I've been having the same dream repeatedly for the last several weeks. I'm standing and watching a huge crowd, the more than a million people who showed up for the Cleveland Cavaliers' victory celebration. A joyous crowd, diverse in all participants, yet united in celebrating the young men who brought about a new day and a new attitude to the city. Throughout the dream, I hear a resonating chant, but it has nothing to do with basketball.
Out of many, one.
I wake up and reality rears its ugly head. In a few weeks, the GOP is coming to Cleveland and anointing its nominee for President - and it leaves me wondering what on earth is happening to the United States.
Everyone likes to invoke our Founders so much lately, so I'm invoking Thomas Paine.
Paine was a revolutionary, philosopher, political theorist, and activist. Much of what he wrote has particular relevance today in this toxic election season.
If I do not believe as you believe, it proves that you do not believe as I believe, and that is all that it proves. ― Thomas Paine
Let's face it. The world is a dangerous place, and there are people who want to destroy our way of life. Instead of defying those who demand we give in to their ideologies, or who want us to vanish from the earth so that their own particular brands of hate thrive, our first reactions to 9/11 or home grown terrorists were, well, reactionary.
We've abrogated our freedoms and allowed draconian laws, like the Patriot Act , to flourish. So many of our police have forgotten they are to protect and serve, not overreact and kill, knowing there are no consequences. Homeland Security's minions, the TSA, can throw a young, sick girl to the ground and think nothing of it.
Then of course there's Congress, whose philosophy is to do absolutely nothing and get paid for it.
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture." ― Thomas Paine
Paine has amazingly, even from the dim-past, defined Donald Trump This reality-show blowhard has appealed to fear - the fear of others, the fear of differing opinions, the fear of foreigners, the fear of minorities, the fear of LGBT, the fear of women's rights, the fear that someone else has it better, and the list goes on. In the past eight years, in his run up to becoming the nominee of the Republican Party, he has been spewing his venom. He has made it a point to devalue the highest office in our land, pounding out conspiracy theories about President Obama with his 'birther' nonsense, questioning his religion (which isn't even anyone's business anyway, because the Founding Fathers agreed religion should be a private, personal matter) and his constant denigration and vilification.
Now he wants to scoop up the Presidency, at bargain-basement prices. His goal: to Trump America, and then drive the nation into bankruptcy, just as he does his other businesses. And do his faithful see what he's doing? No, because they are willing to give up their freedom and all its messy blessings to bask in the acrimony of someone who has never known want in his life, and without a clue about the lives of real Americans.
The actor Jesse Williams gave a speech on racism at the BET awards. He made what some consider inflammatory statements that upset some fans of his show, Grey's Anatomy. There was even a petition to get him fired from the show for expressing his observations and opinion. So now I need to ask, why haven't those same offended persons demanded Donald step down from the nomination because of his inflammatory, hate filled venomous remarks?
Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.―Thomas Paine
Congress, anyone? Or at least the Republican Party? So, I guess they are making whores of their souls in supporting Trump's brand of particularism. Their purported nominee is an ignorant, bigoted, misogynistic demagogue, who revels in the ignorance and anger of his followers. I keep waiting for the GOP to wake up and realize that if they continue to support this man, they will betray the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, in their rapacious desire to keep hold of power. So far, all I hear is that the Senate Majority leader supports the nominee even though he's unfit to be president, and the Speaker of the House has issues with him, but backs him anyway.
Why aren't there any GOP rebels anymore? What's wrong with all of you?
I may not agree with many of the principles that guide conservatism, being a progressive myself, however but there was a time when one could openly discuss issues and reach consensus. My mother was a conservative, and we used to enjoy spirited discussions and sound reasoned arguments - pro and con - over the issues of the day. It was civil, educational, and occasionally enlightening.
Now, try to have a discussion with anyone from either side of the aisle today. What happens? It devolves almost at once into personality and loutishness. Issues are ignored, and instead of finding common ground, only the toxicity survives the encounter.
Where is the Common Sense?
Back in 1776.
Sadly, it seems as if "E Pluribus Unum" can only be found in my dreams now.