Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Washington Condition and the Neglected Armpit

By Bob Ferris

My life seems to be a metaphor.  Why?  I recently tripped over a campsite fire ring which I could not see in the dark because I was blinded by a bright fire at a nearby camp.   My one-point landing sent me immediately to an Emergency Room and caused me a bucketful of pain. Turns out crashing to the ground can cause a Type III shoulder separation.  Now dressing myself is a nightmare and I cannot clean my left armpit adequately while showering because my right arm is impaired.  I am a sad, lop-sided soul and completely reflective of the current state of the US body politic under Trump.

How can I say this?  The parallels are simply inescapable.  My right shoulder is a relative small part of me yet it seems to impact all aspects of my life.  It intrudes.  It causes me great discomfort.  My sling affects my balance, bunches my clothes and often prevents me from getting past half-mast with my pant’s zipper.  All make me an object of pity and derision. (Starting to sound familiar?)

Need more?  How, for instance, is the flood of Alt-Right and Russian fake news any different than the yard-high flame that stopped me from seeing the pending peril underfoot?  How too was my disoriented assessment of my relative condition following the fall dissimilar than where we find ourselves now buried under near constant shovelfuls of scandal? Luckily for me there were two ER nurses nearby to help and calm me, but the US body politic has nothing like that.  We are saddled with ends-justify-the-means ostriches who are supported by a chorus of evangelicals calling on demons to attack dissenters. (Of special note here is the sharp contrast between those rushing to the aide of an injured stranger in the dark versus those wanting to strip health care and societal support from the most needy in the light of day.)

Shoulders and our system of government are both the complicated.  Shoulder separations are all about the ligaments that hold the collar bone (clavicle) and shoulder blade (scapula) in place and near the shoulder socket not unlike the US Constitution’s role with the legislature, judicial and a executive branches of our government.  My monumental faux pas materially suspended that function.  It does not seem difficult at all to make the argument that the Trump election has similarly stretched and in many cases ripped the legal and legislative ligaments of our nation.  And while George Washington made it clear that he did not aspire to be king or emperor, Trump is much more Napoleonic in his desires. Perhaps this is why Andrew Jackson hangs now near the Oval Office desk rather than the Father of our Country.   

My sense is that this country was formed to protect us from three basic threats: abusive rule by an entitled elite, undue corporate influence (think Boston Tea Party), and a Church too fully participating in governance.  Setting all the other noise aside our structural “ligaments” need to protect us from these fundamental threats.  My healing and the course of treatment for the US body politic need to start and end with the restoration of original function.  For me that means a long road of rest and physical therapy—perhaps surgery.  Parallel actions need to be taken for the US body politic and there is no doubt that they will take work, be messy and be frequently painful. There is also keen certainty that these actions are necessary.   

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