Uneasy Is the Head
Thanks, Katha Pollitt, for distinguishing between the original Julius Caesar and our current impostor [“Orange Julius,” July 17/24]. As Caesar might have remarked observing the current alliance of dolts and cynics now in power but comically stymied: “Waney, weedy, weaky.”
Katha Pollitt provides a cogent analysis of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and rightly sees it as a lesson in the destruction that unfolds when a ruler is violently overthrown. Regicide was looked upon with horror in Shakespeare’s time, while in Dante’s Inferno, the worst punishment is reserved for the betrayers Cassius, Brutus, and Judas.
That said, in April of this year when the production was announced, a statement from the Public Theater described Julius Caesar as a play about a leader who is “a force unlike any the city has seen. Magnetic, popular, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots…must decide how to oppose him.” I took that as a disguised shout-out to the significant anti-Trump forces in New York City, and promptly notified the US Secret Service. It struck me then, and even more so now, as an incitement to violence. I can only be grateful that some, such as Delta Airlines and Bank of America, saw through Oskar Eustis’s charade and bravely withdrew their support.
Re “Stolen Birthright,” by Leah Douglas [July 17/24]: One of the underlying problems is not mentioned here and cannot be quantitatively stated, and that is the particular white American fetish, if you will, for property (land) rights. Simply take a look at what happened when Anglo-American values met Hawaiian values over the issue. We have this pathological obsession with our own and others’ land. It exists worldwide, but we have created our own nasty brand of it. Now that Northeasterners are willing to move south to places like the Carolinas, expect it to get much nastier, as the competition for prime pieces of land at places like Hilton Head becomes a blood sport, as it did here in California some time ago. Only if you are used to a place like New York City is this somehow acceptable.
In “For Impeachment” [June 9/26], John Nichols asserts that “the American people have always been more constitutionally inclined than the political elites.” Whether or not the writers of the two letters that The Nation printed under the headline “Pyrrhic Impeachment” [July 31/Aug. 7] reflect political elites in opposing Nichols and “centrist media outlets like CNN,” their arguments misunderstand the value of the impeachment—and conviction—of President Trump.
The first letter focuses on the benefits that Mike Pence would reap if he rescued the country “from a lunatic.” Impeachment would also “divert progressive energy away from the less glamorous” but more important causes. “If a constitutional case for impeachment can be made,” the letter writer concludes, “let the Republicans take responsibility.”
The writer of the second letter “cannot get the least bit excited about the prospect of impeachment.” Rather, “a better use of our energies would be to work on a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College.” If there had been no Electoral College, Hillary Clinton would be president.
The answer to these two writers is that there are many Republicans who, out of fealty to the United States, would vote to impeach Donald Trump, and that abolishing the Electoral College is at least as difficult as impeaching the president.
Impeachment is the only clean way to be done with Trump. His stain on the “meaning” of the United States—both to Americans and the world—can never fully be wiped out. But it can be partially reduced in, say, a century, if the present voters urge the House and Senate to begin the process of impeachment.
Charles A. Miller
new market, va.
It is precisely the politics of fear and caution that Jeff Alson and David Maxwell Fine espouse in their letters to the editor that has brought us to where we are now. Fight the dragons that stand before you. Take down Trump and then, if need be, Pence.
Devil May Care
Re Kai Wright’s “Devil’s Choice” [July 17/24]: The Republicans for decades have had as their real goal the abolition of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, all help for the poor and disadvantaged, and any useful role for the government in mitigating the ravages of unchecked power and wealth. They were furious when Medicare passed and have been trying to dismantle it ever since. Their ideologues believe that government programs such as these weaken society (think Ayn Rand), and their greedheads just want their taxes to go away. (These two groups overlap significantly.) The answer to Wright’s final sentence—“The question now for serious, responsible Republicans is this: Are they more dedicated to their party leadership’s jihad against that idea, or to the citizens they actually represent?”—is, alas, the former.
Now that Republicans have deviously seized unchecked power, they are going to do as much of this as possible. When the problems they cause reach critical mass, I assume we’ll be taking to the streets en masse, because it doesn’t look like there are any real checks on their power at this moment. The so-called filibuster is a thing of the past, and Supreme Court justices can only be considered and confirmed if they are to the right of a brand-new line that’s been recently drawn. The two-party system is set in stone, with state-by-state laws punishing any attempt at starting new parties. What’s to be done besides resist, resist, resist, and hope it makes a difference?
So much for the law, at the highest level, being purely a matter of objective reasoning based on fundamental principles, precedent, and contemporary extension by enlightened analogy [“The Court Moves Right,” by David Cole, July 17/24].
No wonder FDR once considered packing this august institution. Soon it will be hack careerists all—pathetic, retrogressive, and deplorable.
If we can make “smart bombs,” why can’t we make “smart politicians”?