Robert Green Ingersoll was a prominent and influential Republican during the second half of the 19th Century. His eloquence and brilliance helped elect presidents; his ideas were beacons that guided many to appreciate, protect and expand human rights. A colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War, a distinguished attorney and a famous orator seen and heard by more Americans than any other until the advent of radio, Ingersoll helped citizens rally behind the First Amendment. He was the enemy of clergy, politicians and others who supported superstition—slavery of body or mind, the very idea of blasphemy, Sunday Blue Laws based on religious piety and church/state separation transgressions. He championed the rights of children, blacks, women, immigrants and anyone that laws and customs made servile or less than equal to the right and powerful in terms of guaranteed rights. In summary, Ingersoll was a powerful spokesperson for democracy, equality, science, reason and human freedom.
And, believe it or not, he was a Republican. Most Republicans of his era, including Lincoln, surely would abhor what the Party has become. Ingersoll’s Republicanism would have been more suitable for Bernie Sanders than Donald Trump. Now the Republican Party has taken an even darker turn, one that does not bode well for wellness lifestyles founded on reason, exuberance and liberty.
Thus, some might wonder: What do we do now? How best to deal with the coming kakistocracy, or a government by the worst persons—a pile of excrement, if you will. We are witnessing a justified outbreak of coulrophobia, that is, fear of clowns (not fear of Ann Coulter), due to the election outcome. We are reminded, as was Roger Cohen in a New York Times piece Sunday (mmmmmm) of H.L. Mencken’s warning: As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. Of course, Trump is no moron. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s assessment is far more accurate, it seems to me: I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one. Mr. Cohen suggested Bloomburg might have used the phrase, gifted charlatan, instead. (Source: Roger Cohen, New York Times, The Opinion Pages, The Man Who Would Not Be President, November 18, 2016.)
For starters, let me suggest two simple strategies: 1) Recognize the dangers of most concern; and 2) develop personal strategies to deal with each. (Be sure to choose concerns over which you can exert at least an iota of influence.)
Dark Moon on the Rise—Strategies Applicable to Two of My Concerns, Among Many
Next to thermonuclear Armageddon, more theocracy and less freedom are my biggest worries about the steady rise of the shadow of gloom on the horizon. Our secular constitutional Republic, at present, affords a generous measure of free speech, rights to assemble, equal opportunity and separation of church and state. However, theocrats are advancing on the White House, the House and the Senate—and nothing stands in their way. They will soon have a majority on the Supreme Court, since the ninth, tie-breaking justice will be chosen from a pool of Christian jurists on record favoring a lower wall of separation, and restrictions on reproductive rights such as expressed determination to reverse Roe vs. Wade. That’s just the start—there are over 100 federal court vacancies.
So, what to do if, like me, you can’t take solace in the supernatural, in miracles via a series of Hail Mary hopes of desperation? Does anyone believe that somehow, as the cast of Hamilton pleaded, Pence and company might uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. That’s a form of prayer—and what is prayer but talking to yourself? (If I thought a superpower needed my advice and was listening and disposed to grant favors, I’d pray for Trump’s health—because right behind him is play-goer Pence, an evolution-denying creationist whose professed loyalty is to Christianity, conservatism and the Republican Party, “in that order.”) You might remember his support, as Governor of Indiana, for a religion-inspired law that allowed businesses to discriminate against gays and others, such as atheists, if providing service to such people offended one’s Christianity. He signed another bill making abortions next to impossible to obtain. Like Pence, the Republican Party about to take over is on record in favor of a national voucher bill granting tax funds for religious schools. While prayer strikes me as the greatest time waster ever conceived by man, I just might try a little anyway—for Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s health.
The second thing that most concerns? The appointments the President-Elect has announced. Like Steve Bannon, for example, soon to be Senior White House Counsel and Chief Strategist with unfettered access to the West Wing. Bannon has railed against the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) for trying to stop a Texas county from displaying In God We Trust stickers on patrol cars, a nativity exhibit at the state Capitol, Christian crosses on police patrol cars and the Clemson football team (a public University) for a wide variety of public displays of religiosity. Leaders in the new government believe global climate change is a hoax, creationism should be taught in public schools and (tax-exempt) churches should be free to promote political candidates. Oh, the horror.
It’s true, I’m afraid: Science was on the ballot November 8—and it lost.
Forget fleeing—New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Liechtenstein—they’re too far, their language is hard to understand and they don’t want Americans, anyway. Would you, if you were in their place? After all, we’re citizens of the country that just elected Donald Trump, Mike Pence, a Republican Congress and state houses and legislatures that will be overwhelmingly Republican. It does little good to protest, to fall back on the lament that Hillary won the popular vote. Doesn’t matter—we’re guilty, and the decent thing is to live with the shame. Let’s do what we can to salvage, protect and defend the Republic. Besides, it’s only four years. That’s the first strategy—don’t run. Stay, adapt and fight—peacefully.
The second strategy is to make it difficult for the buggers. Support organizations that promote science, separation of church and state and human rights—make generous donations to organizations that have the leverage and capacity to slow the rate of national descent, such as FFRF, the Center for Inquiry, Americans for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberty Union, The Secular Alliance. Give to worthy causes that protect choice—make a gift to Planned Parenthood in honor of Mike Pence.
And, just for good measure, here’s a third personal strategy for staying well mentally and physically—be kind, have fun, look for new ways to be happy and in all manner of ways devote more attention to your REAL wellness lifestyle. Eat better, exercise more (unless you’re already overdoing it) and try not to write snarky essays critical of the Republican Party. And, of course, look on the bright side of life.