Article Image Bretigne Shaffer


Speechless in 2017

Written by Subject: Future Predictions


It's been a weird couple of months. I've seen more people unfriend each other on FaceBook than in the past few years combined; There have been several reports of both Trump supporters and minorities being physically attacked; I've been asked to wear a safety pin to proclaim to the world that I am not a racist, because the presumption now is that everyone is a racist and you have to (secretly - only not so secretly) announce to everyone if you're not; and the senior editor of ThinkProgress is afraid of his plumber. (This, based solely on whatever profiling techniques they use over at ThinkProgress - "…a middle-aged white man with a southern accent who seemed unperturbed by this week's news." - rather than anything resembling a conversation with the man.)

Here's the thing: I'm a libertarian. I've been surrounded by people who don't agree with me for as long as I can remember and it has never occurred to me to isolate myself from everyone because of our political differences. Certainly not to assault them. Nor am I filled with anxiety by the thought that people who work in my home might have different political views than mine. To me, you're all a bunch of fascists. But I've somehow learned to live with you.

For me, watching people unravel over this election has been instructive. The - yes, I'm going to say it - bigotry of many on the left, in their caricaturing of Trump supporters, has never before been so blatant. Nor has the jaw-dropping, mass-hypnosis level of selective partisan-driven outrage. I understand that a lot of people are worried, upset, even frightened over the prospect of a Trump presidency. Good. They should be. But they should have been worried eight years ago, or at the very least, four years ago.

I was worried four years ago. And I was worried eight years ago. I tried in vain to get my Obama-supporting friends to see what I saw, but with very few exceptions (which I appreciated, thank you) I was met with silence, accused of mean-spiritedness or just told that I should "give him a chance" (did I have a choice?)?

I was right in all but one of my predictions for the Obama administration, by the way.

So in case you (like some of my friends) somehow missed out on what's been happening over the past eight years, let me catch you up:

1. We no longer have a Fourth Amendment, nor the right of habeas corpus (you remember: it was kind of the foundation of our justice system). Yes, the demise of these fundamental protections has been a long time coming, but President Obama delivered the death blow when he gave himself (and all future presidents) the right to imprison indefinitely or even assassinate any human being on the planet with no due process whatsoever.

Number One should be enough. Any normal person should look at the first item on this list and say "OK, I guess that's a little bit worse than making fun of a disabled reporter." (And I say this as the mother of an intellectually disabled daughter.) But, because I know it won't be enough, I'll continue…

2. Obama has bombed more countries than George W. Bush did, and his drone strikes have killed more than six times as many people as those under Bush, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (killing unintended victims 90% of the time.)

3. He has given himself (and all future presidents) the power to wage war without Congressional approval.

4. He has greatly expanded the mass surveillance of American citizens.

5. He put in place a statist health insurance mandate that has sent insurance premiums skyrocketing.

6. He has continued the same brand of crony capitalism and debt expansion of the previous administration.

7. He has deported more than 2.5 million immigrants - more than any other American president in history.

8. After running on a platform of more government transparency, he has presided over an administration more hostile than any other to whistleblowers and a free press.

9. Police brutality has not abated, nor has the mass incarceration of Americans (and especially black and Hispanic Americans. Maybe it's only "racism" if the president is a white Republican?)

10. Did I mention he - and all future presidents - now has the legal right to kill anyone on the planet, including American citizens, with no conviction, no charges, no semblance of due process at all. Did I mention that?

??Yes, there have been other things. There have even been a few marginally good things. I applauded when Obama commuted the sentences of hundreds of non-violent drug offenders (though I also wondered how that news went down with the rest of the more than a million non-violent prisoners who won't be getting out), and I cried happy tears when he commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. These are undeniably good actions. But they are "good" in the same sense that flowers from an abusive spouse are good. They don't even begin to make up for the bad.

So as I watch my friends and thousands of other Americans gather together to protest the inauguration, I find myself a little speechless. It cannot be that all of these people only see evil when it wears the other team's uniform. It cannot be that they are more upset by offensive speech than by a man claiming the right to kill any human being on earth at his whim. These things simply cannot be. And yet it sure looks like they are.

I love my friends. I share many of their concerns (or rather, it seems they have recently come to share some of mine) and I don't think less of them because of our political differences. But after eight years of deafening silence about these concerns, their newly discovered outrage has no credibility with me.

So I'll wish them well on their road trips to D.C. or whatever other cities they're protesting from, and hope they all stay safe. And I'll try not to gag too hard when I see their social-media status updates gushing over the Royal - sorry, "First" - Family and lamenting the departure of the man who has given Donald Trump the power to put any one of us on a kill list. As for me, I'll be watching from home - completely, utterly, speechless.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Charlie Patton
Entered on:

"It cannot be that all of these people only see evil when it wears the other team's uniform. It cannot be that they are more upset by offensive speech than by a man claiming the right to kill any human being on earth at his whim. These things simply cannot be. And yet it sure looks like they are." Yes. I'm sorry, but what you have outlined is 100% true. This is why I do not let the political desires of these people (who represent not just half of America, but the vast bulk of it -- there are many on each "team") influence my outlook or behavior in the slightest. I suggest you take the same approach.