Acting and Reacting

Malignant populism found its moment with the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Whether that moment becomes a lifetime remains to be seen, but indications increasingly suggest it will last at least that long. Trump’s brand of populism continues to metastasize into what I am afraid may already have become a terminal disease. Democracy—already fragile from decades of abuse as a civic bludgeon, rather than a method of vesting the power of government to the governed—is morphing into a totalitarian tool. Both ends of the political spectrum are guilty of having used it to advance their narrow views of how society should function. Blame does not belong solely to the right wing fringe; it is shared equally by the left, which has been just as insistent on behaving in “my way or the highway” mode. Compromise could have served as an antidote to extremism, but both sides refused to relinquish their “principles” for the good of the people.

Many years ago, when I read the dystopian political novel by Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here, I remember thinking, “no, it IS possible,” but also thinking how incredibly unlikely it would be for the scenario to play out.  Trump’s defeat in 2020 did not end the march toward totalitarianism. In fact, the mindless support he and his henchmen still enjoy today suggests the struggle is, in many ways, just beginning. Today, open talk of civil war—usually by people at opposite ends of the current political debate power struggle—offers an eerie similarity to the novel’s story, in which civil war rages on.

Just like the gullible public in It Can’t Happen Here, today’s unsophisticated Trump supporters blindly long for and accept his and his followers’ promises of a “return to” patriotism, traditional values, and economic prosperity for the mostly blue-collar underclass. I wish I felt optimistic that the struggle might end peacefully and without authoritarian rule by economically powerful overlords, but I do not. Those with ready access to unthinkable riches and unchecked political power will, I fear, impose their totalitarian control over everyone else, including their most ardent supporters. Those supporters will not understand—that what little power they had has been taken away—until it is too late.

And on that cheery note, I launch into the first Tuesday of what may be the final tragic year of the remnants of democracy in the USA.


If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.

~ Louis D. Brandeis ~


Switching gears (because otherwise I will empty a few bottles of hydrocodone and slit my wrists), when I fell asleep last night, I was imagining upgrades and changes we might make to our new house.  New paint throughout the interior, new light fixtures inside and out, new ceiling fans, pressure washing the exterior, painting the paintable exterior trim (excluding, unfortunately, the hideous vinyl siding, which should be illegal), and various and sundry other updates and upgrades were on my mind. My imagination works a lot faster than my hands or my pocketbook, so realistically the process of transformation will be a long one. But, now that the holidays are behind us, we will get in gear to begin the undertaking. I have no idea when we will be able to move into the new house, nor when I can finish preparing my current house for sale. But it won’t be too awful long. I hope. I am anxious to move on with the next stage of my life. Even though COVID-19 is making travel extremely inadvisable for now, we may eventually be able to hit the road a bit, but not until the new house is sufficiently habitable. Oh, it is “habitable” now, but not sufficiently so to make me want to call the movers just yet. That will take some time. In the interim, perhaps dreaming of what I want the place to look like will work as sleep aid. Aside from two or three trips to the bathroom during the overnight hours, I slept reasonably well until a quarter after 5. I felt like I was sleeping in.


If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

~ C. S. Lewis ~


Yesterday, I had a follow-up appointment with my oncologist. This morning, I have an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. Tomorrow I have to drive to Little Rock for an optional recall matter on the Subaru (something to do with the “on call” emergency button, etc.). Too damn many obligations getting in my way of working on the house!

Enough of this. I need to eat breakfast, take a shower, and otherwise prepare for whatever this day brings.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Acting and Reacting

  1. Marjorie McCleskey says:

    John, (this got lost in the shuffle)………….shouldn’t be slimy, we have vinyl siding on 3 sides of our place, and other than having to have all the pollen periodically power washed off, it’s been maintenance free. Ours is 25 years old, so possibly so maybe that’s why ours isn’t slimy??? ;))

  2. Marjorie, because it’s vinyl. I assume most, if not all, vinyl siding like the stuff on my “new” house is just as flimsy and unattractive. Its appearance is almost slimy, as if related to a monstrously ugly salamander.

  3. Marjorie says:

    “Hideous vinyl”, because of the color or because it’s vinyl?

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