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Bottomed Out

It was our old friend Bill Shakespeare who wrote, “The worst is not/ So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.’ (King Lear).

I’m not a Shakespearean scholar, but I think this phrase means that in life, you can’t recognize the low point until you’re past it. The nadir is visible only in hindsight.

Indeed, how many times have we said that our team can’t keep losing, or that we can’t drop any farther into debt, or that the neighbors can’t blare their horrible music any louder than they do?

And then all those things just keep happening.

On a cultural level, how often have we said that gun violence can’t get any more horrific before a real change in our laws occurs? And how many times have we shouted that the blatant racism so many Americans endure cannot be tolerated any longer?

And then all those things just keep happening. 

So it’s worth considering if Trump has reached the limits of his repugnance. Does ripping children away from their families, and then locking those kids in cages, constitute the worst thing that he has done? 

For a man whose stomach-churning misdeeds are too plentiful to count at this point — and whose behavior at times seems like a heavy-handed liberal satire of an evil Republican — well, yes, this seems to be the worst thing so far.

But remember, we also said that about Charlottesville, which seems almost quaint in retrospect.

In any case, it’s difficult to imagine a more inhumane, sociopathic, un-American act than the administration’s policy of separating families. More than 2,000 children have been yanked from their parents, an action that many doctors say can lead to lifelong trauma.

And for what purpose, exactly?

Apparently, it’s the White House’s way of getting tough on illegal immigration (despite the fact that native-born Americans are a bigger threat than undocumented people). Or it’s an effective deterrent (despite the fact that it’s not). 

Or it’s a negotiating tool, which is mind-boggling in its cynicism and indifference to human life. Or it’s all the fault of the Democrats, a pathetic excuse that volleys between grotesque lie and a feeble passing of the buck. 

No, there really is no good reason for this change in policy. It is nothing more than the Trump Administration’s wild careening toward increasingly far-right policies, combined with an urge to appeal to its nativist base, mixed with the president’s well-documented hatred of Latinos, all topped off with Trump’s disdain for compassion, decency, or any of those weak, crybaby emotions.

It is exactly what many liberals feared back in November 2016. And it is exactly what so many rage-filled bigots voted for. And it is the absolute worst.

Which all means that the worst is yet to come.

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