Living Through "Interesting Times"
"May you live in interesting times,” has been oft quoted and ascribed to the ancient Chinese, two Chamberlains, Frederic R. Coudert, Albert Camus, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert F. Kennedy, among others. In a few examples of its use, the writers or orators intended some positive aspect of navigating challenges (the late Robert Kennedy being one of those optimists). In most instances, however, the phrase has been used in the context of a curse or used pejoratively.
“May you live in interesting times” is a phrase of the moment, for the moment in the United States of America. We are, indeed, living in those interesting times that feel like we have been cursed. While Donald J. Trump is not entirely to blame by a large stretch of the imagination, he is a catalyst who unleashed this curse upon our land and the world. The foul-mouthed “populist” ascended to the highest office in our land without regard for norms, rules, laws, decency. Yet, he captured the pent-up anger and frustrations of a swath of American white men, in particular. Although profoundly ignorant in terms of scholarship, history, the arts, human civilization, Trump is clever and conniving. But he had help.
Trump, it turns, out is somebody’s fool. We can almost see Vladimir Putin’s glee as he manipulates his prize puppet across the American scene and international stage. Even without Russian interference and guidance, Trump has long known that pitting his enemies against each other works well, as he sneaks out the door. But he would have been a footnote in real estate gossip circles had not a willing GOP embraced the thief with grand schemes into their fold.
Blaming Trump and the Republican Party does not go nearly far enough. Many of the richest individuals in our land have underwritten the corruption that led our democracy to this edge of the cliff. We can thank Hedge-Fund Magnate Robert and daughter Rebekah Mercer for spending tens of millions to move the Republican Party to Trump and propping up propaganda media outlet in Breitbart “news.” Mercer put $10 million in Breitbart alone. The Mercers also backed Cambridge Analytica, the data firm likely behind voter fraud in England as well as the United States of America. The Mercers also gave us the super PAC, currently shepherded by David Bossie, that fuels a new direction in the conservative movement in this country, a movement that has only money making as its goal, at the expense of country.
Everyone knows about the Koch brothers’ contributions to the mess America has found herself in, but we should not dismiss them either. There are also those bastions of greed and corruption found in policy think tanks: the CATO Institute and the Club for Growth. Nor should we leave out The Federalist, Infowars, Newsmax, among other conservative media platforms that spew right-wing propaganda.
In the list of those who have elevated corrupt conman Trump, we would be remiss to leave out Rupert Murdoch, the retired but ominous long-time owner of Fox Broadcasting Company. FOX “News” may have been the most damning to our democracy by pushing its 24/7 television propaganda into the homes of millions around the country, giving us the household names of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.
Donald J. Trump would have looked like a powerless fool, even in the office of the Presidency, without the eminently corruptible greed of Senate Majority leader Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., known as Mitch, and the sniveling acquiescence of former Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
Yes, these are, indeed, interesting times, but the larger concern is whether or not our American democracy will survive them?