There are no other words for the state of our nation these days. No matter which ideological stripe you might happen to wear, unless you're an anarchist, every headline brings with it a sadness, a relentless sense of loss. America, as we know it was shot in the head about 40 years ago, and it has been flopping around, out of control, without reason, direction or a philosophical and moral center.
It's being laid to rest one outrage at a time. A wrecking crew of opportunists, led by one of the most venal human beings to take power since since Caligula, is dissolving not just the fabric of this country, but its foundations. The hatred, corruption, arrogance, incompetence and ignorance of an acidic non-ideological game show huckster puts us all at mortal risk. Literally.
I'm pretty sure this guy is owned lock, stock and barrel by Russian oligarchs, if, for no other reason, with six bankruptcies under his belt, no reputable, legitimate bank would fund his businesses. All of this might be capitalism's ultimate cosmic joke--the tragic backwash of a banal business deal, the consequences of which could truly be catastrophic.
But that's a conversation for another time and place.
I'm more interested in digging into the "why." Why we're so nonchalant as to not be outraged by a con artist who has decided unilaterally that it's right to deprive 23 million American of healthcare, threaten the viability of the planet, and transfer our life savings to an predatory class of corporate oligarchs. It's not that we've become a docile society. Polarities, passion and protest are at their highest point since the late '60s. It just doesn't seem to matter.
There are a multiplicity of villains here, too numerous to mention. And while it's convenient and true for the left to point their fingers at a concentrated power-grab by the right, fueled by the daily bile of Limbaugh and Fox News, fact-free fear, Koch money and gerrymandered districts, it's also convenient and true for the right to cite liberals' air-headed identity politics, finger-wagging academic complacency and perpetual economic entitlement,
But all of that seems to miss the much larger point. We're in the midst of a profound pivot. Our current state of being seems to be a confluence of technological "progress" on the one hand and of the stark, perhaps unconscious realization that this planet can't sustain all of us. This is truly an "adapt or die moment," not just for American democracy, but for the world.
There are no clear cut "winners and losers" in a game that is yet to be defined, despite our leader's proclivity to proclaim such designations. The Rust Belt voter who thought Trump would be a "man of action," got that right. It's just that his actions have no chance of solving their problems. Worse, his actions catastrophically cloud and delay our ability to truly address the real problems that underlie this mess to begin with.
Because the factory jobs Trumpsters lost weren't because of bad trade deals, or even global capitalism. They were lost to technology. To automation that increases productivity at the cost of peoples' families. To an Internet that not only connects once separate markets, but that eliminates physicality and geographic distance with every keystroke. Paper, pencils, heavy machinery, photographs, CDs, film, movies--thousands of everyday products are gone and with them, whole industries that capitalized on them like brick and mortar retail. Not to mention national and cultural borders that up to now, have defined who we are and how we're distinguished from "others."
Which leads to the ultimate question, "Who are we?"