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Letter to the editor: Beware Trump’s careless words

Words are the primary way in which people make themselves heard. Beware the careless and cavalier use of words. Quoting William Bryson, “The urge to switch from the subjunctive to indicative, (hypothetical to literal), is, to paraphrase Alastair Fowler, always powerful.”
Mr. Trump intends to fire the head of the Fed, even though he can’t. He sat calmly with the President and later announced bizarre appointments. He’ll make the working poor and the 1 percent Great Again, a promise of spectacular proportions, and a subliminal threat. How far backwards does “again” imply? Propriety is well beyond his field of vision. 
The third letter in USSR stands for Socialist, which as a product of the latter half of the last century makes anything remotely connected to Socialism appear dangerous at best. Our partners in commerce, the Chinese Communist-Capitalists, illustrate a uniquely North American dilemma. “Money trumps principle.” We still hate Socialism, which is ironically confused with Communism, but in the case of Communism we make allowances so iPhones don’t cost so much.
A grad student should conduct a study. Interview everyone in America. Discover where they obtained their opinions. When false “news” appears in surprising amounts, don’t be surprised. The foreign sources for much of this “infotainment” is not always subversive. A teenager in Ukraine inventing facts for Facebook can make more money than a doctor in Delaware, a fact that might be stretching the facts. Voters have probably been more duped than hacked.
Those who would pack their truck with grandma’s rocker and head west, leaving their place of birth, have a valid concern about food. Unlike the Okies, they’ve been fed a record number of fabrications. If Jesus walked on water, The Donald can make greatness out of anything. Do not underestimate the power of starvation.
Had we, early in the game, put Hillary’s history, the bad and the ugly, into a crate, put her and the phones in there as well and shipped the whole mess UPS off to the moon, we could have been spared the agony, the conspiracies, the sordid distractions, the absence of clarity. Washington without Clintons would have been to some extent relieved.  
Unfortunately, this left us with the loyal opposition. Whatever part of the brain rejects Mrs. Clinton should probably stay awake long enough to consider a Trumpian world. Bombing and radiation are a terrible thing.
Keeping that in mind, he builds casinos and golf clubs … and maybe a wall. He likes beauty queens and TV shows … and above all other narcissist-misogynists, admires himself. The Donald was fine with David Duke. Then he was less fine. He was practically Russian. Then he wasn’t. He seems unimpressed by nuclear war. He enrolled in military school and is therefore greater than a general, according to himself. He owns an army of lawyers, who shield us from the unseemly side of business, which is, of course, none of our business. He’s not actually Republican, according to Republicans. Those who refer to themselves in the third person are often not who they say they are. It’s hard to know where he’ll go on Roe v. Wade. “I like women. Believe me. I know women better than anyone. Trust me. I can tell you. I have wives who are women. I know. Believe me, I’ll make women great again.” There may be more substance and certainty found in a vacuum. 
Nationalism and vulgarity, malice and sinister alliances provide little security, and are consistent with historical misfortunes. Prepare for an unraveling, for shouting and silence, for tear gas and barbed wire, for an amoral wasteland of ego. It’s happened before.   
Of course, liberals lack an appreciation of guns. We can’t rebuild a Ford transmission or skin a deer. The hunting of people, and being hunted, may have left some of us disinclined to take up arms, to continue the hunt. It made us wary of neo-cons and conspiracies, ineligible for phobias and anxious to compromise.  
Left leaning people, you might say, are mired in guilt. They take empathy to a whole new level. In there somewhere is “political correctness,” which is easily maligned. Manly men find PC behavior a sign of weakness. Rejecting correctness, however, leaves the door open to incorrectness, a potentially ugly place.  
Blind Justice, we assume, is granted impartially. It’s in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. We’re almost all created equal. A man rides his bicycle on the sidewalk, clearly ignoring the common good. Two policemen observe from across the street. There’s the usual chain of events … detention, questioning, searching, cuffing and arrest. There’s bail, which is well beyond his means. He’s locked inside, misses work, gets fired and evicted … for riding a bike. That doesn’t happen to people like us, riding our bike wherever we please.
Empathy, even without religion, is more essential than most people think, if we hope to survive as a species. Acquiring empathy doesn’t come naturally, especially if we’ve never known anything other than success. People like me, who have more stuff than I need, think my stuff was earned, when in fact, it took more good fortune than ability, more luck than perseverance. Successful people give themselves entirely too much credit. It makes them feel good.
The things I believe are often grounded in ignorance, of which I remain unaware unless or until someone tells me or I’m informed. It’s entirely too comfortable, thinking whatever I choose to think. That’s a problem shared by everyone except Watson. He’s a computer.
The President-elect has a firm grip on crude tenacity, a less than useful tool. Berated naïve liberals are called upon to inspire humility and compassion in our otherwise cynical leader-elect. (Draining an actual swamp is a poor analogy, ecologically, and a bad idea.) 
If nothing else, our mothers taught us to be nice. We should be grateful for that. If decency skips a single generation, it might be lost forever. Among all the nasty vitriol, nice people could become extinct. Aside from nuclear destruction, the vulgarity of our discourse, how we treat each other, could be the last great legacy left by a President.
Alexander Lyall
Middlebury

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