Well, here it is: 2017. And anybody entering this new year who is optimistic about the state of things in America and around the world is by definition a Trump voter. The rest of us have forebodings out the kazoo — no few of them having to do with the man whose two most famous resolutions are to build a wall and to make American great again.
The outlines of the wall are already evident. The problem is that the one Trump has already begun to construct is not the one he promised to build between the U. S. and Mexico. That one, we suspect, will remain within the boundaries of myth. We doubt that the GOP barons of privilege who rule Congress will sacrifice the revenues needed to finance that boondoggle — unless they can conjure up a way to siphon tax dollars to various well-connected construction companies. No, the real wall is the barrier the soon-to-be-president of all of us has erected between the separate parts of this nation. When Time magazine gave the Huckster-in-Chief his due, naming him Person of the Year, it referred to him on the cover as "President-elect of the Divided States of America."
That's about right. And the division is not just the one exposed in the widening electoral rift between the blue states of the two coasts and the red states of the hinterland, but between those of us who trust in some form of verifiable reality and those for whom such a regard is beside the point. Like the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Though the Looking Glass, the Donald can say "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." And said twice as many more.
Can Trump really believe, apropos his loss of the popular vote by the grand total of nearly 3 million voters, that that formidable gap consisted entirely of "illegal" voters? Does he have any evidence to support that, or his famous claim that climate change is a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese? Or, most recently and notoriously, that the entire intelligence-gathering apparatus of the government he is about to head is mistaken in its painstaking conclusion that the Russian government engaged during the election in internet hacking on his behalf?
It is this last assertion, along with Trump's dangerous and foolhardy reliance on the good faith of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, that exposes the sheer presumption of his campaign slogan about making America "great" again. There is nothing great or even tolerable about the concept of hitching our nation's future to the whims of a despot who even now is bringing death and destruction to innocent civilians in Syria, undermining the independence of his neighbor nations, and doing his best to undermine the historic shield of NATO.
There is a silver lining, and it goes by the name of bipartisanship. Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are now touring the threatened nations of Eastern Europe in an effort to reassure the worried populations and governments there that America will not forsake them. There are glimmers of hope, too, that there are enough concerned Republicans in Congress to join with Democrats in thwarting the more reckless domestic plans of the new president.
The statement was often made, after our nation had passed through the ordeal of Watergate, that "the system works." We suspect it's in for another test now — a big one. Happy New Year, and buckle your seat belts.