The story of America often doesn’t match the reality of it. For millions and millions of people that is true. But that does not mean it is unimportant. Stories don’t reflect reality. They give us a tool to make sense of it. They tell us as much what should be as is. They tell us what makes sense, how to make sense. More than what is they tell us what is possible.
The coming of Donald Trump is an epic attack on the story of America. It is an attack on the soul of this country.
The story above is of an interview in which a White House official says we should not care about people who, he says, “have brought it upon themselves.” Aside from his ignorance of diabetes the fact that he would relegate a large part of this country to suffering and agony when afflicted with a disease we have the ability to treat is startling. It is way past cruel and ugly.
By that taxonomy you have a list of good and bad preexisting conditions. If it is your “fault” your problem. You have medical care based on some perverted ethical code providing the foundation of medical care. It would provide the rationale for a system that would systematically make poverty and need a lethal disease.
That story is far from the only one. Everyday there are new stories of ideas that once would have been dismissed as ridiculous and stupid as having serious claims as good policy and practice. There has become a new industry of apologetics for meanness and cruelty as reflective in some kind of weird way of the best principles of liberty and freedom.
It would literally redefine common sense in uncommon and inhumane ways. It would define not caring about our fellow man as an expression of the best of us rather than something we must fight against. It would give new justification, new rationale to those willing to defend their rights, their position, their power by any means necessary. It would cloak ugliness and dirt in holy garb.
It is not only in health care. Jeff Sessions would have us put poor people, particularly poor black people, in jail for longer and longer periods of time.
Across the whole area of public policy is an attempt to “make sure that people who brought it on themselves get what is coming to them.” It basically operates as a rationale, an excuse, for the continued systematic and chronic injustice and denial of access to life sustaining resources that are part of the daily experience of millions of Americans who are in anyway different. “It’s their fault.” The Nazis used the same justification on the Jews.
The ultimate catastrophe of Donald Trump goes beyond his idiotic policies, his egocentric ravings, even his lies and criminality. Trump is a threat not just because of who he is but because of who he would have us be. He is an attack on the American story. He is an attack on the notion of justice, on the value of compassion and on the commitment of this country to a better life for all its people.