I stopped writing in early December; the “big picture” had become so infuriating and terrifying and depressing, that I could no longer see its edges. So I stopped trying to. And I found that as I lowered my gaze from the Forest, I could instead explore among the trees. And that is what I have been doing. But more on that next week.
Just to make sure I am not shirking my duty as an awake citizen resister by sticking my head in the sand, I do keep vague tabs on what we are still euphemistically calling the “Federal Government,” noting in particular the repeated “unprecedented actions” taken by one branch that undermine the power and independence of the other two.
(Warning to some of my readers: what follows is a good old fashioned New York rant):
In the Executive Branch we have, of course, the “very stable genius” who is “like, really really smart.” So that’s under control.
And we have the Special Prosecutor getting closer to what we all know will be clear and convincing, uncontrovertible and iron clad evidence of, wait for it, obstruction of justice AND, wait another second, collusion with Putin and his Oligarchs. So that’s exciting.
And we have the President of the United States (aforementioned VSG) taunting and bullying deputy-level and lower members of the FBI who have been with the Agency since the 1990s to the point where those loyal civil servants are being transferred and/or actually resigning. Why? Because the President seems to believe that the FBI, and its parent agency, the Justice Department (and all the Justice Department’s other agencies), are actually his own spy agency, army and police force, to be used at his will, for any reason he chooses.
Thank goodness there is the Legislative Branch to check all that executive overreach and undemocratic abuse of power.
Of course I kid.
The most action the Republicans are taking on the Russia “scandal” — and by the way, Stormy Daniels is a “scandal!” The Russia sh*t is something else entirely — is to train their sites on the very same FBI the President is attacking! So it seems that the Republicans in the Legislative Branch are playing very nicely with the Executive Branch, all to the detriment of that whole checks and balances thing in the Constitution.
Oh but wait, we do have the Democrats, god love ‘em. Still trying in good faith to have some semblance of legislative agenda, process, accountability. Dealing with McConnell as if he is playing the same game they are. A vote on Dreamers? Sure! We’ll get that resolved by February 8th. As Peter Sagel noted on this week’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me,” McConnell also has some magic beans to throw in if anyone’s interested.
Which leaves the Judicial Branch. So far, judges are the only members of the Federal government who have effectively stood up for the U.S. Constitution and democratic process. But how long do we think that is going to last? The hundreds of unfilled Federal Judicial seats will either remain empty or be filled with judges as qualified to sit in them as my drooling hound dog (and you know that dog won’t hunt). And even if the lower courts continue to uphold the Constitution, it’s only a matter of time before His Honorable Justice Neil Gorsuch gets to be the deciding vote on whether to uphold or strike down attempts to limit executive power.
All of which to say, nothing about the Forest has gotten miraculously saner or democratic or less terrifying. And thank god for real that so many excellent and smart and talented people are working to address the crisis that has befallen and is befalling our economic, political and social system. Journalists and educators and lobbyists and lawyers and entertainers and billionaires and analysts and social workers are speaking up and trying to hold to account. They are doing the necessary work of bearing witness and paying attention, of keeping track and taking action, as needed.
And what I want to tell you – what I am desperately telling myself – is that the Forest, capital “F” (like “Federal”) isn’t the only dumpster fire in the city. Far from it. By leaving the Federal dumpster Fire to my brave and brilliant fellow resisters, I can choose to focus instead on what’s going on closer to the forest floor. Once I finish this blog post, I am going to climb back down to the trees and groves and clearings I can see and feel myself, and get back to the work of tending to what’s smoldering down there. Next week I’ll talk more about that.
So glad you all are staying on this journey with me.