A reminder of how bad things are and how much worse they'll probably get.
The first thing you need to know about Infrastructure Week is that any week and every week could be Infrastructure Week. When it's always Infrastructure Week, it's never Infrastructure Week, but when you think about it, isn't the real Infrastructure Week just the friends we made along the way?
The other thing you should know is that this week is Infrastructure Week, at least according to the president. But I don't blame you if you've been blissfully ignorant of Infrastructure Week. The infinite news cycle is always buzzing about something, and it's hardly ever about infrastructure. One week, the nation was taken by the president's exceptionally high marks on his dementia test; another week, we mused about how many Trump staffers have beaten their wives and whether or not will they punished for it.
Most weeks, we are concerned with who is bad and why. But if someone mentions infrastructure, it's like, Oh yeah, infrastructure! because in the back of our minds we know about the slow decay of American roads and bridges and also the subways. We know these things are falling apart. They were crumbling before Donald Trump got to the Oval Office and will continue to erode regardless of what he does.
Trump loves to talk about infrastructure and generally throws in some lines about airports and highways in speeches, including his inaugural address. But America didn't get its first official Infrastructure Week until June. It was not a success, as it coincided with Trump firing the FBI director because he wasn't too keen on his campaign being investigated for collusion or obstruction of justice or something like that.
Trump's second Infrastructure Week was in August, which, as New York's Olivia Nuzzi pointed out, "was subsumed by his defense of the white nationalists in Charlottesville." By then "Infrastructure Week" had become something of a joke among political types, shorthand for the White House being completely unable to stay on-message, even about something as bland as potholes, for more than a few hours.
"These diversions turned Infrastructure Week into a giant joke," observed Alex Shepherd for the New Republic. And now it is Infrastructure Week again. This time Trump actually has released an infrastructure plan, but Shepherd pointed out that the administration was "no closer to passing a comprehensive plan than it was the last time it was Infrastructure Week."
This latest Infrastructure Week is still young and full of possibilities. What fresh horrors will distract us this time? Are we on the brink of nuclear war? What about all the hot shot directors and executives who have gotten away with decades of sexual abuse, or the laundry detergent that people aren't really intentionally poisoning themselves with, but maybe actually are? Perhaps this Infrastructure Week will be the time we talk about the forever wars our country has been in for the entire 21st century. Then there are the budding wars, the one between Israel and Iran for example, and of course, there's the problematic nature of the Peter Rabbit movie's depiction of "food allergy bullying," (#BoycottPeterRabbit) and the porn star who the president paid $130,000 to keep his alleged infidelity hush-hush—that last one now such old news it seems ancient, though it broke only last month. Or we could talk about some major media outlets "yaaas kween-ing" the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, or the unending debate on what we should do with the loser of the 2016 presidential election—is she still coughing, and how loudly? Should she take up knitting, or is that too taboo of a suggestion?
Each unbearably loud news item makes up what has become the United States of America's Infinite Infrastructure Week, seven enormously long days where we take a moment to calmly examine in the literal and metaphoric Infrastructure of our country, in all its chaotic failure. We're always talking about Infrastructure, about whether we're equipped to handle this highly abnormal presidency, evaluating whether it's always been bad and we just started noticing, or if it's actually the worst it's ever been.
Infrastructure Week has never been about infrastructure. It's about words—the president's promises to fix what's broken and his disinterest in making good on those promises. Infrastructure Week reminds us that we really could fix what's broken, but instead things just get worse and worse and worse; as Trump continues to corrode America's faith in its political structures, we crumble.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.