A Majority of One Walks Away From His Keyboard

By Roger Simon

February 1, 2017 6 min read

This is the end, my friends. It is time to say goodbye. I realize this is the worst possible time for a political columnist to retire, but what I didn't realize is that any of you cared.

Robert Feder, a famous media writer from Chicago, found out about my retirement a few days ago, and I have been flooded with farewells ever since.

I have also been flooded — really, you can read them — with messages on Facebook and Twitter asking me not to retire. Not now. Not, I'm told, when America "needs" me.

I know, I know. It is preposterous. It is laughable. But not to some. For some, I have been the friend they have never met for more than 40 years.

For all those years, my job took me all over the world. My wife and I had precious little time for extended vacations. She stayed behind working at newspapers for 35 years and then running her own editing business.

Now she wants to see the world. And I'd like to go with her while I still can.

As I said, bad timing. So instead of giving the usual goopy farewell, I will actually speak my mind. And I will do so no matter how many disagree with me. "Mine enemy grows older," Alexander King, a social critic, once wrote. It is one of the comforts we columnists have.

We live at a pivotal time because Donald Trump and his thugs have done us a favor. They have shown us that democracy is not inevitable. They have shown us it can fail.

In just a matter of days, they have shown us how democracy can be transformed into something evil. And we can imagine a future of jackboots crashing through our doors at 2 a.m., trucks in the streets to take people to the internment camps, bright lights and barking dogs — and worse.

Does this make me sound hysterical? Maybe. But this is my last chance to be. In its first week, the Trump administration demonstrated its contempt for Mexicans, for Muslims and for Jews. I imagine the true list is longer. Much longer.

Should we keep quiet as we watch this? Is this why America was created?

If, for amusement, you wish to pay attention to the opinion polls, do so. (Jimmy Kimmel said: "Hillary underperformed among women, African-Americans, Hispanics and young voters. Really, the only place she did very well was among pollsters.")

But the most important poll was created by Henry David Thoreau when he wrote, "Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one."

You are a majority of one. You have a duty to act like it. You have a duty to do something to preserve democracy. Something nonviolent, I hope, but something.

Trump tells civil rights leader John Lewis to keep his mouth shut, and then Trump smiles his porcine smile. In what fantasy land, in what delusional world would one desire the words of a bellicose Donald Trump and the silence of John Lewis?

I hear that George Orwell's classic "1984" is popular again. Good. It is a great read with a real message. But don't get carried away. Spoiler alert: The bad guys win at the end. Their tentacles of power have reached too deeply and spread too far.

We are told today that truth no longer matters. It does.

We are told human decency is the concern of the weak. It isn't.

We are told civil liberties can be brushed aside when it is convenient to the wielders of power to so do. Such people should be stopped. They must be stopped.

And there are only the people to stop them.

Is Trump a "legitimate" president? You tell me. Hillary Clinton got almost 3 million more popular votes than Trump. The Russians interfered with our election. The minority vote continues to be suppressed. And FBI Director James Comey may have influenced the outcome of the election by behavior that ran the gamut from the peculiar to the inexplicable.

Legally, Trump today is legitimate. Who knows what we will find in the future?

What a terrible time to subtract even one puny voice from the forces of opposition to him.

But I must. I leave the writing of a regular column entirely voluntarily. No editor hung a dead chicken over my doorway. And it is a terrific job — a job of spectacular fun and deep satisfaction.

Yet I have no desire to have my corpse discovered one late night draped over my keyboard by a cleaning guy who whistles a low note and says, "I thought he died years ago."

Our long national nightmare may have just begun. But each of you is a majority of one. You can speak out for me. You don't need leaders; you just need a conscience.

"I decline to accept the end of man," William Faulkner wrote. "I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. ... It is (the writer's) privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart."

Have I lifted a heart? Just once? Just for the most fleeting of moments?

Then I leave you a happy man, one filled with joy. And don't worry. We will always have each other. And Twitter.

So long.

Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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