America, after the fall

Every day, I wake up and read Twitter before I get to work. What fresh hell faces us today? I think. Boils, frogs, locusts — all of the above?

I sit at my desk in the living room and assess the latest damage. Because it is my job to know things, I know the extreme right wing has been planning this stealth attack on democracy for decades, just waiting for the opportunity for their policy teams to parachute in and destroy what they can. None of this is an accident.

They thought their entree for 2016 was Ted Cruz, but that didn’t work out. Donald Trump was an agreeable puppet, because he needed the evangelical voters they supply, so there you go. They made lemonade. Trump doesn’t understand or care about policy, so he subcontracted it to the extremists.

For once, he didn’t stiff them.

Today, on the first anniversary of the Republicans’ right wing electoral coup (with a little help from their Russian friends), I walked into the voting booth like a zombie. Only 83 people so far in my precinct, so maybe my vote means something. Yes, Philadelphia has a corrupt Democratic machine, but here’s the difference: Democratic officials also do things for ordinary people. They like to fix problems, not create more of them.

Under the circumstances, I’ll take it.

When I was a child, I had a deep and abiding conviction that somehow, in my lifetime, we would live in a society of scarcity: water, food, warmth. As I brushed my teeth, I pictured myself explaining to future grandchildren, “We had so much water, we could let the tap run!” As I aged, I told myself I was being silly. Look at how much we have!

Such is the burden of living with one foot in the present and another in the future. This does not seem so theoretical to me any more. One day, we may all be Puerto Rico.

***

I went to the Popeye’s drive-in today and ordered a № 2 spicy, dark meat, string beans, sweet tea. I don’t frequently eat like this, but today is different. Their sweet tea tastes exactly like the strong, overly-sugared iced tea my late mother used to make — so strong, “the spoon could stand upright,” my sister and I used to joke. None of us make iced tea like that anymore; like my siblings, now I drink it weak, and unsweetened.

Today, I want my mother. I yearn for that familiar comfort.

Because our country is slipping away before our eyes, and it will take much more than indictments to fix it by the time the extremists are finished. They have successfully undermined any concept of objective truth; it’s all fake news, a plot. A pedophile ring operated by Hillary Clinton and John Podesta in the basement of a hipster pizza joint. The deep state undermining the rightful king of America.

And now, the right-wing Sinclair Broadcasting is poised to take over 71% of the nation’s media market. You could be forgiven if you get the impression that the merger seems inevitable. (I’m so old, I remember when executive Chairman David Smith got caught having oral sex with a hooker outside my son’s Baltimore apartment.) It will be the closest thing America has had to state-run media.

Everyone thinks it’s other people who are influenced by television and social media. Weak people, not like them. Yes, you’re right. That’s probably why all those giant corporations spend money on advertising; they simply feel like throwing money away.

***

I have been cautioned not to speak of politics to my relative’s in-laws at Thanksgiving. They are Long Island Republicans who voted for Donald Trump. I promised to avoid the subject — “unless they bring it up first.”

I don’t enjoy rebutting Republicans as much as I used to; there is simply no common ground with a world view shaped only by Fox, Breitbart, WND. Now I avoid talking to political civilians, even Democrats. There is no easy way to download all my years of experience and knowledge into their heads and I just sound paranoid and crazy, like Rowdy Roddy Piper in “They Live!”

If you don’t have the sunglasses, how can you see?

By the time everyone else wakes up, it will probably be too late.

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