Here we go again. Has it been two years already? Well no, it’s actually been just over a year and here we are, about to enter another campaign season. Yay? We invest a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a whole lot of money (the non-influential kind) into this biennial activity. So, let’s take a look at what we get for all this effort.
Campaign signs will start blooming in yards and along roadways encouraged by liberal amounts of rhetorical fertilizer. Once again we will have the privilege, nay duty, of choosing between the neolithic fascist, or unicorn hugging marxist. Candidates will stand bravely against their opponents and come down on the side of freedom, justice, and puppies. One thing is certain. This will be the most consequential election we’ve had since the last most consequential election held about two years ago. So without further delay, let the blames begin.
The preceding paragraphs are how most americans have seen the process that is, once again, about to be played out on our airwaves and street corners. On the other hand the 2016 presidential offensive was a real game changer. Most campaigns, at least the successful ones, understand that the way to appeal to potential voters is to appeal to their emotions. We’re going to build a wall to keep all those scary brown people on their side of the border and away from our wives, children, and dish washing jobs. And we’re going to make Mexico pay for it. The fact that no wall has been built and if one is it will be the U.S. tax payer that foots the bill is irrelevant. The important thing is that the message got through. It tapped the fears and frustrations of the increasingly disenfranchised middle and working classes. The result being President Donald J. Trump.
The genius of Trump (a combination of words you won’t often see) is that he managed to reach out to weary, cynical, middle americans and get them involved in the process. And here’s the genius part. Trump figured out how to do this using the same hyperbolic rhetorical tactics that turned most of these voters off in the first place. He just fed those tactics a steroid laced diet. Give this tiny fingered devil his due. He’s an unapologetic one percenter, who has screwed contractors and employees time and time again, and has somehow convinced that same middle/working class that he is on their side. Perhaps the quote, wrongly attributed to Einstein, that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” isn’t insanity at all. Perhaps it’s genius. Or perhaps Trump is insane along with about 46 percent of the electorate.
I can’t speak for the emotional stability of our 45th president, but I’m pretty sure 46 percent of the voting public is not insane. At least I hope not. What they are is tired and turned off by empty promises and superficial bombast coming from both sides of the barricade. What Trump did was more than promise them stuff. He promised to blow up the whole system. A system that has, to some degree, left them behind. Is it any wonder that when he denounces the media or the justice department or congress that he is applauded by his base? He’s doing exactly what they sent him there to do. He’s attacking a system that they believe is attacking them. The outrage he elicits is red meat to the Trumpophile and we should all take note.
I think a more clinical definition of insanity is needed here. According to Merriam Webster the legal definition of insanity is: “unsoundness of mind or lack of the ability to understand that prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or that releases one from criminal or civil responsibility.” So if Trump is unwilling, or more appropriately, unable to discern certain simple realities like crowd size or where he ranks in the list of presidential accomplishments is he crazy? Does that mean that he is incapable of understanding the global repercussions of his words and actions? I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say he isn’t crazy. Let’s say he’s just an opportunistic bully with no ideological or moral center. Yeah, that’s better.
Trump may not be running in this off year election, but he has certainly set the stage for the upcoming theatrics; and those of us on the left should not go smugly into that good night. We need to do more than just say: “I’m not him”. We need to do more than demonize the opposition and, in so doing, demonize the people who feel abandoned by their country. If you don’t think so just ask President Hillary Clinton what she thinks. By the way, anybody want to buy a PT Cruiser with an “I’m with her” bumper sticker?
We need to offer a real alternative to our current political chaos. Pulling out of the Paris Accords won’t produce jobs, but promoting renewable energy will. Giving Corporations and the wealthy a permanent tax cut while giving the rest of us a temporary one that will eventually amount to a tax increase won’t bolster a continuously trickled on middle class. What it will do is further divide the wealth of the nation between the haves and the have-nots. And along with that division, we have managed to take healthcare away from 13 million americans. This does not help the disenfranchised that are solidly in Trump’s corner. Building infrastructure, making education affordable, and promoting the health and wellbeing of our people. These things will heal a fractured nation. The divisiveness and acrimony produced by the current administration is destructive these ends and it is time to turn this thing around. Let’s offer that.
Aspersions on Their Asparagus
One of my favorite quotes is from Texas’ 1st Congressional District Representative, Louie Gohmert. It was during a house grilling of then Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder was appearing before Congress for being… umm… competent? Anyway, during the exchange Rep. Gohmert took exception to one of the Attorney General’s responses. Holder implied Gohmert was being a little casual with the facts to which Louie replied, and I quote: “The Attorney General will not cast aspersions on my asparagus”. I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming. I’ll bet nobody, this side of a padded cell, saw that one coming. The fact is, that actually came out of the mouth of a respected member of Congress. Well, a member of Congress anyway.
Other little nuggets by Mr. Gohmert include: “…if you’re sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you’re not going to last very long.” when speaking against gays serving in the military. And then there’s this impeccable display of logic when speaking of limiting the amount of rounds one can put in a firearm. Take it away Louie: “And I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit ; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?” That’s right. A ten round clip could lead to sex with Rin-Tin-Tin. Actually, let’s make that Lassie. We wouldn’t want anybody thinking Louie was gay or anything.
The honorable Mr. Gohmert was also on board with conspiracies like foreign women are coming across the boarder to have babies and turn them into terrorists or “terror babies”. He linked the overthrow of Gaddafi to Obamacare. Obama’s jobs plan was to funnel jobs to gays at the expense of traditional marriage. He thought Obama was working in league with al Quaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. He believes the Alaska oil pipeline puts caribou in a romantic mood. He’s promoted the birther conspiracy theory that Obama was a muslim from Kenya. And the list goes on.
So, before I bury the lead any deeper, let me get to the point of this column. As a well intentioned, soft headed liberal, I was saying we need to listen to the Trump voter. Look at their concerns and address them. Find out what makes them tick. But after plodding through six months of this administration, I’d like to adjust that sentiment a bit. There is a problem with employment in this country. Obamacare does need to be tweaked. Terrorism is a very real threat. These things are facts. As is the fact that the thirty something precent of hard core Trump supporters are unreachable. They are, to quote, “ deplorables ” that will latch onto any conspiracy that affirms their limited, paranoid view of the world. Trying to persuade them of anything is like trying to discuss Schopenhauer with a rock. What you end up with is a review of your knowledge of Schopenhauer and a rock.
Let me be clear about something. I’m no ivory tower elitist. I’ve made my way in the world by working in canneries and warehouses. I’ve been a cab driver, truck driver, bus driver, and driving instructor. My back and knees feel every bit of the 66 years I’ve spent punishing them. Most of my friends and colleagues are blue collar and most of them voted for Trump. This is not an indictment of people who spend their day trying to make it to the next day so they can keep putting food on the table. This is, however, a recrimination of those who would willingly discard 241 years of hard fought progress to usher in their nihilistic, dystopic view of America.
These are folks that believe Hillary Clinton was part of a child prostitution ring working out of a pizzeria in D.C. They believe Common Core is a homosexual plot to indoctrinate our children. They believe a military exercise in Texas was a prelude to a junta like takeover of the country. A conspiracy that was given credence by Texas Governor Greg Abbott when he ordered the state guard to keep an eye on the goings on, just in case. They believe that Sharia Law is coming soon to a courtroom near you. Sharia, like the Ten Commandments, is an outline for ethical behavior. It is not a template for any courtroom in any part of our country. By the way, neither is the Ten Commandments. If it were, we would all be in prison for arguing with our parents or not going to church on Sunday. It’s about that church state separation thing the uber-right seems to have a hard time understanding. One of the more brilliant recent conspiracies is NASA is running a child slave compound on Mars. Let me get this straight. The Moon landing was a hoax but we are shipping children to Mars to enslave them in Martian cell phone factories. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
So this is for Louie Gohmert and his ilk. I gladly cast aspersions on all your asparagus. You will not win because you don’t have the mental capacity to get the job done. You are not making America great again because we were pretty damn great before you put that orange, conspiracy loving, sexual predator in the White House. The rest of us will not stand by and watch you destroy what Lincoln ( a Republican ) called the “…last best hope of Earth”. I’m not talking about taking up arms. I’m talking about using reason and common decency. Weapons that you have apparently excluded from your arsenals. My advice to you is board your tin foil rocket ships and point them up. There’s a colony of child slaves that would like you to make Mars great again.