Think About It: Happy New Year … or not

I am mustering up good will for the new year. Yes, that’s the word that comes to mind: “mustering.” The verb mustering, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, means to “assemble (troops), especially for inspection or in preparation for battle.” Synonyms are listed as bring together, call together, marshal, mobilize and a few more.

To muster has nothing to do with sandwiches or hot dogs; that’s a different mustard as in mustard seed specifically grown to use as sauce on bread and stain on white blouses.

“Mustering,” as I am using it today, has early roots in 15th century English (mustren) and French (mustrer, monster). Its earliest roots, not surprisingly, are from Latin monstrare “to show” and from monstrum meaning evil omen, monster (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Although not an “aha” moment, it’s becoming clearer to me why the word “mustering” is the one coming to mind. I want to feel optimistic about resolutions and redemption. I like the image of the tired sad old man slinking into the past and the joyful baby with boundless potential arriving on the scene.

Instead, I have a sense of oppression weighing on my innate good will. I am old enough to have felt oppression in my life, real and perceived. I’ve always considered my oppression to be mostly self-induced and something I could work through or around if need be. After all I live in America.

This time is different; this time it is out of my control.

Tyranny in a democracy

The values I hold close such as democracy, equal rights, scientific reasoning, stewardship and personal responsibility among others are no longer part of our problem-solving at the highest levels of our federal government. My faith that elected leaders fulfill their vow to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is cracking.

I am disillusioned by the massive and willful failure of elected leaders in the controlling party to govern. Politics of party loyalty to a minority base have replaced allegiance to the Constitution.

The wheels of government are in the hands of three people – the President, the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House. Any one of them can stall the will of the people. They have the power and for the past two years, they have exercised it in service to a relatively small minority of people. None of the three were elected by the majority of voters in the United States.

That is the oppression I feel.

Year-end Review of the Tyranny of Three

We end the year with a precipitous withdrawal from Syria in the face of a promise from the Turkish government to kill the Kurds, who happen to be the one faction that supported our country in our invasion of Iraq and had an important role in eliminating ISIS. The decision made by the President precipitously and without consultation resulted in the resignation of a respected retired general who was serving as Secretary of Defense.

We end the year in a government shutdown, although somewhat minor, that is the result of an indecisive President who does and then doesn’t support a temporary funding bill around homeland security to allow time to resolve the issues of DACA and what constitutes border security.

We end the year with mothers and children fleeing their country being abandoned by our government’s resolve to slow the process of admitting refugees to our country. We know of two children who died in custody and suspect others are going untreated while waiting.

We end the year, although it could be less dramatic by the time this column is published, having wiped out all the stock market gains of 2018 and some of 2017 which included the economic promises of a tax cut said to inspire corporations to increase the pay of workers.

The seeming broad-spectrum chaos of the moment nearly buried the one piece of good news. Congress passed and the President signed a bipartisan bill to reform the criminal justice system. We need to study how the bill slipped through the crack of governing malpractice to see the light of day.

Continuing drumbeats

All this amid the continuing drumbeats of Cabinet secretaries resigning when no longer able to survive the allegations of corruption, the careless and unpatriotic attitude toward anything resembling loyalty to their country by people close to the President who were subsequently indicted, convicted or pleaded and dueling commentary about the state of the President’s mental health.

The most relentless drumbeat must be the so-called Mueller investigation which should be called the Russian influence on our 2016 presidential election investigation.

The President rails against the investigation as if Russian influence is welcomed as an act of friendship. Perhaps it was to Trump with love, Putin.

The President is a reckless tyrant or, at least, wanna-be tyrant. He wants to run our country like he ran his business, most of which failed or ended up with a very bad credit rating. He has stated on many public occasions that he knows more than anyone about any given subject. He rules like he believes it and freely admits he follows his gut, not anyone’s consultation or scientific fact.

Our President does not allow our country to function as was intended and fails to gather or keep around him people that can present him with informed consultation. He is tearing it apart from the inside out and it is hemorrhaging competent people and effective systems.

No one or three people should rule our country, not according to our Constitution. That is why I muster my good will because we can’t stop believing in our democracy, in our country.

If we allow limited power in the hands of the people to continue, we will drive the final nail in the coffin and sell out our forefathers and fore-mothers and the future for those yet to come.

Muster with me, if you will. Together, we will inspect our values and those of our country and prepare to speak a collective truth in the battle for democracy.

Bertha Cooper spent her career years as a health care organization and program administrator and consultant and is a featured columnist in Sequim Gazette. Cooper has lived in Sequim with her husband for nearly 20 years. Reach her at