Discover more from America, America
In a Sane World (Take Three)
Here are 21 examples of what a better world would look like
Sometimes the cascade of news events can be crushing, a surreal expression of a world turned upside down, a maddening display of so-called leaders who’ve lost their way and are bent on taking the rest of us down with them. Much of this stems from their abandonment of democratic values in their desperate quest to get and keep power by any means necessary. That and their reliance on the darker side of human nature.
What do I mean specifically? Here are 21 examples of what it would be like if we were living in a world that hadn’t fallen off its axis, where the cynical among did not blithely assume that “this is how it is.” In a sane world:
We wouldn’t have a former White House occupant calling for “DEATH” of his former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after news emerged that General Mark Milley spoke to Chinese counterparts in the waning days of the Trump administration to assuage fears of a nuclear attack from an unhinged president.
The news media would recognize the gravity of this violent talk, refuse to normalize it, and ring loud alarm bells about the danger of a deranged man like this ever getting near the levers of power again.
The House Speaker wouldn’t stand by as his members head home just days before an increasingly likely and reckless government shutdown. That same man wouldn’t be so weak that he’s at the mercy of the most extreme members of his Republican party and, in frustration, acknowledge that he’s dealing with “individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”
There would be no Freedom Caucus members or other extremists who stall a stop-gap defense spending bill, endanger the nation’s security, halt the pay of hundreds of thousands of government employees and try to impeach President Joe Biden—primarily for the purpose of assisting a felonious ex-president.
A New Jersey senator who is also the chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, who only barely escaped federal corruption charges in 2017 as a result of a hung jury, wouldn’t be indicted six years later on corruption charges.
Prosecutors wouldn’t have photographs of gold bars, hundreds of thousands of dollars in envelopes inside a jacket emblazoned with the name of Sen. Bob Menendez and a shiny, black Mercedes-Benz allegedly paid to him as part of a bribery scheme on behalf of the government of Egypt.
Sen. Menendez would grasp that such corruption charges are enough to resign from office rather than claim that this is part of “the normal work of a Congressional office” and insist this indictment is influenced by his heritage. (“Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction,” he asserted in his statement.)
Justice Clarence Thomas would plead for mercy or resign after yet more news broke of his massive and growing portfolio of corruption involving gifts from and association with billionaires and right-wing donor networks, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because he cares about the reputation of the once-highly trusted Supreme Court and does not want to further taint its credibility and esteem.
All Supreme Court justices would want to be seen as at least on the same ethical level described in the code of conduct for federal judges, which advises that judges are not to “associate themselves” with any group “publicly identified with controversial legal, social, or political positions.”
An ex-president facing 91 felony charges from four indictments in four different jurisdictions would not be the leading candidate and likely nominee of one of America’s two major parties. That same man, who continues to threaten judges and prosecutors and put at risk prospective jurors, would not remain free to mouth off.
No elected official, including an ex-president, would use his position to incite violence and increase the ongoing danger of stochastic terrorism.
Citizens who believe in performing their public duty would not have reason to worry about their safety in serving as election workers, jurors or librarians.
The memory of Nazi Germany and fascism would be sufficient to make the idea of book banning so abhorrent that no one would even consider pursuing it.
Nazism and fascism would not be fashionable in any circle seeking power.
The murderous, genocidal war in Ukraine would earn the universal rejection of its leading perpetrator, Vladimir Putin, from every elected official in America. There would not be extremist Republicans sticking by Putin and decrying funding for Ukraine’s effort to not only secure its democracy and territorial integrity, but also fend off an aggressor who would take a victory as grounds to expand his territorial pursuit to other democratic nations.
The abduction of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children by the Russians would be enough for every Republican to denounce Putin and back Ukraine’s efforts to win its war. Every Republican would also have decried the taking of refugee children from their families during the Trump administration.
Not even a small minority of Americans would be drawn to white supremacy in order to cope with their own insecurities of and grievance over a changing America. There would be no need to find scapegoats among minorities or other vulnerable communities to blame for their troubles.
An overwhelming majority of Americans would grasp the extraordinary gift democracy is and not risk losing it all to side with self-serving authoritarians.
The history of slavery and racism would be enough to convince every American that turning the clock back is one hell of a bad idea. Politicians at every level bent on denying the study of slavery and systemic racism would be laughed out of office.
A growing number and intensity of extreme weather events would be enough to convince every leader to do what it takes to cut carbon emissions—and no billionaire would be touting heading to Mars as a response to the failure of human society on Earth.
As I stated over a year ago, “some things are so obvious. And yet, here we are, living in a surreal world where…actions are taken and inaction persists no matter how senseless—how mad—much of this may be.” But we need not presume these realities are unavoidable or necessary to tolerate. As I said then, we don’t have to accept that this is “how the world works.”
Not bad advice for the tumultuous year ahead.
If you can afford to chip in $50 a year or just $5 a month for a paid subscription, I hope you will. This sustains the work and gives you full access to the comments sections. You also may be interested in the opportunity to become a “writing friend.”