2016 and Beyond

 

Where to start? Traditionally, all those “year in review” commentaries pick out salient historical events, the passing of well-known persons both good and evil, societal trends, and anything else some media darling feels deserves recognition. On a personal level, there may only be a few of those items that seem significant to the individual, other things closer to home may seem more significant.

However, in the past year the Presidential election process as well as the unexpected result has cast a major pall over our memories of the year as well as our perceptions of what lies ahead. Whatever reservations many of us had during the run up to election night have only been significantly magnified as we see the steps being taken toward transitioning to a new administration. Actually, it probably should be “transitioning to a new world”; so many reversals of progress portend a major reversal  and regression that may destroy much of what we have worked toward, for decades.

Virtually every proposed appointment of individuals to lead the various segments of government presents major concerns not only to me individually, but also to many of my colleagues who have shared many similar career experiences as we labored toward improving education  both locally and nationally. In looking at the totality of the staffing pattern, it has been suggested that if a foreign power wanted to destroy the fabric of the tapestry which is the United States, the best way would be to get persons into leadership positions, persons who are admittedly opposed to the very segment for which they have been nominated. Granted, at present that tapestry does show some tatters and fraying, but it is not in need of a wholesale restoration. I’ve heard references to the book and film, “The Manchurian Candidate” as an analogy similar to what we may be experiencing, but on a much larger loom. I’m frightened by the preliminary indications of the new design as each thread of the warp and weft is woven into a threatening pattern.

Along that torturous path of the election campaigns, many of us were shocked at the degree of bigotry and intolerance that was revealed, our Idealism having created blinders to overshadow what was still there covertly, negating much of the progress which we thought had been achieved through our own major efforts to meet the dictates of our Founding Fathers. Apparently “All Men Are Created Equal” is a phrase that rings hollow for a significant portion of our population, not only for those that don’t ascribe to it but also to those who suffer the consequences of its myth.

On several previous blogs, I’ve alluded to “denial” as running rampant through the concepts being presented as the immediate future for our country. Today I see that looming even more so as each new individual is named to a slot in the administration, even some to positions that have not ever been there. These are merely further examples of the methodology used by followers of GOP doctrine throughout the country as we see legislatures devoting serious energy to gerrymandering their states in order to more easily maintain control, even in spite of the population majority being opposed. We see one legislature stripping its incoming governor of numerous powers in spite of the fact that people voted him for the position that they understood was in effect, not some Trumped up change to make him less effective in addressing the many obvious problems which that same legislature has created. The Republicans are treating government as a game where winning is the important thing, and at the expense of actually governing. It was very ironic that this morning the Majority Leader in the Senate admonished the Democrats for having indicated they would work in Congress to the degree that they are comfortable with what is being proposed; he needs to be reminded of his statement far back in the Obama Presidency that he wasn’t going to even allow any Obama proposals to be considered. A gross abdication of his responsibilities and a position for which, if there was a mechanism to do so, he should have been removed. Both he and his partners in the House have brought effective governing to a standstill. They like to blame Obama for everything in spite of the fact that whenever he proposed an idea to address a concern, they wouldn’t even entertain it. He tried.

I’m tired of hearing the word “liberal” been used as a euphemism for evil, rotten, nasty, and any other negative concepts. The gulf between liberal and conservative has become so great that the practical meanings of the two terms has been lost. Conservatism provides a framework for action and decision-making, liberalism intelligently addresses problems which have emerged from that framework and suggests reasonable changes. But in no situation does liberalism say “Do away with the structure”, that’s anarchy. But look at what the Trumpets are blaring, “Do away with ……” fill in the blank.

Each day seems to bring something new. I read something that I hope is “false news” that Trump has said no ambassadors, world wide, will be retained, even those who have reached their positions as career diplomats. He’s in effect suggesting doing away with the institutional memory, in toto! What will that do to our standing in the world?

I’m not alone in my depression, but haven’t yet figured out how to deal with it. I did write a long email to a former respected Senator, initiating some discussion on how to revise the primary elections so that this does not happen again. My note was in response to an article he had written expressing his concerns over the process. Among the topics I included was the electoral college; he said he doesn’t think that will ever be eliminated due to too many pressures from different directions wanting to maintain it. On the other hand he was concerned about his party spending so much effort on abortion and LGBT which in his opinion are individual issues; “if you don’t like them, then don’t do them” and deal with jobs, immigration, health, etc. Would that his former colleagues take the same stance.

Health care and insurance, pharmaceuticals, environmental issues, immigration, education, security, military concerns, judicial and legal issues, labor, etc. etc. etc. I sound like Yul Brynner in “The King and I’. but the total picture has so many elements that it’s too confusing for my mind, aside from the fact that I last week completed my 78th orbit of the sun. I’m scared.

So, in the meantime I’ll try and look back at the good things that happened, and forward to those that I can control. We had a new granddaughter arrive last February to join her brother born in the same month almost three years ago. He arrived on Ground Hog Day, but did not see his shadow. Sienna is already really walking, at 10 months, certain to test the patience of her proud parents a bit earlier than planned!

I reconnected with two high school chums after 60 years, and discovered that one of them is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. I can’t recall if I ever loaned him any of my essays in Senior English.

I finally had that cervical surgery, and it successfully removed the arthritic spurs threatening my spinal cord. We’re working on the L4-5 area now to see if that can be lessened. I’m able now to walk as I used to do, long strides and acceptable pace. I recently did two miles on a snow-covered bike path, in 10 degree temperature, and felt good about it. That promises good things if I’m able to do any more overseas travel.

Next week, I’m headed to North Carolina for a week or so, to visit my wife and to watch our two grandsons perform, one in high school basketball and the other in competitive swim meets.

In February, there’re the two birthdays, initiating a trip to Texas.

I’m on the local Eclipse Committee, as we prepare for the August extravaganza and onslaught of tourists eager to watch the spectacle. Although one of my college majors was Astronomy, I thought it better to invite a couple of professional astronomers to help with setting up a star party the night before the event.

My continued association with the Wyoming Dinosaur Center promises some excitement as the process of building a new, much larger facility continues. The Center, already ranked as the best such museum in the U.S. and #6 in the world, promises to be even better when it opens in May, 2019.

I guess for the time being I’ll join the Trumpets and immerse myself in denial, establishing what I hope is only temporary for a couple of years and does not become a well-worn route to a world of fantasy!

Always Be Happy     To Our Youth

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