How in the world did we get here? When did it happen? When and where did we go so wrong? Was it my generation, the next, the next or today’s? Or are we all to blame? We have moved forward as a country in so many positives ways, the list is long. Yet here we sit today in the midst of fear, hate, lies, ugliness, disrespect, dishonesty — that list is so long. Both these positives and negatives have existed together down through the years. But how has the negative gotten such a grip on our country, to seemingly be beating down the positive — the good that is out there, the good that moves us forward as a country, the good that keeps us moving forward as a democracy?
What has happened to us? We let the president degrade the State of the Union by turning it into a game show in which certain individuals are considered winners and get a prize. We let the president give the Medal of Freedom to a person who has built his fame on hate and fear and extreme ugliness against anybody and everybody he seems to find not worthwhile. We let the president call our public schools failing government schools. A 6-year-boy is suspended from school for 10 days because he drew a picture some people said had dead people in it. The president can tweet a nasty ugly remark about a person and even said he could shoot somebody and he doesn’t get suspended. The president can say anything horrible and ugly about anybody, he can get rid of anybody he wants to even if that person is being truthful and doing the right thing. The president can literally ruin a person’s life if he feels that person is not worthy and does not support him. For this president, supporting him is how you support our country.
Citizens who break the law are rightly brought to justice and may be fined, given community service, jailed or maybe even given the death sentence. A citizen may lose their job, good name, home, whatever, when accused of sexual harassment, racial slurs, smuggling, a misuse of authority or power, to name a few — sometimes even if found innocent. Yet, this president can do as he pleases right or wrong.
The president was impeached in the U.S. House of Representatives because of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The president was found not guilty in the U.S. Senate, thus he could stay in office. In his party, some publicly said what he did was wrong. Yet, they didn’t have the courage to convict him or hold him accountable in some fashion. He is home free — he got a free get-out-of-jail card, doesn’t even have to do community service. The one shining light is Mitt Romney. He voted guilty, willing to accept the sharp negative criticism that was sure to come from the president and others.
What has happened to us? In my lifetime, so full of hope, so full of making our democracy work realizing how important it was for all of us, this president and what he has been able to do didn’t happen overnight. To come so far, and move backwards so badly that we will let a president bully and threaten, lie and be dishonest, condemn anything and anybody, and attempt to take away our democracy so he can rule ...
Where did I go wrong? Did I not care enough, did I not help enough, was I unrealistic and missed the warning signs that we were headed into a threat to our very democracy? What about you?
Frances Stone lives in Orwell.