Doing some work in front of the TV tonight, I watched documentaries on Watergate and Alex Jones. It was something, watching an account of the moment in US history when the system held against a president who abused his power–in part because Americans learned what he’d done and turned against him–and then watching an account of the career of one of the men most responsible for making sure that Americans are unable to point to a shared set of facts about what another president who abused his power did.
It had already been a day. It started to look this morning like the pattern that’s been established for the past too many years of mass shootings failing to lead to the change an outraged nation demands might not be holding. This time, it was two events in close succession, which might have made a difference. It might also have been the state-by-state pressure exerted by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Everytown, and other groups advocating for sensible gun policy that has made this time look like it might actually be different.
It also was starting to look like the pattern that long ago emerged with Trump–a nation is horrified to learn of the latest outrage he’s committed, Washington marshals its forces to expose the depth of his abuse of power, and a fully compromised Republican party lets him off the hook–might not hold this time. Instead of impeachments that don’t lead to convictions, we might have actual criminal accountability. The January 6 committee just might have the goods and the Justice Department just might actually live up to its name.
So maybe this is the start of something. Maybe things have gotten so bad that the efforts of the Joneses and the Murdochs to ensure we can’t all be working from the same set of facts are becoming less effective–so much less that Americans’ outrage can reach critical mass and their representatives have to listen to their demands. Maybe the evidence is piling up so high that it’s overwhelming the work of the liars, the conspiracy theorists, and the politicians who might know better but in their own personal calculus have decided that the true and the right are less important than the expedient and the advantageous. It could be that decades of hoping for better gun policy and a long six years of hoping that Trump would finally be treated like the criminal he is might finally be more than exercises in disappointment. You know it seems the more we talk about it, it only makes it worse to live without it. But let’s talk about it.
Wouldn’t it be nice?