It was little more than six months ago.

Competence, compassion, civility.  A deep knowledge of history.  Respect for democratic norms.  Science.

With “45,” our luck appears to have run out.

As smarter minds than mine have noted, it’s important to remember “it’s not normal.”

. . . The idea, [Amy Siskind] said, came from her post-election reading about how authoritarian governments take hold — often with incremental changes that seem shocking at first but quickly become normalized. Each post begins with: “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.” . . .

More than most years, Tuesday would be a great day to re-read our founding documents (“When, in the course of human events, . . .” “We, the people . . .”) . . . and such treasures as “Ask not . . .” and “I have a dream . . .” both of which you surely know . . . his letter from a Birmingham jail (that you surely know of) . . . “We, the people,” reaffirmed in 2013 . . . and what has been called “the second bill of rights.”

It’s that last one, from 1944,  that came to mind as I read this note from one of you just now:

John Grund: “Some years ago, a friend and I were walking on a downtown street when a homeless man came walking the other way.  My friend said, ‘Did you know he’s part owner of the Statue of Liberty?’  I was stumped for a moment, then replied, ‘Right, like we all are part owners of the Statue of Liberty.’  Over the years, that example has stuck with me. I work at an investment bank, where ownership of assets — and the privileges of owners — becomes a religion. I keep getting stumped by the example of the homeless man: If he owns an equal share of America, from the highways to the parks to the aircraft carriers to the public buildings, why is he destitute? Why is the owner of a share of America destitute, while the owner of a share of America plus a run-down duplex gets enough to live on?  I hear the recipients of public ‘safety net’ benefits, including subsidized health care benefits, described as ‘moochers,’ ‘the undeserving poor,’ ‘people who don’t understand how capitalism works,’ and worse. Why not describe them as ‘owners’? Does that change how the arguments sound? I think it does — it makes the safety net seem like a small, probably inadequate, way to give them a proper dividend on what they own.  There are a lot of reasons to think that people have a right to health care — religious reasons, moral reasons, ethical reasons, practical reasons. If a person finds none of those reasons compelling enough, perhaps the fact that every American is an owner will be convincing.”

In the meantime, the Republican Party struggles mightily to shift hundreds of billions of dollars away from often-desperately-needed health care to a place they believe it more properly belongs: the brokerage accounts of people earning millions of dollars a year.

Have a wonderful weekend.



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