I’ve waited quite long enough. Curse my soul, guilt threatens to overwhelm me. I’m staring at the pile of unsent letters on my desk. Each in its writing had served to calm me down, letting me work through the contentious anger and frustrations banging around in my head. Yet in the setting aside of these letters I have betrayed their original intent. These were meant for you, dear readers, to promote a conversation, to keep alive a civic dialogue and explore the foundations of outrage surrounding the constitutional insult which is the Donald Trump presidency.

My greatest fear is that we will settle in to a sense of normalcy, an acceptance of the outlandish and disruptive conduct and regressive legislation which threatens to dismantle the framework of our government. Wanton regulatory rollbacks and cabinet appointments of individuals hostile to their own departments’ purpose (i.e. EPA) erase decades of progress. In less than 6 months we have forfeited America’s moral authority, which has been the bedrock of the international liberal order for the last 75 years. Fear and uncertainty replace trust and cooperation., while the most clever “allies”, such as the Saudis, massage the pompous narcissism and authoritarian conceits which gain them favor. Trump, unschooled in—and oblivious to— even the most basic elements of statesmanship, dances with blindfold-abandon on the precipice-edge of unnecessary conflicts. Our Commander-in-Chief suffers from a perverse “Attention Deficit Disorder”– if he can’t stage a televised rally with thousands of cheering supporters to feed his need for adulation, perhaps a well-armed missile (or tactical provocative tweet) will do the trick.

I have watched in dismay as the accepted tenets of morality and civil conduct have been swept aside, replaced with a nationalist populism paradigm far more strident and less tolerant– where bullying and bad behavior have been given permission and authority by example of Donald J. Trump. This is not a role model any of us should accept without vigorous protest. And before any Republican dares hurl the “sore loser” epithet, If they can objectively look at what is taking place and not be worried for our future, they are looking at all the wrong things. This is a dangerous moment to suffer from partisan tunnel-vision.

I grow tired of Congressional Republicans, giddy with their newfound power, acting like middle-schoolers after their first hit of Yukon Jack. In exchange for momentary political advantage, they have lined up in support of the most obviously un-qualified and inappropriate individual ever to seize the White House. This capitulation of civic

responsibility and personal dignity speaks poorly of politicians who have so vainly placed Party over Country. Each day Republican leaders suffer increasing insult and embarrassment, gritting their teeth while kissing the ring of Donald Trump. His White House staff and appointees are largely ablative shielding, sacrificial diversions to draw attention away from presidential malfeasance. Any failures will always be their failures, never his. Any Congressmen or officials who yet defend and empower Trump, especially those who once vociferously condemned his candidacy, have abdicated their ethical right to govern. They have chosen political ambition over the best interests of this country. We must not forget their names.

And one more point. The Press is not the “Enemy of the People.” As long as it doesn’t conspire in the silencing of dissent, it remains essential to a democracy. I confess a certain disappointment by the absence of political discussion in the pages of the Daily Press, especially in the Letters to the Editor section. But I am as much to blame in that respect. I have failed that most basic responsibility of Citizen in a Democracy: To speak out when that democracy is threatened. Well, it is, and I have much to say about how we arrived at this moment, and where it all seems to be going. If the Daily Press is willing, I intend to continue this dialogue, this Civil Discourse. No more unsent letters; I don’t need the guilt. We need to talk. Apathy is no longer an option– or an excuse.


Tim Dillenbeck is a Santa Monica resident