Monday, December 12, 2016

Fellow Commandantes,

It has been a while -- a heartbreaking while -- since our last blog.  Internet availabilities in New Hampshire are unreliable and intermittent, and until recently I was submerged imaginatively in drafting a new novel, Treacherous Intimacies, which its few literary readers insist is going to take its place quickly as the American Madame Bovary.  Several publishers are looking it over at the moment.  When it is out there, you will know.

Another reason I have laid back throughout the summer was the fact that The New York Times seemed to be letting the sawdust out of Donald Trump and the sociological renegades lunging along behind his banner, so why me too?  Trump had no shot, I assumed, although Hillary seemed to me to be presenting herself in less than compelling fashion -- smug, by-passing the rust belt, where all those unhappy white laid-off workers might decide the election, belting forth liberal cliches in that strident, grating voice.  Her basket of deplorables?  A worse put-down of voters she would need than Mitt Romney's 47%  freeloaders aside.  I will not mention the pantssuits.   Early in the Clinton administration I had been in the room when Hillary and her sidekick Ira Magaziner blundered into the process of drafting a bill for effective universal medical coverage, which Ted Kennedy and Jay Rockefeller had well in hand, and left the entire initiative in shreds for a generation.  What had four years as Secretary of State produced?  Still, compared with the prospects for a Trump regime....?

With the Trump takeover less than a month from now I find my apprehensions even deeper than I expected.  Most alarming to me is the recurring evidence that several of those presumptuous youngsters advising Trump expect to continue waging their war on reality  As the lead editorial in yesterday's New York Times pointed up, Trump and his people don't merely challenge unwelcome information.  "There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore, as facts," one of them asserted.

Ours is a science and technology-based civilization, which means that pretty much everything that we are and manage to accomplish is based on measurable reality, empirical facts.  Epistemology permits our engine to run.  To abandon this requirement in favor of whatever happens to serve Donald Trump's momentary purposes amounts to cultural suicide.  How this works out was displayed in the dictatorships of the last century, when the likes of Hitler insisted that Germany would rule the world if only she exterminated her Jews.  The Slavs?  Degenerate primitives, incapable of a reliable technology -- until an ocean of Soviet T-34 tanks rolled over the Panzer Divisions at Kursk and crushed the Third Reich.

Donald Trump brings to our politics the same ominous pattern of self-delusion.  Climate change?  A hoax.  The evidence that more Mexicans have left the United States during the last ten years over the Rio Grande than have stolen across?  Poppycock, build that wall!

Nothing guides us better than the truth.  Nothing guarantees failure like self-deception.  We have now taken the bait, and we are about to start paying the price.

Keep every flag flying.  This too shall pass.

Burton Hersh