One night in late-summer, long after we’d finished supper on my screened porch with my visiting dad and stepmother, I heard Dad say with blunt force, “Want to know why your mom and I got divorced?”
I was 31. They’d been divorced 23 years. “No, actually, I don’t,” I said.
Crickets sawed their songs like a chorus in the near woods as I stacked our dirty plates and checked a swelling urge to tell him that I knew — of course I knew, had always known — about her and about him.
Newsflash: The kids always know.
On the darkened porch, Dad took an extra-long drag off his Marlboro, and the familiar glow of ashes lit his frustrated face. “On that note,” I said, pushing back my patio chair, “I’m going to bed. Sleep well. See y’all in the morning.”
If you grew up in a broken home, you likely recognize this scene and others like it.
Our American family feels broken in much the same way, punctuated with exclamation points in the president’s Twitter feed as he says, Let me tell you my side of the story! while dismantling our lives.
As a New York Times analysis said: “Brick by brick, President Trump is trying to tear down what Mr. Obama built. The trade deal? Canceled. The climate pact? Forget it. Cuba? Partially reversed. Health care? Unresolved, but to be repealed if he can navigate congressional crosscurrents ... Mr. Trump has made clear that if it has Mr. Obama’s name on it, he would just as soon erase it from the national hard drive.”
Obama leaving the presidency to Trump feels like mom left, Dad got the house, and we are all helplessly stuck there with him and his jealous rage, watching as he tears down everything she ever built. Just to spite her.
On his Labor Day weekend trip to the hurricane-ravaged south, the president started off praising relief efforts but, as usual, devolved into a chance to mock the media. “I hear the Coast Guard saved 11,000 people, almost 11,000 people, by going into winds that the media would not go into.”
The media, who went into the winds and reported from helicopters and rescue boats. The media, who stood for days in e-coli-infested waters to bear witness to the suffering and devastation. Local media, who left their families and drowning homes and waded through miles of flooding to do their jobs.
All as their president mocked them.
He can’t seem to help himself. Vengeance overwhelms. It’s like he’s saying, “Want to know why your mom and I got divorced?” on a never-ending loop as we push back our patio chairs, exhausted by the president’s constant need to lay blame everywhere but at his own feet.
In Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, as floodwaters refuse to abate, toxins poison the water, and communities struggle to put themselves back together, the president is doubling-down on disaster with the intent to shut down DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an Obama program to protect immigrant children.
His administration’s inexplicably cruel and untimely announcement comes as the body of 31 year-old Alonso Guillen, a DACA recipient, washes ashore, four days after he drowned while volunteering to rescue fellow, stranded Americans.
By all accounts, DACA is a success. The average recipient came to this country at age six, none have criminal records, 91 percent are employed, and they pay $500 to renew their status every two years, amounting to $800 million in revenue.
DACA’s downfall rests on a singular fact: It was Obama’s idea and, therefore, must be decimated. DACA children, much like the children in a broken home, are left to watch in fear, powerless as one vengeful parent uses them to teach the other a lesson.
On a late-summer day, the president, anxious to get out his side of the story, tweeted, “After reading the false reporting and even ferocious anger in some dying magazines, it makes me wonder, WHY? All I want to do is #MAGA!”
Newsflash, Mr. President. We know the story. We are living it.
The question is, do you know the damage your constant, divisive rhetoric inflicts upon our broken American family? And more importantly, do you have the capacity to care?
Teri Carter, a writer living in Lawrenceburg, can be reached at www.tericarter.net/contact.html.