President Trump has run to the door of Congress with yet another Obama-era policy that he has stabbed half to death, shouted “CONGRESS WILL BE TO BLAME IF THIS DIES,” and then run off.
This time it is DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that has allowed 800,000 young immigrants brought to this country as children to serve in the military, seek higher education and hold jobs. Even the people who object to it object only on the grounds that they wish it were a law, not on the grounds that it is the wrong thing to do. So of course Trump has decided it needs to stop.
“Americans have dreams too,” Trump said, in a statement, as though that justified it. (Has he seen Americans lately?)
The “dreamers” are being ruled out, but the Nightmare People are still here, and they continue to be in charge of everything.
The nightmare — the one where you are naked in front of the whole class, where you have to give an important speech, but you don’t remember any words and the classroom is every important person in the world — is president now. Failing a test you didn’t know you had to study for is the chief executive of the United States.
The unshakeable sense that you are being persecuted is in charge of the Justice Department. In fact, it just announced this change in policy. The man with a slow eerie smile that you thought you got rid of in the ’80s is somehow back, standing behind a lectern, his smile growing wider and wider, even when you blink. How did he get here? You could have sworn—
The thing that lives under the bed has the president’s phone number and sometimes speaks for him at news conferences.
The thing that scuttles into the corner when you open the door to the attic, the clawlike hand that reaches out from under your closet door, they are both listed as Rational Voices in the Trump Cabinet and are about to come out in support of his plan for tax reform.
The sensation of drowning, drowning all the time, is what comes out every time you turn on your television.
All the clocks everywhere are melting. Weeks and months are indistinguishable. Everything partakes of a terrifying unreality. You try to write down what is happening but it doesn’t make any sense.
No one’s face remains the same for long. People appear and disappear behind lecterns and it is as if they never existed. A man is devoured by the bushes. Another man picks up the phone and disappears.
The dreamers are being thrown on the mercy of Congress, but the Nightmare People are still protected. (Do you feel great yet? they ask. Do you feel great yet?)
The sensation that all your teeth have fallen out and are continuing to fall out as you speak very nearly got passed through Congress as an alternative to your present health-care plan.
Fire is marching in your neighborhood. Nazis, just actual Nazis, are here in the streets.
All the streets are folding in on themselves. (At the rate we are going, the infrastructure will never be repaired.) Congress is trapped in an M.C. Escher-esque landscape where there are only right turns and obstructions, and there is no regular order.
President Trump comes down the escalator and the escalator goes on forever and it goes even deeper than you thought. The stairs go on forever. There is no way to go off the stairs.
The Nightmare People are everywhere, making America what it once was: empty, undisturbed, a place no one in his right mind would want to live if you did not want to be immediately killed by mammoths.
Maybe they will cure their immigration problem after all. Immigration is only a problem as long as you are a country people want to come live in.
Dreams are the enemy of nightmare. There was a dream once that Americans dreamed. There were words on a statue in a harbor (but they were added too late; they were meaningless). There were words once from the steps of a memorial about brotherhood.
The worst nightmares of all are the dreams you have to wake up from. The ones where for a second everything is right. The worst dreams are the ones that get pulled out of your hands too soon, where you see a world that is better than the one you live in. But then you wake up.
And now it’s on Congress to save that other, better world. Dream on.