Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Five Year Itch

     I admit, not a lot of us took him seriously five years ago.
     The political press, having been insulted and betrayed by Trump just four years before when all along he was just angling for a bigger contract for his sagging franchise, The Apprentice, on NBC. Jon Stewart was biting his knuckles on national TV, dying outwardly and inwardly that Trump would be so cruel as to announce his second candidacy at a time when Stewart was retiring from The Daily Show.
     But really, could you blame us? There he was, an aging playboy with an orange face and a fantastically bizarre double combover who bankrupted every casino he'd ever touched and launched a racist birther conspiracy theory against the incumbent president because he made fun of him at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.
     Seriously, letting a clownish figure, a so-called billionaire, into the White House for the first time?
     Please. Hillary's got this locked up.
     Except those of us who saw Trump the businessman for what he really was refused to see Trump the nascent politician for what he really was: A serious Republican contender for the presidency.
     Trump was a clown, yes. Always had been one, always will be. But by the time primary season began, it quickly became obvious that Trump the clown was also Trump the clown driving the Republican clown car, those other 16 hasbeens, also-rans and all around political hacks that included Mike Pence and Ben Carson, two assclowns who were actually the best of the rancid bunch, even though Pence and Carson were manifestly unfit to hold elected office or a Cabinet position.
     Therefore, in one of those fantastically monstrous ironies virtually unique to American politics, Republican voters skeeved Pence and Carson yet saw fit to elect the guy who would give them both an elected office and Cabinet position.
     So, here we are five years later. The planet's still burning up with coronavirus and COVID-19 and whatever that hasn't burned up is being consumed by the national rage over African Americans getting killed by white cops. And into this flaming tableau shambles the rotting corpse of Richard Nixon.
     Yes, Nixon.
     Of all the political role models a politician can possibly choose, Trump, unsurpringly, chose Richard Nixon of all people to emulate. You'd think no one would be that crazy. After all, Nixon did for Republicans what Hitler and the Nazi Party did to Germans and the effect decades later is still being felt. But then again, no one accused Trump of having a surfeit of sanity.
     In the interests of fairness, the parallels between 1968 and now are irresistible, generally to people with one dimensional brains but let's take a look at the similarities:
     We've lost 116,000 Americans to the coronavirus that started in Wuhan, China. In 1968, we'd lost almost exactly as many citizens to the Hong Kong flu. Americans were rioting in the streets after Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis in April that year. And, like Nixon, Trump is cynically latching onto a law and order platform that's as ridiculous as it sounds.
     If Nixon had stubbornly stayed in office and fought impeachment, he would have been impeached and expelled from office. Trump has already been impeached and the only reason he wasn't convicted and expelled from office was because of a proto-fascist, craven Republican Party that's so hide-bound by ideology they will defend the president as long as he had a capital R after his name regardless of the impeachable offenses he'd committed.
     So, it's a given those who scream the loudest about law and order are always those who most egregiously violate both. But this isn't 1968, any more. It's largely a different country. A different geopolitical climate. In 1968, we had a massive, booming economy, we were exactly halfway through an increasingly unpopular war that would cost 58,000+ American lives.
     And people didn't have cell phones to keep the cops honest or at least, if not keep them honest, document their crimes against the African American community. The difference between 1968 and now is we were furious at the government then for what we were doing to the Vietnamese whereas nowadays we're furious at what it's doing here at home to us. Of course, Nixon wasn't responsible for the Hong Kong flu or the government's response to it. And he wasn't responsible for the Vietnam War. Yet.
     Of course, we didn't see this five years ago. How could we? In 1968, the country was coming apart at the seams largely because of Dr. King's then Sen. Kennedy's assassinations. Even considering how stupendously unfit Trump was for office, a fact 66,000,000 of us could see, as well as the other 55% of the electorate who didn't think enough of Trump to vote for him, surely even he couldn't make things this bad in less than four years.
     Could he?
     And the problem wasn't just that we failed to take Trump seriously, we failed to take his supporters seriously. Those would be the racist teabaggers who just five years before Trump descended the escalator were disrupting Town Halls while screaming about "death panels". Trump's supporters didn't just spring up from their fruit cellars and spider holes. They were always among us. At those ACA Town Halls, the KKK meetings, they were all over the place, hiding in plain sight. And we seriously underestimated Trump's ability to tap into that ignorant, incoherent rage just as 1933 Germany underestimated Hitler's ability to tap into post-WWI rage.
     Donald Trump, from Jamaica Queens, appealing to hillbillies?
     Hitler was from Austria and look how he mobilized Germans.
     So, while the polls don't lie, that Trump is deeply in trouble, it would be a mistake to underestimate him and the duplicity of a filthy Republican Party that will do absolutely anything to keep the most corrupt Republican since Nixon in the White House for another four years. Do not underestimate those ignorant, bloated hillbillies, of whom 53% are "very enthusiastic" about voting for their man.
     Stop saying "it can't happen here." It has and it will again if you underestimate that ruthless, unscrupulous criminal syndicate known as the Republican Party and the vicious racist, fascist voters he still has in his corner.


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