If you have managed to get past the headline to actually read this article – congratulations! You are probably one of the few people not suffering from outrage overload. This has become a common affliction among people of most political persuasions, beginning with the election of Donald Trump in November, and steadily increasing since he assumed power on January 21st. Everyone except his die-hard supporters and some of them are beginning to have their doubts.
It is hard not to be outraged by his childish tweets, his appointment of White House cronies, his irresponsible statements that have damaged some of our major industries. Most of Cabinet appointments leave much to be desired and it appears his promise to Drain The Swamp meant appointing at least six members of Goldman-Sachs to positions in his administration.
The latest outrage came from his Executive Order regarding immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The fact that it was poorly conceived and horribly executed cannot be disputed. The fact that emergencies stay against implementing this EO were issued almost immediately by multiple federal judges around the country raises doubt as to its probable legality. Spontaneous protests erupted throughout the country, not just in the “coastal elite” cities of New York and San Francisco, but also in Birmingham, Alabama, and Boise, Idaho. These protests were greeted with cheers from Trump’s distractors and dismay by his supporters.
Despite Trump’s announcement last night of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court assuaged both most of his supporters as well as a number of other Republicans, although Democrats are still outraged that Merrick Garland did not receive Senate confirmation. Although he did degrade the entire process by making the announcement a cross between an episode of “The Apprentice” and “Survivor.”
Trump ran a campaign of fear and outrage, so it should come as no surprise that this is the way he runs the country. By projecting his own insecurity (losing the popular vote, crowd size at his inauguration, etc. etc.) on to the rest of the country, he has been able to distract many of us from situations occurring in the world that we really need to fear.
Some voices, such as Senator John McCain, have tried to warn us. White debate rages over whether acting Attorney General Sally Yates should have resigned rather than stand up to Trump, Russia is now attacking eastern Ukraine in some of the bloodiest fighting seen in that region. Have no illusions that it is mere coincidence that the attacks began immediately after Putin spoke with Trump on Saturday. Trump’s wavering, back and forth, commitment to NATO raises serious concerns among our allies such as Poland and Estonia who may be next in the sights of Putin’s military machine.
We must not let Trump’s actions and tweets on multiple fronts blunt our sense of outrage when his words and actions jeopardize our Constitution and our country. We cannot let him wear us down so that he gets a free pass when he does something illegal or dangerous. We also cannot let him distract us with smoke and mirrors from crises around the world.
Yes, we are all going to die. That is a fact. When or how we do not know. It may be because of Trump’s reckless policies or it could be from natural causes. But we must not become the boy who cries “wolf” or runs around like Chicken Little. We must keep our sense of outrage without becoming outrageous.
In October 1941 Winston Churchill gave a speech at Harrow, the public school he attended as a boy. This was probably one of the darkest times for Great Britain during World War II, but Churchill, as ever, was defiant and optimistic. The popular misrepresentation of this speech is that Churchill spoke just a few words and then sat down. In fact, he gave a full speech, but the words that resonated, the words that are still quoted today, are worth repeating now.
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
These are the words to remember and to live by in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.