Aren’t inaugural speeches supposed to be inspirational, aimed at unifying the nation after a divisive election? Donald Trump’s speech did not appeal to the political parties to work together, instead excoriating them both in an “unpresidented” (sic) manner. It failed to reach out to the majority of the population that did not support his campaign, the majority that voted against him. Nor did it mention inclusiveness, tolerance, and healing a fractured system. Which portions of his dark speech will be carved on future Trump monuments for posterity: “American carnage” or the parts about crime and abandoned factories? Trump touted “our” values (whose values?); our wealth; our borders and our security; at the cost of global security, trade, and alliances– as though they have nothing to do with each other. At a unique moment of opportunity, when he could have pivoted from his grenade-throwing campaign rhetoric to a more mature and reasoned position, he pulled up a great wall of “protection”around the country.
And there’s still no Elon’s Ark in sight (see my earlier post on this blog, “Mars or Bust,” referring to Elon Musk’s efforts to send people into space). Just yesterday, six people entered a dome on Mauna Loa, a Hawaiian volcano, as part of a NASA human-behavior study simulating a long mission to Mars. These four men and two women will have no contact with the outside world. Over the next eight months of being cooped up together, they may discover that one of them is an illegal immigrant, and another a radical Islamic jihadist. By the end of the study, the two women may feel disrespected, dis-empowered, or much, much worse. Half of the group may not have health insurance, and one may lose his job. Some of them may be caught emitting too much methane into the sealed dome. By the time they finally emerge after eight months of isolation in a Martian simulation, one thing’s for certain: if their first request is “Take us to your leader,” they ought to seriously reconsider!