Not content with a mere summer, most of America spent much of the last year angry and discontented over the state of our country. There were reasons one and all had to be unhappy with how things played out in our country last year, despite a solid economy, relatively low crime and no more disasters than normal.
Liberals and Democrats, of course, began the year angry with the unexpected and nearly inexplicable results of the November 2016 elections. The elections, in which an openly racist serial liar and self-confessed sexual assaulter with neither the experience nor the temperament for the job was foisted on them by their fellow Americans. Those fellow Americans apparently considered him preferable to a flawed but undeniably competent and experienced Democratic candidate.
Liberals and Democrats have had little difficulty sustaining their anger throughout the year as the buffoon in the White House continued to lie regularly, relentlessly assaulted the very principles on which America stands and generally displayed absolutely no inclination to try to govern in a way that represents all of America and heal the wounds in our country. Instead he worked very hard at pouring salt in those wounds by attacking virtually everything liberals and Democrats care about, abandoning even the pretence of seeking compromise.
Very liberal Democrats were even angrier, and not just with the buffoon and his minions, because they didn’t even get their guy into the election. They remain convinced that a hard and populist left turn is the only remedy for America, and are infuriated that other Democrats dare to disagree.
Establishment and traditional conservatives and Republicans are furious that they have lost control of their party almost completely to the buffoon and his mob of cheerleaders. Their anger is also tinged by fear that they will be punished decisively by the voters in 2018 and 2020 for allowing the buffoon to take over first their party and then the country.
Even the buffoon and his supporters are angry, despite sitting on top of the political heap. Of course, their anger is a large part of what drove them to victory in the first place. Anger at immigrants. Anger at terrorists. Anger at changes in the world they do not understand and are afraid of. Anger at their uncertain and precarious place in the economy. Anger that the government and the world haven’t given them all they think they deserve. Anger is one of their defining characteristics, and electoral victory did nothing to soften it.
In fact, the buffoon’s anger has only increased since he took office. He’s angry that his poll numbers are bad. He’s angry that the media criticizes him. He’s angry that he is under investigation. He’s angry that even his own staff resists his wild impulses at times. He’s angry that he can’t run the country like a privately held business. And his anger fuels his fanatical supporters.
There are few people (at least among those people who actually care at all about what is happening in the country) for whom anger was not one of the dominant emotions of 2017.
I’m not normally an angry person. I consider anger, in general, to be an unworthy and self-destructive emotion. It conflicts with my personal and religious beliefs to be angry as much as I have this last year.
This is the point where I would normally say something about the need to turn over a new leaf in the coming year, to abandon anger in favor of something more constructive like empathy and compromise.
I find that I can’t.
I can’t because I care for my country and the ideals on which it stands. Ideals of freedom, equality, justice and democracy. Ideals that are in greater danger now than at any time in my life, due to the buffoon and the very dangerous authoritarian and nativist currents in American society that he represents.
So long as that danger remains so clear and so present in America, I find that I need that anger.
We need that anger.
When the buffoon, authoritarianism and nativism have been thoroughly defeated and relegated once more to the backwaters of American political life. When America and its principles and institutions are safe once more. Then we can let go of our anger and begin to heal this country.
Until then I’ll hold my anger.
You should too.