“The buck stops here.” —Harry S. Truman
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” —John F. Kennedy
“I don’t take any responsibility at all.” —That guy
I’m old—so old I remember when we celebrated George Washington’s birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday as two separate holidays. Now we only get one. What a ripoff!
At least that’s what I thought until I Wikipedia’d it. Turns out only some states—my home state of Connecticut being one—celebrate Lincoln’s birthday with a day off. It’s never been a federal holiday.
What the heck?
I guess you never stop learning. My original plan today was to write about how cheesy it was that the government consolidated the two holidays into one. But that never happened.
Nope, I just moved out of Connecticut—where, presumably, they still celebrate Honest Abe’s birthday with a well-deserved day off.
About That Whole Presidential Power Thing…
So now that my original Presidents’ Day post idea has been derailed by my own ignorance, what am I even going to write?
Well, I immediately started to wonder, why wouldn’t President Lincoln be celebrated with a federal holiday? And then I remembered: there have always been many racists in many states, and people who actively celebrated Lincoln’s assassination—just as there were many who celebrated when Kennedy was assassinated. Of course Congress wouldn’t honor Lincoln with a federal holiday.
Even as we try to recover from the PTSD inflicted on us over the last four years, we still continue to grieve. Even as we try to feel like there will be some kind of return to normalcy with good ol’ Joe in the White House, this past weekend brought a stark reminder of the worst presidential power can do—a lawless, amoral monster, even after he’s out of the official seat of power, still remains above the law.
Not guilty, they said. And so it goes.
What Will Our Recovery, If Any, Look Like?
And now, lurching into a future where the presidency has been perhaps hopelessly sullied—far more than we’d ever imagined in our worst Nixonian nightmares—what will a recovery look like? Is one even possible?
For the far-right diehards, there’s no such thing. The present is already a dystopian hellscape, littered with the triumphs of communism and socialism (what’s the difference, right?), and the future looks bleak.
For the far-left, center-left, center, and center-right—in other words, for those who still haven’t lost their minds completely—I guess we just have to hope for the best.