Biff Thuringer 2020 Presidential Platform

I hate to say I told you so, but I did. Sure, my little snippet of unhelpful wisdom is buried somewhere in a useless Facebook or Twitter feed from a three and a half years ago, but the NSA probably has a record of it and you can probably dig it up if you know the right people. What I said was: “I wouldn’t bet against Donald Trump. I think he’s just the asshole our reality-drunk nation has been waiting for.”

But then again, who really gives a shit?

The brutal, intentionally divisive election cycle of 2016, including the “inconceivable” specter of a megalomaniacal cartoon supervillain reality TV star being handed the keys to the Oval Office and the little black box with our nation’s nuclear launch codes, was inevitable. If it hadn’t happened in 2016 it would have happened in 2020 0r 2024. Our sputtering “democracy” has been ripe for the picking at least since the dawn of the television era. It’s actually a miracle that it’s taken this long … that miracle being a couple of dogged reporters figuring out that Richard Nixon was running a black ops domestic spying operation from the White House basement, which kicked the executive power grab down a few pegs for a half generation or so.

Now that the imperial presidency, thanks to G.W. Bush (actually Dick Cheney) and his stealth understudy, Barack Obama, has been cranked up to full steam again, we’ve finally gotten the opportunity to shuck the pretense and reintroduce the Leni Reifenstahl stagecraft, the spiffy SS-style uniforms and the crushing atmosphere of paranoia, just in time for a real gold-headed sociopath to be in place to appreciate it all.

But Donald Trump, as blowhardy and narcissistic as he is, is probably no Adolf Hitler. He’s really more akin to what would have happened had Agent 007 failed his mission and Auric Goldfinger had cornered the gold market by vaporizing Fort Knox. Who knows what sort of administration Herr Goldfinger might have installed, once he calmed down and got to the business of actually ruling the world? There would have been no precedent, just like now. Before November 2016, Trump’s few real policy statements, shoehorned off the cuff into speeches that were 99 percent about how he was kicking ass attracting bigger crowds of lumpen proles than the hapless “losers” in his gold-plated path, were all over the ideological map, even when he wasn’t backtracking on them every five minutes. Among the few more reasonable ideas I thought I heard were that he wanted to spend money on infrastructure, put a stop to the notion that we have to police the world by ourselves, and that he said NAFTA and the TPP are pieces of shit that give away the store, which they were, and still are. He spouted a lot of harebrained, often scary ideas as well, which is why he is ten times the enigma Barack Obama ever dreamed of being, and why he seems to be just as popular as Bernie was with people who are sick of the status quo.

Trump will either turn out to have been a genius performance artist on the level of Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton — a complete con man and liar who duped the red meat American proletariat into electing him because he knew how easy it would be to hornswoggle them — or he’ll be exactly what he’s looked like over the past few years: a small-minded, vindictive, infantile, possibly criminally insane mass of out-of-control ego, incapable of governing his way out of a paper bag and leading our poor nation straight into the toilet. For a while after Trump’s sad, underwhelming Inauguration Day festivities, I just stood by watching him flounder about for two years, hogging the news cycle via Twitter and other forms of emotional outburst to little real effect. I prepared for the worst while hoping for the best, not really engaging in the fierce back and forth clogging my painstakingly administered bipartisan Facebook and Twitter feeds. Oddly, because Trump hasn’t really been able to achieve all that much of his cockamamie agenda beyond stacking the courts with assholes, continuing the length of the fossil fuel industry’s stay at the top and giving tax breaks to his impossibly rich, undeserving true constituency (which, really, is the same as Hillary’s and every other Wall Street and Pentagon-friendly hack), the jury is still out. He looks at this writing to be a lonely, somewhat crazy Hamlet figure, surrounded by a circle of salivating wolves.

Which brings me to this: I’m formally announcing a run for the presidency of the United States of America, as one of at least 100 other more or less “Democratic” candidates in 2020. I have virtually no elective office experience, have never been CEO of anything and have precious little business experience or, for that matter, acumen. But that no longer matters, does it? Whatever harm he has done, Trump has done one thing right. He’s broken the glass ceiling for any common jerk who might want to make a stab at the world’s most powerful office. Of course I and at least 95% of my primary opponents have a snowball’s chance in hell, just like Trump did in 2014 before the Russian oligarchy stepped in to help. But what better opportunity than now to foist a few new ideas into the mix, and to crack the ideological stranglehold certain political notions have on the knee-jerk conservative/liberal majority? I’ve been sitting on a pretty mixed-up bag of suggestions for years now, and am thinking it’s high time to toss them out there in a Battle Royale of previously verboten ideas with the Trumpster and the gaggle of carping, scheming Democrats lining up to take him on. Whether or not somebody can beat him, there actually seems to be a chance for seat-of-the-pants rearranging of priorities for a few minutes before things coagulate and the swamp fills back in around his or his hapless successor’s golden throne.

For instance, I have some things in common with the tea partiers Trump courted so successfully. As an American growing up in the most violent country on the planet, I have been raised to imagine that ordinary innocent people should be able to have guns in the house, and in their pockets and purses, to wave at attackers and, if necessary, to shoot them in the extremities without being dragged downtown on a gun or assault charge. I think there’s too much arbitrary, redundant and needlessly complex regulation, especially in state government. I think property taxes are way too high, that public school districts should be consolidated and a lot of unnecessary deadwood should be removed, especially at the administrative level. That doesn’t mean destroying the salaries and benefits of good teachers, who are more valuable to society than just about anyone else. I think other taxes are way too high as well on the people and businesses that really can’t afford it, and that there’s a lot of waste and flat-out corruption in government. It’ll probably always be so, no matter who’s in charge or how big or small government gets. It’s human nature.

But I part ways with the neo-libertarian movement on many fronts. I think America’s burgeoning 1% should dispense with the Scrooge act, suck it up and pull their financial weight, tax-wise. I had initially suspected there might be a closet Roosevelt lurking somewhere inside Trump’s puffed-up chest, but with his tax break for the rich, he quickly disabused me of that notion. Call me a pinko commie socialist, but I think cradle-to-grave, single-payer health coverage (including dental and eye care) is the way to go, for everyone in the U.S., not to mention the world. I agree with Trump that Obamacare is a Frankenstein monster, but my main objection is that it kowtows to the rapacious insurance industry, which should butt out of health care altogether and stick to covering stuff that’s not going to happen to virtually everyone: things like accidents, fires, floods, earthquakes and personal injuries. If you want to get real universal health care done state by state, fine. Just do it.

Yes, single-payer health care will be costly, but there’s an enormous benefit side as well, in quicker and surer response to medical need, increased productivity, elevating of the general standard of living by a significant degree, and a sharp rise in disposable income among those who actually spend money in the economy.

To support it, tax the very rich (that $10 million-plus thing our precocious newcomer AOC has been talking about), and close all potential loopholes. Federally legalize marijuana production, sale, distribution and purchase, and tax it unmercifully. The same with sports betting, gambling and in-house prostitution, all of which currently are untaxed, multibillion-dollar industries. These activities, which despite (in fact, because of) being banned are all happening pervasively, dangerously and expensively under the outnumbered, often corrupted noses of law enforcement, could easily be regulated into semi-respectable industries, rendered much safer and less influential on society by eliminating their underground status and bringing them into the light.

As a former front-line soldier in the long and vicious War on Poverty, I like the idea of welfare and Social Security, if not the shoddy implementation. I think when Clinton succeeded in chopping the federal welfare rolls beyond Ronald Reagan’s wildest dreams, he cut off the government’s nose to spite its face, and the result is a lot of the expensive drain on state and local coffers that’s been bankrupting us ever since. The really down-and-out people who used to get welfare have not lifted themselves up, gotten McJobs and become contributing members of couch-potato consumer society. They’re either dead, subsisting in an unpaid hospital bed, nonprofit group home or shelter, living in boxes, sewers and train tunnels, or sending their children out to sell drugs to your children to make their ragged ends meet.

I still think poor people in America should be treated better than poor people in other countries, because this is America and we ought to take care of our own and show how it’s done. Nobody should be hungry or homeless, anywhere. If you insist on being religious about it, it’s a sin, and a far greater one than allowing some poor schlub to pay a fee for a little physical relief, smoke a little reefer before bed, or bet on the Giants once in a while without risking a stay in one of our overcrowded, insanely expensive jails. In the end, I might be for some sort of guaranteed basic income, with job training and placement help for those who seem to have the aptitude. You’d be surprised how many world-beating ideas and business plans will come out of the brains of a population that’s not forced into destitution unless it takes a McShit job at WalMart or an Amazon warehouse.

For better or worse, most of America’s poor people, as well as a lot of rich and middle-class ones, live in cities. Cities cost a lot of public money to operate and maintain. Their streets should be clean, safe, well lit and pothole-free. Their schools should be the equal of those in the suburbs. They should have good, clean public transportation. Garbage should be collected. It’s a group effort to keep things up to snuff. If that sort of “socialism” costs money, it’s damn sure a lot less than the money being spent cleaning up after the mess we’ve let fester in our midst. Leaving even one city out there twisting in the wind is, to my mind, un-American.

By the way, America’s red/blue divide — the one Trump manipulated so easily — is really an urban/rural divide. Letting people like Rupert Murdoch — who could give a crap about us as anything but a property to be used in a giant Monopoly game — turn our rural and urban populations against each other by fomenting distrust and fear is weakening us and hastening our collapse into a bargain ripe for plucking by his pals, the Chinese (who happen to be actual pinko commie socialists!). Americans need to embrace each other, find common ground, and build ourselves up. White, rural people need to stop acting like xenophobic, racist homophobes, and snotty, self-centered urban dwellers need to realize that, without a flinty rural backbone, this reasonably well-defended fortress of a nation wouldn’t exist as a host for their interesting experiments in testing the limits of personal freedom.

Related to this, I think the tea partiers, in their half-thought-out zeal to strip government of its ability to govern, have entered into an unwitting and unholy alliance with an entrenched corporate oligarchy (I like to call it an oiligarchy) that is relentlessly conspiring to keep us all sucking on the fossil fuel tit, to our own detriment. There’s nothing “conservative” about the behavior of the world’s oil, gas, coal, energy, plastics, pharmaceutical, electronics and chemical companies, which are fast obliterating the livability of the planet and turning it into an earthly hell, no matter what you think about “global warming.” As a power bloc, these companies through their paid political enablers are trying desperately to maintain dominance in a world that’s getting ready to replace them and render them to history’s dustbin. The closer to extinction they get, the faster they connive to foist upon us a blizzard of dirty, money-saving processes that end up poisoning our air and water, laying waste to our lands, and shortening our ever filthier, asthma-and-cancer-afflicted lives. Neither Hillary nor Trump bothered talking about this, because they were both obviously in the oiligarchy’s pocket, which is really why we got to choose between the two of them.

I would urge those of a libertarian bent to wake up and see that they’re being seriously manipulated. As a litmus test in this particular region, I use the stances of tea party candidates on environmental issues, like gas drilling using chemical-dependent hydraulic fracturing methods. If a conservative candidate utters the mantra “drill baby, drill,” parrots Koch brothers-influenced dreck like “global warming is the greatest hoax of the last 100 years,” or characterizes and environmental agenda as “not just evil, but…contrary to the free-market system that made this country great,” then you know he or she is merely a shill for the scorched-earth campaign being waged by these two fossil fuel industry billionaires and their friends. Problem is, the gas industry has routinely gotten to virtually all the winnable candidates, making the point moot, for now at least.

Then there’s the viper’s nest of social issues everyone on all sides seem to think are most important, but which we should be putting on the back burner for a day (or decade) or two to better concentrate on the survival of our species. Still, they’ve got to be dealt with, so here goes. While I’m a card-carrying nonbeliever, I share a lot of basic values and morals with my Judeo-Christian and (mainstream) Muslim friends. For instance, I agree that one shouldn’t kill, steal, covet or commit adultery. While I think males don’t have the right to tell women how to deal with the issue and should back off, I also believe aborting a fetus is, under all but the most compelling contingencies, an extraordinarily unsettling and life-denying choice to make, and should be strongly counseled against — by health professionals, not by religious organizations. It’s not a religious question, but a question of humane values.

I apparently take “Thou shalt not kill” more seriously than most of my brethren on the religious right. Not only do I not condone killing unborn babies, I don’t condone killing anybody, for any reason. So obviously, I’m against the death penalty, period. I’m also personally antiwar in nature, although I don’t know what to do about that. I suppose if some fool came running at my family wearing a vest lined with C4 explosives, I’d want him dead, and would try to figure out a way to kill him, fast. I know we’ve painted ourselves into a corner as a nation, making this sort of thing a continuing likelihood. It would be better in the end if we could all try to get along, but since that’s not going to happen any time soon, I’m forced into accepting protection from the largest, most powerful armed forces on earth, as well as my nation’s deep-state-informed decisions as to how to use them. If, after getting "the talk" from his or her military advisers, a future president reluctantly opts like everybody else to keep our people in Afghanistan, there's probably a good reason for it, and you and I are stuck with it. I may be nonviolent, but I'm not suicidal.

I have absolutely nothing to add to the questions of gay, lesbian or transgender issues, women’s rights issues, immigration issues, or anything else in the human rights arena, except that every human being should be treated exactly the same under the law of the United States, with no consideration as to any arbitrary distinction. If you are a human being of any sex, race, or ethnic or spiritual identity, regardless of citizenship or lack thereof, you should be treated by everyone, including the authorities, as if you were the salt of the earth, the cat’s meow, the best thing since sliced bread. You should be protected, respected, cherished, encouraged to prosper. You should not be harassed, incarcerated, threatened, or injured on purpose, either physically or mentally and emotionally. If you are a consenting adult, having a certain configuration of procreative apparatus in your abdomen or between your legs should make no difference, either in what you choose to do with it, or in what rights you and the consenting adult you choose to hook up with in life are granted as a couple.

The tea partiers have a historical point. Marriage, as originally envisioned, is a vestigial societal construct that was created to favor men, help them control the women they in effect owned as much as they did any of their slaves, and give them a status boost. Its role as a tool of social dominance has been dying out since women got the right to vote and divorce laws changed. Indeed, its only real role these days is as an official status by which married couples rate better tax rates, health insurance and death benefits. Either extend its benefits to everybody who wants them, or abolish it as a legal status altogether; I don’t really care.

I’m sure there’s more, but I’m tired. There’s a big campaign ahead and I wasn’t born yesterday. I believe if we were able to get through even one or two of the above initiatives we might actually even give America a fighting chance to become great again. But no matter what you do, America, try not to vote us back to the Dark Ages. If not me, than anybody with a pulse who isn’t Donald Trump would be a good start. Meanwhile, buy and read my book, “Wasted: A Story of Love Gone Toxic.” Although it’s fiction, you can probably learn a lot from it about what I think, and especially about what pisses me off about the America we’re living in now. Besides, isn’t running for president really about trying to sell books? Ask Howard Schultz.

Biff Thuringer