Looking ahead to the new year and wondering where we are headed in the United States and in the world, I am not as hopeful, eager, and optimistic as I often am at the end of one year and the start of another.
Celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, has always been kind of exciting for me. It is a time to wipe the slate clean and start over on personal and professional levels. I have a brand new business log, ready for weekly or daily entries of contests entered, books and short stories completed, editing jobs completed, and books published. I have a brand new personal log, ready for scheduling appointments and time for projects that bring me great enjoyment.
On this day, New Year’s Eve, I can usually look ahead with great anticipation.
This year, however, the current state of affairs in Washington, has taken the edge off my excitement, and this commentary from Beto O’Rourke highlights many of the reasons why. He sent a letter to his constituents on December 22, two days into the government shut down, and the following is just part of what he wrote.
If our institutions no longer work, if we no longer have faith in them, if there’s no way to count on government even functioning (three shutdowns this year alone), then perhaps ultimately we become open to something else. Whatever we choose to call it, whether we openly acknowledge it at all, my fear is that we will choose certainty, strength and predictability over this constant dysfunction, even if it comes at the price of our democracy (the press; the ballot box; the courts; congress and representative government).
If there were ever a man to exploit this precarious moment for our country and our form of government, it’s Trump. Sending 5,400 troops to U.S. border communities during the midterm elections. Organizing Border Patrol “crowd control” exercises in El Paso on election day. Defying our laws by taking children from their parents, keeping kids in tent camps, turning back refugees at our ports. Calling the press “the enemy of the people” and celebrating violence against members of the media. Pitting Americans against each other based on race and religion and immigration status. Inviting us to hate openly, to call Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, to call asylum seekers animals, to describe Klansmen and neo-Nazis as very fine people. Seeking to disenfranchise fellow Americans with made up fears of voter fraud. Isolating us from the other great democracies as he cozies up to dictators and thugs. Lying again and again. Making a mockery of the United States – once the indispensable nation, the hope of mankind.
So, we can engage in the immediate fights about blame for this latest shutdown… fall into his arguments about a wall, or steel slats, at a time of record border security and in the face of asylum seekers – our neighbors – fleeing the deadliest countries in the world… we can respond to his name-calling and grotesque, bizarre behavior… or we can pull up, look back at this moment from the future and see exactly what is happening to our country.
We are at risk of losing those things that make us special, unique, exceptional, those things that make us the destination for people the world over, looking for a better life and fleeing countries who lack our institutions, our rule of law, our stability.
If ever there was a time to put country over party it is now. This is not about a wall, it’s not about border security, it’s not about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about the future of our country – whether our children and grandchildren will thank us or blame us. Whether we will lose what was fought for, made more perfect, by the men and women who risked and lost their lives at Antietam, on Omaha beach, in Jackson, Mississippi… whether we will be defined by greatness and ambition or pettiness and fear. Whether we will continue to live in the world’s greatest democracy, or something else.
My hope for our country is that we can pull out of this quagmire and emerge a stronger, more unified country once we have a more stable government and government leader.
My wish for all my readers is that you have a happy, blessed New Year.