I find myself glad I live in Key West the closer we get to the swearing in of the new President. I have tried to give as much benefit of the doubt to Donald Trump as I feel I can.Yet he is turning into a figure that wavers between being extraordinarily inconsiderate of the tremendous responsibilities of office and being amazingly unaware of what being President involves. Living in the Keys gives me the opportunity to side slip the reality of the kleptocracy to come. My job, my benefits, my employer (the city) which makes a fine living off the extraordinary economy that powers this town, all this means I am on the sidelines when it comes to the wholesale destruction of the safety net that appears to be just over the horizon for those Americans who voted for Trump to restore their quality of life.
I had hoped Trump might have taken his mission to revamp Washington seriously and I wondered if he might hire bright technocrats to run the government, people with knowledge, above party politics, but we seem to find ourselves led by a mixture of rank opportunism and breath taking lack of awareness. I am retreating deeper into the things I like, looking around at his town filled with color and life; vibrant in winter in ways not many North American towns can be. Architecture, plant life and my camera fill kmost of my thoughts.
I look back over Key West's history of much suffering and hardship since 1828 mixed with good times and ebullience, and I feel as though we are coming off the good times and entering a phase of deep uncertainty. I like to think I can ride political uncertainty out here, surrounded by people who just don't give a damn, who play music and argue passionately about nonsense and who fish, and drink Cuban coffee and speak Spanglish and don't care who knows it. Having a President allegedly pay to have prostitutes pee on a bed once occupied by a political rival may seem profoundly unnerving in most of North America but it's the sort of oddity that I like to think doesn't merit the label "perversion" in Key West. No on was hurt by it and maybe Trump, if he did it, felt better afterwards.
The deeper we burrow into the madness of a Trump presidency the less certainty there is on our reporting. Fake news! is the watchword if you prefer not to believe something. Everything now is unknowable. Russian blackmail? Ties to the KKK? Murder? Lies? Truth? Who knows. we seem to be slipping onto a vortex of no certainty at all. I find that more scary than a Trump presidency. Even if one is tied to the other, I no longer know who or what source to trust.
I think there will be a lot of repairing to do in the years ahead. At some level I am disappointed I am headed toward extinction by way of retirement before the full import of the next few years of social upheaval will be righted. Perhaps this is a good thing as the last presidency of the Baby Boom generation seems likely to pave the way for a Gen X presidency led by a human who understands the technology of the world we live in. No more will we live through presidents unable to control their e-mail...I shall watch from the sidelines.
If Paul Ryan wrecks my retirement I shall soldier on in the most pleasant of towns to work in. I can go on answering 911 for as long as I have to to make up for the fractured promises of a government that needs to eliminate social security to pay for tax cuts. Key West will be compensation enough, Cuban coffee, extraordinary light, strange people, turquoise seas and a camera.
In a week we will know more. Bumpy rides ahead I fear for those of us not members of the lucky sperm club. Our inheritance may be the burden of failed promises.