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William Rivers Pitt | Please, Oh Please, Happy New Year

I place my faith in the arc of the moral universe.

(Photo: John Paul Tyrone Fernandez)

I had to run out to the hardware store on Thursday morning for two 50-pound bags of road de-icer because I live on Hoth now. My driveway and stairs are two inches of sheet ice covered with packed snow. They would kill me if they could, my driveway and stairs, so I thwarted them via chemical warfare.

The special stuff, too: Item #2 on the display rack, special because it “works at -30 degrees,” which is good, because that’s been winter for a fair swath of the country since Christmas. “Even Sharks Are Freezing to Death,” read a New York Times headline. Being outside hurts, and there is no end in sight.

Of course, President Pud decided to weigh in on this latest meteorological phenomenon with quite simply the worst “Cold enough for ya?” quip in human history. He did it via Twitter, of course, writing, “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”

The “Bundle up!” is what makes it art. No middle finger salute has ever been more prominently displayed.

For the record, this is the man who just signed off on giving a trillion dollars in taxpayer money to himself and his friends, the man who just recently received long-sought permission to build a sea wall around his Irish golf resort in Clare County because the rising oceans of climate change threaten to wash away his investment. The disconnect is both awe-inspiring and utterly predictable.

Every single thing Trump wrote in that tweet was wrong, ignorant, damaging and truly dangerous. It represents yet another brick in the wall between actually addressing climate change and ignoring it, because ignoring it makes the liberals angry. It is one of a thousand severely pressing issues this president has ignored, deplored or made measurably worse during his first disgraceful year in office.

“Making liberals angry” seems to be, in the minds of Trump supporters, the sole reason for this administration’s existence. Consider the tone of this comment by right-wing Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter:

He was supposed to lose the primary, but he didn’t. He was supposed to lose the general, but he didn’t. He was supposed to fall victim to the covert schemes of leftist bureaucrats and the overt obstruction of The Resistance, but he didn’t. Instead, Donald Trump has prospered as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan. And it’s breaking the souls of his enemies. Deliciously.

Deliciously. They’re still talking like that almost a year after the inauguration. Call it an homage to their fearless leader. Bundle up!

So much has gone wrong so fast. Only a month ago, lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were openly saying things like this: “We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with US national security interests.”

In other words, we have to figure out a way to keep Trump’s finger off the button because he cannot be trusted to go the bathroom without causing a national security crisis with his phone, and never mind handling a responsibility so profound as our massive nuclear arsenal. He needs people for that so we all don’t die, see. Thus is America made great again.

This was such an extraordinarily trying year that being afraid of Trump’s presidency is actually a serious medical concern for millions now. Writing for Psychology Today, Daniel P. Keating Ph.D. notes:

For some groups, anxiety has already begun to skyrocket in the Trump Era. Will my family be able to get the health care we need if we lose our insurance? Will our family’s breadwinner be deported, even without a criminal record? Will a social safety net that we depend on for the basics of food and shelter be shredded? But this new era of anxiety affects many in addition to those who face such immediate, drastic threats. Families who are doing ok now worry whether their children will have opportunities in their future. As inequality rises, the social ladder gets steeper, the fear of falling increases, and social mobility goes down.

This is the time of year for lists, but to hell with that. You and I both know what happened, we were all here for it, and just about all of it was awful. Seeing Michael Flynn cut a deal was frankly exhilarating, seeing Paul Manafort surrender to law enforcement upon indictment made me giddy, but all of it came about because the president of the United States likely colluded with a hostile foreign power to skew a national election.

That’s the thing about 2017: Most of the good stuff came about because of something genuinely terrible. The #MeToo movement will hopefully continue to blast a giant canoe through the heart of monolithic patriarchy, but it came to be because of years, decades, generations marked by the unpunished brutalization of untold millions of women. If the headstones could speak, our great-grandmothers could tell us all exactly how long this kind of “locker room talk” has been a standardized millstone around the necks of women.

There it is again, like a recurring theme.

Masses mobilized rapid public demonstrations against Trump’s immigration policies, but only because millions of innocent lives were about to be affected by presidential fiat.

Masses publicly repudiated hate speech and white nationalism, but only because Trump placed Nazis and the Klan on the same moral plane as protesters for social justice.

Masses became interested in all issues pertaining to nuclear weapons, but only because Trump’s jabbering has helped to squeeze us into a new Cold War with North Korea; it’s a surefire way to keep his name in the headlines, even though we all might explode.

You know the rest. You were here. Yeah, that happened.

Articles like this are supposed to end in ringing fashion, but I’m fresh out of rings as we stumble into this brave new year. I’ve talked about the need for endurance and the promise of peace in recent days, but in all honesty, I have no idea which horizon the sun will peek over tomorrow. I am so uncertain about the future that even the absolutes are turning to water.

So I will make you this promise: I’m not quitting. This was a garbage year that literally almost killed me, 2018 will likely be worse, and there it is. I place my faith in the arc of the moral universe. With the fervor of the most devout Trump evangelical, I believe in the inevitability of justice, though my eyes may never bear witness to it. That matters not at all. I believe, and that will light my way for another strange trip around the sun.

See you there.

Please, oh please, Happy New Year.

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