|Posted on January 13, 2017 at 7:10 PM|
It’s not as if I were an elite East Coast liberal writing for VANITY FAIR; I simply hold a Ph.D. in Communication from a decent state university. But even with the “Doc” attached to my name, I was born and raised (often kicking and screaming at the status quo), in South Knoxville, Tennessee. Most people who can make that claim are what my mom called “salt of the earth” souls (a good thing), and most days it seems like half of the people in my ‘hood are my former Doyle High students, or Young High classmates, or are somehow connected to my late Mom & Dad, both of whom hailed from Vestal.
I often use the term “redneck” as an endearment, mostly because I loved hearing Billy K. Nicely sing country songs that he called “redneck anthems.” So if I have a high-falutin’ pedigree hiding out somewhere, I have no idea where to look for it. Fact is, one of my great-grand parents was a riverboat gambler and another held John Dillinger at bay with HER shotgun. Speaking of gun control, my Grandfather Lyle hung his hunting rifles in plain view, right over the dinner table, even though he was an FDR Democrat in East Tennessee, the nation’s most Republican backwoods. He and my grandmother, Mary Byrd Lyle, have at least four generations of progeny now living, meaning that the Elbert Lyle clan dates back at least 8 generations in these here parts.
Here's the thing: To this day there’s nary a Republican among us, including the partners we married. That’s kinda smugly spooky if you ask me, but it’s true. (And if it's not, now's an inopportune time to correct that false fact.) Anyway, my grandfather’s grandfather came to East Tennessee with Indiana’s Civil War troops, decided to stay, and started calling himself a Democrat (likely trying to fit in), Apparently my ancestor didn’t realize that his fellow-East-Tennesseans were more rabidly Republican than Abe Lincoln at the time. Regardless, Lyle family Democrats have proudly STUCK OUT like sore thumbs to this day; and little wonder: We were raised to understand what unchecked power and obscene wealth on the other side of the table look like to ordinary people like us. A union boss during the Depression, my grandfather was nothing if not a hard-nosed realist. That kind of mindset tends to be contagious.
In this context, I decided a few weeks ago to swear off social media’s fact-free-for-all, where it’s often impossible to distinguish the reprehensible from the righteous. I don’t know why I didn’t keep that resolution other than having run out of chocolate; I certainly don’t expect to change anyone or anything, even though the eternal teacher in me will always try. God only knows how much somebody needs to change something (anything!) for the simple reason that THE WORLD HAS SPUN OFF ITS AXIS.
Evidence continues to snowball -- from an avalanche of primary sources -- that Vladimir Putin, war criminal extraordinaire and head of the Russian state, ordered and directed an invasion of U.S. cyberspace with all the destructive power of a Pearl Harbor attack. By definition, this is an act of war. Yet we have a president-elect who gives the Ruskies more credence than the entire American intelligence community, which is speaking in unison for possibly the first time SINCE Pearl Harbor. As if that’s not bad enough, today’s news brought even more transparent evidence that DJT was ad is in bed with the Ruskies on this one; that would explain a lot.
In other news, the renegade “alt right” media known as Britebart (whose headlines regularly refer to alien abductions) has a taxpayer-funded mole leading one flank of the Visigotht horde, under the guise of Chief Strategist. The problem here is – it’s obvious. Meanwhile, with Brite-barf in one ear and doubtless a Queen anthem in the other, prez-elect DJT suddenly brands CNN a purveyor of “false news” because they dared report published accounts of Trump’s several sok-hop dances with the Russian bear. One has to wonder just how much of WHAT it is that The Donald actually owes the once and future Evil Empire.
Aaannnd….the nominee for Secretary of State actually claims that he “hasn’t talked to (Trump) about Russia” – which is in fact more credible than Trump’s claim that he turned down a billion-ish deal in Middle Eastern oil futures because he is “disinvolving” himself from his alleged business empire and will instead let his kids run the show. Uh huh. Like every tabloid in the world won’t start the day with the self-styled billionaire’s latest material conquest (except when Trump no doubt beats them to it by a tweet).
In other news, nine Americans were senselessly killed in Ft. Lauderdale by a “lone” gunman -- who’s no “loner” when he’s protected by the NRA, the US Congress, and the president-elect, none of whom can apparently read the Second Amendment’s first and definitionally qualifying phrase.
Not least, here's a p.s. that should be page one news: An icecap the size of Delaware is breaking away from Anarctica to free float at will, yet The Donald still insists that global warming is a Chinese plot, the nature of which I have yet to figure out (to say nothing of what possible motive would drive such a ridiculous conspiracy to begin with).
While these travesties were simultaneously spinning themselves out, The Donald was consumed for an entire day by petulant sparring with The Arnold about “Apprentice” ratings, that and setting fire to freedom of the press, served up with lies du jour, to anyone who will suck them down. How the man cannot turn his own stomach, I cannot imagine.
Have we truly devolved into the idiots we surely must be for putting this malignant narcissist in charge of our lives, our fortunes and whatever shreds of honor we may have left among us? Were Trump voters really and truly taken in by the snake oil , or did they just mindlessly register a protest vote that went bad? (To put it mildly). If nothing else, can we at least explain why this shyster was able to sell every shell game that he and/or Putin put on the market -- or do we have to admit we were either (a) too stupid to see through DJT’s smoky mirrors, or (b) too apathetic to care?
But there’s another salient question, and this is what makes me crazy: Most of the people I know, especially my beloved former students, genuinely want to do the right thing, SO HOW DID WE GET TO THIS POINT?? And worse … where can we possibly go from here?
For people who can tie a shoe without getting confused, optimism of any kind pales in comparison to an unmitigated fear that humanity (let alone democracy) is in more danger of annihilation than it’s been in my lifetime. I mean, what else can I possibly conclude when I see that so many of the students/friends I (still) adore are the very voters who allowed (ay, campaigned) for this – what? “Abomination” is proving to be too weak a descriptor, as every new day brings another outrage. Yes, I’m pessimistic. I see NO reason to be otherwise.
Fact is, for the first time in my 60+ years, I’m forced to admit that Alexander Hamilton was right: We are finally incapable of sustaining our republic. Even Thomas Jefferson didn’t think we’d last half this long. Are we going to put the final nails in our own coffin these next four years? Or will we manage to climb out of the casket and run screaming from the morgue?
THE ANSWER IS UP TO US. YOU, ME, AND EVERY CITIZEN.
If there’s any strength in numbers, maybe, just maybe, those 3 million right-thinking souls who in fact outvoted the Trumpsters will, along with public outrage, collectively prompt the likes of a Senator Graham, McCain, ,and/or (no kidding), “Little Marco,” to cast votes that will save just enough of our political heritage so as to put it away (like yeast in a jar) until we can start rebuilding what we’re bound to lose. For in this foreign land, we are trapped as surely as if we were surrounded by fat, greedy crocodiles in the world’s sleekest swamp.
In fact, that’s exactly where we are.