Even in the midst of the darkest days of the Great Depression, when people were starving, when there were men standing in bread lines, when the middle of the country was stricken with the Dust Bowl and all the miseries it brought, when there was an internal refugee crisis as displaced farmers sought better lands in California or the Northwest, when my elderly friend Bob could recall row after row after row of unfortunate men on the streets of Chicago with no work, no food, and no way to support their families, even then we did not, when we stood at our most despairing, our most vulnerable hour in our country’s history, even then when it would have been most tempting, we did not descend to fascism.
This is not a fascism borne of despair or hardship. It is one that has emerged from a deep poverty of spirit, of petty frustration, of pique.
In a fit of irritation and meanness, a full 60-odd million of our fellow citizens decided democracy is somehow disposable. What they will find is that, as far as those they elected are concerned, they, too, are disposable – as they get kicked off of health care rolls, or see their tax burdens increase even as those on the wealthiest are cut, or come to find that the Orange Menace cares little about the safety of their drinking water or food or even workplace safety. “Carnage” for the deluded president with whom we now must deal is not yet a reality, but it is the president’s (and the GOP’s) future policy.
Yet we are not hitherto at full throttle – but it will come. All this talk about resistance and “containment” of the Orange Menace can be upended in an instant: a mass shooting, a terrorist attack, a major economic crisis, a foreign policy disaster, any one of these – and one will invariably show up under this president as they always do in various combinations – can tighten the bonds of a tyranny that this administration is eager to impose. The Wild Card remains just that for the moment, but people need to remember that, even as we resist, none of us controls the looming threat that events could cast us into a cauldron that could effectively and permanently destroy what Lincoln once referred to as the last best hope of Earth.