Time Enough at Last?

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I’ve celebrated the end of every year by playing repeats of the Twilight Zone on TV. It reminds me of the possible doom and gloom endings facing each of us on planet Earth. It’s a personal celebration because I’m still alive and ready to face the next foreboding tales of the New Year. My favorite episode involved the friendly, somewhat absent-minded bank teller played by the great actor Burgess Meredith. Unfortunately, in this plot he is married to a sadistic overbearing wife and has a boss who can’t understand his need to read the great classics while waiting on his customers at the bank. His visual connection with the world is his thick pair of glasses, which gives him that look of the meek guy who nobody would ever give a second look. But books are his escape from reality and his one path to happiness.

Down in the vault one day during a lunch break, he was reading the newspaper with the headline, “The Hydrogen bomb will ensure total destruction”. Suddenly a shockwave shook the vault and broke his watch. Stumbling outside, he saw utter destruction, and it didn’t take long for him to realize that he was the only person left alive. As loneliness began to set in, he discovered a gun and contemplated suicide. Suddenly he looked up and saw a broken sign with the words, Public Library. He climbed the steps and retrieved hundreds of books arranged by month on the front steps. Sitting down with a smile and knowing that loneliness was no longer a problem, there was time enough at last to do what he had always yearned for. When he bent down to pick up the first book, his thick glasses fell off and broke.

Is this what life is all about? The last scene shows him sobbing and uttering the words, “It isn’t fair, it isn’t fair!” This half-hour episode was a commentary on man’s inability to survive what civilization has wrought. Will the next crisis fulfill this dark prophecy? It led me to think that I had better read all the books in my personal library before time runs out. That isn’t the right answer. Burgess couldn’t escape using this approach because it was already too late.

Today, time is again running out, because it involves the irresponsible actions of our own president. It made me think of the Mueller probe and Trump’s impeachment trial, which began in the U.S. Senate on January 16, 2020 and concluded with his acquittal on February 5. Yes, it seems like yesterday when the Republican Party showed that it didn’t give a damn about the welfare of our country by giving Trump a free pass. It had become a party that cowered before the threats of this unbalanced president, whose bouts of rage still continues to strike fear in elected officials of the Republican Party. I believe I’m not exaggerating when I say he reminds me of the Emperor Nero who played his fiddle while Rome burned. It’s hard to believe that the Republican-controlled Senate actually thinks that its survival depends on this madman.

Since then, two recent events have occurred that do not bode well for both our country and President Trump – the Coronavirus, which, through his inaction, was allowed to spiral out of control with the resulting destruction of our economy, and the recent mass protests across the country that remind us that racial inequality will no longer be tolerated. His reaction was expected. In appealing to his base, he has made as his top priority “Law and Order”, and that testing and wearing masks are actually bad for America. Even his support of the statues of Confederate generals is evidence that he is defending racial bias. It is safe to say that his impulsive behavior and his previous track record will not get him reelected, since some of those who initially voted for him are now beginning to desert him.

There is still one thing that concerns me. Can we afford to wait until the November elections to rid ourselves of Trump? Remember Nero? We can’t expect this president to act rationally and place the interests of the country ahead of his own rage and impulsive behavior. Dictators blame their own supporters when things don’t go their way. This happened with Hitler when he realized that he had lost the war. Just look at the huge turnover in Trump’s administration when things don’t go his way. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to start another impeachment trial. How much more can this country endure under President Trump?

First there is the fear of a second wave of infections that could be even worse than what we have already experienced. We now have 2.3 million infections and 120 thousand deaths, with Florida now bearing the brunt of the coronavirus because the governor has loosened restrictions by not enforcing the use of masks and social distancing. These relaxations around the country are further hindering the restoration of our economy. In fact, this is the tip of the iceberg. Doctors and nurses are being overwhelmed. Equipment for saving lives is in short supply. Because of Trump’s attempts to withhold the full resources of the federal government in combatting the coronavirus, he is guilty of criminal malpractice.

Morale among our government agencies is low. We’ve seen the firing of several Inspectors General whose jobs were to investigate wrongdoing in the government. We’ve seen the firing of the Captain of the carrier U.S.S. Teddy Roosevelt, because this brave man tried to protect his crew when they were coming down with the coronavirus. After Trump swept aside peaceful protestors across from the White House with troops in order to have a photo op in front of a church, we saw the reaction of former top generals and admirals, saying that he was unfit to lead our country. The corruption of Attorney General, Bill Barr, at the Department of Justice and his collusion with Donald Trump has added to his hit list the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, probably because his office is investigating several of Trump’s associates. The subversion of justice and the rule of law is the norm with this administration.

We are now entering the most dangerous phase of the Trump presidency. Will he do whatever it takes to ensure his reelection? Here are a few things to ponder.

  • Voter suppression: Attempt to defund the post-office and prevent mail-in ballots for the presidential elections
  • Misinformation: Encourage misleading propaganda by unfriendly countries directed against Biden using Facebook and other media.
  • Conspiracy theories: He is already accusing his opposition of supporting rigged elections
  • Distraction: He could encourage right-wing factions among his supporters to infiltrate peaceful protest marches for the purpose of inciting riots. This would give him the excuse to order troops to restore law and order. He could also order a military strike against another country to distract the public from our critical domestic problems.

What does this have to do with the aforementioned episode on the Twilight Zone featuring Burgess Meredith in “Time Enough at Last“? Simply that we are deluding ourselves into believing that in doing nothing, this crisis, given enough time, will fade away by depending on the results of the electoral college. Burgess Meredith found out that even though he was the lone survivor, he still had no future. We can relate this story to the present crisis by asking whether we can afford to ignore the actions of a lawless president, who has left much of our country decimated. As the November elections approach, he will become more agitated, and this will make him even more dangerous. For he knows that if he doesn’t win reelection, he will lose his legal immunity, and he will assuredly be charged with crimes, starting with his violation of the presidential oath. What will be his response? The last bomb remains to be exploded.

The country is already on fire. Where is the fire brigade?


Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local, regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, please contact SCPA