Monday, December 31, 2018

Another Year Older a New One Just Begun

Hello world, time to say good bye to another year. Not sure I'll miss it.

I have not been in here at all this year. Looks like 17 posts, from a new year's post to Armistice Day. That puts paid to resolution #1 - I did not get back to posting regularly! or at all! If not for the Red Sox (three world series posts!) and Wonders in the Dark (four television posts!), we'd be down to 10. I am not sure what I can say about all this: I have had time to write, and have, written plenty for other purposes. Nut nothing that makes for good blog posts. I suspect one reason is that I have also almost stopped watching movies - that is also very strange, since I have had plenty of time to watch films; I just haven't. Given how much of my blogging has been about films, that will knock things down some. I suppose if I wanted to I could note that my lack of blogging is the way of the world these days - blogs are an old, outdated, fading form of internet communication. I suppose I should move to Twitter, though that makes no sense to me at all. I still can't figure out the appeal of writing one liners all day. It's like communicating by telegram after email was invented. (Though that actually makes it seem rather cool.) I suppose some people treat it like a conversation - I shudder at the thought....

All right. I won't dwell on it. I will go on foolishly hoping that this year I will start posting again. I hope for a lot of things. Stranger things have happened - though I'm not counting on it. But hoping...

I could dwell on the continued disintegration of the Republic. The Donald Trump era is a train wreck at every level. His administration is a chaos of incompetence and criminality, though no one is willing or able to hold them to account. But even without anyone holding them to account, his administration has disintegrated - half the cabinet is currently "acting", as is the white house chief of staff; swaths of former officials are indicted or convicted, some of them singing to the rafters, some hoping for that pardon; the government is shut down, directly because of Trump (the rest of the party managed to come up with the votes to prevent it, but Donnie boy scotched it); he himself is close to the point where the only way he can stay out of prison is to stay in the white house. He'll lock himself in and barricade the doors, until the Russians find a way to sneak him out, probably. All that occurs alongside the signs of an economic collapse (caused by Trump's shenanigans, as well as the erosion of Obama's policies, which did well to shore up the economy, if not make it all that great), and escalating domestic tensions, and vicious policies that have killed two kids on the border already this winter...

On the other hand, in less than a week, the Democrats will resume control of the House; GOP still has the Senate, but who knows what they will do. When they see that their chances are better with Pence than Trump, he's done. That may or may not come soon. Two years from now there will be an election, and if Trump is not out of office, we will be in such a shambles, the Republicans will be lucky to carry South Carolina. Because it will be Trump's fault and he will be blamed. So - if we last that long - not that there will necessarily be much left to save by then.

And so. This is a strange time to be alive: we are in as much trouble as a country as we have been in a long time, and all of it is completely self-inflicted. We aren't being attacked from outside; we survived the economic crisis of the late 00s (by electing Democrats). Things are actually better in a lot of ways - though the things that are better are a big part of what is wrong with us. The rump of white racists and misogynists and homophobes can see that they have lost the country, and they are fighting very hard to keep it. The issues are not as obvious as slavery was, but it's the same fight. Almost literally - ginning up fights with Mexico... what is this, 1845? Who gets to be treated like an American? a human being? A reason things are the way they are right now is that we have expanded the idea of who is a human being far enough to frighten the people who want to limit it. They fight back (racists and misogynists and homophobes and authoritarians), and they find they have the constitution with them.

I worry for the republic: not just because the bad people are in charge, but because I am not sure the structure of the nation is on the side of good. In some ways, democracy and equality have spread far enough in law and practice that the constitution is explicitly against them. Civil rights, voting rights, attitudes have advanced to the point that the anti-democratic elements of the constitution hold the country back. The Senate, the electoral college, maybe even the courts as constituted - even states themselves - all work against freedom and democracy as they are practiced, or would be practiced, in the USA. The amendments work against this, sometimes - dear old 14th! - but much of the rest of the structure of government seems to work against the freedom and democracy we have achieved, on paper at least. We are more and more able to talk about what is wrong with the country, from its deep baked racism to its inequality, to its inability to institute the kinds of basic services most of the first world instituted decades ago - but we can't do enough, because our government is designed around ancient institutions designed to keep the mob from ruling. It is a cause for concern.

Well - plenty to worry about in the coming year! A year from now, the 2020 presidential campaigns will be in full swing. That should be edifying. Odds are good we'll be looking at some kind of proceedings against Donald Trump in the next year - at least, constant hearings in the House, dredging up all the filth around old short fingered vulgarian. Though the astonishing thing with Trump is that almost nothing that comes out about him is new: he has done most of his monstrous behavior in plain sight. He survives based on chutzpah and bribery (pass tax cuts, keep the orthodox republicans in line!) and those outdated institutions. He won't survive for long; he'll be voted out the first chance the country gets, if he lasts that long - even the ancient wobbly constitution we have won't keep him around more than a term... But that's enough time to ruin everything. He and the GOP is working hard to prevent Americans from voting - it could all break. And that is terrifying, because when it is clear there is no legal salvation from him, why does he think he will still be saved? He can bring it all down - certainly his own regime... though what replaces it might not be the answer that we're looking for.

So there you go. 2018 - a disaster in the world at large, though with signs of hope. The Democrats have the House; the wheels of justice grind on; Trump himself is a collapsing mess. And if the economy doesn't collapse, and we don't get into a war, and Trump doesn't try to impose martial law, the world will go on. Movies and music and books will come out, I'll hate myself if I don't watch them or listen to it or read any of it. Maybe I will write, maybe I will moan about not writing. They will stage sporting events - it was a good year for me there, as the Crimson Hose won it all, with one of the most dominant teams of all kinds. And being a soccer fan I can revel in Liverpool's success (owned by the Red Sox, which is enough for me to pick out an English football team to root for), which was revel worthy indeed in 2018. And - so it goes. I hope to be back here more often, but even if I'm not - I imagine I'll be in it intermittently... So Happy New Year, increasingly hypothetical reader! I wish you the best.