Recently, I attended my high school reunion. The wife of one of my classmates shared what might be the wisest observation of the night. She said she thought we all needed an event like this to reset our perspective, to remember who we used to be before life happened. Maybe so.
I will admit it was nice to be in the company of people my age, and only people my age, in varying stages of our lives. Some have been retired for a while, some have just retired, some (like me) have yet to retire. There were, of course, some with differing political affiliations from mine and, luckily, politics was, largely, put on the shelf for the night.
The venue was an American Legion which seemed, at first, an odd choice for celebrating 45 years. I wondered if it should be something much more fancy, perhaps, to mark this milestone. But, in the end, it was the perfect venue. The atmosphere was casual and social. There was no DJ to shout over, no huge restaurant to traverse. There were people sitting or standing around eating, drinking, and reminiscing. Oh what a night!
A couple of days later, I was “friended” on Facebook by a classmate I saw at the reunion. The faux “friendship” lasted a day, maybe two. He commented on one of my political posts with some Trump bologna, and he was neatly returned to the past.
And, speaking of the past, Mitt Romney seems to be making himself known again on the political stage. He was surely not one of my favorites when he ran against Barack Obama and seemed quite out of touch with everyday people. Little did I know that I would long for someone with ethics and a productive life including some public service. Driving with the dog crate on top of the car pales in comparison to a soulless man who cages children. I recently read an article in the Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/10/mitt-romney-middle-impeachment-fight/600373/and it gave me a new view of Romney. I admit I am a bit miffed that he is making me reevaluate my opinion of him. In this current abomination, however, we are looking for a moral compass. He just may be the man for the job. In the article, author McKay Coppins says, “Here, in the twilight of his career, he seems to sense—in a way that eludes many of his colleagues—that he’ll be remembered for what he does in this combustible moment.”
The wise and prolific Billy Joel may need to write an updated “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” While this may not be on the scale of “Richard Nixon back again,” it seems to be an important shift. I yearn for the day some of his colleagues in the Senate follow suit. When you sell your soul to the Devil do you lose your reflection? Because many of these senators can’t be looking at themselves in the mirror. I fear the precipice on which we are poised. I fear the fall into the abyss. I fear we will not recover.
I wonder if I should have been able to tell which of my classmates would become Trump Republicans which is, of course, different from those who used to be party members. Did they show some signs? I realize religion is a factor in turning away from the Democratic Party and sometimes affluence causes people to favor the party that seems to favor them. But we are beyond the pale here. This is not a differing view of the role government should play in our lives. This is a moral difference between those who are accepting of caged kids, divisive walls, and abandoning our allies and those who see these atrocities for what they are.
I sometimes classify people in a black and white fashion: Good or bad. Mitt Romney seems to pass muster as a decent man with whom I have political differences not a bad person without morals. The man in the Oval office is a morally bereft monster. There is no other way for me to see him. He only cares about himself and his self-interest and he has foisted lasting damage upon the United States of America with no compunction. When will it end? Not for years. We may remove him from office by impeachment or at the voting booth but his appointments to the courts will be one of the lasting stains. I am exhausted from the never-ending spiral down into the gutter. A president should lift us up. He is incapable.
Some people will think it foolish of me to unfriend a former classmate just after reconnecting at the class reunion but I have no space in my life for people who support this man and what he has done and is doing. I can’t take on any more of these people who are blind to the heinous shenanigans of a narcissist. I see people post their support for him and I question their morals if not their sanity. It is beyond a nuanced difference between the parties and their supporters. We can no longer work from the premise that most people are good and want the best for their fellow man and for the country. This particular rabbit hole is deep and wide.
I graduated from high school in June of 1974 and, by August, the President was forced to resign, his Vice President had previously done the same and was replaced by Republican leader, Gerald Ford, who then ascended to the Oval Office. Colonel Don Wilson said, “As a people, we are not very good students of history; we keep repeating the same mistakes at dreadful costs.” Mike Pence brings his own brand of evil to the mix and the thought of this gay conversion therapy proponent leading the country makes my blood run cold. The layers of horrendousness peel off like those of a noxious artichoke. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this entire debacle is the ugliness which resides in the hearts of many Americans. We walk among people who still support this chaotic nightmare.
Back to remembering who I was before life happened. I have not changed much in my ideals. I still reject the inhumane, the evil, the unkind, the self-absorbed. I believed then and believe now in the intrinsic good in humans. I hope that good will triumph over evil. I believe in the nuance of class over classlessness.
I am reminded of the closing line of Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, written by the brilliant Stephen King, “I hope.”