The Other Side of Life: Join or Die

By : Jason Leclerc
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Dear Self,

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, bookended by incomprehensible tweets about Inauguration crowd sizes and climate change, I invite you to look beyond your cynical hysteria and forward to 2018.

I invite you to reflect on the future in light of history’s—recent and less so—actualities. Whether you want to attribute the actuality of Trump’s inertia to lack of vision, to political ineptitude or to strategic design, most of the doomsday scenarios predicted by a combination of #NeverTrump Conservative purists and #NotMyPresident activists still remain in the realm of circumstantial allegation.

I invite you, despite your last eighteen months of naysaying, to join me in a moment of zen reflection. Internationally, historically and domestically the dueling rhetoric that has poisoned our collective mental wellness remains completely out of balance with the actuality of our Union’s state.

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, that’s not on Republicans and not on Donald Trump. It’s not on Democrats or Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton.

Internationally, America’s influence is, at worst, baselined. America’s diplomats are actively renegotiating weak and unfair trade and climate deals. Global trade, except for oil shahs, NoKo pseudo-gods or Iranian terror-sponsors, continues to boom. ISIL’s caliphate is all but decimated. Russia’s influence, which reached its zenith during the last half of the previous president’s leadership-from-behind, languishes. The Holy Land, Central Africa, Latin America and Middle East are no farther from peace than they were under previous administrations.

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, you may have overreacted.

Historically, Americans have elected near-authoritarian POTUSes, and often under the banner of populism. Populism, by its very nature, pushes the boundaries of constitutional rule-of-law. It pushes against courts and establishments. Populism is rabble-roused and transformative; it’s fortunately short-lived. When institutions have become too unresponsive to the will of the mob, the mob has endorsed men like Andrew- “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it,”-Jackson. It’s fallen in line behind habeas corpus-less, rail-splitting Lincoln. It’s embraced Teddy “trust-busting” Roosevelt. These presidents built cults around themselves and pushed the limits of decorum. Generally un-presidential, they redefined what presidential was.

America survived the crises these men inflicted upon the establishment. If you hold atrocities of the current president’s rhetoric up against the lens of history, you see—minus the hysteria—that America has resisted and overcome such precedents.

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, you may have been manipulated.

Domestically, America’s on edge. America’s been on edge before and has survived Civil War, big-city uprisings and economic meltdowns. Americans are in a hyperbolic rhetorical cycle in which the detractors who said George W. Bush was a racist Nazi are now saying the same things about the current focus of their ire.

The rhetoric in 2017 validated victimhood: anti-gay zealots, racists and misogynists have twisted pseudo-Constitutional arguments into complaints that their perceived persecutions are as egregious as marriage bans, gerrymandering and system-endorsed glass ceilings. More obnoxiously, the most powerful man in the world cries victim to a media that mocks him while the cynical media claims victimhood to the petty instigations of the world’s most powerful man.

For all of the grumbling and gnashing of teeth, 2017’s political inertia has yielded very little actual change. Establishmentarians like you should be rejoicing.

Despite a flurry of mostly symbolic proclamations, travel bans have been neutralized, transgender military moratoria have been abandoned, Obamacare survives, federal income taxes for most people reading this are cut and American businesses are suddenly internationally competitive. The worst things about 2017 were hysterical speculations that remain unrealized: no worldwide economic collapse, no treacherous collusion between the Russians and the eventual president, no rounding up of gays, no mass deportation of peace-loving immigrants, no rollback of civil rights, no new wars, the Internet-of-Things persists.

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, that’s because you’ve been concerned with what might happen and not with what’s actually happened.

I’m inviting you to join me as I dispense with the hysterical rhetoric. Join me in advocating common sense spending of our national resources on education, defense and infrastructure. Join me in recognizing the issues that populism validates while tempering authoritarianism in its wake. Let’s bring the perceived motives of our politicians in line with the actuality of their works. Join me in disempowering identity victimhood and instead asserting the power of individuals within a kinder, gentler village of equals. Let’s re-embrace friends and neighbors with whom disagreements grew into estrangements. Let’s live love.

Join me, in 2018, looking forward and not back: fearless, actual and optimistic. You, an admirer of activist spirits, and me, just a radical centrist with conservative leanings, putting hysteria behind us and looking forward to our best year ever.

If 2018 is the best year of your life. It’s because you made it. We made it.



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