During four years of Trump, in spite of the chaos and unreality of it all, I was able to convince myself that once he exited the White House, normalcy would return to the body politic. And it has…but only, in any reliable way, in the Biden White House and the attendant executive branch.
Unfortunately, half the Senate and almost half the House of Representatives are members of the party that, with only a few notable exceptions, remains in the thrall of the most unlikely specimen ever to rise to the highest office in the land. Trump calls Putin “pretty smart.” Mike Pompeo, his kowtowing former secretary of state, never one to miss a chance to ingratiate himself with the Mar-a-Lago maestro, calls the Russian leader “an elegantly sophisticated counterpart.” Really?
Shades of the infamous doublespeak (“war is peace”) of George Orwell’s 1984 and the dumbing down of language to restrict the thoughts that can be expressed by limiting nuance in the spoken word.
Then there’s that other Orwell novel, the allegorical Animal Farm, with the famous line uttered by Napoleon, one of the leading pigs, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” Clearly, in the U.S., all voters are equal, but those who are able to contribute mountains of cash to elected politicians are more equal than others. Both parties share the blame for that.
On the other hand, the impulse to ban books from school curricula and (heaven help us!) dictate what words teachers can and can’t use in the classroom lives primarily in the hearts of Republicans … reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451 in which the job of a fireman is to set fire to books the powers-that-be don’t like.
And, of course, we mustn’t forget The Handmaid’s Tale, the story of a society in which women are subjugated and stripped of all rights. Now, we have a pale shadow in the Republicans’ war on women, an effort in which they’re aided and abetted by many in the no-longer-impartial judiciary branch.
Finally, there’s a development for which both parties and society at large all share blame. That’s the rampant numbing of the senses by so many who use opioids and other illicit drugs. Trapped in a society in which some are more equal than others, falsehood and fantasy often replace truth, and opportunity seems non-existent, many give up and descend into the dead-end of addiction. The difference between us and Brave New World is that in the latter, the powers-that-be provide the drugs and supervise their use to keep the populace docile; in our world the users, most of them from a segment of society that feels less equal than others, seek out the drugs to escape what they perceive as hopeless lives.
And now … overlaid on this domestic dystopia, there’s the international arena where we have the unprovoked invasion of the Ukraine by Russian troops. Again … shades of 1984, in which war and its attendant dangers are used as a distraction and a rationale for the lack of freedom and the constant surveillance of the populace by the leader, Big Brother.
Disturbing times, both here and abroad.