If I say it is so, best you believe it.
CS&W is mostly about travel. Life-fulfilling, experiential, aspirational stuff, usually. Most of the time it’s about the world outside the United States, and many readers live outside this country.
There is no reason people outside the US should follow our country’s daily internal politics, but I think you should know that just now it’s a bit of a fraught moment. The other day, President Trump said this about the North Korean leader:
“He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head,” Trump told Fox News Channel. “Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
Modest note to the president: We are not your people.
Later, this from Mr. Trump:
“I’m kidding,” he said. Admonishing the journalist, the president added, “You don’t understand sarcasm.”
Adam Serwer writes in the Atlantic,
“It is (a) flaw in the American system that it relies on the presumption that the chief executive will be a person of sufficient integrity not to abuse that tension for personal gain.”
He’s talking about the
“inherent tension in America’s constitutional system in that the attorney general, the head of the Justice Department, is also a Cabinet official answerable to the president.”
In defense of the American system, it took 200+ years to throw up our reigning rascal.
We Americans define ourselves in many ways. Diversity is our country’s robust strength. We are conservatives, liberals, citizens, grandparents, parents, children, patriots, military veterans, immigrants, activists, protesters, bread-winners and retirees, political supporters and opponents.
But I am hard-pressed to imagine anyone who would consider himself a subject of the president in the way North Koreans are to their leader, and in the way that the American president described us “sarcastically” to his house organ.
Diminished respect for the rule of law and general thuggishness in this country chime with the lived experience of Europeans this 2018. To Poland (Law and Justice), Hungary (Jobbik), Austria (Freedom Party), Italy (the League), Finland (the Finns), the French Front Nationale, Germany (The AfD), Greece (Golden Dawn), England (UKIP), this summer we may add USA (Republican).
The retiring chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said his own party is acting like a “cult” in kowtowing to the president. The ruling party’s leadership though, astride the trough and damned well intent on retaining wallowing rights, won’t hear of it.
From far away we Americans read about the rise of European nationalism as a clinical, academic thing, a phenomenon unrelated to our purported world dominion, our whole reigning former unipolar, indispensable nation thing.
You poor uncomprehending Europeans systematically mishandle your refugees, among them the ones that come via Libya, a now lawless land we were happy to lead from behind to help you destroy. Not our problem now.
We float above petty squabbles like that whole Libyan lead from behind thing. We mightily beat back the challenges of invading hordes of impoverished brown people on our southern border seeking a better life. An agency of our government called ICE, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been systematically and as a matter of policy separating would-be immigrant parents and children at the US/Mexican border. Many of these people are fleeing some of the most violent, lawless countries in the world.
In a country avowedly proud of the separation of church and state, here is America’s senior law enforcement officer, Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week:
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
Later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders summed up the same idea: “It is very biblical to enforce the law.”
We are fast coming off our deteriorating and underfunded national rails. Most alarmingly, it looks like this comes with at least the tacit support of at least a large minority of Americans.