"She had read several nice little histories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked "poison", it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later."
-- Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carrol, 1865
We’re down the rabbit hole now, aren’t we?
Or perhaps, on second thought, it’s the sequel that is a more apt analogy here.
Through the looking glass into the bizarre incomprehensible cryptic world of the Jabberwock.
Yes, that’s it, the strange back-to-front Looking-Glass Land, a place inhabited by dangerous creatures, where nonsense is spoken as if it was rational conversation and few things make any sense. Yes, that’s the place where a public fight between a Reality TV star president and a couple of Reality TV journalists belongs.
We didn’t know.
Oh, woe! Woe! We didn’t know. That guy in the White House, why, he’s not the same guy we knew two years ago.
We didn’t know it would turn out like this!
We didn’t know he’d turn on us when we helped him get elected!
We thought it would be ok! We thought he would straighten out and start acting like a decent human being once he got elected! We didn’t know!
I mean, how could we have known, right? It’s not like anybody warned us. It’s not like there were any alarm bells. It’s not like there was a history of horrible shitty behavior…
Look here: These people, these Republicans, these Trump apologists, they’re like battered spouses in denial.
All the warning signs were there, the sexist behavior, the tempter tantrums, the bruises and the black eyes, but they thought, you know, once we’re married he’ll come around, he’ll be okay, he’ll stop acting like this.
But Donald Trump is the very same guy today that he was yesterday, that he was two years ago, that he was a decade ago.
Donald Trump is the same horrible person he’s been his entire life.
He’s an obnoxious, ignorant, abusive blowhard enabled by wealth and privilege and if you think for one minute the power of the presidency is going to do anything but exacerbate that, then you are a goddamned fool.
Or a Republican.
But I repeat myself.
Any rational person with an ounce of sense could have seen this coming. And did. Hell, I wrote about it here. I wrote hundreds of thousands of words of warning. And, of course, I wasn’t the only one. Tens of thousands of analysts, writers, politicians, and world leaders warned America. Don’t marry this goddamned guy. Don’t do it.
And yet, here we are, six months later and Republicans like Scarborough are all black-eyed and regretfully sobbing, we didn’t know!
We didn’t know!
Someday, this story, the one where Americans elected Donald J. Trump to the Presidency despite myriad and obvious warning signs, will join Frankenstein and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as a classic cautionary tale. Parents will use it to frighten their children into behaving and teachers will use it to show the folly of willful ignorance and whatever passes for Hollywood in that distant future will play this idiotic social media fight between a sitting president and a couple of pretend journalists for laughs in an otherwise dreary and depressing tale.
If it was just some spat between TV personalities, it would be bad enough, but it’s not.
If it was just a one time thing, a momentary lapse, it would be bad enough. But it’s not.
It’s every damned day. Every. Day.
Worse, it’s the entire Republican Party in denial.
I hope these tweets cease and we can focus on moving our country forward and what the fuck, Senator?
Sullivan’s ineffectual response is typical of the entire GOP. Sullivan’s belief in magic unicorns is one of the primary reasons his home state of Alaska is in financial collapse and utter disarray. These sons of bitches just can’t seem to face reality.
We didn’t know.
We hoped he would act more presidential.
I mean, we knew Trump was an ignorant self-aggrandizing jackass with no experience in government at all, right. We knew that. We knew he was a liar, a misogynist, a con artist, an abuser, and a bully. We knew he was prone to uncontrolled rage and that there was no filter between his ego and his thumbs. We knew that. We knew all of that. Of course we did. Sure. That part was obvious. But see, we hoped – we hoped – Trump would somehow just magically become a dignified adult, suddenly imbued with reason and self-control and filled with knowledge and wisdom of how to actually run a government.
That is what they told us. That is literally what they told us. He’s just doing this to get elected. Once he’s president, you’ll see. He’ll straighten out, he’ll become…
Now, admittedly, we’re not really sure how any of that would happen, but we hoped it would.
We hoped it would.
And the worst part? The goddamned worst part is that Republicans just like Dan Sullivan are still in denial. Because after six goddamned months of this insanity, he still thinks, hopes, Trump will become the unicorn. Sure. It could happen, sure it could. Yeah! It’ll be ok. You’ll see. He’s just under a lot of stress. It’s all fine. This is fine. It’s fine. I deserved it.
Dan Sullivan. This guy was a Marine, and a damned good one. He is not in any way stupid. He’s a staunch party line conservative and his political views are not mine, but he’s not a lunatic. And yet there he is, engaged in magical thinking. Hoping for unicorns. That’s what Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan has. Hope. That’s all he has. He’s a United States Senator, a Marine, and the worst condemnation he can muster is, gee, fellers, I hope we can all get past this and be friends.
It’s the Republican version of hiding his bruises under makeup and rationalizing away the abuse by telling himself that he deserved it.
What kind of candy-ass Marine acts like this?
What kind of Marine would follow a leader like Trump into battle? What kind of Marine, what kind of Marine, would send other Marines into battle under a leader like Trump? What the hell? Did he take off his balls with his goddamned uniform?
They’re all like this.
All of them.
John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Jim Inhofe, Don Young, Darrell Issa, Duncan Hunter, Peter King, congress is chock-a-block with Republican veterans who damned well ought to know better. Who ought have the guts to put aside their partisan bullshit and side with their Democrat counterparts against this lunatic for the sake of the nation.
But just like Dan Sullivan, they keep enabling this abuse. Looking for unicorns.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Left.
Al Gore, I didn’t know.
I thought he’d be OK.
See, what you have to understand here is, well, unicorns!
Just ignore him, they tell me.
That’s advice I get from the Left every day via Twitter and Facebook and my social media feeds. Jeebers, Jim, why do you keep talking about Trump? Whenever I write about one of Trump’s bizarre statements, that’s what the Left tells me, just ignore him. Don’t quote him, don’t write about him, don’t give him any attention because that’s what he wants. Just ignore him.
Just ignore him.
Just ignore the most powerful man in the world.
Just ignore the guy sitting on a nuclear arsenal large enough to kill every living thing on the planet and render the earth uninhabitable forever.
Just ignore the guy at the head of the largest, most powerful coalition of economic, political, and military power in not only the world, but in the entire history of the human race.
Just ignore the guy who controls nearly all aspects of the world that I’ll be leaving to my son and his new wife. My grandkids. The future. Sure, let’s just ignore that guy.
Trump has direct influence over all aspects of our society, economic, social, education, military, infrastructure, law and order, technology, the environment, labor, business, commerce, poverty, healthcare, growth, war, trade, our basic rights and freedoms, and you want me to just ignore him?
Just … ignore him?
Because, what? Maybe he’ll go away? Maybe he’ll, I dunno, go away to wherever unicorns go.
The absolutely worst, most useless, advice I ever got as a kid was being told to just ignore the bullies. Ignore them, right? Because that’s what they want, attention. And if you ignore them, they’ll just go away. Puff. Magic.
You know what? That’s wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. No bully has ever just gone away because their victims ignore them.
When the abuser has all the power, you can’t ignore them – especially when they’re smashing your face in.
Ignoring fascism is how you get more fascism.
Ignoring hate is how you get more hate.
Ignoring abuse is how you get abused.
It is time to stop this magical thinking on both sides of the political divide and face reality.
Trump isn’t going to get better.
Trump isn’t going to go away.
Trump isn’t going to just one day wake up and decide to act like a president.
He’s not suddenly going to start acting like a rational adult.
He’s not going to be magically imbued with 70 years of education and knowledge and experience in how to run government.
Your indifferent god isn’t going to reach down and fill Trump’s fluffy head with wisdom and compassion and selflessness. This isn’t a made for TV movie, Trump isn’t going to have some life-changing moment and realize what an ass he’s been and then devote the rest of his life to making the world a better place. That’s not going to happen.
There are no such things as unicorns.
Trump builds casinos, not nations.
Rational people learn from their mistakes.
Mistakes, no matter how terrible, don’t have to define us so long as we don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over.
The problem is that we, as a nation, keep making the same mistakes over and over.
As the so-called Sage of Baltimore, American satirist and pundit Henry Louis Mencken, once said, “democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
America tends to get the government it deserves, and this time we are indeed getting it good and hard.
But what a lot of people are missing is this: Trump is a symptom, not the disease.
Trump is the manifestation of all the worst aspects of modern America writ large, loud, florid, and proudly ignorant. A mindset that is shamelessly hypocritical, self-important and self-involved, wrapped in a flag waving a cross and obsessed with money at the expense of everything else, downing handfuls of Viagra not because we need it but rather for instant self gratification without effort, and a sneering dismissal of any debate that can’t be compressed into a Tweet as “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”
I’m not the first to note that Trump is what stupid people think a smart person sounds like and it doesn’t take much digging around on social media to find those who despite all evidence to the contrary still dogmatically believe in they’re going to get a unicorn – including members of Congress like Dan Sullivan.
Somewhere in the last half a century, we Americans traded Apollo moon ships for the Creation Museum and the ugly truth of the matter is that Donald Trump is a reflection of who we’ve become as a nation.
Trump is the utterly predictable result of decades of an increasingly dumber and dumber electorate. A deliberately dumber electorate, Idiocracy in action, a society that dismisses intelligence and education and experience as “elitism” while howling in drunken mirth at Honey Boo Boo and lighting their farts on fire.
Creationists don’t build starships.
They don’t build much of anything else, either.
Trump isn’t playing 4D chess.
He doesn’t have a plan.
There is no unicorn.
This was evident right from the very beginning.
Or at least it should have been, to anybody who wasn’t a complete idiot.
There has never been any depth to anything Trump has ever said. Not once. His responses to every question – every single question – are nothing but rambling non sequiturs. Trump is not capable of critical thought at any level. He has neither the education or experience to be president. He lacks the ability to focus for any length of time; he has the attention span of a cocker spaniel and his mind is as jumbled and chaotic as some clanging banging madcap Saturday morning cartoon.
His supporters point to his supposed wealth as evidence of leadership, of vision, of intellect. And that’s nonsense. Trump is, at best, a mediocre businessman. He was born rich and given breaks most people don’t get, those things provide a safety net for mistakes and failures that ruin others less advantaged. Those things gave Trump the ability to take risks others can’t. It wasn’t his smarts or his supposed deal making or some magical unicorn dust, it was privilege. He didn’t create his empire from nothing, he built it on a foundation of wealth and advantage and other people’s money.
Trump’s privilege and wealth are luck of birth, not evidence of superiority.
Trump’s mythical ability to make a deal is exactly that, a myth. Bullshit. Smoke and mirrors. Something he uses to con the rubes. Trump can’t make a deal unless he has everything stacked in his favor and he calls all the shots and nobody else gets to say anything. And while that nonsense might work for you when you’re building a casino in Jersey (or not), it sure as shit doesn’t work out in the real world between nations and any fool could have told you that. And did. Repeatedly.
Bluster and bombast and billions are no substitute for intellect, education, experience, quiet courage, and steady confidence under fire.
Trump skitters from one thing to another like a ADHD squirrel on amphetamines. This week he fired yet another Communications Director, last week it was the horrors of Obamacare and an amateurish attempt to shame China into doing his bidding via Twitter, the day before he was banning transgender people from the military. He can’t stay on topic, not even for a 15 minute speech in front of a bunch of Boy Scouts. And this is indicative of a much, much deeper problem.
Trump has no vision.
Trump has no strategic vision.
His administration has no vision.
His party has no coherent vision.
Trump is what stupid people think a smart guy sounds like.
But these people, this administration, they have no idea what they want to do, let alone what they are doing from one minute to the next. That’s why they can never explain anything, because they don’t really know.
Take the Affordable Healthcare Act, Obamacare. Trump goes on and on and on about Obamacare. Republicans go on and on about Obamacare. It’s terrible. It’s failing. Their plan is great.
Except they never tell you why.
They never give you any of the details.
In the last month, no Republican including Trump, has given you any insight whatsoever as to the details of their supposed plan. Trump can’t, because he’s completely non-conversant with it. He honestly has no idea. He literally can no more describe in even the simplest of terms the Republican plan for healthcare than he can diagram the basic steam-loop of USS Gerald R. Ford’s nuclear reactor.
Trump has never, ever, described in even the most basic of outlines what “Make America Great Again” means.
Because he doesn’t know.
It’s just words. Just vague promises. Hand waving. A way to sell hats. Some nebulous idea that sounds vaguely good. Trump lives in the moment. His attention is whatever happens to be scrolling past on the Fox News Red Alert ticker at that particular point in time. The Trump Administration’s strategic vision is the political equivalent of the soundbites and howling lunacy and clanging-banging cartoon logic streaming past in my Twitter feed.
It’s not just that that he doesn’t know enough about his own agenda to describe it in even vague terms, it’s that he’s not even interested in trying. He contradicts himself over and over because he doesn’t remember what he said from one minute to the next. Trump repeatedly shows that he has no concept of how government works, let alone how it might manage the incomprehensively vast, hideously complex, intertwined, interdependent, chaotically evolving systems of military, procurement, investment, economic, industrial, commercial, social, environmental, security, emergency, educational, agricultural, energy, health, legal, crime, law, legislative, research, planning, essential services, international relations, and historical areas of concern for 320,000,000 people in a dynamic ever changing relationship to the rest of the world.
And he’s surrounded himself with fops and toadies and opportunists who have even less vision than he does.
Worse, he’s cheered by drooling idiots who aren’t even smart enough to realize Trump has never explained anything in depth ever, because they have no critical-thinking skills either. They cheer when Trump pushes their button, just like Pavlov’s dog.
And this is a reflection of the Republican Party itself.
It’s no wonder they hate government, because they have completely forgotten government’s purpose.
Because they have no vision.
Because they live in the moment with no regard to the future. And this is reflected in every single aspect of their political outlook, from education to the environment to healthcare to their horrible apocalyptic religion that says when they’ve used up the earth, their savior will return to spirit them all away leaving the rest of us behind to suffer in torment in the hell they created for all eternity. And they’re fine with that.
They’re fine with that.
Think about that mentality.
Think about a belief system that says, “Hey, so long as I’m saved, to hell with everybody else” and you’ll understand their viewpoint on, oh, say healthcare. They don’t care about the future. They don’t care about pollution or climate change or healthcare because in their minds they’re saved and the rest of us are damned to some Bronze Age hell anyway. That is literally their belief system, they’re saved, they get to go to some magical paradise and frolic with the unicorns while the rest of us burn forever in torment. And they’re fine with that. In fact, they think it’s just great.
Now, people who believe that, who believe in that idea, who embrace that religion, well, they sure as hell don’t care if you can’t afford healthcare.
What’s healthcare against an eternity of torture in their god’s dungeon?
Trump is the perfectly predictable end result of this mindset. I’m rich, fuck you.
And Mike Pence is its poster child.
But these are symptoms, not the disease
Now, while it’s true that left untreated, symptoms can kill you just as dead as the actual infection, you have to treat the underlying cause if you ever expect to get any better.
Trump is the result of a nation, of a democracy, where only about 60% of the eligible electorate shows up to vote – in a good year.
Trump is the result of a population that not only tolerates a congress that daily treats them as the enemy, but utterly refuses to hold that congress to account at the ballot box.
Trump is the result of a democracy that daily prides itself on how their ancestors declared independence from a foreign king while at the same time mindlessly reelecting, gerrymandering, or otherwise gaming the system to such a degree that their government might as well be made up of inbred weak-chinned hereditary aristocracy.
Trump is the result of voters who can’t be troubled to learn a goddamned thing about their country, their history, their neighbors, or their world beyond what will fit in a Tweet. Trump is the Too Long: Didn’t Read president.
Trump is the result of a nation that glories in ignorance, manipulated by conspiracy theory and a primal fear of the dark, that embraces monkey violence and cowers from the unknown future with bluster and bared teeth and a gun clenched in one fist, instead of looking forward with quiet courage, head up, feet wide, braced and ready with curiosity and confident they are prepared to handle anything that might come along.
Trump is the result of a nation that traded the moon for the Creation Museum.
Trump is the result of a nation that has lost its vision and has nothing left but howling rage.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Countries that arrive here, where we are now, tend to end badly.
They tend to fall into totalitarianism, into war, into chaos and fragmentation.
Don’t take my word for it. Refer to history. When a society embraces rage instead of reason and prepares for apocalypse instead of actively working to build a better future for all, it tends to fall apart into howling collapse in fairly short order.
Creationists don’t build starships.
They don’t build much of anything else worthwhile either and it’s time to stop chasing after unicorns.
I’m not just talking about Trump. As noted, Trump is the symptom, not the disease. It doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or a conservative. It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of one party or the other. What matters is holding civilization together against the fall of night. What matters is building a better future for all of us, for our descendants, for the world.
What matters is being a citizen of the United States first.
You, you Americans, you don’t get to say, “We didn’t know.”
Don’t let that nonsense go past unchallenged. Don’t fall for it. Don’t enable it. Don’t let Americans get away with that excuse. Don’t let your government get away with that excuse, your Senators, your Representatives, your governors, your political party.
We didn’t know. Bullshit. Yes, you did. You knew. We all knew.
But some of you didn’t care, you were too busy lighting your farts on fire and pretending it would all be okay. It’s not. And it hasn’t been okay for a long time.
We didn’t know, that’s just a way to avoid taking responsibility. They knew. Yes, they did. We all knew. But these sons of bitches, they ignored it. They made excuses for it. They chased after unicorns and they’re still doing it.
Don’t let them.
Don’t do it yourself.
Left, right, we’re all going to go down together unless we turn things around.
If you didn’t know, if you really didn’t know, if you couldn’t see it, if you made excuses and you told yourself it would be okay even though you very well knew it wouldn’t, then you are too goddamned stupid, ignorant, and careless to be a citizen of this country.
It’s your duty as an American, as a citizen, as a voter, as a human being, to know.
You don’t get to make excuses. You don’t get to blame anybody, not the media or political parties or the rich or some horrible god or the fucking Russians or even Trump himself.
It’s on you.
You’re the citizen.
And if you want a better nation, if you want a better future, then you have to be better citizens.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
-- Winston Churchill (possibly apocryphal)
The Latter Days of a better Nation, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV