Three friends, the same reaction: They’re all in a tizzy — bewitched, bothered and bewildered — by Trump world.
One is appalled at the Trump Administration’s restrictive treatment of pregnant undocumented immigrants. Another is angry about President Donald J. Trumpet’s policies and tone in general. And speaking of which, the third is severely stressed by his threats to the American resistance, which preceded the massacre of 50 Muslims — and the injury of just as many — at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand by yet another young man with a disproportionate rage at life’s rejections, one who counted El Presidente as a white power inspiration.
The president sent his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand. But earlier, he had other fish to fry:
“I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher,” he told Breitbart. “OK? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
Um, is he threatening us? Because that sounds very much like a threat. And it frightened people. It frightened my friends. But it doesn’t frighten me. Here’s the thing I’ve learned about fear. It can paralyze you as in I’m afraid, I’m afraid, I’m afraid. It can encase you so that you cannot move, cannot see anything else.
Or it can set you free. Once you acknowledge it, what do you have to lose? I always think in these instances of Anne Rice’s “Interview With a Vampire,” which presents the reader with two different responses to life. The main character, Louis, who longs for death and counterintuitively chooses to become a vampire, cannot get beyond that vampirism. He remains entombed in grief. His partner, Lestat, who becomes the main character in the subsequent novels of Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles” — and who is forced to become a vampire — revels in his fate.
Rice wrote her book in response to the death of her daughter, Michelle — called Claudia, after the actress Claudia Cardinale — from childhood leukemia and some of the subsequent books at the height of the AIDs crisis. Think of it this way, Louis is like the person who says, “I have cancer. I have cancer. I have cancer.” And Lestat is like the person who says, “I have cancer. And I’m going out dancing tonight.” He retains his joie de vivre. And as my late, beloved stepmother Laurel used to say, “You shouldn’t let anyone rob you of your joy.”
Now it’s not always possible to skate out onto the town with cancer. And I know that after you get that diagnosis — or even one of a precancerous condition — you don’t hear anything else. Fear is real. But courage is not about the absence of fear. It’s about the confrontation and transcendence of it.
You have to stop and think: The military swears allegiance to the Constitution. Presidents come and go. The Constitution remains. The police are worried about protecting citizens in their individual communities. As for Bikers for Trump, they’re not an army — and I bet there’s a Bikers Against Trump.
Change is once again in the air. The 12 Republicans who opposed Hair Furor’s assumption of emergency powers at the southern border represent a turning point. Congress is the money. And, as Alexander Hamilton noted, “Power without revenue is a mere bauble.” That makes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the most powerful person in this country, in this world. And her “Let’s not talk impeachment” approach to the other “I” word — investigation — is quite savvy, even as she’s got Donnie Two Scoops by his Chicken McNuggets.
Meanwhile, the Democratic field has gotten more interesting with the addition of charismatic moderate Beto O’Rourke, the Bobby Kennedy of the 21st century, who’s the only one so far I can see taking on Trump and winning. (The four female senators are competent but they don’t inspire even as they aspire to the presidency. And curmudgeonly Bernie Sanders — the Eugene McCarthy of the 21st century — is really the flip side of Trump, another angry, old white guy, except that he’s so progressive he’s not even in left field.)
So Trump’s reelection is no slam-dunk. And neither are the courts. I doubt that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will want the legacy of the Roberts Court to be “We kowtowed to Trump.” And the Southern District New York has indicted Paul Manafort on 16 counts, closing the double jeopardy loophole and ensuring there will be no presidential . pardon — at least as far as the state is concerned.
God bless, New York, a place that new Trump first back in the day. He can, one New York Times poster pointed out, make life difficult for the city that gave him birth and now opposes him. But so what? This is the place that was burned to the ground by the Colonials or the British, take your pick, that was bombed by anarchists in the 1920s. This is the place that survived Osama bin Laden. New York will survive and thrive.
And so the city and state have done what they always do when faced with a challenge: They’ve gone all in. To my friends, to you, I say, Go all in. Don’t be afraid but rather relish taking the next “bite” out of whatever Trump world and life have to offer.