In his poem, “The Second Coming,” poet William Butler Yeats wrote,
“Turning and turning in the widening,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
In our great and beloved United States, it seems that things are indeed falling apart; the center of who we are supposed to be – a democratic republic – cannot hold…and too few of our erstwhile lawmakers are willing to do anything about it.
It has been troubling and frightening to watch the past three weeks with the new administration in Washington. There have been many things that have caused a feeling of “mere anarchy” sneaking into the White House and therefore into the country, but the biggest and most troubling of all that has happened is the unveiling of the apparent width and depth of the administration’s relationship with Russia.
In our history, Russia has never been a friend. Vladimir Putin, while apparently adored by the new president, has not proven to be a trustworthy or admirable leader. Our president thinks he is a strong and noble leader, but all that we have learned about his leadership says more that he is a thuggish autocrat, a former member of the KGB who has little interest in anything other than his own personal agenda and quest for power.
There used to be a time when America feared Communists and Communism. The great competition was, it seemed, between which political system would be “the greatest,” capitalism or communism. We, this nation, pushed for capitalism, the bedrock on which our democracy was built. Being friendly to Russia seemed out of the question; even appearing to accept the precepts or ideas of a Communist leader was sure way to be ostracized in the United States.
But this new president seems oblivious to the history of Russo/American relations. He seems not to care about the reports that Putin is a ruthless man who exerts absolute authority in Russia; in fact, our president seems to think that that makes Putin a “strong” leader, something admirable.
From the observation deck, it seems like Putin is playing the new president like a fiddle. He has picked up on the need for attention and compliments this president has, and how easy it is to manipulate the president by merely showing support. Putin is not a stupid man, and he knows how to work people in order to get what he wants.
What is most troubling is that so many Americans are silently watching this, with no pushback. Supporters of the new president have been willing to give an excuse for every single thing that has been done, saying, “Give him a chance.” They seem oblivious to the confusion his leadership style is causing; they are wresting in the messages of racial hatred and fear he is stoking, and they seem unconcerned about how dangerous it feels for our nation to be cozying up to a long-time foe.
It feels like America as we know it is slipping away. Former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev said, “it feels like the world is preparing for war,” and it indeed does feel like that, but too few Americans care about it.
Republican lawmakers for the most part, are silent and seem oblivious, again, to the threat to national security that this situation seems to be brewing. The battle cry of the campaign that that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton breached or threatened national security by using her personal email account to handle some state business. Republicans called it a crime, and held hearings which seemed endless. They questioned Clinton and doubted the answers they received about what happened in Benghazi and basically labeled her a criminal, worthy of imprisonment.
The chant was “lock her up.” We all remember. We will never forget.
And yet, the Republicans for the most part are strangely silent and still supportive of this man in the White House. They seem extremely reluctant to hold hearings to press for the truth about what is really going on and what has been going on for a while with this strange relationship between the president and Putin. Sen. Mitch McConnell says there’s no need for an independent hearing; “We know how to do our work,” he said, and Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, which relentlessly went after Clinton, says his committee will not conduct a hearing to find out more details about recently-ousted National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.
Things are falling apart.
While his administration reels in the aftermath of bad decisions, decisions exuding racism and misogyny at worst and poor internal organization at best, the president has resorted to name-calling, writing tweets to condemn the journalists who are bringing all that has been happening in the dark to light.
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md) said in a press conference that hearings need to be conducted. He said this is not a partisan issue. “This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue,” he said. “This is an American issue. We are fighting for the soul of American democracy.”
Others are noticing what is going on and, like Gorbachev, are expressing grave opinions. General Tony Thomas, who is head of the Military’s Special Operations Command, said, “Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon because we are a nation at war.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/politics/trump-white-house.html)
“Things are falling apart; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” wrote Yeats. The late Nigerian author Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart tells the story of the tragic fall of a nation and its leader. It feels like we in these United States are about to experience the same pain.