He said this, and the bigots still won. Now it's on the rest of us to fight for a return to common decency and true American values, not those of the fascist about to take his oath.
The Road Ahead
I have always been deeply proud to be an American. In the time I have left, I pray that will never change.
09/19/2016 04:07 pm ET | Updated Sep 20, 2016
I am in my 100th year. When I was born in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, Woodrow Wilson was our president.
My parents, who could not speak or write English, were emigrants from Russia. They were part of a wave of more than two million Jews that fled the Czar’s murderous pogroms at the beginning of the 20th Century. They sought a better life for their family in a magical country where, they believed, the streets were literally paved with gold.
What they did not realize until after they arrived was that those beautiful words carved into the Statute of Liberty in New York Harbor: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,” did not apply equally to all new Americans. Russians, Poles, Italians, Irish and, particularly Catholics and Jews, felt the stigma of being treated as aliens, as foreigners who would never become “real Americans.”
The longer I’ve lived, the less I’ve been surprised by the inevitability of change, and how I’ve rejoiced that so many of the changes I’ve seen have been good.
They say there is nothing new under the sun. Since I was born, our planet has traveled around it one hundred times. With each orbit, I’ve watched our country and our world evolve in ways that would have been unimaginable to my parents – and continue to amaze me with each passing year.
In my lifetime, American women won the right to vote, and one is finally the candidate of a major political party. An Irish-American Catholic became president. Perhaps, most incredibly, an African-American is our president today.
The longer I’ve lived, the less I’ve been surprised by the inevitability of change, and how I’ve rejoiced that so many of the changes I’ve seen have been good.
Yet, I’ve also lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.
I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933. For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at ― not taken seriously. He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric.
The “experts” dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong.
A few weeks ago we heard words spoken in Arizona that my wife, Anne, who grew up in Germany, said chilled her to the bone. They could also have been spoken in 1933:
“We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. It is our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish here…[including] new screening tests for all applicants that include an ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values…”
These are not the American values that we fought in World War II to protect.
I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country. But your children and mine will be.
Until now, I believed I had finally seen everything under the sun. But this was the kind of fear-mongering I have never before witnessed from a major U.S. presidential candidate in my lifetime.
I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country. But your children and mine will be. And their children. And their children’s children.
All of us still yearn to remain free. It is what we stand for as a country. I have always been deeply proud to be an American. In the time I have left, I pray that will never change. In our democracy, the decision to remain free is ours to make.
My 100th birthday is exactly one month and one day after the next presidential election. I’d like to celebrate it by blowing out the candles on my cake, then whistling “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
As my beloved friend Lauren Bacall once said, “You know how to whistle don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”
Sunday, Jan 8, 2017 10:00 AM EST
Donald Trump and the hobbling of shame: David Foster Wallace warned us about reality TV and we didn’t listen
In 2004, David Foster Wallace said "only time will tell how far we’ll go" in a post-shame culture. Now we know.
The best preview of the Donald Trump presidency was the orange billionaire rolling around on the ground with Vince McMahon, owner and operator of World Wrestling Entertainment, while thousands of frenzied fans screamed in approval. An underrated development in American life is that the Trump administration will become the first to feature not one, but two members of the WWE Hall of Fame – Linda McMahon, Vince’s wife, as director of the Small Business Administration, and the president himself. Trump’s brief foray in pro wrestling ended with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin performing his finishing maneuver, the “Stone Cold Stunner,” on Trump, rendering him incapacitated in the middle of the ring. If only the political process were so just.
“The allure of both drugs and entertainment,” the late David Foster Wallace once told an interviewer, “is escape. I can escape my problems and pretend that I’m James Bond for awhile, which is fine for a short haul. As a way of life, it doesn’t work well.” Much of the great author’s work has, unfortunately, become increasingly relevant, because one of his obsessions was the American addiction to amusement, and the culture’s tendency to reduce everything to entertainment. He wrote an essay on the mutation of human sexuality, most especially women’s lives, into entertainment, while covering the AVN Awards; he chronicled the life of a right wing talk radio host in California as an allegory against the dangers of treating political debate as fodder for amusement; he wrote about the poison of excessive television consumption, admitting he was such an offender that he had to remove all TV sets from his home to get any work done. Wallace’s signature achievement, the postmodern novel “Infinite Jest,” is built around a film of the same name, also called “The Entertainment,” that is so entertaining it immediately, and irrevocably, hypnotizes its viewers, rendering them motionless until death.
The popularity of reality television, not nearly as ubiquitous when he died as it is now, worried Wallace. In 2004, he confessed a fear that is now prophetic: “The inhibition of shame on the part of both the contestants and on the part of the people who put together the shows — at some point people have figured out that even if viewers are sneering or talking about in what poor taste stuff is, they’re still watching, and that the key is to get people to watch, and that that’s what’s remunerative. Once we’ve lost that shame hobble, only time will tell how far we’ll go.”
The election of Donald Trump, a vulgar veteran of reality television, to the presidency of the United States is one indication of “how far we’ll go” after collective emancipation from the “shame hobble.”
If there is one feeling that Americans dread, it is boredom. Smart phones, the omnipresence of TV and music, and the convenience of tablet devices all help Americans construct lives of perpetual distraction and amusement. The smartphone, for all of its good, offers the ever-present temptation of the Internet to those with short attention spans. Televisions blast headlines, sports scores and scripted comedy in the checkout lines of grocery stores, in every bar, and even at pumps of some gas stations. The challenge of finding silence in public space illustrates the resistance many Americans have to sustained focus and thought.
Public policy, political rhetoric and the administration of democratic institutions are not subjects of much suspense, humor or excitement. As serious, and often as grave, as political work and public management becomes, it remains vulnerable to the frivolousness of an uninformed, but more importantly, uninterested electorate. Donald Trump is far from responsible for how entertainment values have corrupted the political process. In 2000, according to many media commentators and in the minds of many voters, Al Gore was the boring college professor whose lectures acted as Nyquil, while George W. Bush was the towel-snapping frat boy who everyone on campus wants to “have a beer with.” If only the beer had not ended with an unnecessary war in Iraq, the drowning of New Orleans and the liquidation of middle-class wealth, personality appeal might make sense as a criterion for political evaluation.
There are rare moments when a candidate — like John F. Kennedy or Barack Obama — who is capable of generating enthusiasm with charismatic charm but maintaining discipline and intellectual rigor, emerges victorious in a national election, but those men are exceptions to an absurd rule. The observable trend is that American politics is further at the mercy of an ADD-afflicted, absentminded and superficial public. Donald Trump did not invent the problem, but he has enhanced and taken advantage of it, to use one of his favorite phrases, “like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
Every day during the Republican primary and the general election, Donald Trump managed to manipulate a deliberation with enormously consequential and potentially fatal results in a perverse combination of pro wrestling, the “Real Housewives” franchise and, as Salon’s Amanda Marcotte observes, his own “Apprentice” franchise. The mainstream media was as malleable as uncooked ground beef, and the voters were all too eager to feast.
The more that Trump’s campaign resembled a farce, the more it seemed to appeal to the electorate. Similar to adult fans of professional wrestling, many people who watched Trump, free from the shame hobble, seemed to sense that he was an absurd performance artist, but they liked the show. Trump could “shake up the system,” and he is not the “typical politician.” He is fun to watch. In pro wrestling, most of what viewers see falls under the category of “work” — the scripted, pre-planned events made for broadcast television. Rarely, some unpredictable, spontaneous event will take place, and that is called a “shoot.” Trump brought the appeal and performance of the “work” to the “shoot” of American politics. He had 11 years on reality television to master the art of deception, creating a character much like the heroes of the WWE.
Unimaginative journalists and analysts have grown fond of instructing Americans to “take Trump seriously, but not literally.” That is precisely how admirers of Hulk Hogan, The Rock or John Cena cheer on their preferred gladiator while he pretends to pummel a detestable villain. To take the beating literally would require belief that it is real, but to take it seriously is to view it as only metaphor of entertainment. It is a surreal twist of history, but observers of American politics have all entered the arena of the pro wrestling work.
Twelve years have passed since David Foster Wallace wondered about the ultimate destination of reality and trash television’s influence on the American public. The voters are well-practiced at taking what they see seriously, but not literally, and in the process, losing any interest in in truth, fidelity to facts and appreciation of authenticity. Perhaps many Trump supporters realize that their world heavyweight champion cannot “bring the jobs back” from China, or quickly destroy ISIS, but they cheer for the same reason they might cheer when the good guy body slams the bad guy. It is a skit meant for emotional catharsis. The beloved persona of Trump, through empty gestures, symbolizes the fight they wish they could win. Why, after all, in the style of wrestling fans, do Trump supporters continue to chant “lock her up!” long after Trump has repeatedly stated that he will not pursue prosecution for Hillary Clinton?
The made-for-TV rescue of manufacturing jobs at Carrier Corporation in Indiana sketches the symbiosis between Trump’s persona and politics. In an unapologetic move of crony capitalism, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is still Indiana’s governor, bribed the company with tax breaks, promises of lucrative government contracts and the gift of deregulation to “save” 800 jobs originally scheduled for outsourcing to Mexico. The deal provoked widespread criticism as setting a bad precedent for greedy and savvy CEOs looking to acquire similar treatment for the Trump administration, but it is largely moot. Representatives from Carrier have admitted to the financial press that within a decade, the jobs that Trump heroically resurrected will be automated.
America’s next top president is betting on the short attention span of the voters, and the reckless ratings fiendishness of the media, to provide cover for the vacuity and cruelty of his policies, while he is able to present himself as the same brave and visionary leader who greeted contestants every week in the studio boardroom of “The Apprentice.”
The masquerade will most likely end with horrific damage to the nation’s economy, governmental institutions and actual human lives, but it will remain entertaining, and that is part of the problem. It seems reasonable to assume that one of the reasons millions of Americans were attracted to Donald Trump, and tolerated his boorishness and fatuousness throughout the campaign, was that they enjoyed watching him. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, in the words of the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and a bipartisan parade of pundits, is “boring.”
Boredom needs a champion in American life. Anyone who has passed a civics class will not remember “how a bill becomes a law” as riveting. The Federalist Papers are not exactly beach reading. Politics should bore people, because the work of government is boring. The American people should not look for amusement from their political leaders and process, but understand that even though a campaign is visible on television, it is not a television series. It is a serious moment of reflection on the direction of their country in demand of the unexciting qualities of wisdom, studiousness and discipline. It should take work to determine how to cast a vote.
To all you left wing liberals who refuse to accept the fact that Trump won - by a MAJORITY of people in 30 states - these people do NOT believe what you are saying! We all gave Obama the chance to succeed or fail - he failed - we need change - Hillary was certainly NOT about change - and the people in 30 states were SMART enough to know this! Bring up all this garbage about Trump - it's useless info and exaggerated by you and the press. Keep it up if it makes you feel better - but it will change no minds!
Several of you are very good about copying this garbage from left wing web sites - we all call them "fake news" outlets. The Russians and the Chinese, I'm sure, are so proud of you all, to denigrate our President-Elect BEFORE he takes office.
It's nice to know that we have so many patriotic people who don't believe in the Constitution, don't believe in fair elections, who refuse to accept election results, and who attempt to overturn the results of honest elections.
I voted for Trump because: (1) he promised to fix the illegal immigration problem, (2) reduce taxes for the middle class, (3) reduce federal regulations negatively impacting our country and economic growth, (4) reduce corporate taxes which are the highest in developed nations and which is keeping trillion of dollars off-shore, and (5) to repeal and replace Obamacare which is threatening our health and welfare Instead of denigrating our President-Elect - why don't you haters explain why you are all such Hillary lovers and what you were so enamored about her policies? I think I hear crickets in the background!
VERY WELL SAID.....WHY WOULD ANYONE LISTEN TO HOLLYWOOD...MOONBATS
To the previous noxious poster, this is not about who "won," and note that this term is used lightly because there were at least 7 million more Americans who voted against Trump, and he most definitely does not have a mandate.
From the organization that represents 45 Million Christian Americans (not some "moonbat" or "leftwing rag," here is a succinct statement that defines the issues clearly and that should rebut the bigoted foolishness of people like the previous poster if only they were open to actual reason or common decency.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, 202-534-9812 (o), 301-785-5563 (c) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Steven D. Martin 202.481.6929 (o), 202.412.4323 (c) email@example.com
BEFORE THE OATH OF OFFICE IS TAKEN
Statement By Major Christian Organizations on President-Elect Trump’s Policy Agenda and Political Appointments
Washington, D.C., January 6, 2017—As our nation prepares for the Presidential Inauguration, we do so with the lasting residue of a divisive election season and an even more fractured past. Our faith teaches us to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). That is why we urge President-Elect Donald Trump, who has said he shares our Christian faith, to take seriously his responsibility to bring our nation together and to heed the oath he will take to preserve, protect and defend America. He can start this work before the oath of office is taken with his policy agenda and political appointments.
Together, we represent millions of Christians in the U.S. who believe in the power and possibility of healing and unity for our nation. We have grave concerns about a proposed policy agenda that, if enacted, would put the most vulnerable among us in jeopardy. Throughout Christian scriptures we are instructed to care for the poor and the most vulnerable. The Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion, has given more than 30 million people access to affordable health coverage. While working to improve the ACA will benefit all Americans, repealing it without simultaneously offering a replacement is reckless and unnecessarily endangers the health of millions of people. This is certainly no way to make America great.
Safety net programs, which lift more than 40 million people out of poverty each year, must also be preserved. These programs are proven to help reduce poverty and provide families in need, especially children and seniors, with food and housing security as well as with access to health care. Programs like Medicaid/Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/food stamps and Child Nutrition and WIC, all provide much-needed help to families when they are struggling to make ends meet. For Congress to block grant, cut or merge these programs will have devastating impacts on low-income families. In fact, it will increase the number of people living in poverty, just as statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that poverty numbers are declining.
In addition, we are deeply troubled by choices President-Elect Trump has made for his Cabinet, particularly for Chief Strategist, Attorney General and National Security Advisor. Stephen Bannon, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and Michael Flynn epitomize extremist, racist and fringe world views that we believe are morally inconsistent with Christian principles of loving neighbor and antithetical to American values of “liberty and justice for all.”
These objectionable nominees represent a bygone era of hatred that we have denounced and worked tirelessly to eradicate. Their corrupted credentials, which include condoning and purporting racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim ideologies, are not only unacceptable but they should disqualify them for service as public officials. We urge the President-Elect to protect the integrity of our nation by replacing these nominees with candidates who represent shared American values for the common good.
Before he takes the oath of office, we call on President-Elect Trump to preserve, protect and defend our nation by enacting a policy agenda that will improve the lives of the most vulnerable, not put them at greater risk. We urge President-Elect Trump to preserve, protect and defend our nation against people who have a documented history of racial hatred, bigotry and xenophobia. We encourage President-Elect Trump to preserve, protect and defend our nation by doing the hard work it will take to unify our country and move us toward a just, sustainable and equitable future that lives up to the ideals and promise of America.
Conference of National Black Churches
Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
National Council of Churches USA
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Oh knock it off with this crap.
The ACA (ObamaCare - and who said he even created this. He just implemented something he has no clue about) You can keep your doctor if you like, you will save thousands of dollars, Pelosi saying that "we need to pass it to find out what's in it". That's all I needed to hear. If health care is going to be FREE for someone, then some else has to pay for it. That someone is each and every working stiff of America. This health care act is such crap that none of our elected representatives have their own free health care.
As for welfare, I am all for helping the down and out who are helpless, but please, allowing them to basically have debit cards to withdraw money and buy whatever they please? Sure, go buy liquor and scratch tickets, along with lobster tail. Bring back the days of actual food stamps and a list of qualified items that will keep families nourished until they get themselves back on their feet.
Let's just let everyone cross the border without being checked, it makes me feel good that my tax money will go to good use. This has worked really swell in Germany, England, and France.
To the moonbat above who said that Hillary won the popular vote by 7 million - those big numbers were from basically 3 states including Calif and New York - Trump won the MAJORITY votes of 30 states - wake up - who the heck cares how many totally votes were won by Hillary in the moonbat states - we are dealing with our Constitution not the moonbat rules - thank God! So stop continuing the nonsense about who won the majority votes in the nation - in just a few states! Our President should represent the entire 50 states not just 3 or 4 moonbat states - get it?
Concerning Obamacare - there are many millions of people suffering with this terrible system - Arizona rates are going up triple digits - this never happened with the previous system. I have a friend who has a family plan which include he and his wife....makes a minimal wage and is paying about $700 per month with a high multiple thousand deductible - he is barely making ends meet paying out so much for his health plan - he doesn't know how much longer he can continue this affordable health care plan - and this guy is only one of 10's of millions of people caught into this chaos!Every
Every honest Democrat now admits Obamacare needs to be overhauled and big time! The Republicans with the help of some Democrats will do this - and it will NOT leave 20 million people who now have - out in the cold without insurance - if they do - they will lose my vote! So wait and see what eventually is done - I will be the first one in line to complain if they screw it up more!
wrong....not 7 but 3...california and new york voted for the she devil..moonbat states thats how she got the popular vote....means nothing electoral college rules move on liberal.wow the laughs are killing my stomach.
So let us all use our heads today instead of listening to ridiculous Republican soundbites they don't back up with facts. I have a brother who had a previous heart condition (heart attack) and couldn't get coverage (remember, there was no mandate to cover pre-existing conditions back then )after he lost his job right after the Republican's financial crisis and ensuing near depression of 2007-2008. He was finally able to get coverage through the ACA. Previous to ACA, non-insured families went to emergency rooms for even basic care, costing about 5 times what it cost to get the same treatment from a family practitioner-primary care doctor. Who picked up the resulting costs of this inefficient health care deliver system? People like you and me who HAD health insurance and ultimately paid for these uninsured people through increased premiums passed through from the hospitals to the insurance companies and ultimately, to our premium costs. The key is that EVERYONE, sick and healthy, needs to pay their fair share into the health insurance system, just like people are mandated to for auto insurance. I would love not to pay auto insurance if I didn't have to, but I would be a burden to others if I got in an accident, caused property damage and injury to others and myself and did not have insurance coverage. Guess what? The same reality plays out with health insurance. I want EVERYONE to pay their fair share into the system to ensure so I don't have to subsidize them through my insurance premiums. I also want to know that if my children or wife needs access to an emergency room for a catastrophic injury that they won't be waiting behind the hoards of uninsured (think Melrose Wakefield emergency room)who come there to get free primary healthcare on my dime every time Mr' Freeloader's son, little Johnny, falls and skins his knee at a soccer game. I love the ACA because I want EVERYONE to pay their fair share. or at least what they can, into the healthcare system (no freeloaders please); I want emergency rooms freed up for REAL emergencies; And I don't want people who couldn't access health care and become disabled and unable to work because they couldn't access preventative care end up being ten times the burden on our other safety nets such as subsidized housing, food stamps and on and on ,because they didn't have access to healthcare.