Yesterday, while laughing over beers and discussing Don Jr’s emails, a friend noted we are in a frog in the pot situation. For those who don’t know this parable the breakdown is such: A frog dumped into a pot of boiling water will quickly jump out, but if you slowly heat the water, the frog will not notice until the poor guy is cooked to death.
We have become slowly inured to the incompetence and corruption inherent to the Trump regime. Each new scandal is simply Tuesday. We have trouble even remembering all of them: the conflicts of interest, the threadbare ethics, the attempts at intimidation, the lies, lies, and more lies. The tenor of the Trump presidency was set the day after inauguration, when Donald’s cronies announced they would be using “alternative facts” to spin webs of deceit as clearly visible as contrasting crowd photos.
If Don Jr’s baldfaced attempt to collude with the Russians had broken during those early days, perhaps it would have galvanized Americans to look a little deeper at their tinpot leader. But, when we’ve accepted over and over again the crummy ethics and low-rent narcissism of this administration, we don’t feel the water heating around us–hell, it’s comfortable. And so we accept that Don Jr should be allowed to engage in conspiracy with intent, because we did nothing earlier.
Does this make us morally culpable for the “slippery slope” of the Trump regime? Not yet, not even if one voted for Trump, because human beings make mistakes. But each day we move a little closer to complicity. Each day that Republican politicians remain silent on the slow death of Western democracy, they themselves are tarred. Each day Democrats sit back and wait for tomorrow’s unhinged tweets, calculating odds of a political comeback, mars them as enablers. Each day Trump supporters don’t call out their representatives, they cast themselves as willing participants in the farce.
There is some great writing on the interplay between conservative and liberal bubbles (my favorite here) and it serves to remind me that issues and political beliefs are complex. However, the art of lying is simple, so simple even Don Jr can do it. The cover-ups, the fanciful exhortations by right-wing pundits, the lack of response–maybe all of it doesn’t matter. Maybe we are locked in an unwinnable cultural battle overlaid on economics. Maybe absolutely nothing will happen to Don Jr as we ratchet up the water a few more degrees. Maybe we used the Constitution to light this stove. Maybe–and this is the most frightening–the water is already boiling and it’s too late to jump.