Sometimes I yearn for those days when I had no clue about the chaos of American politics.
Was it always like this? Well, yes. But like so many people past and present, I spared myself the pain of knowing too much. What’s the old saying? Something about it’s not good to see how they make politics or sausage.
When I was a kid, you had to go looking for the politicians. Now they find you. They have us by the front of our shirts, shaking us and demanding our attention. Part of it is our fault. We’re curious, and sometimes even a little conscientious about being up to date on what’s happening. So we empower various media to keep us informed.
But that means risking all the trash talk and egregious lying that stirs the news cycles. Civility dies an ugly death with video on the hour.
Yammer, yammer on television. Talk shows where six “experts” are all talking at once, robo-calls interrupt dinner or your favorite TV shows. Clutter in the mailbox, and endless gnawing at the back of your mind that something very dark is eating away at the ideals you always held close about how America is better than other countries because we have better government.
It would be better if we didn’t watch the news or read the papers (except for the sports and comics and the obituaries) or just pulled the plug on the landline and turned off the cell at 4 every afternoon.
But now we can’t; we know too much. We have glimpsed enough of how corrupt the most ambitious and least honorable practitioners of partisan politics will be if we opt out.
Don’t turn your back on predators. First rule of survival, jungle or Main Street.
Cynical thoughts like this preoccupy me because I cannot escape the consequences of opening Pandora’s Box of Modern Communications Technology.
Anyone with a cell phone or a computer can say anything, regardless of how ridiculous it is, and become the darling of some cadre of hell-raisers.
That’s where we are after the meek closing of arguments in defense of the misbehavior of the man most recently entrusted by the people with the office of President of the United States.
It was said during the campaigns that Trump was unfit for any elected office, and this week his Republican senators have the task of deciding how much more proof they need of that.
More accurately, they are left with making the case that, yes, perhaps he is unfit, but he was elected, is it right to remove him from office? To undo the 2016 election results and crash the 2020 election campaign that many have said would be a slam-dunk victory lap for the Republicans?
It’s embarrassing. But it’s not just the impeachment hearings that have been an embarrassment to America; it’s the everyday inappropriateness, the bullying, the shady self-serving emoluments from income at his hotels and spending tax dollars — and charging others exorbitant prices — for trips to his resorts. The blatant arrogance that allows an adult to say he can do anything he wants to because he is president. The loss of respect around the world.
The closing arguments of Trump’s lawyers before the Senate on Tuesday were pathetically disingenuous. In the face of the facts put forth and the almost daily disclosures of substantiation of every charge of corruption and abuse of power, the best they had to offer was that it would be a bad precedent to impeach a president.
Most of us have had some bad days at some point in our lives when excuses and best wishes were not enough to escape the need to face the music. Who among us has not heard, “You should have thought of that before”?
The country is asking that today, more than three years after the 2016 election.
Someone gave me one of those bumper stickers. It says, “2020 — A year for hindsight.”
Dean Minnich is a retired journalist who served two terms as county commissioner. His column runs on Thursdays. His email address is email@example.com.