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 year and a half 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?
This brutal, intentionally divisive election cycle, 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 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 stream again, it’s time 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. 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 wants 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 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 with people who are sick of the status quo. Trump will either turn out to be 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 two 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. Me, I’m preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
Which brings me to this: 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 to our new president-elect, with whom 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 golden throne.
For instance, I have some things in common with the tea partiers he courted so successfully. As an American growing up in the most violent country on the planet, I think 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, 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 rich should dispense with the Scrooge act, suck it up and pull their financial weight, tax-wise. Are you listening, Donald? I suspect there’s a closet Roosevelt lurking somewhere inside that puffed-up chest. 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 you 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, and close all potential loopholes. If you don’t like that part, Donald, you could probably get down with this: 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.
For better or worse, most of these 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 likelihood at some point or another. 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 decisions as to how to use them. If, like Obama, after getting "the talk" from his military advisers, Trump still wants 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 and lesbian 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 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 their women 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.
There’s probably more, but I’m tired. Do me a favor, Mr. Trump, and chew on these ideas for a minute or two, before going off half-cocked. You won, and you don’t have to suck up to these meth-heads and rednecks for three more years. I believe if you were able to get through even one or two of these ideas you might actually even give America a fighting chance to become great again. But no matter what you do, try not to send us back to the Dark Ages. And try not to croak, because your running mate seems to me to be the real nightmare. What the fuck were you thinking? Anyway, congratulations, and good night.