It’s hard to see one’s alma mater flooded. It’s apparently not too bad, but it’s a symbol of what a tough few days it’s been in South Louisiana. Anyone who lived in New Orleans in August, 2005 is having flashbacks right now. I certainly am.
Every time I write about meeting NOLA after the flood I write about the silence. Cities aren’t silent, or they shouldn’t be; they’re swift and clattering and alive, even in the middle of the night. Especially then. Even in the thin light of a late winter dawn, cities demand you wake up and pay attention. People talk about cities having a pulse and it’s not pointless poeticism; the rail lines hum even when the trains are miles away. Cities are only silent when something’s wrong.
I remember talking with someone over at the Crack Den in the comments, when the storm hit and it seemed like everyone was paralyzed, when it seemed like we could airlift food and money to countries thousands of miles away but couldn’t save drowning Americans in our own country. I remember saying I was nostalgic for simple government competence, for the nonpartisan response to disaster that assumed people were worth saving full stop. I remember saying, I miss George H.W. Bush.
“Hell,” a friend responded. “Right now I’d take Nixon.”
There are real things the president, the government we like to mock so much, has to do.
We’ve been alternately horrified and amused and then horrified again by the ongoing pile-up of various cars on the Trump Train, by the car that’s on fire and the car full of chickens that have gone rabid and the car emitting fart noises at national questions of immigration and security. Everyone has been joking and clowning but people need help right now. Who do you want in charge?
Do you want a short-sighted anger bear with undiagnosed ADD who’s willing to suck white power’s dick for a few more minutes on TV?
Or do you want a flawed, fundamentally competent person with whom you disagree on issues of varying importance to you and others, who you can at least count on not to let THE ENTIRE WORLD FUCKING DROWN?
Because those are your choices and this isn’t abstract. It isn’t stupid chyron-friendly words like “extreme vetting” and “secret e-mail” and it isn’t made-up Republican controversies like Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi. It’s, part of the country’s burning. What do you do?
Hillary, for all her flaws, would get a hose.
Trump would make s’mores and light his shirt on fire, dump a bottle of vodka on himself to try to put it out, and blame the interns on Twitter for the whole thing.
So we can jaw on all day about “both sides” and how Elizabeth Warren calling Trump a douchemook is the same as Paul Manafort taking money from Russia, about Bill Clinton’s non-stop pussy riot and Melania’s immigration status.
Or we can put in place somebody who’ll be ready when the floods roll back. That’s the choice we’re making. In the midst of all the sound and fury we should listen to the silence.