Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Month: November 2016

A Wall? Maybe a Fence…

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All Bricked Up

If Humpty Dumpty tumbles off Donald Trump’s wall, he may not have much of a fall. The President-elect has diminished the scale of the wall he pledged to build along our border with Mexico. There will be some portions of wall, but also some stretches of fence.  When fences won’t work, maybe he’ll try a few traffic cones. Or a crossing guard. Trump has reminded us quite early that his promises and proposals were only suggestions.  He is walking back his first and most famous promise –  the Great Wall of Arizona. Trump left his Friday meeting with President Obama looking ashen, his florid orange cast turned a washed-out gray. His shoulders are slumping from their usual military school bearing.  The Oval Office surely aged him, and he does not occupy it yet. 

Modest Proposals

Trump readily admits now that he boasted many outrageous plans in his campaign solely to get elected. He didn’t plan to undertake many of the things he proposed or even to win, for that matter.  He was surprised to escape the gravitational force of  the primaries and planned to throw his support to Chris Christie. At the time of the convention, his son approached John Kasich to offer him effective control of the government in a Trump-Kasich administration.  Trump fancied himself in more of a ceremonial role, like a Greeter at a Trump Casino.

A Tired Tycoon

The realities of the toughest job in the world have quickly borne down on him.  The robust 70 year-old globetrotter has looked distinctly low energy. Asked about Obamacare after leaving his Oval Office meeting, he observed that some parts of the health plan were worth keeping, Trump-speak for pieces that cannot be removed without catastrophic impact. You can’t reinstate the pre-existing condition exclusion without replacing the coverage because no insurance carrier will carry those high-risk cases voluntarily — or affordably. The health plan Trump characterized as a disaster, he now finds that he can’t easily get away from it. In fact, he had to admit that parts of this disaster were actually worth keeping. 

Mixed Messages

Some other early flip-flops: He’s making himself available to the press again. He’s receptive to coaching  from President Obama, his nemesis. He considers same-sex marriage settled law and won’t go after it.  

To be sure, Trump hasn’t retreated from nominating a Supreme Court Judge who is openly pro-life. He intends immediately deport undocumented immigrants with a criminal record. He’s chosen Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, a man aligned with White Nationalism and the racial and ethnic hatred in which it traffics. Reince Priebus, the GOP party chairman, has been elected to the all-powerful chief of staff position. Neither Trump, Bannon nor Priebus has held a government post of any kind.

One week after the November Surprise, we don’t know much more about Trump’s true plans and beliefs. It is clear, however, that he is a man sobered by the sudden realization that running a government is a monumental undertaking, one which he did not expect.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

Gimme A Break!

The Revolted Colonies is taking a break for a week, kind of a mental health vacation. Don’t go away. We’ll be back soon, more revolted than ever!

Evan

So, What Do You Really Think?

The warning signs were there from the beginning that this was going to be a watershed year. Donald Trump, President-Elect, buzzed through a crowded field of mostly experienced politicians to emerge as the Republican standard-bearer. We could chalk it up to the asymmetry of the field or the brawling of primary politics or an aberration caused by conflating reality and TV.  Now that Trump has won the White House,  his victory, still shocking, is more understandable. 

The country is almost evenly divided between people who reject the empowerment of the federal government as a positive force and those who embrace it.  Trump embodies the former and Clinton the latter.  Trump had a clear vision of his following — he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight and he would not lose his support.  Sexual assault, race-baiting, tax dodging, swindling: none of it mattered because he thumbed his nose at the System. Now he will be the System, until he dismantles it.

Take Trump at his word. He will build a wall. He will get Mexico to pay for it. He will close our borders. He will start sending bills to our allies. He will tip all the sacred cows.  If you like alternate history, this will be a field day. There will be an iconoclast — a vengeful, petty, litigious one — as Commander-in-Chief. Nothing is unthinkable.

 © 2016 The Revolted Colonies

It Used To Be Called Election Fatigue

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A few of us came voluntarily but most were coerced.  My wife and parents cornered me the night after the second debate. They told me that I was obsessed. I didn’t know the date or my children’s names. They kept at it long enough to convince me that I was in trouble. I’d neglected my health and hygiene. I was taking meals sporadically, they said, confronting me with piles of half-eaten sandwiches that were rotting on my desk; coffee cups stacked up in the car console.  I was sleeping two hours at a time, awake through most nights, afraid to close my eyes.  The kids were terrified, asking my wife what was wrong with me. 

  That did it. I broke down, babbling uncontrollably. My wife calmed me until an SUV arrived. Two EMTs extracted me from the house, with nothing but an overnight bag my wife had packed. I was given some kind of sedative and fell dead away. 

 I awoke, still goofy, afloat on a sea of identical beds in a barn-like, white room. The room I later learned was previously occupied by a drug store chain. It was flooded with artificial light and silent though full of people. I recognized the hum of white noise, an ambient background, all but blotting out the random car horn blaring outside. 

I sat up and looked around. I was in a ward of fifty or so beds, scattered  through the store.  My bed was in the row where magazines used to be kept .  I stood up slowly, relieved that I was not under restraint. As I walked around, I noticed that the ward was filled with political junkies.  They looked zonked out. Some I recognized: reporters, commentators and analysts, but also people like me.   I haven’t seen any anchors here yet.  But they just read the news, they don’t have to understand it.  We’re all under observation for post-traumatic stress disorder. This is what my old counselor calls election fatigue. In his day this wasn’t considered an illness. Now it’s PTSD, DSM 309.81. I once was a concerned citizen. Now I’m a diagnosis. 

 We’re free to walk around and talk about anything but the election. Bailey is in the bed next to me, with the covers pulled up. He’s been under there for hours. I suspect he’s writing: journaling or  taking notes. It’s forbidden, and he doesn’t want to get caught because he’ll be forced to leave. This is his second stint, and his insurance won’t pay for another. He’d had a meltdown when Kerry was swift-boated. Don’t misunderstand. He would be happy to leave but his family won’t take him back unless he can stay clean.

Galt is walking up and down the aisles of beds. It seems like she’s talking to herself, saying the same thing over and over.  Galt’s really gone, I think, until I realize that she’s memorizing a column. She’s been mumbling the same thing all day. Then she moves on to new rantings.  Two orderlies return her to bed. She sobs that she’s on deadline. Poor soul. 

  Each day brings the possibility of a new patient and with it news of the campaigns.  There are no phones, television or newspapers and definitely no internet. We are locked away without the faintest sense of what has happened since we were extracted.  When somebody new arrives, the rest of us gather around until a guard disperses us. They try to  minimize the private discussions between patients. It doesn’t matter.  One newbie says he’s up by a point, and another says that he’s down by five. One says New Hampshire’s a lock but at the same time another says it’s in play. Too much conflicting information is like no information at all.

We have group meetings once a day. The idea is so we don’t think it’s just us who are suffering.  There is a new patient with us. Her name is Derry, and she was hosting Talk Radio.  At first, she was a casual listener, but she  couldn’t take the nonsense she was hearing and became a caller.  Soon she was a regular — “Derry from Winston-Salem” — phoning in to argue. She started making things up: Hillary is having closed-door meetings with John Kasich…Trump took an option on the U.N…All Chrysler 300 owners are forming a voting bloc.  The audience loved it, so the station put her on the air. Then she spun completely out of control.  When she accused the network of funding the Militia Movement, it was over for her. 

Every day I meet individually with Andrew, my counselor. The point is to help me figure out what made me go haywire.  I have a vivid recollection of the intervention but the campaign is a blur. I could remember many events and sound bytes, but I cannot put them in order or make sense of them.  Andrew is an elderly African-American man. He’s great at therapy talk — “When I say that, how does that make you feel?” — but he’s a good guy. He seems to be a little jangly himself. I wonder if he’ll end up in one of the beds at some point.

I ask Andrew how long I will be here, and he says that I can walk out any time I want. I realize, though, that I don’t want to leave. It’s quiet and orderly and safe. I’m at peace here, and frankly, I’m scared to go back out there. Andrew says that the ward will shut down after the votes are counted and a winner is declared.

 Bailey and Galt are talking. They’re scared too and don’t want to leave. 
 
“Even after the election?” I ask.
 
“Especially after the election,” they say.
 

©  2016 The Revolted Colonies

 

 

 

Tapped Out and Brassed Off: No More Donations

Money in politics

I’m on a first-name basis with Barack, Michelle, Joe, Hillary, Chelsea, Senator Al (Franken), somebody named Jess and somebody else named Nick.  All my new BFFs write to me, some of them every day to tell me about their opponents’ character defects, and they always ask for money. Not a lot, $5.00 here, $25.00 there, or $50.00 if someone is really sore aggrieved about something.  Lately it’s been about the FBI, but it’s mostly about Donald Trump.  And there’s always a deadline, a crisis, a one-stroke-of-midnight tone to these messages. I wasn’t ready for these desperate pleas for support. I thought that’s what families were for.

Work for (a) Change 

Every time there is a tick in one of the polls, the Clinton campaign turns that tick into a nick for cash.  “Ohio’s up? Help us seal the deal! Ohio’s down? Help us save the U.S. as we know it!” We’re a week away from Election Day.  As of September 30th, Clinton had $385M cash on hand compared to $40M for Trump. Her campaign and its affiliates took in $101M through October 19th, while Trump raised $29M during the same period. Clinton had $62M on hand. On the other hand, Trump had to kick in $31M of his own money to keep the doors open —and he never invests his own money. With a week to go, they’re still spending and whining about money. Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn.

The Clinton campaign has been going on for two years. Democrat-affiliate Super-Pacs have been at it even longer.  I contributed to Bernie (“$27.00 —would you like a receipt?”). When Bernie folded, I backed Hillary, even though I am not an ardent supporter.  But seriously, does it ever stop?

The Politics Industry

The answer is No, it doesn’t. Political fundraising is perpetual.  After Obama won, fundraising continued without stopping for a breath. “Support the Agenda.” Then it was issue-driven, against Citizens United, among other things. Now, we get Super-PAC fundraising to limit Super-PAC fundraising? Only in America.

What do you call a perpetual campaign? you call it an industry. Politics for both parties is a business, and together they form an industry. After all, if campaigns were limited to 60–90 days, all the pros would have nothing to do the rest of the time. Pollsters, organizers, lawyers, accountants, and policy wonks would be cashiered. Our contributions keep the politics industry rolling. Our campaign system is a retort to anyone who says that politicians don’t create jobs. They create jobs for themselves. 

None of this fundraising is illegal. In fact, in our end-stage capitalist nation, it is the official language of politics. The Supreme Court said so itself in Citizens United. When I give money to a campaign, I’m not just speaking; I’m also investing, but I have no voice in how the company is run. I don’t get stock, interest or dividends. 

Brassed Off

The only thing I can do is to cap my investment, which is what I’ve done. So, Barack, Michelle, Joe, Hillary, Chelsea, Al, Jess and Nick: I’m turning off the spigot. No more money for 2016. I’m tapped out. But by all means, write to me next year when you’ve got your first quarterly report, and I’ll decide if your company’s prospects look good.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies. Reprinted with permission.

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