Rosy gaslighting is still gaslighting

Dear President Biden,

This isn’t at all what I was going to start today’s letter with, but I just saw “my” first butterfly of the season. The dogs and I are waiting in the car while Laura does our grocery shopping and a quite large, quite bright yellow butterfly just fluttered by across the way near the hillside on the far side of the parking lot. I don’t know about you, but my heart always gets a bit of a lift from such sightings.

Again, not sure if this next bit will ring true for you, but I try to remember to be grateful for both these sightings and the heart lifts, if for a nanosecond, because almost inevitably the lifts are followed by a clunk of heaviness thinking about how few and far between such sightings are anymore. It’s hard to stay present-moment focused around things like butterfly sightings, bird song, or bee buzz knowing how tenuous their existences have become.

We take their lives for granted at our peril.

Ok, back to my original letter plan…..

I sure hope someone is giving you good, solid briefs about how it’s really not flying for you to maintain this “America’s back” messaging in your travels abroad. Not only is it not true given the tenuous nature of our badly diminished, badly tattered democracy, but to insist on this “rah-rah USA” messaging in the face of the ongoing attacks on democracy just plain looks like you’re out to lunch – out of touch, living in La La Land. It’s not a good look. In fact, it’s a dangerous look.

We need you to tell the truth. We need to hear and see you saying out loud, in public, that our country, our democracy, is struggling on many fronts and that the outcomes of these struggles are unclear. It’s fine to add some optimistic spin and to tout all the great stuff you and your administration have done and what all you want to do, but it does no one any favors to pretend as though the current nihilistic instantiation of the GOP is anything but an existential threat to democracy and really, to all life on earth. Yes, I know that last bit is rather melodramatic, but I stand by it.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. If Joe/Mitch Manchin and his ilk continue to aid and abet Mitch McConnell, DJT, the Koch brother, the Mercers, and those even more deeply ensconced in the cushy shadows, and if you continue to provide them all cover with the “America’s back” lies, we will be hosed. We will be hosed. I can’t make it any plainer than that.

It doesn’t matter that we’re tired from Covid-19 and from the DJT years or that many of us are so freaked out that we quick-scroll past the latest articles about the melting glaciers, we still need you to tell the truth. Rosy gaslighting is still gaslighting.

We need you to treat us, and our allies abroad, with respect. We need you to level with us. We do not need to be placated with false assurances that anyone who’s paying the least bit of attention will be able to see right through.

We. Need. You. To. Step. Up. Now.

The butterflies need you to step up now, too.

May we all be safe from leaders who tell us what we want to hear.
May we be willing to accept the truth from our leaders and not pillory them for leveling with us.
May we see that strong, healthy responses must be predicated on clear understanding of the issues.
May we accept that it is well past time to squarely face our truths.

Tracy Simpson

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