The Chronicles of the Absurd 1: The Man Who Would Be King
Come along with me on a short retrospective journey. I’m an American citizen who loves this country and what it has always stood for: freedom, justice, equal rights for all. I grew up in a small town in the Midwest, an average American child who rode a bike in the Memorial Day parade, celebrated the Fourth of July with a picnic and fireworks, played outside and watched the stars on summer nights, went to college and hoped to leave the world maybe just a little better for my children. I’ve voted Republican, and I’ve voted Democrat. My grandfather taught me that as a U.S. citizen, you had one paramount duty: to keep informed and vote your conscience accordingly. But then, a few months ago, things started to change like I could’ve never imagined.
Admittedly, there were rumbles -- hell, there always is. We don’t live in Eden here, but I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else. Especially after 9/11, the world has become frightening and Americans had to realize death from terrorism and hatred could come to them even if they weren’t on vacation. Years of banking shenanigans, industrial shut-downs, housing losses, concentration on different groups’ rights which led to resentment among others and even a general complacency among politicians who should have known better, as should many of us who were politically and intellectually aware. But we didn’t. We were ripe for the picking by someone who did.
At first, it seemed almost a joke. Who was this birther buffoon? Just because you’re rich and mouthy doesn’t qualify you to run for president. Silly us. When you’re very rich, very mouthy, arrogant and determined no matter the cost, you can buy almost anything you want. And so he did. Helped by a well paid and yes, huge staff of operatives, social media fake news sites, a truly uninformed but angry voting public, perhaps Russian interference, a weak and clueless opposing candidate, clever tech with Cambridge Analytics, the underlying river of racism and discontent that’s been running underneath the thin layer of complacency that finally burst its banks, and voila! A lot of people voted, not with their conscience but with rage, revenge and resentment and we elected a thoroughly incompetent, narcissistic billionaire con man with a dream of godliness.
We woke up on November 9 and saw what money could buy and what it could sow: hatred, divisiveness, distrust, fear and despair. At the very first it seemed maybe it’d work out, perhaps not what everyone had wanted, but that’s what happens with elections and how we always manage to deal with things politically. Then reality hit and for the last month, it’s been a debacle that no one could’ve envisioned. The lies, first and foremost: alternative facts, constantly, from Kellyanne and Spicer, and especially from Trump himself. Blatant, in your face, and repeated over and over and thrown in the face of truth. The attacks on the press, calling anything the administration doesn’t like “fake news” even though it makes no sense. Unhinged tweets at all hours of the day and night whenever Trump’s feelings are hurt, uncomfortable meetings with heads of state whose expressions run from wary to placating, attacks on the intelligence community, cabinet picks that are in the main unsuitable for the jobs they’re slated for, whether from simple inexperience to conflicts of interest, executive orders that are unconstitutional, and then the Russian question, leading to Flynn’s resignation and the murky waters of investigations that will hopefully come. What did he know and when did he know it? There’s so much more: emoluements, ethics violations, boastful lies, the inability to leave the election behind, on and on. Not a day has passed without lies or threats from the one person who should be instilling hope and unification.
In just one month, we’ve been subjected to the most embarrassing, incompetent, wasteful, racist executive administration in the history of this country. Trump isn’t Republican, really, but something very different, a man who would be king. All the red flags of authoritarianism are flying and as a nation, we ignore this at our peril. The world is watching and waiting. Our new journey has just begun.