Note: I just discovered the piece below floating around in my draft material. Back then I evidently held myself to high a standard to publish the thing, but that’s not longer a cross I bear. So take yourself a few years back in time and enjoy.
So I find myself in this surreal void, a sort of moral and ethical vacuum – gently tumbling head over heals in the wake of the realization that Donald Trump will be the President of the United States on January 20, 2017. I feel myself shouting and rolling my eyes, gesturing spastically – all in silence, and to no avail given the inescapable physical properties of a vacuum. Through the transparent walls of my chamber I am amazed to witness life proceeding more or less as usual, oblivious to my pathetic thrashing.
Then there’s another part of me sitting here on the sofa, a little more down to earth, wondering “What the hell just happened?” The potty mouth won? The guy who embodies such a convenient anti-matter role model for raising children? Never has there been a more ready-made example of what you don’t want to turn out like. How often is it so easy to get your point across to kids but just pointing at the TV and saying “You want to end up like him?” Now toxic teenagers the world over have an answer: “You mean lie the President of the United States?”
Yet what’s done is done. You can argue it wasn’t “just another election,” yet then again, you can argue that it was. For we weepy liberals it constituted digging up Hitler’s corpse, fitting it with a freakish wig, shoving a bottle of anti-social elixir down it’s calcified gullet, giving it life and voting for it. For the other side it was putting an end to the relentless liberal dogma permeating every aspect of our society once and for all via a remote controlled drone with a predilection for losing touch with the joystick on occasion. Yet the magical piece was the fact that these occasions were, without exception, converted to electoral currency. Absent this magic he would have been laughed off the stage countless times over, not even worthy of SNL fodder.
Everyone was bracing for the fallout of a Hillary victory. Would the knuckle dragging component of Trump’s 2nd Amendment army spring into action in response to The Donald’s whimsical suggestion earlier in the campaign? Would what many would consider the inevitable rigging accusations on Trumps part throw the country into disarray? After all, she cheated Bernie Sanders in the primary, why not Trump in the general election?
But nobody was ready for the result. While soccer Moms coast to coast were busy power shopping pant suits at the Salvation Army for an eventual surreal victory dance, Trump was winning the election. When Pennsylvania fell, all across Flyover USA the metal on leather sound of Glock 21’s being holstered was nearly discernible. Pitchforks and torches returned to their humble raisons d’etre. And 59,535,522 Joe and Joline Sixpacks arose from their recliners, adjusted their packages, belched and got on Facebook. They were feeling durn near conciliatory in that unexpected moment – until they witnessed the tortured liberal angst online. That got ’em mad. Then when things got real, Joe and Joline went back to looking for their speed loaders.
I think the older I get, the more patterns I see. Everywhere. I remember in the 60’s my parents thought the Beatles sounded and looked exactly like the Rolling Stones, which I attributed to early onset dementia at the time. Yet sure enough, 80% of popular music sounds the same to me nowadays – autotune, drum machines, jangling body jewelry, lyrically even more trivial than my tunes back in the day. But I know that’s very likely just me spewing all the social generalizations and prejudices that have metastasized within me over the course of time.
But I see political patterns as well that I believe might even stand up to some superficial scrutiny. Campaigns are one example; they become progressively negative as time goes by. Eventually we come to the point where “The sky is blue” becomes an attack ad, and overt personality smearing consisting of lies, innuendo and half truths become “Telling it like it is.” This primal “plain talk” is in no way a visceral, off the cuff, heart felt response. Mind you – this vitriol is generated by people in very expensive suits/outfits with advanced degrees in mass thought manipulation such as Public Policy, Marketing, Fundamentalist Religion, you name it. Every verbal missile, no matter how colloquial sounding, is the measured result of paid professionals happy to check their souls at the door. Then when you throw in Igor from Stalingrad to the mix, whose juvenile, English as a 4th language malarkey is gladly slurped up by the knuckle draggers, dispensing with reality really becomes the name of the game.
Getting old has some pretty severe drawbacks. Routine bodily functions can become hills to die on. Trifocals become incredibly irritating encumbrances and 3 inch toys on the carpet become potential hip busters. Worst of all, one’s ability to recognize and act on cognitive nuance diminishes terribly. Still, our perceived abilities relative to social pattern recognition live on relatively unscathed – and everyone agrees that, in this political age, appreciation of nuance is a serious liability. And for anyone that ever struggled in college with putting together a bibliography, this age of “no supporting evidence required” must come with a huge sigh of relief.