Our free fall into tyranny isn’t going to stop by itself

Dear President Trump,

Delays be damned, right? Oh, I forgot – your Treasury Department is so nimble that the staff can retool their whole printing process, from home no less, so quickly that they’ll still be able to get checks out to the poorest Americans by early next week, which is only 5-ish days after the planned Thursday mail-date. And, really what’s a few more days of hunger? They’re used to it, right? And surely getting a check with your name emblazoned, branded on the memo line is worth the wait.

WTF?

There’s no point asking what is wrong with you because the answer is painfully obvious and rhetorical questions are rarely useful for anything. Besides, this checkers-move was so predictable that what’s surprising is that any retooling needs to be done, that it wasn’t a given from the get-go that your name, your brand would appear on the checks. I bet you were pissed when you found out that it wouldn’t work to have you be the virtual signer of the checks – that would have been such a better propaganda move. “Look honey, President Trump himself signed this check to us. Do you think it’s coming out of his account? It says US Government Treasury right up here at the top, but OMG, he signed it – what a guy!”

Gag me.

And, even though your signature is relegated to the memo line, it’s still a pretty brilliant political brainwash tactic – I do have to give you that. Plus, it’ll be that much easier for Treasury to make that other spatially tiny but financially huge adjustment when it’s time to just cut your name from the memo line and paste it into the “To:” line, huh? Ok, I do understand that when billionaires are benefiting from covid-19 crisis or any other tax breaks they generally aren’t getting actual checks from the Treasury but rather they themselves aren’t cutting checks to the Treasury and are holding onto way more of their wealth. Still, though, the basic idea is valid – you’ve manipulated this public health disaster so that you get to look like the generous prince of a leader who is handing out completely inadequate but still large-looking checks while Jared stuffs bills down the back of your pants. Slick, sick moves.

And how convenient for you that we still can’t take to the streets in protest.

Last night Laura shared George Saunders’ latest New Yorker piece, Love Letter, with me. The veiled dystopian near-future he paints is chillingly familiar for sure, but the resigned, yet sympathetic, narrator is far more disturbing in both his familiarity and the gauntlet he throws down for the reader. The narrator recounts having written his two semi-protest letters and having sent money to (implied) liberal candidates but he wasn’t one for agitating too loudly, what with his full-time job, family responsibilities, and chronic dental issues, and besides, even with the benefit of hindsight, he’s pretty sure that there was nothing that he, personally, could have done to stop the unnamed you and the unnamed yours. Essentially, in the self-protective haze of his recall, the unnamed you were all unstoppable. Really. Truly.

And here we are today, in our dystopian present, with a POTUS whose list of shit moves for the week, so far, includes, but is not limited to, not so veiled threats of firing the country’s primary public health advocate, hijacking relief checks, and just in today, threatening to adjourn Congress so he can continue stacking the courts and to signal that he is in charge and can do whatever the hell he wants. And what am I doing about all of this? Sending money to Biden, writing you yet another letter that will do nothing to stop our free fall into tyranny, and finally, pushing myself to figure out how to up my game and amplify my voice so that I don’t have to look back in 5, 10, 20 years and know that I choose comfort over conviction.

May we see that our democracy is in grave, grave danger.
May we be willing to leave our comfort zones to save it and ourselves.
May we tap whatever reserves and strengths we have before it’s too late.
May we not make peace with complacency.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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