“What we will have is the same play with different players.” (A People’s History…Ch. 20)

Nixon and his aides lied again and again as they tried to cover up their involvement.

Donald Trump doesn’t matter. What we might be truly afraid to admit is that our system is the problem, not this new player in the same old game. Trump inherited an America that cannot return to the greatness he used as a slogan to propel himself into the Presidency because that greatness never existed; that much we (Trump protestors) accept. What we overlook is that there’s no status quo to which we should want to return. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have mattered either. America puts on the same play, shuffling the players around and creating new parts as necessary concessions to sustain itself; “the play’s the thing,” but we “are not Prince Hamlet, nor [were] meant to be.” We refuse to face our own absence of a King, of someone or something that might anchor us in a higher order. We run around just as delusional as the “affable misanthrope” himself, desperately hoping some external force will save us from our existential predicament, from our responsibility “to be.”

Look back at Nixon and Watergate. Many of us anticipate (really hope) that Trump will endure a similar affair, as if that will exonerate us and America. As if Trump’s removal will return America to what it should be. But what it should be it’s never been, so what exactly would we gain if Trump were not our Commander-in-Chief? When Nixon was removed, it restored nothing. There was no redemption to be had. Anthony Lewis of the New York Times noted, “the system is working,” suggesting that good triumphed over evil. In fact, he was right, but he reached the wrong conclusion. Nixon’s removal did indeed show that “the system is working,” but not in favor of the American people nor any naive assumption about our moral superiority. The system is amoral; it moves on swimmingly regardless of the specific pieces we put in place to keep it running. Nixon, Ford, Trump…the name doesn’t change the game.

And so we beat on…putting up pathetic shows of our global might by playing Goliath to the next David we could find (in the 70s, after our protracted Vietnam blunder, Cambodia was the mark). We’re still flexing our dicks today. To what end? Then Secretary of Defense Schlesinger’s answer sounds similar to what our present alternative facts administration might say, “for purposes that were necessary for the well-being of this society.” Because America’s “well-being” is always under siege, right? Thanks to the profit of such perpetual war, which we’ve accepted as the only path to progress, indeed we are! As Secretary of State Kissinger argued, “We are forced into this.” America has no choice but to do what it does; we follow moral imperatives that need no justification. So what if we make a little money in the process of being so noble and good? Consider it a cosmic reward for our unfailing benevolence. Or just turn away and let us “give the impression of an honest society correcting itself.”

1976 came around, our bicentennial birthday, and “it was seen as a way of restoring American patriotism, invoking the symbols of history to unite people and government and put aside the protest mood of the recent past.” Wait, did I mean the Super Bowl?

 

As I’ve expressed before – and despite my fairly scornful tone in this post – I choose not to fall prey to the “same old shit” mentality. Because if I do, “same old shit” becomes truth by virtue of my stated faith in it. Instead, I choose love. It promises nothing but itself as well, and I prefer a faith in love to give love a shot at reality instead of whatever cynicism I used to cling to. Where is the love? That’s not a question we ever have to ask if we let it into our hearts first.

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