“To 2017!” I said, raising my first cup of Joe of the work year.
“Are the Cubbies still champs?” asked the bearded workingman behind me, wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a light blue “W.” “That’s one good thing,” he said.
The 2016 Cubs were truly “Big League,” but with 108 years between World Series wins, a lot of Cubs fans wouldn’t mind a long winter. And there are at least 3 million more Americans who are more apprehensive about January 20th’s inauguration than applauding it. Nevertheless, I’m optimistic 2017 will bring opportunities for Cubs fans and the rest of us to be better humans.
It’s troubling the first thing Congress tried to do this year was to gut the Congressional Ethics Committee. Then our own county commissioner, Woody White, apparently wants Shane Fernando’s job as executive director of Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts venue, the Wilson Center. Disagreeing upon Whoopi Goldberg’s June show—which was announced last week—White took to social media to renounce the comedian’s politics and seemingly attempt censorship by questioning tax-payer’s dollars bringing her here (which, by the way, our dollars aren’t paying for her fees, according to Fernando). Liberals don’t whine when Charlie Daniels, Kid Rock or Ted Nugent perform, even at publicly funded colleges.
There are questions about the competence and commitment of the person who will take the oath of office a few days after the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day. In contrast to the life of service embodied by Martin Luther King, it will be our 70-year-old president-elect’s first oath of service to anything other than himself. It may be a saving grace he intends to be a part-time president, remain producer of “Celebrity Apprentice” and wave off other possible conflicts of his business interests with an arrogant, “I got this.”
It’s ironic that following two successful administrations of the first African American president and days after celebrating Martin Luther King’s life of service, we will inaugurate a privileged white male that rode the “birther” movement from Howard Stern’s sleazy radio studio to the White House. The silver-spoon salesman from New York City always has sought the limelight but hammering the racist “birther” conspiracy is what gained him national traction and helped bully his campaign to the Oval Office. The largest faction of Trump voters were lukewarm supporters who despised Hillary. But many of his most ardent idolaters are much more comfortable with the supremacy of any “Great White Father” over a person of color or a woman.
What does this say about us?
We celebrate Martin Luther King because he was a committed Christian minister who “spoke truth to power” his whole life. What does it say about us that we will inaugurate a Yankee carpetbagger whose campaign supporter website sold souvenir cut-rate Christmas ornaments, and a commemorative Christmas “Big League Tee Shirt,” with the bold pitch to: “Make sure your Christmas is Big League this year, Friend. Complete your Christmas list right now with a gift celebrating the 45th President of the United States—Donald J. Trump”? (I registered with the Trump/Pence website to read campaign materials and make an informed decision in November.) Is the Trump-brand website’s ongoing “deal of the day” and cheap Christmas ornaments celebrating Donald J. Trump (not Jesus) truly “Big League”?
That’s not a fair question. It doesn’t matter whether the president-elect is Big League as long as we have the courage to up our game. I actually don’t think Trump ever expected to win and is in way over his orange toupee. Unlike Mitch McConnell’s explicitly stated desire to have President Obama fail, I hope the president-elect succeeds in his transition from salesman to civil servant.
I’m not joking.
As much as I love John Stewart, satire’s effectiveness is limited. Ridicule won’t help. Neither will idolatry and blind obedience. The president-elect and the rest of us all will benefit most from relentless, principled and compassionate opposition to destructive ideas—and from becoming better humans.
Trump already has made me a better human. He has forced me to question some sacred cows. (Question, not kill.) By inquiring I tend to align far more closely with the principles of Martin Luther King than with those of an incoming president and his administration of corporatist elites. I don’t intend to spend four years whining about Donald J. Trump, the person. I intend to work, focus, recommit to core enlightenment principles that include “morality trumps money,” “equality trumps exploitation,” “wisdom trumps ignorance,” “reasoning trumps tweeting,” “freedom trumps fascism,” and of course “love trumps hate.”
2017 is gonna be Big League!