Friday, December 14, 2018

Grab a squeegee; cleaning up after Trump will not be easy

     “Government is like a pump,” Adlai Stevenson said during the presidential campaign of 1952. “And what it pumps up is just what we are, a fair sample of the intellect, the ethics, and the morals of the people, no better, no worse.”
     That’s true, sadly, though a hard truth to stomach in the era of Trump. Eww, yuck. Where did that come from?
     Oh, right; it came from us. Half of us anyway, nearly.
     We’ve become so accustomed to this daily spew of presidential bile: rage tweets, bald lies, outrageous claims, the whole wretched vomitorium, that it’s easy to become frozen in the moment, staring transfixed at today’s slurry, bubbling up from the depths, hardly daring to hope that at some point in the indeterminate future the man is going to be booted off the stage.
     And then what?
     Cue the celebration, right? Like the end of a Star Wars movie: trumpets blaring, banners flapping, Ewoks dancing, Luke and Leia exchanging coy smiles.
     That’s what people seem to anticipate, with growing expectation, as Robert Mueller picks off Trump’s confederates one-by-one, and the bloodhounds of justice bay, closer and closer. The end is in sight!

     Pretty to think so. If you are feeling that way, well, spoiler alert. You might want to stop reading here.
     As comforting as it is to imagine that all our problems will be over, that, alas, is as much an illusion as The Donald's claim that electing him would make all our dreams come true. Trump is a symptom, not a cause, and the same knee-knocking fear, moral rot and intellectual dishonesty that heaved him from the bowels of our national experience will disgorge a new version. Maybe even a more dangerous one. Another hard lesson of our era is that there is no shortage of men ready to betray their country and its ideals for adulation and power. The pump is still chugging. Who knows what it will dredge up next?
     What to do? Stevenson never got to be president. He was the original egghead, a term coined in tribute to his bald dome. I won't portray that as a tragedy. He had a certain smug, fey, self-satisfied quality that rubbed people the wrong way.
     We need to avoid that. Stevensonian superiority is a trap that even he recognized. During that 1952 election, in Chicago, he said: "Government in a democracy cannot be stronger or more tough-minded than its people. It cannot be more inflexibly committed to the task than they."
     And that task is? To look beyond Trump, to the heart of the problem: his supporters. To coax them away from the Trumpian nightmare and back to the American dream. It won't be easy. The first step is understand them. They are not evil, they are not stupid, necessarily. Dismissing the Right the way it dismisses the Left, as traitors and idiots, is not helpful. Then how? Since Trump is a con-man; it might help us to consider them The Defrauded.
     Think of an elderly person who gives her life savings to a Nigerian prince. Why? Because he reached out to her and offered her a vision—a cool $20 million USD, in an aluminum suitcase.
     When you sit Aunt Betty down, and tell her the bad news—your money's gone, there is no prince—sure, she might respond with appropriate shock, regret and embarrassment. But that requires a savvy that would have shielded her from this folly in the first place.
     More likely, she grabs the checkbook back, screams "NO!" It is you who are lying, saying these awful things about Prince Haruum. The dream is not easily surrendered.
     And before you scorn that person, look at your own life. Being clear-sighted isn't difficult when the view is nice. If you have a good job and a supportive spouse and acceptable kids and a not-bad house, then sure, those clutching at a con can seem inexplicable. For many Americans, Trump's slimy, bogus dream, his goose-stepping superiority, is all they have, and if you're going to laugh as their dream turns to ash, well, where is that empathy you are so proud of?
     Like any patriotic American, I'm looking forward to the day when Trump and his cohort are squeegeed into the storm drain. When that happens, the really hard work will begin: dealing with his duped followers.


  1. When he's gone, I shall be singing "Ding, dong, the witch is dead, etc!

  2. As I've said earlier, for many people a false hope is better than no hope at all and that's what Trump gave many of his supporters. But, there's going to be a need for repentance across the ideological spectrum. Trump wouldn't have had a chance if our leaders both in government and business were doing more than just lip service when it came to the struggles of ordinary Americans working hard and not having much to show for it.

  3. The duped and the deluded are one thing, the deplorables another. Those who mutter "insurrection" when talk of impeachment or the possibility/probability of a 2020 defeat reaches their ears, are another. These are people who are armed to the teeth and we liberals are the ultimate soft target bragging about our ability to go through life without a firearm to snuggle up to.

    And the other problem is that Trump's crude and boorish behavior is catching, as the Pelosi, Schumer and Trump televised insult fest shows. Can a decent, modest, scrupulously honest individual win against a deceitful, maniacal, thieving Mussolini, who will say anything, do anything, to gain the upper hand?


    1. Demographically speaking, I should have been easy pickings for His Orangeness and his bogus con game. I'm an angry old geezer who never had a good job, never made any real money, never had any kids, went through a bitter divorce, became estranged fom both family and friends (so who needs a smartphone?), and lives in a 900-square-foot bungalow in one of the most distressed cities in America. But I'm just the opposite. When the wingnuts ask me how many "Jew bucks" George Soros pays me to campaign and protest, my reply is always "Tell me how and where I get those checks...I'm entitled to back pay, retroactive to 1967."

      I am doing anything but laughing as the Deplorables (and no, that is not the name of an Irish rock band...if only it were) dream turns to smoke and ash. Empathy, hell...these people scare the crap out of me, and so does what may lie ahead. The well-armed "insurrectionists" with itchy trigger fingers may one day begin picking off liberals and lefties and the soft targets may wake up and wise up and take a few pages from anarchist cookbooks and Weatherman manuals. Then what will we have? Not two or three Northern Irelands, but two or three hundred. Civil War Version 2.0.

      Do the math...America has 175 times the population of Northern Ireland. If 3,600 died there, that means 630,000 fatalities here...about the same figure as 150 years ago in Version 1.0...or roughly the population of Baltimore. But given today's firepower and the number of available weapons and the number of those eager to use them (on both sides) and America's historic love of violence as a solution to its problems...all bets are off.

      Was it Royko who said, after MLK, that we are pointing our own gun at our own head and it is our finger on our trigger? There may be a lot of grief and destruction and misery and pain down the road...and a lot of newly-created cemeteries. Or maybe not. Maybe there is still some hope. Maybe, after another couple of years of this national nightmare, Joe Biden will kick Donald's sorry ass to the curb, in a landslide.

  4. Vomitorium - Now that's a new one and a good one!

    1. Actually an old one and a fake one as well:

      Web results
      Vomitorium - Wikipedia
      A vomitorium is a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre or a stadium, through which big crowds can exit rapidly at the end of a performance. ... The Latin word vomitorium, plural vomitoria, derives from the verb vomō, vomere, "to spew forth".

      Thanks, David, for highlighting the word -- lots of us, including me and apparently including Neil, thought this referred to a place where those nastily effete Romans puked their guts out, so they could eat and drink more.

  5. Trump's influence is fading, his supporters, like his appointed staff, bailing. I don't think Republicans will want his support in future elections.


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