There was a time, weeks that seem like eons ago, when the White House was the very symbol of American steadfastness, stability, and respectability. Many of us mourn the departure of Barack Obama from the premises, but it had to happen, we knew it would happen. And Kennedy's "Camelot" was of course never such a thing, only a myth that became all the more romanticized once it all ended in Dallas. In all the political dramas and thrillers we've seen on the screen, the White House is that pillar that exemplifies the United States. Until, as in Mars Attacks! or Independence Day, aliens come to blast the place to smithereens.
Or, as with the current denizen of the place (on most weekdays), he turns it into something unrecognizable, a White House of Un-American Activities.
Upside down White House in Wisconsin Dells, photo by almiruh
There's no point in enumerating all the executive orders and declarations (bet you didn't know that Inauguration Day is now the National Day of Patriotic Devotion). Some of them, like his Muslim Ban, are in a state of suspended animation, declared unconstitutional by Federal courts and under appeal by the Trump administration. The Ban created such a worldwide uproar that it diverted attention from equally nefarious moves, like the elevation of conspiracy theorist Stephen Bannon to the National Security Council (and utter confusion over the role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence, the experts and "adults in the room").
Then there's the sneaky little order - his very first, in the hours after his swearing in - where Trump the Populist added millions of dollars to the mortgages of American home owners. Another, signed with some fanfare to the applause of lobbyists and brokers, makes transparency for Mom & Pop investments in retirement plans more opaque and could cost them billions.
Newt Gingrich, when he called last year for a reinstatement of the McCarthy era House Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC, had other things in mind of course. For him, and for Trump, "un-American" activities are those done by immigrants, foreigners, judges and Democrats (probably). When we know that the real un-American is Mr. President, who has already turned his back on all that is decent about the country, and who has become the one-man symbol, the world over, of rapaciousness and misogyny. Thanks to Mr. Trump, we all know about narcissism and the ravages of sociopaths. But until now, none of their ranks made it to the Oval Office.
So what to do? Certainly not tweet or like or share your disdain for this man and his dangerous coterie of courtiers. Or, do all of that, but first register to vote, and then vote in every single election for the next four years and more. Complaining without consequent, effective action is not acceptable.
In the great World War II movie The Guns of Navarone, the Gregory Peck character, all angry righteousness, says to a cynical David Niven:
"You think you've been getting away with it all this time, standing by. Well, son... your bystanding days are over! You're in it now, up to your neck!"
Yes, "standing by" and not turning out to vote (at least in sufficient numbers in the right places) got us Donald Trump in the White House. We're in it, up to our necks, and only we can get ourselves out of it.