“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” — Opening of “Tale of Two Cities” (1859), Charles Dickens.
To borrow from Charles Dickens’ classic novel, it is the best of times in the United States.
Stop laughing. Keep reading.
The U.S. economy — by all indices — continues to motor along. Unemployment across the board is at an historical low. Interest rates remain so close to zero that companies continue to invest in expansion, even if on a smaller scale than in previous years. Wages are higher now for most workers and as long as the stock market maintains its bulllish ways retirement accounts will stay healthy.
Ok, enough about the best.
It is the worst of times. See, no rose-colored glasses hanging around here.
Just how bad is it in America this morning?
Tonight a man — the current occupant of the White House, Donald J. Trump — who has been impeached for abusing the powers of the highest elective office in the country and for obstructing a congressional investigation into his illegal and criminal behavior will stand in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber and deliver his version of the state of our union. It will be seen by millions of Americans.
That’s right, Trump — know far and wide by many sane and intelligent folks as “Don the Con” — will be front and center unleashing his brand of reality heavy with lies and misrepresentations designed to promote his reelection effort later this year. He’ll most likely brag about how he’s going to be acquitted — he might even invoke one of his favorite words (and lies) exonerated — of the “false” charges filed against him by Congress concerning interactions with Ukraine.
How much worse can it get than having a criminal lying to Americans about his view of the quality of life as truly representative of what’s happening in cities and small towns across our country?
Not much. Only his winning another four years in the White House on November 3, 2020 could qualify as lower than the lowest point in our nation’s history during the past three years.
Let’s borrow more words from Dickens.
It is the age of wisdom in the United States. Again, stop laughing. Look beyond the fools on the hill, Capitol Hill, that is, where Republican lawmakers will ignore damning evidence of wrong-doing and find Trump not guilty on the impeachment charges the day after his State of the Union blarney.
Evidence that we’re living in an age of wisdom exists beyond Washington, D.C.
American wisdom has stood tall during the last 100 years. Technological advances developed by fellow country men and women now impact our lives daily. Information on just about any topic imaginable is at our fingertips in a matter of seconds. It took only a few clicks on a laptop computer to secure a copy of Dickens’ opening sentence to his classic tale about the haves and have nots in his world.
New business concepts designed to improve life for many Americans launch fairly frequently as the nation’s vibrant economy enters its eleventh year of sustained growth. Higher education is no longer limited to campuses heavy with brick and mortar buildings that create high-ticket tuition and room and board bills. Today anyone can earn a college degree or learn a trade from some of the most highly-touted academic and technical institutions our country has to offer.
Wisdom is available all around us like never before.
Enough waxing wise: Foolishness remains abundant from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters and all places inbetween. It runs rampant throughout the White House courtesy of the current occupant, Trump.
It has been spread across the country by his enablers in Congress, partisan media outlets such as Fox News and corporate executives and their minions whose pockets were lined with large infusions of cash to their personal savings and retirement accounts thanks to a massive tax cut that was supposed to benefit the average worker.
Images of foolishness are abundant. How about the one where Trump stands alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin — the leader of a longtime sworn enemy of our country — and says he believes Putin is telling the truth when he says that Russia played no part in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Why is that foolishness personified? Because all of our government’s highly-trained intelligence officials and the international intelligence community to a person told Trump earlier and often overwhelming evidence exists that Russia helped swing election results in his favor.
Or how about the one where Trump shakes hands with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un while television cameras recorded the event.
Why is this foolishness more than personified? Trump bragged at that time he and Jong Un had reached an agreement whereby North Korea would no longer pose a nuclear threat to the world only to find out a few months later that Jong Un was still test-firing rockets that could carry nuclear warheads that could reach the west coast of the United States.
The age of foolishness includes a political leader, Trump, who lies on a daily basis to create his version of reality. He spins it and sells it to an unsuspecting public. Across the country his lies and misrepresentations — more than 16,000 since he took office — divide the country. Families and friendships have been torn apart simply based on the nonsensical ravings of an unstable mind.
Unlike Dickens’ tale, ours today is about two countries occupying the same land mass on the global map. In Trumplandia, citizens — Trump enablers and believers — are celebrating their “spring of hope,” to borrow one more line from Dickens. In America — patriots from all political, ethnic, religious and sexual walks of life — are working through their “winter of despair.”
The opening sentence of “A Tale of Two Cities,” reviewers have explained on numerous occasions, points out a major conflict between family and love, hatred and oppression, good and evil, light and darkness, and wisdom and folly.
Dickens, they contend, begins this tale with a vision that human prosperity cannot be matched with human despair. He, in fact, tells about a class war between the rich and the poor. He also tells of a time of despair and suffering on one hand, and joy and hope on the other.
More than a century and a half later the vision his words provide remains relevant. Prosperitey and despair can not coexist in our country given Trump and his Republican lemmings determination to win the conflict at any cost. The rich, as far as they are concerned, will rule the day.
Joy and hope for those challenging this vision of America’s future need to organize like never before. They need to campaign long and hard during the next nine months if there is any hope to keep the dream alive that our founding father’s created more than 240 years ago.
Joy and hope can be found in a government representing “we the people,” people who “in order to form a more perfect union” will toss out a tyrant, a wannabe dictator and reach across the divisiveness that currently weakens our republic to embrace all Americans from all walks of life.