Monday, December 16, 2019
Now I'm as proud a liberal Democrat as they come. "The king of left-wing lunacy in the Windy City" Breitbart News called me waaaaay back in 2010, to my button-popping pride.
But we do have a defeatist streak, no doubt developed after, you know, losing so much. Every victory from the Civil War to Civil Rights carries with it its own jaw-drawing backwash, a Thermidor where advances are undone, achievements are blunted, and if things don't quite entirely go back to where they were before our supposed triumph, they get damn close. Barack Obama being the latest example, the avatar of cool American intellectualism and weep-with-you compassion, the living embodiment of our national triumph over our grim racist past, ends up the midwife delivering the viscous monstrosity of the Trump era, squalling and puckering, flapping and flailing, half human, half your worst nightmare made flesh. Thanks Obama!
So perhaps it is natural, particularly after Trump's English doppelganger, Boris Johnson, crushed his opponent last week, that a certain By The Waters of Babylon We Sat Down And Wept quality has entered into Democratic discourse, the crux being that we're staring four more years of Trump in the face as the Democratic field of contenders try to decide if they're imitating a Three Stooges short or the final scene of a Keystone Kops two-reeler.
If he wins again, the logic goes, the American Dream is Over. The fabric of civil society, permanently torn asunder.
"When I contemplate the sort of illiberal oligarchy that would await my children should Donald Trump win another term," Michelle Goldberg writes in the Times. "the scale of the loss feels so vast that I can barely process it."
Really? Because last time I looked six of Trump's closest allies are either in prison or on their way. I'm not saying that the election of Donald J. Trump, by 3 million fewer votes than were cast for Hillary Clinton let it never be forgotten, was not a terrible thing for this country, or that all sorts of terrible repercussions are not taking place. What I'm saying is, this isn't our first brush with trouble. We've endured shit before.
Like what? Take your pick. Attacked by an axis of Japan, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. That looked bad, in 1942. A grim McCarthyite witch hunt 10 years later. A bloody war in Southeast Asia 10 years after that, in which—in case you forgot—57,000 young Americans died. That's a lot of Americans, and as visceral a shame as Donald Trump represents, and as much as I hope that every supporter lives to kneel weeping and clawing his face on the rail of regret for so mindlessly backing a mendacious moron, it ain't as bad as those young lives snuffed out. Ten years after Vietnam began ramping up, Watergate, and a president we thought was the nadir of loathsomeness at the time, the respect for government that hadn't been killed by Vietnam snuffed out, ushering the mushy moralizing of Jimmy Carter.
What I'm saying is, the United States has been through a lot, and might have a bit more resilience than we are giving her credit for. And we still have a lot on our side. The free press is still free. All the "fake news" horseshit that runs out of Trump's mouth in a diarrheal stream hasn't changed that, yet. We've still got laws. The rest of the world sees our shame very clearly—even his buddy Johnson kept Trump at an arm's distance, worried about his fatal embrace. Let's not throw in the towel quite yet.
I haven't given up on 2020. I'm hoping that the Dems offer up a candidate able to withstand the blast of the worst Donald Trump and his Droid Army of Treasonous Twits can throw at him, or her. But if America loses again in 2020 and an all Republican Congress changes the Constitution so that Trump can serve a third term in 2025 and his disembodied head preserved in a jar of nutrients can serve after that, then America will somehow right itself and recover. Germany got over 12 years of Hitler. We'll get over four or eight or however many years Trump will continue to hold 42 percent of the country in a mesmeric trance.
What's the alternative? And besides, if a few Twitter bites from a human flea like Trump can infect the entire American system, then we weren't that hardy to begin with. I don't believe it. Being liberal, I believe in truth, honesty, courage, democracy, government, patriotism, diversity, compassion, and I believe in the essential bedrock durability of the American dream. They are hardy and will survive. We will hock out this mouthful of poison, one way or another. Be patient, work hard and don't give up.