Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Profoundly Troubling and Tragic Indictment


. . . and an Opportunity for Transformation

Jim Morin's "Devils' Bargain" (above), depicts House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump making a deal as they shake hands. It's a powerful political cartoon, wouldn't you say?

I'll come back to it in a moment, but first I want to explore the events and actions that inspire it by sharing the words of a writer I greatly respect and trust – my friend and fellow blogger William D. Lindsey.

William (pictured at right) recently shared via Facebook an erudite response to a February 15 Salon article by Heather Digby Parton. In this piece, Parton examines the "unhappy choice" facing congressional Republicans as they and the rest of the country watch as the Trump White House "spirals into crisis."

Writes William:

As Heather Digby Parton rightly suggests, with GOP leaders, it will be their agenda – not their country [that they'll choose]. She writes, "Allowing a president to blow up the world is a small price to pay in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy, am I right?"

With Republicans at present (and for some years now) it is all about – and only about – accountability to their corporate masters, to the 1% and their agenda of destroying government as a check on their rapacity, rolling back taxes, and robbing the rest of society to put more wealth into their already chock-full pockets.

GOP leaders showed us just how much they cared about the country through their relentless, barbaric attacks on the Obama administration for two terms, and their refusal to govern – to be ethically aware adults.

As they engaged in those attacks, they maliciously, deliberately spread lies among the stupidest and meanest segment of the population, people who have no inkling of how they are being used by the 1% as they vote repeatedly against their own economic self-interest in order to score points against the gays, women, immigrants, African Americans, liberals, intellectuals, etc. This deliberate, malicious creation of a culture of outrageous lies disguised as news has brought our democracy into crisis, and it's not apparent it can recover, now that those stupidest and meanest among us have, at the behest of the 1% put the ultimate con-artist-cum-traitor in the White House.

In exploring the dilemma that congressional Republicans are facing, Parton highlights a recent New York Times piece by Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer in which they observe the following.

[T]he Republican-controlled House and Senate seem to have made a collective decision: They will accommodate – not confront – [Trump's] conduct as long as he signs their long-stalled conservative proposals on taxes, regulations and health care into law.

“There’s a widely held view among our members that, yes, he’s going to say things on a daily basis that we’re not going to like,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking Senate Republican, “but that the broad legislative agenda and goals that we have — if we can stay focused on those and try and get that stuff enacted — those would be big wins.”

Which of course bring us back to this post's opening image – "Devils' Bargain" by political cartoonist Jim Morin, an image that serves as a profoundly troubling and tragic indictment of the state of political affairs in the United States in 2017.

And yet . . .

And yet I remain committed and hopeful.

I remain committed to carrying it on; "it" being the passionate embodiment of hope, awareness and love in a world dominated by political and economic systems that far too often heap contempt on such qualities and their embodiment by individuals and communities.

And I remain hopeful in this endeavor, this journey . . . and take heart from many sources – from the music of Buffy Sainte-Marie to my involvement in local justice and peace actions; from the creative endeavors of contemporary visual artists such as Courtney Privett to the ancient words of wisdom and beauty of those who have gone before us on the mystico-prophetic path.

Another source of hope and inspiration for me is Sikh activist and filmmaker Valarie Kaur (right) who believes that the troubling and tragic times we're living through comprise a moment to seize, an opportunity for transformation.

“What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead but a country that is waiting to be born?” Kaur asks.

Writer Miles Kampf-Lassin believes that one month into Donald Trump’s presidency, we may well be witnessing the type of transformation envisioned by Kaur. It's a transformation writes Kampf-Lassin, that is "being made in the streets and among the grassroots of America."

I close by sharing an excerpt from Kampf-Lassin's February 17 In These Times article, "The Mass Protests of the Anti-Trump Resistance Are Starting to Win. Here’s How." May you find it as encouraging, hopeful, and energizing as I do.


The nationwide Women’s March on January 21 was likely the largest demonstration in U.S. history. Since, major cities have been overtaken by daily protests against Trump and the GOP’s agenda.

More mass marches are planned for the coming months, including a March for Science on April 22, the People’s Climate March on April 29 and an Immigrants’ March on May 6. Members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, have had their phone lines, emails, offices and town hall meetings flooded by incensed constituents.

Dozens of grassroots political groups have formed, including the fast-growing Indivisible, focused on citizen lobbying of lawmakers, and Swing Left, founded to support progressive candidates running in 2018. Existing left organizations have seen their memberships swell, perhaps most remarkably the Democratic Socialists of America.

Divestment campaigns such as those targeting investors in the Dakota Access Pipeline are gaining steam, using direct economic pressure to influence policy.

Despite the lack of singular leadership, a protest movement has rapidly developed, one unseen in recent history. It’s showing no signs of slowing – and scoring real victories.

. . . [Yet] so far this new protest movement has been primarily oppositional, responding to attacks posed by the new government. Any program to win power must also set out a bold vision of a different kind of society, one focused on the needs of working people that serves as a true alternative to the type of racist and corporate-dominated agenda currently being carried out.

If we are to see a “new birth” of this country, it will require not just a common enemy, but common principles and objectives that will advance equality and freedom, guiding the current upsurge of activism from marching in the streets towards implementing progressive policy that cuts to the heart of a fundamentally unequal economic and political system.

Yet, it is becoming clear that the shock of seeing Trump elected president – and shake the foundations of our democracy – has quickly moved beyond outrage into mass, coordinated protest.

Rather than simply asking, “can he do that?” Americans are more and more starting to ask themselves, “can we do that?” This is the form of inventive thinking, awakened by resistance to a demagogic leader, that can begin to chart a new direction. The next steps are up to us.

– Miles Kampf-Lassin
Excerpted from "The Mass Protests of the
Anti-Trump Resistance Are Starting to Win. Here’s How
In These Times
February 17, 2017

Related Off-site Links:
Out of Darkness, Light – Conor Lynch (Salon, February 18, 2017).
Learning to See in the Dark Amid Catastrophe: An Interview With Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy – Dahr Jamail (TruthOut, February 13, 2017).
Ayahuasca, Meditation and Activism: On Cultivating the Mindful Politics of Love – Adam Szetela (Salon, February 18, 2017).
It’s Bad: The First Month of the Trump Presidency – Michelle Goldberg (Slate, February 17, 2017).
The For-Profit Presidency, Month One – Robert Weissman (Common Dreams, February 20, 2017).
Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A., and the Republican's Bargain with Trump – Amy Davidson (The New Yorker, February 17, 2017).
Republicans, Where’s the Backbone? – Bill Moyers and Michael Winship (, February 20, 2017).
Beyond Cynicism: Why the GOP Made Peace with Trump – William E. Scheuerman (The Daily Beast, February 15, 2017).
Republican Congress Members Face Tide of Protest in Home Districts – Alan Yuhas (The Guardian, February 12, 2017).
Donald Trump, the Republican Party and Their Supporters: Where Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds – Allen Clifton (Forward Progressives, February 19, 2017).
This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are – Dave Johnson (People's Action Blog via Common Dreams, February 18, 2017).
Resistance Is an Act of Love – Katie Painter (Extra Newsfeed, February 14, 2017).

UPDATE: Why Republicans Dutifully Defend Trump's Most Ridiculous Lies – Paul Waldman (The Week, March 27, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Carrying It On
Andrew Harvey on Radical, Divine Passion in Action
Called to the Field of Compassion
Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention
In the Wake of Trump's "Catastrophic" Election, Phillip Clark on the Spiritual Truths That Will Carry Us Forward
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
2000+ Take to the Streets of Minneapolis to Express Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"
Let's Hope So
"It Is All Connected"
Move Us, Loving God

Opening image: "Devils' Bargain" by Jim Morin.

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