Back to the Fear and Loathing

I’m back home at my log cabin in the woods. Having been locked up for ten days, it smells like some combination of a gym locker room, a swamp, and a pine forest. Hopefully, we can get it aired out before long. My trip went exceedingly well. Spent some time in South Dakota and Montana, but the majority of the trip was spent in various parts of Wyoming. My internet access was between slow and sporadic, and non-existent, which was a joy to me and an aggravation to the kids.

I spent most of the last week at an altitude of 7,000 feet or higher. Whenever I came down and encountered the news of the day (“they were Nazis, Walter?”) I couldn’t escape back into the mountains fast enough. None of the people I encountered were talking about the Shit Show at all. We were focused on pronghorn and elk and bison and condors and eagles. The National Parks have never looked better, which I consider a minor miracle.

Before I left, I said that I wasn’t sure whether I can keep doing a job that is taking a mental and physical toll on me. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but one thing I am assured of now is that there is a lot of support for what I do. Dozens and dozens of people made electronic donations, large and small. Perhaps best of all are the letters I received. They came from all over. From big cities like Minneapolis and San Fransisco but also from places like Decherd, Tennessee and Hamilton, Montana and Amherst, New York and Eagan, Minnesota and Whitewater, Wisconsin and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Some people put aside quite a bit of time to tell me how much they value my work and to urge me to keep at it. Others offered advice or other forms of encouragement. All of it is much appreciated. Thank you, every one of you.

I now know, with more clarity than before, that my efforts reach and touch a lot of people. And that’s an incentive to continue my work. If I received the same level of financial support I enjoyed over the last ten days three or four times a year, any financial incentive to take on more lucrative work would be completely eliminated.

The psychological problem runs deeper than that, though. Part of it is just the damage I do to myself by constantly exposing myself to what amounts to a toxic sewer of idiocy and bad faith. Part of it is being tied to a chair too much of the time. And part of it is just trying to overcome the wound I feel the American people inflicted on me by electing Donald Trump as their president. Really, the whole electoral process in 2016 was so deeply disappointing to me that I’ve had trouble recovering the generally optimistic disposition that has carried me through outrages like the impeachment of Clinton, the Florida recount, the response to 9/11, the decision to invade Iraq, Katrina, the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014, and the complete breakdown of congressional competency in the second term of Obama’s presidency.

Perhaps part of the problem is that I see pretty much everyone as off track, chasing ghosts, misdiagnosing problems, advocating solutions that won’t work and doubling down on strategies that have failed. That makes me want to step into the breach and offer leadership, but it also serves as a major source of discouragement.

Back in June, I wrote a piece at the Washington Monthly that looked at some then-current analysis of the state of play. I noted that the analysis echoed what I’d been writing for months.

If that looks familiar it’s because I’ve written essentially the same thing over and over again. It’s not just health care and tax reform that are in peril. If Trump attempts to raise the debt ceiling using nothing but Republican votes, he will fail, too. If he tries to pass appropriations bills without any Democratic support, the government will either shut down or be funded on continuing resolutions that keep Obama’s priorities in place. He will not get an infrastructure bill without significant Democratic input and support.

Not only can he not govern successfully using this strategy, he cannot govern at all. This is why I foresaw that his administration would crack up on the shoals sometime this summer, and certainly no later than September when the fiscal year ends and the debt ceiling becomes critical…

…The consequences will begin to pile up now. Trump will lash out in ever more confusing and bizarre ways. And then the indictments and plea deals will start to flow in from Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s shop. By Thanksgiving, if not before, the nation will be confronted with the urgent need to remove Trump from power and I suspect there will be more consensus about it by then than most people can imagine right now.

We haven’t even gotten to the meat of that list of problems, and Trump is looking weak enough to topple. Most of his top staff are already gone. The business community is shunning him. His own military is shunning him. The intelligence community has been hostile from the beginning, but they’re going to be increasingly heard from in the coming weeks. As for elected Republicans, they’re beginning to crack, too.

This is the place Trump finds himself before he has to deal with the budget and the appropriations and the debt ceiling. I think people can begin to imagine what I said most of them could not back in June.

There’s not a lot ordinary Americans can do to speed this process along, but you should make your representatives know how you feel about having a white supremacist with the attention span of a gnat serving as our commander in chief and carrying around the nuclear football. In particular, the Republican members need to be told these stories and I recommend telling them in strong moral language. Tell them about your grandfather who stormed Omaha Beach or your grandmother who faced down firehoses and snapping german shepherds to get her right to vote. Appeal to their sense of pride in America and search for where their moral compass aligns with your own. Show them that you have a pulse and enough self-respect to demand that our country be better than this.

By Thanksgiving, I think the country will have this figured out, but the last holdouts will be the ones with the power to fix the problem. Start working on them now, before things get so bad that it’s too obvious for even them to ignore.

Why anyone would be focused on anything else is beyond me. I’ll never understand the wasted energy that goes into fighting among ourselves.

I’ll be honest. I can’t walk away from this fight. Maybe I should. But I can’t.

So, I’m going to see it through.

Thanks again for all your support. It makes me feel like less of a lunatic to keep at this Shit Show.

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