Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Enjoy this time—but keep paying attention

It is prime time for locals. The slowed down tourism, the crisp fall weather, a full bank account after a busy summer, the opportunity to engage with an open backcountry all make living here so easy right now.

But do not stop paying attention to the outside world.

Many of those in the Crested Butte bubble ignore what is happening outside of this valley. Many here look at Donald and think no one will vote for the guy given his questionable ethics, sloppy style and crude behavior. They’re wrong. Now, I’m not one of those whose mind explodes every time Donald says something weird or stupid. I look at him as a greasy entertainer who thrives on fear but knows how to work a room and communicate to his people really, really well. He can actually say things that make me laugh. 

As for policy, Donald is just doing pretty much what he said he would do on the campaign trail and to hell with the real world outcomes. He is attacking the environment, immigration, renewable energy, global trade, any moderation in judicial appointments, U.S. allies, those who disagree with him even minutely in the political realm. He said he wouldn’t be like those that held the office before him. He got that right. I don’t like most of that but to me it is no surprise or worth acting shocked. But he and his people are crossing new lines that to me seem on the verge of the treacherous.

Donald is obviously super-thin-skinned with an ego the size of the Permian Basin and that is a bad combination. I have never liked his bullying, his love of money more than air or willingness to fleece tax dollars for his personal business gain. But what’s truly dangerous is that some who work for him feel the need to protect that ego over the welfare of this country.

It started with a joke. The whole hurricane deal was bizarre. Donald made a mistake that was corrected right away by scientists. Fair. We’ve all been there. He could have said “oops” or even just ignored it but no…he heard a snicker and had to prove he was right when he was wrong. It didn’t matter in the big picture but Donald just couldn’t let it go. It was a joke until his obsession tainted a thing not ever meant to be political. It was a joke until it resulted in his minions twisting fact to fiction to appease the Great Leader. It was a joke until the sycophants of Donald started threatening people with their livelihood if they didn’t lie for the Great Leader. So they did. And the sycophants then ordered the scientists to never again contradict the president…no matter what. It may not feel like it matters while hiking the Budd Trail beneath golden aspens but it’s no joke.

Reports state that Secretary of Commerce and Donald toady Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top employees at the federal agency responsible for weather forecasts last Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted Donald’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama. So the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement Friday that was a lie…meant solely to pat Donald on the head and assuage his Sharpie-scribbling, toddler ego. That doesn’t sound like a big deal but that’s f’d up. That’s Kim Jong-un material.

It’s not the funny obsession of the vain man-child who seems petrified that some people tittered when he made a simple mistake in saying a storm would go where it wouldn’t—it’s the fact he can’t admit it was a mistake and his fanaticism to make people say they believe something they know not to be true. And more important, it is the flatterers who take up his claims and repeat them and those in charge who threaten to fire the honest people that contradict the lie. That is the danger—the danger that a democracy based in institutional character is eroding because of a TV ego and his cronies. And don’t fool yourself: Even here in the high mountain bubble, you are impacted by an eroding democracy.

It is a danger when the Great Leader sics the Justice Department on automakers who don’t agree with his war on the environment or when he creates a voter fraud commission to certify his absolutely bogus claim that more than five million people illegally voted for Hillary and against him in 2016, or demands the Treasury Department declare that tariffs truly hurt only China. It’s on the dark side of sanity when the Great Leader uses government institutions to make him feel omnipotent.

For the talented TV performer to start believing his shtick and bend others to his will is the danger. It feels as much Kafka as Orwell. That is what we need to pay attention to in these strange times when trusted government organizations begin to bend to the ego of a TV guy who loves the power (more than the responsibility) of the presidency.

And frankly, if the Dems running for president don’t figure out soon that most Americans, especially those “swing voters” that determine the election, want fair opportunity and not giveaways for anyone who happens to be on U.S. soil, Donald will easily slip back into the Oval Office.

Go out and enjoy these fall days in the high mountains. They can help clear your head and refresh your soul. That is important. But pay attention to what is happening to your nation—and remember to vote.

—Mark Reaman

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