GUEST POST: So What Next?

Jim NelsonJim Nelson, Montana Supreme Court Justice, (Ret.)

By Jim Nelson, 

Montana Supreme Court Justice (Ret.)

I suspect that many of us are still reeling from the gut-punch of this election cycle.

But, the question that kept gnawing at me as I watched the digital maps and talking heads dance across the flat screen, was how did we, as Americans, fall so low that we have now elected to this land’s (and the world’s) highest, most powerful political office, a person who Atlantic Magazine described as the “most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.”   How did our political system produce two candidates that everybody loved to hate.  How did we fail to see the parallel of pre-war Germany re-enacting itself in 2016 America?

I don’t know the answer to these questions.  Is it that campaigns for public office have become a theater of the absurd, funded by troughs of money from a select, powerful few who are accountable to no one?  Probably. Is it that the political parties are so imbued with and committed to demanding conformity to their “platforms” that they have completely lost track of what is needed by our collective whole? That has to be a big part. Is it that willful ignorance has become an art-form because we have marginalized and devalued education–because we teach our children to regurgitate data, but not to think and retain knowledge? Yes, that too is likely.  Is it because we have allowed the theocrats’ and oligarchs’ bombast and rhetoric to drown out reasoned civil discussion and debate? No, doubt. Might it be because we get our news from media that sensationalizes, instead dispassionately reporting, informing and analyzing? Yes, that also. Or, is it that we just don’t respect each other—it being easier to slice and dice and stereotype We the People into neat little throw-away doggy bags? That, too, is a part.

Likely, all of these are factors.  But, I think these are merely symptoms of the greater evil—the moral and spiritual lethargy that comes from taking for granted what we have and enjoy as nation.  To be sure, there are a great many of us that have nothing to take for granted.  But, for the greater majority of the rest of us—the post-war beneficiaries of varying degrees of the good life, the American Dream—we have lost sight of the privation, the struggle, and the quest for excellence of our parents, our grandparents and theirs and theirs, that got us where we are today. We are secure; we have peace; we have resources; we have wealth; we have power; the lights go on every morning; we have water and food.  And, these have always just been there.  God’s largess to a deserving people, for those who believe in such nonsense.

It has become cliché that “freedom isn’t free.” But, really, it isn’t.  I believe that if we are to keep our Country from continuing to circle the drain of oblivion into which every world power has ultimately succumbed, then we must take back our national anima, our collective conscience.  We need goals to use our wealth and power for national and global betterment—not just for individual gain.   We must reacquire our identity as Americans instead of being just different groups of warring individuals. We must elect statespersons to public office, instead of money-dependent, political hacks.  We need leaders, not demigods. We must have vision, instead of myopia.  Indeed, We the People must lead, instead of blindly follow what the puppets of wealth and special interest dole out to us.

Have we ever been perfect?  Certainly not.  Have we ever been better? Most assuredly, we have.  Can we survive another 227 years?  That remains to be seen. It is really up to us.

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19 Comments on "GUEST POST: So What Next?"

  1. “What next,” you ask? Accountability.

    If Trump can fix the ACA, stop the flow of illegals, put people back to work, fire wasteful governmental employees, reform bloated bureaucracies, fix the VA, the Democratic Party is toast.

    • Your list of things for Trump to fix is worthwhile. But as the country will begin to see very soon – – none of those things interest him in the slightest! Brace yourself for an endless display of bluster and arrogance, self-aggrandizing, and focused only on himself. In Trump’s mind, the only purpose for anything “great” is if it’s great for him.

      The Democratic Party toast? You should be a lot more worried about the self-destructive Republican Party surviving the insanity they have created.

      Tough times are indeed coming, but a disproportionate amount of them will fall on the very people who put Trump where he is. Stupidity has always been a capital offense.

    • AS you said “If Trump can……” Hopefully in 4 years we won’t be saying: “Where’s the beef?”

    • I’m not the only one who thinks it’s over for you guys. Here’s Slate’s take.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/the_democratic_party_establishment_is_finished_after_trump.html

      Plus you need to read Connor’s post at the Flathead Memo.

      • You didn’t read the entire essay. It doesn’t say the Democratic Party is done. It says the Democratic Party establishment is done. Big difference. But you had to critically read the entire piece to get that.

      • Glen and Ann Thomas | November 14, 2016 2:14 PM at 2:14 PM |

        Big Swede: I have come across many of your comments and they are unkind, antagonistic. If we want to have good dialogue then please stop attacking the Democrats and others who are trying to mend fences. For your information, the number of immigrants has fallen. You refer to yourself as Big Swede. Please do not forget your own immigrant ancestors. Just don’t. But not once do you mention bloated corporations, who indeed are at the root of destroying our Democracy. ACA would have worked if the insurance companies were left out. Instead, they got a nice big handout again. But it’s not big enough for them, so they are leaving the program. Start looking at the Kochs, and Addison, and Ailes, and all the elite who have hurt all of us and those in Congress who are controlled by corporations. Read Dark Money by jane Mayer. Then write back to us. Thanks.

  2. Amazing that a minority of Americans were able to elevate a serial sexual predator, racist and misogynistic con man, who has no respect for the rule of law, or knowledge of political processes or the Constitution, to the Presidency. What frightens many is that the snake oil salesman not only does apparently not have to answer for his conduct, but he has legitimized and emboldened those whose conduct is similar. There are people of color who, rightfully, wonder if we are potentially on a slippery slope that could return us to the days of mob rule, and lynchings. Beyond his utterly odious character is the equally odious Republican platform. There is nothing good about Trump’s election. We can only hope for the most dismal failure of the Trump presidency and the actions of the Republican Congress. Trump’s base is apparently willing to accept any atrocity by their candidate, and all appeals to fact or decency will not change their minds. They were outnumbered but the Electoral College, a system designed to empower slave owners, gave Trump the presidency. Hopefully, in two years things will have gone so awry that voter outrage will save America from its turn towards amorality, indecency and fascism.

    • Dan you have summarized the situation perfectly. It amazes me that Trump support ers be!ieve they will be immune to the devastation as if their hate and whiteness will protect them. Their ignorance abides.

  3. Well Big Swede, he doesn’t need to “stop the flow of illegals”. That has been stopping for years. As for “fixing the VA”, what do you or Trump know about the VA? I am sure he has never been near one let alone in a VA facility. I have and my experience has been excellent. Firing government employees and fixing bloated bureaucracies sounds like Scott Walker. But what has he actually done? What can or will Trump do to keep the country functioning? Maybe you were hoping that Perry would be part of the new administration and eliminate three, I mean two, governmental departments. Especially the EPA and their foolish clean water agendas, and the Dept of Education and their make American schools great for a change? With the strong support of Congress, he will be challenged to “fix” the ACA but I hope he at least has a proposal to improve the aspects that need change.
    Trump has a collection of fellow Republicans that have no clue about compromise or negotiation. They cling to their imaginary religions and their inadequate schools and think they are doing something for America. I think Trump is sincere, unlike many including the writer, but he has to find a way to get his own chosen party to work. In 2020 he may be running as a Democrat.

  4. Get ready for one of the most repressive and corrupt administrations in American history. There’s not going to be any check on Trump’s abuse of power. Every decision he makes will be based on what will enrich him and not what’s best for the American people.

  5. We will soon suffer an object lesson in reap the whirlwind.
    Got an email from Norway this AM – they are asking each other what the hell is wrong with us.

  6. I dunno. I think good people are going to rise up and say, “This isn’t who we are.” And I sincerely believe the sneering liberal elite pisses off the NASCAR crowd SO much that electing Trump was their way of sending a great big “fuck you” to the kombucha crowd. Hell, I’ve been sneered at myself by liberals in the bookstore where I used to work, and I’m one of them! I eat with them at the co-op, I wear their unisex Patagucci clothes, I read their books and magazines, I vote with them.

    I think Trump is a great big Jungian dark-side archetype wriggling out of our collective unconscious. It’s our decision on how we’re going to deal. I’m going to be kinder to strangers, donate to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, keep a sharp eye on local politics and just be a better human being.

    And I’m not going to sneer at people who belong to bowling leagues and drive pickup trucks. Hell, maybe I’ll go bowling myself. We gotta reach out and not sneer at one another. That’s what Trump teaches us.

  7. I felt that based on his behavior during the campaign Trump was not qualified to be President. But we now will need to wait and hope for the best. As for the various issues, illegal immigration has already been reduced to a very low level. Realistically all these manufacturing jobs will not return, and those that may will not be high paying. The VA does not need fixing. The majority of veterans appear to be happy with the VA. And finally the Dems will not become toast. Hillary won the popular vote, and changing demographics favor the Dems not the GOP. The GOP is lucky there is an Electoral College and 2 Senators for each state. Wyoming 2 Senators, California 2 Senators (very undemocratic)

  8. You don’t get it, kids. Read Krystal Ball’s post in the Huffpo, she did a great job until the last paragraph.
    As for unqualified — that’s a lot better for America than an experienced criminal liar.

  9. Your honor, will you please return to the bench? How about the Supreme Court? I understand they’re missing a member.

  10. I take cold comfort in the fact that I will be dead before the worst effects of this election hit us and that as a veteran I’m mostly immune to GOP budget-cutting, at least so far as my income goes. Republicans have proven remarkably effective at screwing up the VA-I worry when they start talking about “fixing” it. The last 5 turnovers have shown me EVERY time we elect a Republican the treatment at the VA gets worse. Within a year of electing a Democrat things improve-go figure. And It gives me a little comfort that there won’t be a wall, 11 million undocumented immigrants will not be deported. their job isn’t going to get better and Hillary is NOT going to jail. Will the rubes realize they have been taken by 2018 or will we hear more of “it’s rigged! It’s not Trump’s fault he can’t get anything done.” ? They are going to discover what so many other working class people did when dealing with Trump-you just can’t “Buhleeve Him!” Maybe the epiphany will occur while filing for bankruptcy themselves after they no longer have health insurance that works! I know one thing-the next time some Republican starts talking about “family values” I will tell them to stuff it up their pussy!

  11. What is pretty ironic is Trump’s constant cry that the election is rigged. Also, a few years back he stated that the Electoral College was against democracy.

  12. A trait that Trump supporters share: The inability to be morally offended.

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