This past week when my fellow grunt-laborer Andrew and I were painting a room booby-foot blue, he said to me, "Josh, all my other friends were sure there was no way Trump was gonna win. You were the only one saying all along that he was gonna be the next president, so... how did you know? Were you just being cynical, or what?"
For a nanosecond, I considered the possibility that I might actually have powers. Then I answered...
"I guess if I'm honest, I was just sort of being cynical. Part of me didn't really believe something that grotesque could happen. But on the other hand, I really did think it would, because I have absolutely ZERO faith in 'the American People.' As individuals they're generally quite lovely. But the shrieking masses...? Monsters, the lot of them."
Andrew thought about this for a moment.
"Still, you were the only one predicting this would happen. So, what do you think'll happen next?"
It's one thing to look at the general temperature of fear, selfishness, greed, violence, and despair in the nation and assume that the sheeple are gonna run screaming, en masse, off the nearest political cliff. It's quite another to predict the specific future of a man characterized by unhinged unpredictability.
A Few Possible Futures of the Yellow-Headed Booby, Emperor Trump:
- First, and absolutely least likely of all, it's possible that the electoral college will decide to stop choosing personal, short-term gain over the good of the country. They'll select Clinton as the next president of the United States, and we'll all put this ugly little incident behind us. I've written previously on why I think this would not necessarily be ideal for the country, but it is of course preferable to our current dictator-in-the-making.
- Second, Trump's monstrous fear will overrule his monstrous ego. He'll pull a "Pope Benedict XVI" and quit, possibly even before taking office. But given that Ego always rides a wave of Fear and is therefore perpetually up on the surface running the show, I think this is nearly as unlikely as my first prediction. Still: you pick an erratic president, you get erratic possibilities.
- Third, Trump becomes president, gets sworn in, and somehow fails to rewrite the legal system quickly enough to get him off the hook for all the crimes of which he currently stands accused. Like, say, raping a thirteen-year-old girl,* an accusation that (I think—hope) he won't be able to buy his way out of, like he did with the fraud thing. He'll stand trial, get convicted, and we'll be free of him (and stuck with Pence, but there you have it).**
- Fourth, Trump becomes president, dodges all current incoming legal missiles, but somehow isn't able to tighten his totalitarian grip quickly enough to dodge the next barrage of legal indictments that will inevitably come his way for the illegal stuff he's already planning to do as president, and we get him out that way.
- Fifth, Trump becomes president, quickly gets into a 3 a.m. twitter war with, I dunno, the Queen of England, and decides his best course of action is to fire every single nuke we've got over the pond. He gets the keys, the codes, is right on the verge of launching nuclear disaster... and then the U.S. Military (which, while far too militaristic for my liking, is at least not run by complete idiots) refuses to execute his orders. Standoff. Trump cries "military coup" on twitter. The military stares, stony-faced, at the Yellow-Haired Booby. Trump keeps pressing the issue. Whacko right-wing militias and white-supremacists everywhere take to the streets with automatic weapons, and all the racist cops in this country join them... prompting gun-battles in the street with the non-racist cops, and various other folks who have armed themselves against what they (rightfully) feared was the coming totalitarian regime. Then we do have a military coup on our hands, as the military feels obliged to step in and restore order. After that, it's anyone's guess. And yes, I absolutely do feel that some version of this is likely.
- Sixth, Trump becomes president, dodges legal objections, and quickly uses the Fears of the Masses in a successful bid to shore up his power. He fulfills his campaign promise to stifle the free press, stamps out the artists and writers who oppose him, and installs himself as dictator-for-life on a chair plated with gold from the teeth of the few mysteriously-recently-deceased Congresspeople and Senators who had the cojones to oppose him. At that point some (but not all) of the duped millions who voted for him will no longer be able to chalk up the racist, misogynistic things he has said to "pinko-commie-liberal misinterpretation," as it will become abundantly clear that he meant every single word of it. That he is the world's next, most dangerous demagogue. That this could very well be the end of the democratic experiment. That while he might or might not give them the conservative judge for whom they sold their souls, under his emperorship life of all varieties—not just the unborn kind—will become very, very cheap. And I know you think this is an inflammatory exaggeration, but I swear to you on every good and decent thing that Trump has ever defiled with his putrescence-spewing mouth that I believe this could happen. That this sort of crapshow is where we could be heading.
That's about it.
I know you'd prefer me to say I was only kidding. That I think the American system is strong enough to contain the leaking-box-of-nitroglycerin that is our incoming president, and that the next four years will be nothing more than a succession of painful embarrassments and minor reversals in human rights. I would love for that to be true and I'm going to keep hoping that it is true, but I'm afraid my aforementioned lack of faith in the American people keeps me from adding that option to my list.
For the past almost four decades I've watched the United States be reactive and unloving. I've watched an ostensibly Christian nation choose profit and selfishness over the Kindness of Christ.
The United States of America is AMAZING.
This country has so much capacity. More than any other country in the history of the world, the United States is capable of steering the ship of humanity full-steam into a future of equality, kindness, and love. To a future where there is no Jew, Gentile, Slave, Free, Gay, Straight, Black, or White—nothing but People.
I spent my childhood in a foreign country with far more institutional corruption and cruelty than here, so I know what a gift it is to be a U.S. of American. But time and time again, I've watched this country use its power to garner more as an uninformed populace turns a blind eye, believing lies and waving flags as the weak and powerless get crushed. As the planet grows ever more soiled.
We could stop this.
But every time I think we might, I get on the internet and see that Yellow-Haired Booby staring back. Advocating fear, violence, and cruelty. Trafficking in lies, and being rewarded for it again and again.
This is our America.
This is our future.
- - -
* Once again: shame, shame, shame on white, evangelical Christians for their Christ-betraying vote for Trump.
** Then again, everybody knows that über-Rich People are never held accountable in our Criminal Injustice System.