I’ll be sheltering in place, thank you.
I’m experiencing the uneasiness I used to feel when I walked out of my house, leaving my 13- and 11-year-old home by themselves. I figured everything should be OK, probably would be OK — if they didn’t set the house on fire or hit the Ketel One or decide to take a road trip in the family car. I trusted them, of course, but then, how do you trust young people whose brains aren’t fully developed? According to a study published by Stanford University, teenagers are notoriously unreliable because the part of the brain that controls rational behavior isn’t fully developed until age 25.
That pretty much describes why I won’t travel these days. We have an unreliable teenager at the helm of our ship of state, and while he’s way past 25, he seems like a case of arrested development. There’s no telling what trouble he might get into while I’m away.
Now, many folks refer to President Trump as the Toddler in Chief, referencing his temper tantrums and self-aggrandizing tweets. I give him more credit than that. I believe there’s more intentionality in his seemingly erratic behavior — flying off to the border, flogging the immigration issue from the Oval Office in a low-energy non-speech, threatening to declare a state of emergency to get funds for his border wall and generally doing the Trump smoke-and-mirrors routine. All of it is intended to distract us from the fact that he’s failing at his primary job: keeping America safe from the bad actors in the world.
Like a teenager, he lacks impulse control, and that scares the stuffing out of me. How can anyone think of traveling now and leaving America in Trump’s hands? What if I’m in South Korea and he decides to bomb the North? What if he gets really annoyed with Emmanuel Macron or Theresa May or Justin Trudeau? Will the tariff battle with China escalate into World War III while I’m sightseeing in the Forbidden City?
You get what I’m saying? We can’t leave home if we can’t count on stable leadership to keep America out of trouble while we’re gone. And who feels comfortable spending money on vacations when the future seems so uncertain?
There are always risks to traveling abroad, but it’s never felt like this, as if anything could happen. Years ago, people we met on trips to Europe, Asia and Australia pretty much loved Americans. Despite some political differences, they admired our values and more or less respected our leaders.
Today, according to a study by the Pew Research group, “Of the 25 countries surveyed in 2018, a median of 70% lack confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs.” It’s shocking that 30 percent actually believe he might make a good decision.
I don’t know what I think I’m accomplishing by not traveling, but it doesn’t feel prudent to me at the moment. Look at the front page of any major newspaper. The ocean temperatures are rising faster than scientists predicted, Trump is considering using emergency storm relief money to fund his blasted wall, farmers are struggling to make a profit with his new tariffs in place, federal workers can’t put food on the table because of the ongoing government shutdown. TSA employees are calling in sick; people who work to ensure the safety of our food aren’t being paid. Folks can’t access government loans or safely travel in our national parks.
We all know the “build the wall” hullaballoo and the shutdown are the Teenager in Chief’s frantic effort to distract national attention from the investigations closing in on him. He’s saying, don’t listen to Robert Mueller or the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Don’t look at my tax returns or the testimony of my former lawyers and campaign workers. Don’t even think about Russian interference in our elections.
Look here, he’s shouting, without a shred of supporting evidence: Rapists and murderers and terrorists are streaming over the southern border. Be afraid.
Whenever I’ve traveled outside the U.S., I’ve returned home with the same warm and wonderful feeling that this is safe, this is home base, and this is protected space. Until I can feel that way again, I believe I will use my bully pulpit to challenge the fake promises and mendacity emanating from the White House. I will stay stateside and observe as events unfold, hoping that, eventually, our country will find its way.
Copyright 2019 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.