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Where are the Grown-Ups?

Nicole Jeffords 9 months ago

I’m just a writer and painter living in Austin, Texas and I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut, but it’s time to speak out. Where are the grown-ups, I keep wondering. Where are those safe, elected officials I remember from times of yore when I was a child growing up in the fifties who all seemed like airline pilots because you felt you could trust them, put your life in their hands? Where are they?

Where are all the grownups?

Photo credit: Southwest Air pilots, Liz West

My parents fled Hitler Germany so I know a little about this scenario we’re seeing unfold before our eyes. We have a man about to enter the White House (though he would prefer to rule from his gilded tower; one has to wonder what sort of racism that may imply) who is dangerous. We can all see that. It’s not the elephant in the room. The perils of a Trump presidency have been widely written about – tweets, memes, articles, opinion pieces, warnings – but no one, not one person, has done anything to stop him. And so I ask again: WHERE ARE THE GROWN-UPS???

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My grandmother, Alma, and my mother in Hamburg, Germany, before they both had to flee for their lives, my grandmother to Cuba and my mother to New York.


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My two great aunts, who never did harm to anyone, were put on a train and sent to Auschwitz, where they perished.


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My parents, Gustave & Franyo Schindler, who both escaped Hitler Germany with a stroke of luck.


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My Great Uncle Harry who fought in WWI

Surely the Republicans in Congress who aren’t sycophants sucking up to Mr. Trump and scared for their lives and political futures if they put a foot wrong, surely those saner Republicans are talking among themselves, wondering what to do, just as most of us who have followed this nightmare situation develop are wondering. Because you guys in government (Republicans and Demoncrats alike), I’ve got to tell you, we’re all wondering where our sane leaders are, and who is going to come forward and stop this dangerous man who lies, steals and cheats without the slightest flick of conscience. We’re all wondering and waiting.

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Looking at history, we see the points when Hitler could have been stopped. Looking back on Trump’s rise to power, we will all see the moments when he could have been stopped… and wonder why he wasn’t. We will wonder what happened to break our great democracy’s spine. And you – the Democrats and Republicans who govern now, and members of the Electoral College who will be asked to do your job and vote your conscience on December 19 – will ultimately be held responsible because you are the only grownups in the room with the power to stop him… perhaps much in the same way a drug addict or alcoholic is stopped through intervention. So let me put plainly to you what you already know but don’t seem able or willing to do anything about:

Mr. Trump does not have the education, experience or temperament to do the job. To the contrary. He does exactly as he wishes, a narcissist unable, ever, to divorce himself or his own interests from the situation at hand. He is so thin skinned and puerile that the slightest affront will send him on an adolescent tweet storm. And he lies. He lies constantly. Is that who we want at the helm?

Too many conflicts of interest. Mr. Trump has his little fingers in so many big pies all over the world that he cannot possibly govern impartially, without a thought to what benefits him. This should have invalidated him from the very beginning, but somehow he was allowed to run.

He has put in places of power people who are questionable in terms of experience or agenda, in each case like putting a fox in the hen house. I will name only a few: Steve Bannon of the alt-right, in my opinion, the spider in the middle of Trump’s sinister web, a self-proclaimed Leninist who would like to see big changes in this country, changes that could destroy us. Rex Tillerson of Exxon who’s a little too cozy with Vladimir Putin for comfort. Jeff Sessions who carries the faint but detectable whiff of racism wherever he goes. Betsy DeVos, a billionaire who doesn’t believe in public education although that is exactly the department she will oversee. How about neurosurgeon Ben Carson who knows zilch about housing? Shall I go on?

Mr. Trump loves him those thank you rallies, touring the country after the fact in his Trump airplane, whipping up the enthusiasm and adulation of his thousands of followers. He prioritizes this over the more serious business of governing for which he does not have the education or attention span. But those many blind followers with arms raised in their Trump baseball caps and T-shirts – again I have reminiscences of Hitler and goosebumps rise all over my skin. They should be rising over your skin, too.

Berlin, Lustgarten, Kundgebung der HJ

What can he do, this personality-disordered President-elect? Destroy everything our country stands for. Grab hold of power at the slightest provocation, and not let go of it (think civil unrest, an act of terrorism on our soil leading to what? Why just a little bit of martial law and then all bets are off). If worst comes to worst – and again, think of Nazi Germany – we will not see the back of Mr.Trump for years. And by the time it’s all over, we will not be the America of “Make America Great Again.” We will be a weak, morally damaged, third rate power. And so I have to ask, as we all do, where are the grown-ups?

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