November 8. One year ago. I don’t need to recount it, because you remember it as distinctly as I do. This can’t be happening. “We” just “elected” a demagogue. The worst among us, selected and elevated to monarch.
November 9. Still shocked into silence and head-shaking, we had one shred of hope to hold onto. Maybe it won’t be that bad. Maybe this whole debacle was a ruse to expose how easy it was to cheat and game the system.
One year later. Our worst fears are confirmed day after day, week after week. Power preying on the powerless, from every cynical seat in this administration. Add a complicit congress, whom history will judge as those who stood by and watched democracy burn.
We got what we deserved.
We were lulled into inaction by the soft patter of repeated media lies. Now precise and relentless, a gentle rain of suggestion washes over us, cleansing us of our goodwill. It takes time, it doesn’t happen all at once. The message creeps in. Its advantage is that it doesn’t need to be absolute, but just enough. But armed by enemies and powered by bots, the message is inescapable.
We did nothing to stop them, and we have no intention of starting to do so anytime soon. As Billy Bragg says, “As long as we’re comfortable, it feels like freedom.”
How Does It Feel Now?
I haven’t done enough. It feels like regret, mixed with powerlessness.
I go to the rallies. The big ones and small ones in and around Metro Boston.
I sign the petitions. Online, but also the canvassers with clipboards.
I make the calls. But living in Massachusetts, my representatives (generally) vote the “right” way.
I pay for real journalism. For the first time, this year.
I wrote these pieces:
|Shame as a Signal, Shame as a Solution
Comfort doesn’t lead to change.
|The Presidential Probationary Period
A memo to Donald J. Trump from our HR Department.
|I Hereby Resign as President of the United States
What we all wished for…
|How Trump Became an Uninvited Guest in Every Home
…but what we all got instead.
|The Criterion of Cruelty
Republicans have shown their true colors.
Now, I don’t expect you to read them – or even agree with them. This was more of a way to collect them for myself, as a record of how I was feeling. Ultimately, I stopped writing them, even though a few of them were widely read and shared (cool!).
Why did I stop? There is a chorus of voices, more developed and more informed than mine. They hit their stride after a few months. What more could I add to the national conversation? Most of my friends agree with me politically, and the algorithms are going to be damn sure that I don’t reach those who don’t.
Writing is a comfort to me. It’s the way I work out an idea, think things out. It was helping, for a while. But who cares about what it does for me? There are so many better places that you can read about the current unfolding disaster. For instance, read Umair Haque – a beautiful writer. Here’s a piece from this week called The Rage in America’s Soul.
What Can We Do Together?
The best use of me in all this is to focus on doing what I’m best at – empowering others. The underdogs of the world. The small businesses, solo entrepreneurs, writers, artists, and other independent creatives who are trying to make a difference.
I believe that the world is a better place when small businesses succeed.
- They are closer to the customer, not faceless transactions.
- They create good, fulfilling jobs, not extractive ones.
- Consumers get more choices, not a rush for the vanilla middle.
- Real voices emerge, not scrubbed, sanitized corporate-speak.
- Marketing becomes valuable, not whitewashing and lies.
It’s good for all of us.
As a writer, I can help with that. The way you communicate about what you do matters, sometimes more than anything else. The best form of this communication is action – you are measured best by what you do, not what you say.
But short of that, how does someone know if you’d be good to hire? Or whether or not to buy your product? Your service? Your book? Your music? Your paintings?
I can help with that, so that’s what I’ll focus on. Some free help, and some inexpensive help. I’ll still go to the rallies, I’ll still make the calls. I’ll have the hard conversations. I’ll be a cog in the resistance machine – you don’t have to lead to make a difference. You just have to show up.
I’ll see you out there.
With love and respect,