Commandments, and substitute a form of Baalism, which one might call bullyism?
Are we going to malign ordinary citizens, such as union leaders, newspaper reporters and judges because they do not agree with us on facts and points of law?
Are we going to mock people because of their disabilities, illnesses or perceived health problems?
Are we going to deport or bar hordes of others from our country simply because of their religion or ethnicity?
Are we going to tolerate an environment where acts of intimidation and hate crimes against minorities and others go unchecked or without justice?
Are we going to disrupt on a whim four decades of foreign policy with China and carefully studied protocols in international relations?
At this point, does anyone doubt that our solipsist-in-chief is not only greedy and ethically compromised with obvious conflicts of interest but that he also has the cognitive capacity and attention span of a moron?
What else can explain Trump’s apparent failure to read his briefing books at night and to attend his intelligence briefings in the morning?
Can any elector, in good conscience, cast his or her ballot for such a man and allow him anywhere near the nuclear codes?
The answer is not only blowin’ in the wind, as Bob Dylan would say. The answer, if not arrived at correctly, could blow up the planet.
Maybe, that’s why Patti Smith, on behalf of the Bobster, sang “A Hard Rain” at the Nobel Prize ceremony on December 10.
If we are to avoid risking such a potential apocalypse (let us not forget that Dylan came out with an album, “Love And Theft,” on 9/11), our electors must do the right thing on December 19.
They must give the citizens of our country, 2.5 million more of whom voted for Hillary than for Trump, the voice we deserve.
Of course, any talk of Bob Dylan brings me to Shakespeare, whom Dylan invoked in his recent note to the Swedish Academy.
And thoughts of the Bard, in this possible winter of our discontent, bring me not to Richard III but to The Winter’s Tale.
Since November 8, it has felt as if Hillary has died, just as Hermione, the queen, seems to die in The Winter’s Tale.
She appears to perish due to grief. And who can blame her?
Her son, Mamillius, a little child, dies suddenly.
No one knows why, although it is clear that he and Hermione and much of the kingdom of Sicily, and perhaps the world, are suffering from the abuse and trauma of Leontes, a rageful, Trumpian king, who is consumed with sexual jealousy.
Leontes loses his mind when he thinks that Hermione, his wife, is cuckolding him with his best friend, Polixenes.
As the mad despot says, “Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses?”
And he later concludes, “My wife is nothing, nor nothing have these nothings, if this be nothing.”
Just as Trump tossed Bill Clinton, his former pal and wedding guest, under the bus during the campaign, Leontes then banishes his buddy, Polixenes, and threatens his life.
Like Hillary, Hermione endures a life-threatening scar and seems to die.
But late in the play, the statue of Hermione, like the portrait of Senator Harry Reid, is unveiled, and the ice sculpture thaws, as the queen returns to life…after sixteen years!
Some of you will protest: This is mere magic, mere cryogenic illusion.
But, as it turns out, it has been sixteen years since Bill Clinton served in the White House, and we have seen other little signs that Hillary, the country and our Shakespearean globe may be coming back to its senses.
Yes, I may be lost in a Shakespearean Romance, and yes, Hillary’s face has been etched with pain in a few post-election appearances, but the Democratic presidential nominee recently spoke at a retirement ceremony honoring that old pugilist, Harry Reid, and she seemed perkier, her face ruddier, than was the case just after the election.
A month ago, Hillary, with bags under her eyes and in a hoarse voice, spoke at the Children’s Defense Fund, where her career in public service began. She told everyone, particularly young people, that they should “never ever give up.”
In her purple gown, Hillary added that Marian Wright Edelman, head of the CDF, had convinced her that everyone can “make the impossible possible.”
Some of us have taken notice, have kept dreaming.
Just a week ago, Christopher Suprun, a Republican elector from Texas, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, in which he said that he would not vote for Trump.
And John McCain and Lindsey Graham, among other Republicans, have joined Democrats in calling for a congressional investigation of Russian hacking, which, as U.S. intelligence agencies recently stated with “high confidence,” was intended to benefit Trump during the election.
So, could it happen? Could electors reverse their pledges and vote for Hillary? Could she resurface in Act V as the living queen, as the oracle proclaims?
The signs are there.
Even Bob Dylan emerged from hibernation two months after he won the Nobel Prize and wrote his kind note to the Swedish Academy.
As I mentioned earlier, Dylan cited not Hillary but Shakespeare, who, in the view of Dylan, may not have deemed his own work 400 years ago to be literature.
I would disagree.
Despite those who denigrated him at the time, the Bard did have his work published posthumously in the First Folio. He could see its potential.
Just as, I suspect, Dylan, denials notwithstanding, has seen the literary potential and merit of his own work all these years.
What other unknown artist would have had the chutzpah to title his first album, “Bob Dylan,” and to sing with such an idiosyncratic voice if he did not perceive its rare, even sublime, value?
Tragically, we may not be able to hear some of our most luminous voices if Trump becomes president.
He will probably try to snuff us out, silence us, just as he has kicked reporters out of his campaign events, threatened to sue others, demonized us as liars, when he is the world’s most pathological liar and beneficiary of fake news.
Our democratic values could very well be at stake.
We may not live to see the world’s potential if the electors cast their ballots for Trump.
A Putin-Trump administration, and it would be in that order, as Garry Kasparov pointed out on CNN, could threaten our way of life for decades, perhaps longer.
And the executioner’s face is not well hidden at all. It is plain and there for all to see: the crimped, yet bloated visage of that shell of a man, Donald Trump, egged on by his cyberbully pal, Vladimir Putin.
Yes, McCarthyism died an ignominious death. But Joseph McCarthy was a mere senator, not president or president-elect.
So, one last time, I am going to ask the electors to do the right thing and cast their ballots for Hillary, if not Hermione.
If they do so, we can bring our country and the planet back to life.
Exit, Trump, pursued by a bear!