The daily (sometimes hourly) dispatches from the Trump White House and/or GOP-controlled congress are horrific and overwhelming. On this Fourth of July, it feels as though there is so much less to celebrate and be proud of, and that is such a depressing thought.
I recently found two things that helped by re-focusing on something that I have long believed: that what we read and listen to and watch on TV forms and shapes us. And so we are responsible for managing who and what we give our attention to. Here is how I have taken back my responsibility.
- I have stopped following Trump’s tweets. I started following them during the campaign. They seemed to be newsworthy and some said the tweets were an evolution in media akin to Kennedy’s use of TV. History will tell if that is true. In the meantime, the content of his tweets is appalling and shameful and fouls my mental environment. I am no longer giving them my time or attention.
- I have started watching reruns of The West Wing. The 7 season series is available on Netflix. After each episode, I listen to a podcast called The West Wing Weekly — a weekly 1 hour-ish show hosted by Josh Malina (Will Bailey on WW) and Hrishi Hirway. They offer a fascinating commentary on each episode with lots of backstory and historical context and often guest interviews with actors, production folk, or people with real world information about issues raised in an episode.
In watching the show, I am reminded of the things that once made me proud. I am reminded of all those who regarded public service as a high calling and who served at great personal cost to themselves and their families. I am reminded of Presidents who inspired others to do better and greater things to advance the common good. I am reminded of Presidents and members of Congress and staff who took mutual respect and civility for granted, even when there was disagreement. It feels good to be reminded of these things.
Perhaps the message here is that for as long as we have to swim in the stink of Trumpworld, it is our responsibility to maintain our own sense of what is right and fitting for publicly elected officials and for ourselves as ordinary citizens. We cannot continue to Resist if we let ourselves and our expectations sink to the low levels of Trumpworld. We need to keep up both our expectations and our spirits. We need to Resist and keep our hearts and minds unsullied and healthy. The West Wing is helping me with both.