“Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance. Everybody thinks it’s true.”
Paul Simon wrote some righteous lyrics. Somehow this song of Simon’s, evoking the sadness of failed romance, comes to mind today on the eve of the new U. S. president’s inauguration. America’s 45th.
Twice I voted for the 44th. Back in 2008, you could almost say it was romantic. An infatuation. I saw in him my own fervent hopes for the nation, deluding myself into thinking we were at the dawn of what before I’d dismissed as my pollyanna-ish notion of a post-racial, post-partisan era.
By 2012 things had changed alright. Albeit in surprising and profoundly disturbing ways.
Now I think I see Obama in a realistic light. Whatever his failings or foibles, he was in it for all the right reasons. He was utterly well intentioned while alternately effective and ineffectual, at home and abroad. He could be, for me, wrong-headed — and condescending to boot. But he was always unfailingly decent. Hey — a rare two-termer with no major scandals!
Now comes his successor who could hardly be more different by way of background, sensibilities, temperament and, judging by his tweets and cabinet nominees, his values and his judgment. How Trump will actually perform in office … who knows?
To say I’m worried is an understatement. I’m hanging my hopeful hat on two thoughts. (1) He who makes a fetish of unpredictability has the potential to (pleasantly) surprise. And more than any recent president, Trump owes nothing to no one. Which can spell opportunity. (2) A narcissist will worry about his place in history. Thus at some point Trump may want to rally, as opposed to merely rile up, voters — with an eye to doing something (positively) historic. A guy can dream, can’t he?
I’m anxious to learn what tone President Trump sets tomorrow.
Going back to the old Paul Simon song, here are the last lines:
“What is the point of this story? What information pertains? The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.” Amen.
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Stop, Go, Murder