Abstentions mark a rancorous start to Trump era

By Daniel J. Bauer

Just 48 hours ago, I flicked on my computer to see if any hot advice had arrived overnight as to what my topic today should be. Hope running through my veins, I pushed the necessary buttons, and waited for my machine to light up with news from cyberspace. Oh my gosh. Indeed, a friend in southern Taiwan expressed his concern. He jumped to the point.

“Don’t write about Trump again!” he advised.

A man of hope, as mentioned above, I took this as advice. I know, however, that I am very capable of being wrong. An objective observer could say my friend’s words were a command, a scolding, or a cry of despair.

“You’ve gone overboard lately on Mr. Trump. Enough of all that,” wrote my friend. “Well,” I mused to myself, “My friend is a man of independent thinking. He has clear political views.” I further mused that I usually applaud people who are independent in thinking, and active in their politics. I especially applaud them whenever they agree with my ideas and my politics.

The previous sentence was an attempt at self-satire. I feel a need to point this out, lest emails of complaint overwhelm me in the week ahead. Humor does not transfer easily from one culture to another.

I absorbed my friend’s sagacious counsel as best as I could, and soon found myself tapping away like crazy at my computer keys. Soon I saw I was writing a column headed like a speeding bullet into a very solid wall.

I discovered an unconscious effort to avoid touching on the personality of the new president of the United States, even as I discussed the fact that some 40 congressmen were due to be absent from his inauguration. In recent days these leaders, members of the opposition party, the good ole’ Democrats had gathered behind Georgia Rep. John Lewis, revered as a man of conscience in Washington, who announced earlier in the week his plans to give a miss to the festivities. The honorable Mr. Lewis had stepped forward in a way sure to leave still another mark of courage on his legacy. Even Fox News (God bless them) praised him multiple times in recent hours. He is universally regarded as a hero, they said, “an icon in the civil rights movement” (although today the same network condemns him).