It seemed, when Obama took office, even though we were in a great big recessionary slump brought on by some creative cheat who found a loophole in financial regulations, that we were on that TGV (Tay-Jay-Vey) (high speed train) out of Paris, rocketing into a global future. In this global future we were all pitching in to solve the problems we would face now that everyone was ‘woke.’ Bed nets to Africa to rein in malaria. Tablets to purify water. Water faucets that seemed to pull water out of dry land. Microloans so families could earn money for food. Alternative energies to address climate changes by agreeing to phase out fossil fuels and other carbon dioxide sources in a world where too much CO2 was ruining a chemical balancing act that keeps earth livable.
Of course we weren’t doing enough. We had the exodus from Middle Eastern nations ruled by harsh dictators. We were trying to give up our regime change habit, go on a strict diet by sitting on our hands and bringing home troops from the area. The mass migrations of people who were not Christians, who were not Europeans, were bringing with them fears that recent acts of terrorism would escalate, fears that the future would be the demise of the past. Prejudice against people whose lifestyles were different, whose religion told them that our religion was wrong, set up a clash of cultures that we weren’t sure how to deal with – assimilate, isolate – migrations always bring up stress and anger – change is never easy and often disruptive.
Authoritarianism was on the rise in both Eastern and Western Europe, and we still had Russia and China and North Korea, a pretty big chunk of world real estate, not on board to help advance a globally viable future unless they got to run it. And America always believed that we would direct the global future. No one was ready to give up their identity as a separate nation-state. So, there were some pretty serious obstacles in the way of that fast train to the future. It seemed possible that 9 billion people due on the planet would encourage us to be more cooperative but we all know that is not what has happened. It is even possible that now leaders are seeing possibilities in using random or designer pandemics to lower out-of-control population growth in the manner of controlling weeds in the grass.
Instead of that fast train to the future, America elected Donald Trump and took a slow train to the past. Now we live in a permanent Groundhog Day, except we don’t have Bill Murray. For one thing Bill Murray, in his lackadaisical way, is funny and for another, although it took him far too long, he learned lessons from his endless loop, which turned out to be more of a spiral and which eventually delivered him to a life that held more pleasure and less cynicism. Our Groundhog Day has Donald Trump, a man without a drop of humor and a man who learns nothing as each gloomy day on rewind unfolds. Donald Trump is also a real man, not a man in a movie. He takes us along for his ride every day and it always takes us to a destination where we don’t want to go. In Groundhog Day everyone knows what a terrible guy Bill Murray is and they don’t seem aware that they are on a perpetual rewind until he gets things right. In our version of Groundhog Day there are people who actively wish for the endless loop to continue. And although they have an ending in mind it is hardly global and it will take us to some really dystopian places.
Republicans are forever complaining about being asked, shoved, pushed, forced to be more politically correct by those terrible college students who are propagandized by leftie professors every day on our college campuses. They do not think college administrators should coddle students by cancelling conservative speakers when students protest their speaking engagements. Why should young people who want to board that high speed train to the future listen to people who are saying that they don’t want to go to the future; that the entire world is making a mistake? Well, when has that ever stopped us. Look at the mistakes we are making in American as captives of Trump’s version of Groundhog Day. Racism should be a problem from our past. We are educated people. We know that skin color does not determine character. We know that it is a culture that determines character. We know these people are our fellow Americas and that we have built cultural walls to keep them separate. Americans know we are living in a toxic culture. If we got back on the train to the future, even if it was a sort of slow train we might be able to finish dealing with the toxins affecting our environment and the toxins infecting our culture.
We desperately need a new President, a great big attitude adjustment, and the demise of the Republican Party. The future is global and it cannot be cancelled. It will arrive for better or for worse. Build Back Better seems like a perfect mission statement. Voting Democrats into office is our last chance for a while to board that train to the global future and avoid the dark images we are seeing these day out the windows of this train to the past.