The Universal Notebook: No one is responsible

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As I write this we do not yet know the results of the election, but we already know our country is in deep, deep trouble.

Why? Not just because we are so divided that Americans live in parallel universes, but because of how irresponsible people are these days.

We’ve got Donald Trump blaming all of his epic failings on other people and a vast establishment conspiracy. (No, Donald, it’s your own fault that you’re a humorless loser.)

We’ve got Hillary Clinton blaming her many failings on a vast right-wing conspiracy. (She actually may be right, but how can someone so smart not realize that no email is safe to send, ever? No, Hillary, it’s your own fault you used a private server for public business.)

We’ve got the mainstream media that first legitimized the bogus candidacy of Trump by hanging on his every profane soundbite and then tried to delegitimize the candidacy of Hillary Clinton by publishing unvetted documents stolen by Russian hackers.

We’ve got Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, a criminal mastermind and his criminal enterprise, fencing stolen documents and never being held to account for their crimes.

We’ve got James Comey and the FBI who, rather than combating Russian hackers, waste taxpayer money investigating Anthony Weiner’s sexual perversions and creating its own leaks in an apparent attempt to influence the election. Totally irresponsible, probably illegal.

And we are all sick to death of the irresponsible attack ads that polluted the 2016 election. Some of the worst were Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s attacks on Democratic challenger Emily Cain.

Poliquin’s amateurish Dysart’s ad had a group of Republican state legislators eating at the landmark truck stop and blaming Cain for Maine mill closings, conveniently ignoring that Cain is not in office and that Republicans control the Blaine House, the Statehouse and Congress. Talk about refusing to take responsibility for your own actions.

Then there was the Poliquin ad that gratuitously threw in the irrelevant fact that a Maine couple had lost a child in Iraq while reporting that Poliquin’s staff had helped them with an IRS problem. That’s what members of Congress do – aid their constituents. It is irresponsible and immoral for either party to use the dead to drum up votes.

But the award for the most underhanded campaign ad goes to the anti-Cain ad that called Cain an extremist for sponsoring a bill to weigh public school students. What the ad did not say is that the measure to track childhood obesity made weighing voluntary and confidential, and that the law eventually passed with bipartisan support and was signed by Gov. Paul LePage.

“The NRCC is responsible for the content of this advertising,” announced the National Republican Congressional Committee at the end of its body-shaming ad.

Well, no, the NRCC was irresponsible for the content of that ad. No one is responsible anymore. Say anything. Do anything. Deny everything.

This toxic climate of denial and refusal to take personal responsibility is the reason we can no longer collaborate to solve problems. That’s why we had five substantive issues go to referendum. There are workable solutions to problems such as gun violence, education funding, decriminalizing marijuana, guaranteeing a living wage and fixing our election system, but we cannot find them because our elected representatives simply refuse to take responsibility. So forget about health care and immigration reform.

It’s hard to find Americans these days with principles and integrity. We have putative “Christians” who supported a vulgar sexist because he said he opposed abortion. We have nominal “conservatives” who support a man who wants to expand federal authority into a virtual police state. We have a Supreme Court that can’t decide important cases because the U.S. Senate refuses to accept its responsibility to act. We have federal juries that decide it’s perfectly OK for armed white men to take over our national parks. Meanwhile, unarmed black men are being shot, and Native Americans are being beaten for trying to protect their tribal lands from desecration and their drinking water from pollution.

And perhaps worst and most dire of all, we have ice caps melting, sea levels rising, coral reefs dying and a planet becoming increasingly uninhabitable while irresponsible, self-righteous fools deny the imminent threats of climate change. We all live unsustainable lifestyles and we all refuse to accept responsibility for our excesses.

By the time you read this, we should know the result of the election. If Donald Trump should win it may just be because America deserves no better. Trump would be the perfect irresponsible choice to lead a failed nation.

I pray that instead we will be celebrating the election of the first mother as president of the United States.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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