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The Smart Money is on Trump to Win Again in 2020

July 29, 2019

In 2016, the United States of America made the biggest mistake (to date) in the nation’s history. Donald Trump, who so many on the left thought was essentially a joke candidate, won the presidency. Though he did lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, that was irrelevant because of the electoral college. It’s not the first time that this method of electing American presidents has come into play in a significant way, and the system never favors the Democrats, which is why Republicans will always move to block any attempt to ever change it.

The hope for the left when Trump was elected was that once he was in office, he would tone down the rhetoric. “Maybe he won’t be as bad as we fear,” some of them thought. “Maybe he’ll calm down a little and start acting…dare we say it…presidential?”

But now, here we are, some two-and-a-half years into the Trump presidency, and I don’t think that any Democrat, Independent, progressive, or liberal could have possibly envisioned the nightmare that they would be facing. Trump rallies have come more and more to resemble Hitler-era fascist cosplay, complete with cute merchandise for everyone to wear. It’s MAGA hats and chants of “send her back,” rather than swastikas and armbands, but otherwise, the visuals are all the same.

When you look at the faces (ninety-five percent white) of the individuals who attend Trump rallies, there is a wild light in all of their eyes that is indicative of humanity’s worst instincts. This is transparent evil, some innate, cruel desire to persecute that seems almost intrinsic to our nature. And that is what has disheartened me the most about Trump’s rise to power.

I was born in 1981, and I guess that at some point, probably when Obama became our first president of color, I thought that things were only going to get better in America the longer I lived. By “better,” I mean the liberal version of that word. I assumed that within my lifetime, I would see more African-American presidents. I figured I would see the first female president. I thought maybe, if I lived into my eighties or nineties, that I could even see the first openly gay or trans president.

I figured that the LBGTQ community would continue to gain more visibility and equal footing. I thought that racism, while it would never be eradicated, would be weeded out more and more with each passing generation. I assumed that abortion rights would always be safe. I even had the absurd notion that organized religion would begin to dwindle, replaced by the secular humanism that has always seemed to me like the only logical belief system. I was pretty stupid, wasn’t I?

In truth, the exact opposite of all of that is happening. After Obama, a large swath of America were terrified. They yearned for the old days so badly that they backslid in as dramatic of a fashion as could ever be imagined. That is what Trump is and why his message is so enticing to so many. When he came out trumpeting the slogan “Make America Great Again,” several prominent segments of the population embraced it because of an intense and abiding fear of change.

In the middle of the last century, there were lots of groups who would have loved to see some change. Women were foremost among them, as were members of the LGBTQ community. The same could be said of Jews or people of color. Really, the only individuals who didn’t want things to change at that point were male, Christian, and Caucasian. Things were fantastic for them at that point; they were firmly on top. Why would they have wanted their lives to be any different?

With Obama’s ascendance, rather than the continued progression toward some utopian ideal that I had envisioned, America took a hard-right turn. Trump’s panicked followers embraced him for being a guy who was an “anti-politician,” and why wouldn’t they? In many ways, he was perfect for them, a brash blowhard who didn’t play by the political rules of engagement that had been in existence for as long as anyone could remember.

The real face of many Americans was exposed, to the dismay of people like myself. They didn’t care if their candidate sexually molested dozens of women. Grabbing them by the pussy didn’t matter in the slightest if he could make the scary immigrants and Muslims go away. So what if his claims of being a great businessman were exposed as fraudulent? So what if he colluded with Russia? So what if he was barely literate, or if he had lied about his physical condition to avoid getting drafted into Vietnam?

Here was a man who had only attained his position because of the family into which he had been born. In reality, if he had been born into poverty, he lacked the intellect to ever rise to assistant manager of a McDonald’s, let alone president of the United States.

But none of that mattered. He spoke their language, and I now realize how blind I was in not seeing this coming. With Obama serving two terms in office, I dared to dream too big, and it overcame my natural cynicism. I should have anticipated what was about to happen, and that’s on me.

In many ways, Trump does epitomize America, or at least the worst possible version of it. He’s the guy who got everything handed to him, so he doesn’t need to value intellectualism. He has no use for it. He’s a walking advertisement for all of our most perverse impulses, the president who likes his steaks well done and smothered in ketchup. Maybe, with the run that we’ve had at the top for so long, we deserved him in some way.

Now, nothing is the same. The Democrats are in disarray. They cannot conceive of a plan of attack that is anywhere near as brazen as what Trump can conjure with a few careless, misspelled tweets. They’re dealing with an opponent who has literally no shame, and no conscience. Think of the way that the nation pitched a hissy fit when Clinton had the affair with Lewinsky. Think of how far we’ve come, or, more accurately, how far we have sunk.

As for me, I can’t image a scarier time to be alive in America. This is, as so many people have told me, the darkest timeline. I’m an atheist, but I have a last name that paints me as obviously Jewish, even though I never had a bar mitzvah, and I haven’t set foot in a synagogue in probably thirty years. There’s more violence than ever against Jews, but it’s not like I’m unique in feeling the way that I do. Muslims are in the same boat, as are people of color, or members of the LGBTQ community, or those belonging to a whole slew of other groups.

In the America that Trump wants to create, there are only a select few who are safe, and they’re the braying hounds who you see frothing and foaming at every one of his rallies. They’re the ones with those unhinged looks who I now understand were only waiting for the right candidate, and now the right president, to start up with the dog whistles that they know only so well.

If I were a betting man, I would put up my house without hesitation on Trump winning another term. It’s not cynicism now, just realism. The wool is gone from my eyes, as it is from those of so many other liberals. They realize the monsters who they were living next to the whole time, who are now emboldened to the point where they can cast aside their masks and fly their true colors.

There was a time when I never, ever could have envisioned expatriating, but now I think about it with more and more urgency. I think of where I could move, and how. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of things that I love about this country. As screwed up as it is, I still feel like we’re doing better than plenty of other places in the world. But when things are getting worse instead of better, where is the tipping point? Might it be when concentration camps are set up, or when there are raids to root out the undesirables? Come to think of it, I guess we’re there right now, aren’t we?


The North Korean Threat

October 11, 2017

It’s rumored that before former president Obama left office, he met with incoming president Donald Trump. Obama told him that one of the biggest threats facing America, and likely one of the biggest headaches during his presidency, would be Kim Jong Un and North Korea. I doubt Trump was even paying attention. He was probably busy engaging in another pointless Twitter feud with a D-list celebrity, or possibly daydreaming about fucking Ivanka. In any event, we’re a few months into the Trump presidency, and North Korean rhetoric against the United States seems to be rapidly increasing. I can’t really say something like “it’s at an all time high,” because North Korean saber rattling has been going on for decades. It’s only the uptick in testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles that should have the U.S., and the rest of the world, taking notice.

It’s estimated that in the near future, it’s possible that the secretive country headed up by “Rocket Man,” to borrow Trump’s cute little nickname for the tubby autocrat, could have the capacity to launch a missile capable of hitting the west coast of the United States. It could also have a nuclear weapon with a payload big enough to cause catastrophic damage. The missile tests in which the North Koreans had been engaging for years were greeted with derision by the rest of the world. The rockets blew up soon after launch, or went wildly off course. But the latest tests seem to show significant strides in terms of both power and accuracy, and it’s not only the U.S. that’s worried. No one wants a nuclear powered North Korea. Trump’s Twilight Zone-flavored speech at the U.N. may have alarmed some of the delegates, but they at least agreed with the sentiment that North Korea is dangerous, and becoming more so with each passing day.

Years ago, I talked about the arbitrary nature of stockpiling nuclear weaponry. What I mean is that the United States has nuclear arms, and several other countries do as well. Having nuclear arms means that, as a nation, you have to be taken seriously. If you’re not, it’s possible that you might just decide to launch against your neighbor, in a fit of pique. America, which has had nuclear capabilities for decades, loves to try and dictate which other countries should be allowed to have them. It was just the same with Iran nearly a decade ago as it is with North Korea now. We like to have our own nuclear arsenal, but if it seems as though a country we don’t like is going to get the bomb, we try to impose sanctions and even threaten war against them. I’m not advocating that it would be a good thing for either Iran or North Korea to have nuclear weapons. What I’m saying is that it is and always has been hypocritical for the U.S., or any other nuclear powered country, to say “We should be allowed to have nuclear weapons to defend ourselves, but this other nation shouldn’t.” Who are we to dictate such terms? We’re not God, and no other nation is either.

Our declaring that we should have nuclear arms and North Korea shouldn’t seems to presuppose that our leadership is steadier and more rational than theirs. If Kim Jong Un is so volatile, it makes sense that he shouldn’t be able to have nuclear weapons. However, are we honestly saying, during a Trump presidency, that our leadership is more tempered, more restrained, more trustworthy? Look at Trump’s childishness, his pettiness, his egomania. Are we that much more comfortable that this guy has the nuclear launch codes? What if, late one night, instead of insulting the latest celebrity via Twitter, he decides he’s going to unilaterally wipe some other country off the map because of a perceived slight? How farfetched is that, exactly? With Trump’s volatility, the idea of what’s impossible changes almost on a daily basis. At this point, I’d be willing to believe almost anything. I’m almost as nervous with Trump being in power as I would be if I was living in North Korea.

Ultimately, what we can do about North Korea and Kim Jong Un becomes a question of might making right. If the U.S. can find a way to stall their weapons development through sanctions or intimidation, we’ll try to do so. But intimidation seems useless, and sanctions haven’t been getting us very far. It seems almost a foregone conclusion that North Korea will eventually develop the weapon they crave, unless the U.S. makes some sort of preemptive strike against them. It’s anybody’s guess how all this is going to shake out. There are philosophies in life that amount to something along the lines of “only worry about the things that you can change,” and I certainly can’t do anything about the North Koreans. The only thing I could do against Trump was vote against him, and look how that turned out. I don’t know if Trump and Kim Jon Un’s blustering back and forth is going to eventually lead to something more than words. In a way, they seem to be like peas in a pod, both of them clearly relishing all the talk of blowing each other’s countries off the map. We’ll all have to wait and see if either one of them ever decides to put their money where their mouth is…or their missiles, as the case may be.


The Loss of Our Dignity

September 20, 2017

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been rereading and revising essays, deciding which ones I wanted to include in the collection. As I mentioned last week, it’s now available on Amazon, for Kindle. It was interesting to go back over ten years of material, seeing what I thought about political, societal, and personal matters when I was in different living and working situations.

I don’t think my politics have changed much in the past decade. I’m still liberal on most issues, though I still have plenty of beefs with the Democratic party. I certainly tore into former President Obama here on the site over the years, though not nearly as much as I did the Republicans for various reasons. I haven’t spoken out about Donald Trump here on the site recently, for two reasons. The first is that a couple of years ago, I determined that I wasn’t going to be doing the weekly blogs anymore, for the simple fact that I wasn’t being paid for them. The effort no longer seemed worth it, and I felt like my creative energies were better spent being focused elsewhere. The other reason I haven’t bad-mouth Trump is that he’s too easy of a target. The man’s flaws are self-evident, and my pointing them out wouldn’t have made any difference. Today, however, I thought I’d break my silence. Why not? It’s not likely to make any difference in my personal life, nor is it going to get the Orange-in-Chief ushered out the door any faster, but it will allow me to blow off some steam.

Trump has been president now for about eight months. He’s weathered numerous mini-scandals while in office, but I thought some of the ones he faced before he was even elected would be enough to swamp his campaign, and it never happened. The whole “grab them by the pussy” business, a couple of decades ago, seems like it would have been enough to derail him, but it didn’t happen. Likewise, his handling of the woman’s death in Charlottesville recently, where she was run down by a white supremacist, seems like it might have been sufficient to get him impeached. It didn’t happen, nor have any of the allegations so far about his campaign colluding with Russia during the election. I suppose it’s still possible that a smoking gun could be discovered so dramatic that it can no longer be ignored, even by the G.O.P., but if you want my opinion, I think we’re probably stuck with this guy till at least 2020.

The argument has been made that Trump being elected was a market correction for eight years of an Obama presidency, and maybe that’s true. It has also been suggested that this correction is at least partially due to racial motives. Maybe the people who supported Trump did so because they believed in what this conman was saying. They believed he’d build a wall on the Mexican border, they believed he’d save jobs in the coal industry…but I sincerely believe that some of them voted for him because regardless of what he said or did, they would have voted for any white male, just because they felt it would be going back to the status quo. They surely weren’t going to vote for Hillary. Sexism is just as much alive as is racism, in this country.

My problems with Trump run deeper the more I learn about the man, and I knew plenty about him already. I never watched The Apprentice, but I’ve sure watched professional wrestling over the years, and I know all about Trump’s association with Vince McMahon and the W.W.E. I knew Trump to be a bloviating blowhard, a puffed-up caricature of what he envisioned a New York billionaire should be. He always made much of his success, but his track record in business stated otherwise. I recall going to Atlantic City and seeing his casino abandoned, a rotting eyesore jutting out from the shoreline, letters hanging off the façade. It looked like a set piece from The Walking Dead. I was just as surprised as all the pundits when his candidacy did as well as it did, but, like the rest of them, I never believed he could actually be elected. It was inconceivable…and then it happened.

The people who voted for Trump wanted someone who “wasn’t a politician,” and that’s what they got. They got a man who had no previous political experience at all, had never held an elected office at any level. They got a reality T.V. star, and they got a presidency unlike anything ever before seen. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, watching this guy, and we’re only eight months in. Yesterday, Trump addressed the United Nations for the first time. Maybe, with his ego, he expected it to be like one of his victory rallies in Bum-Fuck, Idaho, with people cheering his greatest hits, “Lock her up!” “Build the wall!” He started riffing on Kim Jong Un, calling him by the pet name he’d devised, “Rocket Man.” There was no laughter, and there was no applause. The delegates of dozens of countries had never seen anything like this guy in the flesh. I think most of them were shocked, appalled. They’d heard and seen how much of an ass the American president was, but it was something else to see it in person. Here was what America had become; this is what we elected.

That’s what I think bothers me the most about this guy. Yes, his policies are awful, just as much they are arbitrary. What would it actually accomplish to ban transsexual service members from the armed forces? What would it actually accomplish, building that wall on the Mexican border? How can these be anyone’s priorities? But, while all of that is cause for alarm, I think it hurts me the most when I see how much shame and embarrassment it brings to this nation that this guy represents us on the world stage. Say what you want about Obama, or Clinton, or even George Bush, either version. At least they were all politicians; they sounded somewhat presidential, although W’s mangling of the English language was a trial. He at least attempted to retain some measure of dignity; Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word. He feuds with celebrities on Twitter, he mocks disabled people, he shouts down any dissention, determined to have the last word, like a petulant toddler. His supporters don’t care. This is what they wanted…it’s the Mean Girl presidency.

As I said, I believe we’re stuck with Trump till 2020. How much damage he’s going to do in the meantime is anybody’s guess. Perhaps he’ll actually antagonize North Korea to the point that they back up some of the rhetoric they’ve been spitting at us for decades. But one thing is undeniable: America is a laughingstock right now. There were times in the past when I found it hard to be an American, because I disagreed so vehemently with governmental policy. It’s never been anything like this before. This is an unprecedented time in American and world history, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. We’re living in the era where the president goes on unhinged Twitter sprees in the middle of the night, and continues denying climate change while Houston and parts of Florida are underwater. Perhaps this is what we deserved, as a nation; we deserved to learn some humility. One can only hope that the Democrats can come up with somebody in 2020 who can play by the rules of the new political gamesmanship of this modern era, which is to say, no rules at all. In the wild west of a Trump presidency, there is no over the top. There is no lowest common denominator. No matter how tasteless, no matter how repellent a thought or action, it could be coming our way at any moment. This guy is capable of anything. Hold onto your hats with one hand, America…and hold your nose with the other.

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