Turning My Back On You Forever

I knew you would be trouble but I didn’t anticipate how much or for how long.  I didn’t anticipate how high-maintenance you would be, when you, with your big head, your big mouth, and your shocking ideas, eclipsed every other craven presidential wannabe in that first GOP cattle call back in 2015.  All I knew was that you would breeze past Hillary, because you spoke to the people’s unspeakable fears and desires.  You were a dangerous iconoclast, a battering ram poised to make what I worshipped go smash.

Your political “look” barely masked what was ruthless and crass.  As a suitor, a little-known arriviste, you ravaged the gentility that makes balanced government run.  On television, you honed your art, getting suppliants to grovel before you, so at odds with the dignified reciprocity of republican government.  You resented polite norms.  This naughtiness was seductive.  Silently, my neighbors began crushing on you.

You trended, went viral—a page right out of Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.  Your message was simple: close our borders, deter China, shore up national sovereignty and American prestige.  Views so simple every voter could understand.  A legitimate paradigm shift, peddled by a dangerously power-hungry man.

As you gained ground, I had to notice, pay attention.  Loathing you, I had to think about you every day.  The good people of America had to be woke.  Collectively, our days turned on figuring you out.  It was up to us (!) to avert your bid to end republican government.  It was surreal: surreal because it was happening.  Really happening!  In our time, as we raked leaves, watched the news, folded laundry.  The first impeachment vote failed as I trimmed a Christmas tree.  Republican after Republican rose to defend you: after that party-line vote, what hope remained?  Congress was tainted.  Only the people’s votes could save the nation from you.  This while tweaking the tinsel, powerless.

You haunted my dreams.  I tweeted and fought about you constantly.  Barry Blitt’s cartoons for the New Yorker mushroomed into a serial novel on my bulletin board.  Those cartoons fortified me, even as I resented you who made them necessary.  You were my atmosphere.  You infiltrated my social life, my intellect, my family.  It was like I knew you, like you were my cellmate and I was doing time.

Then, astonishingly, we prevailed!  Your opponents prevailed.  We barely managed to save the nation from you.  But prevail we did!  On January 6th, a terrified Congress and a furtive vice-president rallied round the Constitution just long enough to save the nation from a full-throttle assault, whose clownishness barely masked a deadly serious coup.  Just enough bravery and independence remained to fend off your lackeys, sedulously peddling the Big Lie.

Now, my obligation to notice you is over.  You lost the election, lost the nation’s trust.  You lost the popular vote, lost the electoral college.  You’re a loser.  The majority of Americans are done with you.  This week, all Blitt’s cartoons came down off the bulletin board, to be filed away.  I’m consigning you to the past, to oblivion.  I’m turning away from you forever, intent on never mentioning your name again.  I see this as a patriotic duty.  As your name goes unuttered, your irrelevance builds.  Only those who treat you as important keep you alive.

I don’t know just what your future will be.  Will you run out of money, grow as seedy as OJ?  Will you ever be found guilty for your evident crimes?  Will you seek refuge in a foreign country?  Be utterly humiliated at the polls?  However it plays out, you are fated to become a pariah one day.  Just as I’m turning my back on you, so society will eventually stop noticing you.

You changed us, you see.  Because we are different, you will never again occupy the presidency.  No matter what the polls say (c’mon!).

The Rising Waters

Carl Hassmann's 1906 drawing of rising waters threatening the American middle class.

“The Rising Waters” is even more salient now than when Carl Hassmann drew it in 1906. Then, as now, American society was in a desperate state, thanks to decades of the rich getting richer and leaving everyone else behind. The Gilded Age had created vast industrial wealth while consigning millions to exploitative working conditions and poverty. Landed security became more elusive as labor-saving machinery displaced rural folk and opportunities to homestead shrank with the “closing” of the American frontier. Cities became clogged with Americans seeking the respectability and comfort that came with new white-collar jobs. Continue reading

Where Democracy Is Greener

Crouched form sculpted by an unknown Haitian artist, probably enslaved.

The Haitians at Del Rio

Over one weekend, some 15,000 people, mainly Haitians, suddenly appeared at the Mexican border of the US, wanting to come in.  They fled Haiti because Haiti is broken down.  Its resources are meager and mismanaged.  Its political culture is corrupt; its government, dysfunctional.  Its last democratically elected president, Jovenel Moïse, was mysteriously assassinated, possibly by a clique of private outside adventurers.  He left Haitian government in a precarious position, for he had been hollowing out and disabling its already puny civic institutions.  Haiti is a Somalia in the making, where utter lawlessness could follow a decline in stable control. Continue reading

Covid 2.0

Editor’s note: This previously unpublished post is seeing the light of day today, 3 Dec 2021, as the Omicron variant has begun to sicken Americans, sending the covid epidemic into a third distinct phase.  The basic distinction made here, in the divergent risks the virus poses to the vaccinated and unvaccinated, remains as salient today as in September, when this piece was composed.

Instead of continuing to wane. the pestilence known as COVID is surging, and a nasty new phase of the pandemic lies ahead.  Since the more contagious delta variant arrived from overseas, it has moved into areas previously left untouched.  More Americans in out-of-the-way places are getting sick.  Delta is spreading over the South and other “red” regions where a fatalistic or defiant attitude toward preventive measures reigns.

At the same time, delta confounds the simple narrative of “victory through vaccination” that federal officials and the scientific community have been telling.  Two starkly different fates await the vaccinated and unvaccinated, but, unfortunately, even vaccinated people are still contracting and transmitting the disease. Continue reading

States That Went For Trump In 2020

Where Trump beat Biden in 2020, his margin of victory was often wide.  Listed below are the states where Trump prevailed, in order of his relative popularity.  The results show where Democrats are least competitive, where Trump prevails because of an absence of viable competition.

After that is a second list, of the ten states most closely decided in 2020.  In four states (Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania), Biden prevailed by a margin of less than one percent. Had these states gone the other way, Trump would still be president.

The political crisis of the United States will resolve when a rival party becomes ideologically competitive in the many states where Trump dominated comfortably last time around.  Many of these states are small.  How to woo votes away from Trump in these areas is an experiment worth embarking on prior to the election of 2024.

KEY: State (Electoral votes) NUMBER OF VOTES CAST FOR TRUMP / Margin of victory

    • Wyoming (3) 193,559 / 43.3 %
    • West Virginia (5) 545,382 / 38.9 %
    • North Dakota (3) 235,595 / 33.3 %
    • Oklahoma (7) 1,020,280 / 33.1 %
    • Idaho (4) 554,119 / 30.8 %
    • Arkansas (6) 760,647 / 27.6 %
    • South Dakota (3) 261,043 / 26.2 %
    • Kentucky (8) 1,326,646 / 25.9 %
    • Alabama (9) 1,441,170 / 25.4 %
    • Tennessee (11) 1,852,475 / 23.2 %
    • Utah (6) 865,140 / 20.5 %
    • Nebraska (4/5) 556,846 / 19.1 %
    • Louisiana (8) 1,255,776 / 18.6 %
    • Mississippi (6) 756,764 / 16.5 %
    • Montana (3) 343,602 / 16.4 %
    • Indiana (11) 1,729,516 / 16 %
    • Missouri (10) 1,718,736 / 15.4 %
    • Kansas (6) 771,406 / 14.6 %
    • South Carolina (9) 1,385,103 / 11.7 %
    • Alaska (3) 189,951 / 10 %
    • Iowa (6) 897,672 / 8.2 %
    • Ohio (18) 3,154,834 / 8.1 %
    • Texas (38) 5,890,347 / 5.6 %
    • Florida (29) 5,668,731 / 3.3 %
    • North Carolina (15) 2,758,775 / 1.3 %
    • Maine (1/4) 360,737* / -9.1 %

*Votes garnered in Maine gave Trump 1 electoral vote out of a possible four.

The most closely contested states in 2020: Biden’s narrowest margins

    • Georgia (16) B by 0.2 %
    • Arizona (11) B by 0.6 %
    • Wisconsin (10) B by 0.6 %
    • Pennsylvania (20) B by 0.7 %
    • North Carolina (15) T by 1.3 %
    • Michigan (16) B by 2.6 %
    • Nevada (6) B by 2.7 %
    • Florida (29) T by 3.3 %
    • Texas (38) T by 5.6 %
    • Minnesota (10) B by 7.1 %
    • New Hampshire (4) B by 7.1 %

Vote totals from https://www.archives.gov/electoral-college/2020

Margins from https://cookpolitical.com/2020-national-popular-vote-tracker
Downloadable blank outline map from JFK Library



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