In the best of Trump voters, there’s deep and intense dissatisfaction. A feeling that anything must be better than the politics of our memory, whether that memory is the few years of the 18 year old first time voter or the several decades of the elder Trump voter.
In many, I think, there’s an approach to politics that is identical to the approach to sport. You choose a team, and you root for them no matter what. Which is a foolish and dangerous approach to politics no matter who you’re voting for, and a core failure of civic education at school, in our communities, and in our homes.
But I’m not talking about the best of Trump voters here. I’m not talking about the rah-rah-go-team voters, or the reluctant ideologues who don’t like Trump but hate anyone outside the GOP more, or the impulse-shopper voters who went with whoever’s last sound bite they liked more, or the strategic ‘he’ll pick SCOTUS justices I’ll like’ voters or the on-the-fence voters who aren’t quite sure, somehow, who best represents their ideas and ethics.
I’m talking about the hard Trump core. The people who love the guy for all he represents. Not the Russian bots and foreign provocateurs, but the ones who sound like Russian bots despite being born and raised in the most corn-and-apple-pie-fed settings across the country.
Theirs is the triumph of the won’t.
They call themselves “alphas” and their perceived enemies (most of the citizenry of the United States of America) “betas” and “cucks”…
…and “feminized” (because being a woman is bad, or means you’re inferior, or means you’re genetically programmed to serve men because quite a few of the Trumpite hard core love them some 19th century pseudoscientific genetic determinism and its cousins eugenics and eugenic-style theories, and possibly phrenology and physiognomy and phlogiston and phlat earth ‘theory’ and who knows what else) and, well, whatever flaccid insults help them feel turgid and ready to lash out violently — because manliness, to them, is not showing humanity, but is found in behaving like a rage-blind distempered ape.
They imagine that by naming themselves dominant and aggressive, that makes them paragons of rock-jawed will.
They have little clue what it really reveals: it doesn’t reveal will. It reveals won’t. A humanity-paralyzing fear of tomorrow, of today, and of anything that doesn’t cater to their fussy, prissy, whiny control-freak demands of reality. A boy-tantrum “I WON’T” to the inevitability of time passing. They’re pissed off that reality itself won’t cut the crusts off their PB&J like mommy used to, but insists on being reality.
The “f–k your feelings” crowd runs on the feeling that they are offended that the universe will not treat them like the little princes and princesses they know they are.
That failure of adapting to the facts of life is their motive force, just as gasoline is the motive force of your car: there are a variety of other ingredients and factors, some important and others not, but without gasoline and failure Trumpism Car DOES. NOT. MOVE.
Of course, that’s not what they see in the mirror.
Trumpites, just like “God Emperor Trump” mostly cast themselves as alpha-male towers of will (or equivalent, or admirers of same, when women) — an army to proudly march back into the middle of the 20th century. Or maybe the 19th or 18th, depending on the Trumpite.
As if a past can ever be re-lived. As if the past was ever half as idyllic and perfect as many of them seem to believe — and an awful lot of them can remember the middle of the 20th century.
It is, after all, the land of their childhoods, the land of their childish dreams and childish ambitions. It is an age of shelter for many, even those whose childhoods were difficult or even abusive — what comes after, dealing with the adult consequences of childhood deprivation and/or abuse, often seems even harder than childhood, especially to the adult living it in the now.
And the remembrance of childhood is veiled in the ignorance of the child, and that is hazed by the passage of decades as well as the bitter demise of childhood dreams at the hands of reality — and both white male Boomers and GenX, key Trump demographics, had big dreams that died hard. Dreams of privilege expanding endlessly, dreams of unlimited world-altering success, dreams of the industry and union driven white middle class boom of the 1950s trending up, up, forever up, three chickens in every pot and three cars in every McMansion garage on a solid acre in the suburbs with a tall white privacy fence and a dog and a cat and 2.5 children educated at the highest standard in the world.
Only, the Boomers grew up to be Yuppies and ‘vulture capitalists’ and GenX grew up to build the dot-com boom and bust and found the ‘gig economy,’ and the ‘leaders’ of both have spent, collectively, the last 40 years gutting that goose that was laying the golden eggs, haven’t they?
There were a lot of rich guts in the American goose. Gutting it has taken a long time. But the work is almost done, now. What do you do with a fowl once you have it gutted?
You cut it into pieces and fry it, that’s what. It’s delicious.
Then you throw the bones away. Might take another 40 years to get there. And the process is part of the problem. The Boomer and Gen X gutters know they’ll almost certainly be dead and gone by the time they’ve gnawed this goose down to the greasy bones.
And here they are, writing and tweeting and bitching and Trump-voting away, flailing about wildly for someone else to blame. We (white male GenX, of which I am one) aren’t about to blame ourselves collectively. We’re all about ego and the importance of the individual, by which we mean ourselves, singular, not any other white male of our generations and certainly not any other individuals beyond that demographic. I, me, me, I. And if something is wrong you must be to blame and that’s why we have Trump yelling at his fans to ‘knock the shit out of’ people who dare voice dissent and why we have ideological zealots stabbing people for not agreeing with their politics (yes, enforcing the ‘correctness’ of their politics by killing those who disagree. Or, in milder form, by calling them rude names on Twitter.) and attacking people for having brown skin or the ‘wrong’ religious/spiritual/ideological/scientific/educated beliefs and knowledge.
Let’s go back, for a moment, to that perceived childhood idyll they’re so hot to “take our country back” to.
For me, childhood was the 1970s. In my memory, there’s sort of a glow around those years. That glow is the better side of my childhood. A glow of carefree play. What did I know or feel of the ugliness of the war in Vietnam or the national humiliation of Richard Nixon or the horror of Kent State?
Little or nothing, of course. I was a boy, a poor boy to be sure, but one who was wandering field and forest of rural Wisconsin with a faithful dog at my side. I was concerned with wading in creeks, gathering hickory nuts, snacking on wild apples and plums and berries, climbing trees, playing games with my friends, reading books, and so on. I wasn’t watching or comprehending much of the news.
The 1970s were no golden age, to be sure. But they look a bit gold to me when I remember them. Because I was a child, and the cares of adulthood were not yet upon me. The 1950s are no different. Or the 1930s, or 1990s. Wherever your childhood is.
Trumpism is no yearning for utopia, and it is no brave embrace of the hard work of making a better tomorrow. It is a fleeing in the hopeless direction of lost childhood. It is a cowering. For tomorrow is always uncertain, and doubly so for those who wish, uselessly, to live in the past.
The thuggish threats and violence and posturing with gun and fist are not strength. They are the bared teeth of the rat backed into a corner — only the Trumpite corner is built of fear-rhetoric and scaremongering taken to heart by the fearful. It’s not real. But more than imaginary, it is a huge corner packed full of a whole chaos of rats constantly telling each other how hellish and awful life and the United States and the world are. And no matter how much the rats tear into each other, no matter what other of their fellows they manage to bite, what they rage against is impossible to bite, because it is tomorrow itself, and the blood they taste is their own.
They’re raging against the only true constant in the universe: change itself. A constant that nothing can turn aside, delay, or even touch.
And, perhaps fittingly for the generations of Boomers and GenXers that are the meat of the ranks of Trumpism, their idea of a better world is an action B-movie. No actual leaders, just stars whose charisma is a scriptwritten Hollywood facade of strength, whose power is all spectacle and cheesy one-liners and costumery (Mike Pence and Scott Walker on Harleys, anyone?) whose will is the will of the moral and ethical and emotional weakling: the temper tantrum, the uncontrolled rage, the urge to mass murder with big guns and exciting stunts and technicolor explosions, and of course lots and lots of angry, violent intimidation.
Bully tools, but played out in real life instead of the theater.
Yearn for an angry, bloody version of childhood all you like, Trumpites. That way lies chaos and loss and disappointment. Adulthood can be quite a bit more boring, with its reason, and compromise, and sometimes painful ethical choices, and hard work, and compassion. But one way leads into a better future for our children, and one leads into Lord of the Flies for children of all ages, even the balding ones with deep crows’ feet.
…the way this story is going we might end up being the villain.
Whatever you can do to prevent that from coming to pass, whether it is a tiny bit or a larger bit, it is time to do it. And keep doing it until we are well past this yawning abyss of history our nation is currently trying to throw itself into courtesy of Cheeto Don and the elephant he rode in on.
Follow the Leaders: one piece in a series by artist Isaac Cordal.
You may have seen the piece of art above already. It has been bouncing around the internet for some years now, often billed as “politicians debating sea level rise” or “…climate change.” Well, it kind of isn’t, and it kind of is, and following the link in the caption might shed some light on it.
It is a FANTASTIC representation, inadvertent or otherwise, specifically of the current US GOP/Trumpite approach to climate change and rising sea levels.
And that approach…
…yeah. That’s going to be SUPER EFFECTIVE.
But our Fearless Glorious Leader and his Band of
Thugs Merry Men (they’d surely call it sexist to acknowledge the women who choose to support him rather than lump them together under a masculine collective) aren’t restricting themselves to climate change. If you’ve been following current political events, he/they is/are not just ignoring climate change science, but rolling back environmental protections that have cleaned up industry-polluted land, water, and air over the last 40 years, acting to revive coal use and hobble the increasing use of solar and wind power generation, which I might add, is rising because it is now cost effective due to technological advances perpetrated by that terrible villain, science.
In other words, the 21st century is SCARY and THINGS ARE CHANGING and LET’S HIDE IN THE 20TH CENTURY. Unless you’re a public school student, in which case they’re shooting for the 19th century. No, really. The target there is getting rid of all those troublesome public schools and leaving education to corporations and churches, which I’m sure will work out great in an alternate timeline where suddenly technology stops working.
The only problem is that hiding in the past is a gigantic mistake, and it will always be. Yes, there’s such a thing as tradition. But traditions only make sense as long as they help people. If things change and they become harmful, or you realize they’ve been harmful all along and we don’t have a need to accept that harm — I’M LOOKING AT YOU COAL WITH YOUR BLACK LUNG AND OPEN PITS AND TOXIC RUNOFF AND OH WHAT A SHOCK BURNING THOUSANDS OF ANCIENT FORESTS IN CONCENTRATED FORM EVERY DAY MIGHT RELEASE GASES THAT CHANGE THE CLIMATE A TAD GEE WHIZ WHO WOULDA THUNK IT — then you say “yay, positive change!” and start using wind turbines to charge your iThingiee. And we all breathe a little easier, and people who live near the ocean like me start thinking that maybe, just maybe, our descendants won’t have to flee farther inland in the 22nd century.
I don’t pass along videos often, especially not hour-long satirical jabs at our most unfortunate current Presidential candidate, the USA’s answer to the UK’s nativist/racist UKIP party, Donald Trump.
But I do have a bit of political conscience, I genuinely believe that Trump presents a danger to the future of the US above and far beyond what any of the other candidates may pose, and I also believe that satire, like all storytelling, has a great potential to lift up the positive and dispel the negative.
And so in the spirit of dispelling a grave negative, I invite you to sit down and spend a little time watching Trump being lampooned in the spirit of The Great Dictator (although it cannot match the eloquence of that classic).
This is part 2 of 3 — if you just arrived and would like to read this story from the beginning, click HERE.
“Election night 2020… never thought it would come to this,” Trump said behind his hand, not realizing he’d spoken aloud until the aides on either side of him turned their heads a notch, caught themselves, and swiveled their heads back to look as far from him as possible.
He’d been slipping out of character more often in the last year. The White House chef had asked him after New Years’ just what on earth one man could be doing with half a pound of powdered tumeric a week. “Mind your goddamn business and don’t run out,” Trump had snapped, and the chef had looked at him… looked at him…
…like his supporters looked at him at rallies. Wide eyes. Half-open mouth. High color on the cheeks—the chef’s of puzzlement and embarrassment, the supporters of excitement, the smell of blood. How they’d looked at him after Tehran, after the bombing run, long-range stealth bombers in the night raining bunker busters and incendiaries on the head of their Supreme Leader and President. Gnashing teeth, howling mouths, demanding the same for Mexico City who still hadn’t coughed up a single thin peso for the tall cinderblock and razor wire wall that stretched from Gulf to Pacific or for the maintenance of the army divisions patrolling it.
Nobody on the right had dared to challenge his nomination for a second term except for a handful of real far-outers, flat-earth-conspiracy-theorists and fluoride-chemtrail-Illuminatists and people who thought Ayn Rand was a bleeding heart leftist lib. Out of that handful, three had been found dead, two in rivers tied to heavy objects and one in a swampy ditch with a skunk stuffed down his pants and the pants held shut with zip ties.
The skunk would have gotten out if the paranoid hadn’t been in the habit of wearing kevlar clothes. The left—the Democrats floated a throwaway candidate, angling for 2024, if it came. And the rest of that wing, well, after Bernie nobody quite had the heart to give it a real try again. At least his followers kept the hate verbal to that side of the political fence; old habits die hard; the worst violence usually comes from inside the house. Nobody on the left had their nether regions clawed off by a skunk, thank goodness.
The non-emergency secure line rang. Trump nodded at the aide on his right, who got up and answered.
“Comedy Central is calling it,” the aide said after listening for a moment.
“Yeah? Sun’s not even down. Not surprised, not with the polls,” Trump said, voice flat and slow. Because of that flatness, rumors had been going around for months: the President is fighting chronic fatigue, maybe it’s cancer and it’s being kept secret, Trump’s old and pushing too hard, not delegating enough. The rumors hadn’t scared off any votes.
“Sixty-three percent of the popular vote, they’re projecting. Bigger even than FDR and LBJ. Biggest win in the history of the country, sir,” the aide said, awe creeping into her voice.
Trump was dead tired of awe. “Thanks, Ysabel,” he said. “Why don’t you two hand off and go downstairs, grab a bite? I’ll call down to the chef, tell him to give you my surf and turf.”
“You okay, Mister President?” Ysabel asked, hesitating.
“Just not hungry. Tired. Knew this would happen anyway, it’s no surprise. Gonna get a full night if I can, have to be up for the cameras tomorrow. You know. Night,” he said, and turned his back, locked himself in his private bedroom, crawled into bed shoes and all.
“Don’t know what the hell I’m going to do now,” he whispered to the ceiling, and closed his eyes.
Part 3 will be posted Friday (and this notice will become a link to it) — see you then!
It has been quite a while since I posted anything in serial form here. So here’s something new.
I wrote this one with three scenes, so I will post it in three parts: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The entirety is about 2500 words, so each installment should be a nice little read fit for a coffee break.
Update, Saturday — Now that all 3 parts are posted, LINKS TO THE EBOOK VERSION ARE POSTED ON PART 3. Go straight there if you’d like the ebook, or just go ahead and read through here, THEN get the ebook. Your choice!
Please — enjoy.
The Last Trump
(A Farce of Politics)
Act 1 of 3
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:26
King James Bible
The candidate, after looking back, forth, back to ensure no cameras were pointed in his direction (here, there never were, but he always looked even so), fidgeted. With a sterling fork he pushed an uneaten bite of his midnight snack around the plate. The plate was plain white, catering standard. He frowned at it. Too plain. With a jerk of his fingers, he shoved the blob of lobster he’d been torturing over. Fat black caviar grains and an autumnal cascade of gold flake spilled from the top. He set the fork down on the table, click, and crushed a salty fish egg into a smear of oil with a fingertip, which he licked.
“She should have seceded by now,” he misspoke. Nobody corrected him. “She’s a loser, a weak baby loser feee-male. Should have given up the second I was nominated. Ha. Ha.” His head glided side to side like the eye of an old-school Cylon, sweeping the campaign war room full of red eyes, half-unknotted ties, crumpled napkins, and five o’clock shadow. Where his gaze fell, heads nodded, lips smiled, throats pushed up a boil of plastic laughs.
He went back to torturing the lobster bite. His team went back to paying attention to the bank of televisions on the far wall, each displaying a different news channel. At the front of the room, a couple of interns clicked mice, refreshing news sites over and over. Trump’s fork clicked his plate. Click. The interns clicked mice. Click-click—clickclick. Somewhere a toe tapped a scuffed vibram sole on the leg of a folding table. Tap, tap. A round generic clock high up on the wall counted seconds. Tick-tick-tick. Time passed.
“CNN!” one of the mouseclicking interns shouted, and the clicking-tapping-ticking disappeared. Someone cranked the volume on the CNN TV.
“…again, calling California for Donald Trump, who we project will be the 45th President of the United States of America…”
Whoops and applause drowned out the audio. Smiling, nodding, not speaking, knowing he couldn’t be heard over the celebration, Trump retreated to his quiet room, a refurbished walk-in supply closet. He flicked the lights-fan switch, closed the heavy steel door, ignored the overstuffed chair and facepalmed.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” he mumbled. Fished in his pocket, pulled out a bottle of tumeric capsules, cracked one open on the table. He made a thin yellowy-brown line of it on the little laptop table beside the chair with a black AmEx and tooted it in one fell snort through a rolled Benjamin. “Whuhh,” he said, shaking his head as the—for him—drug opened his eyes and detached his reality from the world just enough for him to set his shaken persona firmly back in place.
“The show must go on,” he mouthed to himself, and opened the door. The cheers had died down to backslaps and energized chatter. On CNN a pair of announcers, now ignored, were finding out how many different ways they could re-hash “Trump won.”
“What did I tell you? I’m YUUGE! President Trump! America! Did someone order the letters? I want my name right dead up the middle of the Washington Monument the second I get my hands on a pen. Gold! With lights! Rename it. George Washington is old news, I like my monuments to be about TODAY’S President. I got some executive orders to write, starting with that one. Maybe the second one will be that wall around Mexico I promised. Trump keeps his promises! But first—I promised everyone champagne, who’s got the bubbles?”
After making the rounds for a couple of hours shaking hands, knowing the party, once started, would persist on its own inertia until the sun was well and truly up on Trump’s USA, Trump chose his moment and retreated to his quiet room again. He bolted it, dimmed the lights, loosened his tie, kicked off his shoes, and reclined in the baby-soft leather recliner.
“What a bunch of idiots there are on this podunk rock,” he said to the ceiling, closed his eyes, and was asleep in seconds.
END PART 1