The Democratic Party’s awesome corruption, contempt for its own voters, and dysfunction as an opposition might be amusing if the major party opposite it weren’t an absolute horror show. We, the people to which the elected are answerable, were denied a decent choice among the two viable presidential candidates last year.
For that reason alone I’m unmoved by all the apoplexy directed at third-party voters who refused to be sheepdogged. Clinton as the only bulwark against Trump was a fucking disgrace, and so, increasingly so as his administration unfolds, was Trump as the only bulwark against Clinton. I seriously considered voting for Trump before bunking down on the Stein Steamer for the last week or two, and I probably would have voted for him had I been registered in a swing state. A close Republican friend of mine voted for Gary Johnson in spite of the “What is Aleppo?” moment, which appalled him, because he believed that Trump was a usurper of the party’s leadership. Another Republican friend told me, “I voted for Clinton and immediately felt bad about it afterwards.” Both of these guys are lifelong Pennsylvanians, so it was other, more downmarket, sorts who got the Trump Train over the hill there. They both have politics that I’m sure would be harmful to the country if scaled up, but they’re true class acts, and I was especially offended by the prospect of the reluctant Clinton voter believing that he had no option but to support someone he abhorred because the only alternative looked even worse.
I don’t think it’s too much to demand that politicians offer us a positive reason to show up and vote for them. If voters individually conclude that the best thing they can do with their vote is to support the least of the evils, I’m fine with that, but I don’t take well to being ordered how to vote. Nope, that’s my decision to make as an individual, because the franchise is granted to the individual, as I’ve been arguing since 2004, when friends in the Newman Club were advancing what amounted to the collectivization of the franchise on behalf of the Catholic Church. I take my individual duty as a voter seriously and go into it as maturely and well-informed as I can; if other individual voters are frivolous or ignorant in their voting habits, that ain’t my damn problem. I don’t mind positive arguments on behalf of a candidate I despise and distrust, even Hillary, but barking at me how to vote? Fuck off, champ.
It’s surprising in retrospect that I caught such flak from establishment Democrats for withholding my vote from Abuela and none from Magaland, which was teeming with creepy authoritarians. I guess it was because I was an apostate from the Democratic Party cult (which I had never actually joined in the first place; I had compelling policy reasons to campaign for John Kerry). It’s easy to lose sight of what a recent development the incursion of cult authoritarians into the mainstream of the Democratic Party has been. Historically, the Democrats have been the undisciplined, disorganized, easy-come easy-go party, repeatedly floundering before the Republican war machine. Funny thing, though: when they tried to go full Churchill on every Republican beach last year, they fucking choked.
What is “Wisconsin?”
One of the morals here is that it’s really tricky to fight fire with fire. Voters figured the Democrats were out to burn them, too, and that if they wanted that they’d have taken a creepy firebug ex-lover in Spanaway. That’s barely on topic, but it’s more fun than anything you’ll hear from the centrists, and you’d be a brame fool to think otherwise. No, the Democratic Party is not, dare we say, sound. This prattle will end when it feels like ending, and it’s still going to show the perezidential faction to be a bunch of out-of-touch retards. *Shit. Shit. Shit.* Voters may trust a campaign that’s businesslike if has a decent conception of the public business (Sanders), but we don’t much care for a campaign that can’t take a joke, can’t make a joke, and treats us, the constituents it’s trying to win, as the joke. That’s why it’s generally a good thing when the candidate who goes on Ellen to do the nae-nae loses, and to resalt that beautiful wound, yes, Virginia, she fucking lost.
But to what? That’s the sick part. I was eager to give the Donald the benefit of the doubt, a chance to show that he was governing in the public interest. Maybe the honeymoon lasted longer than it should have, but it’s looking pretty bad now. Trump got over the top by appealing to distressed, disgruntled workaday voters with gushing talk of populist restraints on big business. By this standard alone, ignoring all the civil liberties and due process violations of his administration (especially on immigrants), he’s a failure. He was not elected to have some corporate shitbird at the FCC repeal net neutrality rules. That did not happen.
Steve Bannon, for all his faults, has been out for months, and with him his advocacy for a more cohesive core American society. The social fabric has been fraying so badly and for so long that someone had to step in and point the way towards its reinforcement. Bannon filled a void that the neoliberal corporatocracy deliberately created. Having the hubris to assume that such a vacuum is sustainable doesn’t make it so, and sure enough, it’s a vacuum no more. Natural law enforces itself in due course of time, and Bannon happened to be the instrument closest at hand when that time came.
But, again, he’s out, so positive law and military-industrial complex hubris are back. And Bannon led just one of several bickering factions within the Trump administration, the rest of them flagrantly venal. GOP establishment crooks were never going to do anything good for the country, and neither were a Stepford Wife like Ivanka, the inbred Don-Don and Eric duo, and the ridiculous Anthony Scaramucci in the family business and cronies faction. This is presumably why we keep business separate from family.
Then there’s Donald Trump’s own raging bigotry. The guy isn’t just foul; he actually looks insane.
Ronald Reagan dogwhistled to the worst elements of the Hard South by starting his 1980 campaign with a speech on states’ rights in Mississippi, the Clintons dogwhistled more subtly but also more destructively, and even Mocha Haole crudely played the good cop to the usual squad of bad cops in his efforts at Community policing, but no matter how vile they were, they had a strong appearance of self-control, of not entirely believing their own bullshit. They were deploying talking points to pander to evil but influential elements of the electorate, so there was at least a faint hope that they might be won over to less evil stances if the political winds shifted or towards discreet moderation if they were given some cover.
Trump, in stark contrast, is constantly fuming unfiltered about the craziest, most reprehensible chain e-mail urban legends and news-talk hoaxes. If he didn’t actually believe this shit, he wouldn’t carry on about it on a social media account that he personally operates. This is separate from his habit of dissing other celebrities and politicians. This is the shit everyone’s deranged, dubiously employable uncle does. Pandering to bigots is reprehensible, but it’s a rational response to bad incentives, so strong counterincentives can be used to limit it. This is different. The highest elected official in the land is constantly mouthing off with his schizoid delusions of persecution. The fucking President of the United States of America is acting like all the paranoid authoritarian assholes who go on Twitter to report leftist shitposters to the Secret Service account and post pictures of Jeff Sessions under the caption “Court is in Session.” (Wrong: he’s just the AG, dumbass; his own horrified colleagues shot down his bid for that federal judgeship.)
This is a crisis of leadership far worse than impulsive rudeness. It isn’t just bad manners. It isn’t just a breach of horseshit Sorkinian norms. It’s a genuine governing crisis. The chief executive of an imperial juggernaut of over three hundred million residents is showing overt signs of mental incompetency and incapacitation. Worse, the batshit insane behavior in question has been normalized, in large part because the president himself is allowed to engage in it without consequence. Congress has not brought articles of impeachment against him on the basis that he’s behaving rashly and belligerently towards innocent parties and blatantly out of his goddamn mind.
But why would it? Trump is the first Fox News president (as well as the first Extremely Online president), but his party, which controls Congress, loves it some Fox News. If they’re comfortable showing their hand so promiscuously, it’s probably because they’ve already normalized every noxious thought process and behavior in question and assume that their constituents consider it all equally normal.
Fume all you like about Trump, because the bottom line is that he’d be neutralized if he were presiding opposite a Democratic or hostile Republican Congress. If Congress actually took an adversarial stance towards him (as so longwindedly encouraged in so many of our nation’s founding documents) he’d be a mere nuisance, and he might well no longer be in office. Congress has the authority to remove the President, whose very title of office was chosen by the framers of the Constitution to convey its tenuousness. The president merely presides over the government from the executive branch; he does not reign or command. The framers hoped that Congress wouldn’t frivolously or lightly remove presidents from office, but they also made it explicit that they considered it a congressional duty to hold presidents accountable as coequal officials, not be subservient to their majesty. Congress obviously has the constitutional prerogative and duty to impeach and remove unfit presidents. If a critical mass of its members determine that the sitting President is unfit for office, they’re completely within their rights to haul his ass up to Capitol Hill and say, listen, dipshit, you do not get an entire term to act like a fucking shit-flinging paranoid schizophrenic in public, because that is not within the scope of your office.
As so often is the case, hardly anyone in power actually gives a shit about principles or norms. Trump’s bizarre outbursts have been so normalized on the right that they’re hardly even an embarrassment to his fellow Republicans. Let’s not kid ourselves: Clinton got impeached by Democrats for being an embarrassment and by Republicans (including our old boy J. Denny Dundiddly) for being a cheap and easy target, so if the GOP Congressional Caucus decides that his bullshit has gotten tiresome and off-brand for the party, they know where to find the levers to catapult his ass back to Mar-a-Lago.
The Republican Caucus tolerates Trump because he and his people cooperate with their grotesque, brazen agenda of nihilistic evil. That’s what the Republican Party has become. Formerly a party of stewards, it is now a party of murderers, rapists, slavers, kidnappers, and vandals. Reagan had a vindictively destructive side, especially vis-à-vis labor unions, and this was excruciatingly ironic and hypocritical for a former SAG president, but even at his worst, shitcanning PATCO en masse and standing back while private capital busted meatpackers’ unions across the Midwest, he was positively restrained and public-spirited compared to those who have come after him in his name.
It’s never the real pirates who hoist the Jolly Roger. We’ve mentioned net neutrality already. Ajit Pai and his crew are obviously out to help the trusts shake down the public for access to infrastructure that was funded and built by DARPA. The Republicans are the ones who tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a working replacement, endangering the lives of sick infants, special-needs patients, and every other medically vulnerable population that the Republican Party’s own sincerely pro-life constituency spends its own energy and treasure protecting to the best of its ability. It’s overwhelmingly Republican politicians who have sandbagged Medicaid expansion at the state level and tried to repeal it at the federal level.
It’s the GOP, inevitably, that is now trying to force through its fresh hell of a tax “reform” bill. Student interest will no longer be deductible, but private jet costs will. This is more nihilism. The Republicans are up on their burn down the ivory tower bullshit again. Anti-intellectualism generally comes from a place of nihilism, and this crew is really vicious about it. They aren’t looking to oversee federal grants to universities more closely; they’re looking to force an already grievously indebted alumni population even deeper into crushing student debt and indiscriminately cut off grant funding wherever they can out of spite.
There are a couple of huge problems here. First, the student debt: 44 million Americans carry student debt, a number eerily close to the 46 or so million who were reported as going without medical insurance during the Clinton Administration. If lenders are in trouble with this class of debt because it’s bad (they in fact are not, and it isn’t), why the hell isn’t it their problem for not having done due diligence? Unsecured loans to people with no apparent marketable skills and no personal assets based on unpredictable future earnings? It’s no wonder the lenders leaned on Congress, including Delaware charlatan Uncle Joe, to exclude student loans from federal bankruptcy protections. This way they get to skip the risk and skim the interest, which is usurious enough to cover a hell of a lot more delinquency than has hit the market so far.
More broadly, though, there’s the nihilism of trying to burn down the academy because it happens to harbor some people one finds annoying, antagonistic, and, supposedly, not adequately useful to society. If we’re looking for jawboning wankers who have no marketable skills, there’s no reason to go on a damn college tour when there’s a Metro Station and long-distance passenger rail and bus terminal a couple of blocks from the US Capitol. Do these assholes have any sense of irony?
Sure, there are wankers and bullshitters in academia. No shit, Sherlock. Anyone who pays attention to federal expenditures, though, knows that they’re marginal, mostly harmless, and kept afloat at a relatively inconsequential public expense. They could be working on the F-35 clusterfuck instead, or riding the maritime demolition derby circuit with the Seventh Fleet.
Must we actually throw the baby out with the bathwater by collectively punishing entire universities just to spite a few losers in humanities cul-de-sacs who are already regarded as embarrassing ne’er-do-wells by their more rigorous and accomplished peers? By Paul Ryan’s reckoning, we most certainly must. That pig-ignorant thieving piece of shit won’t be happy unless we, generally his intellectual superiors, are made to feel pain for no reason. Does that fucker have a science or math background? Does he know how to do long division?
A reasonable response of good faith to concerns about government waste would be to go up to Capitol Hill and hand out 7-Eleven applications. That’s where most of Congress would be working if they had gotten ahead in life by their own merits, assuming they hadn’t been fired years ago. The brightest bulbs don’t go into politics, certainly not in a political climate as ridiculous as ours today. The least we can demand of them is that they have the humility to recognize that they are setting law and policy for people who include their unambiguous intellectual superiors, both in government and out. That clown crew doesn’t have what it takes to work for the FAA or to do crop or climate science research at the University of Nebraska. The decent among them admit as much and act with a fitting modesty, but the last thing anyone can expect of the average congressman is decency and the modesty to go with it.
I’d say that we should send these assholes down into the Metro tunnels after hours to scrape the hair and dandruff and shit off the third rails for fire prevention, but I respect railroad maintenance of way crews too much to send a bunch of worse-than-useless jawboning shitbirds over to get in the way of people who work for a living. This is why we have public assistance: to marginalize those who will inevitably fuck everything up if they engage.
I’m just trying to do right by my great-grandfather here. The union allowed him to raise my grandmother and her siblings in a stable lower-middle-class existence because it shook the damn cash out of the Union Pacific’s pockets. If tamping iron accidents are going to be a tradition, then, they might as well stop happening to the front of the head of some poor bastard like Phineas Gage and start happening to critical parts of the back of the heads of, say, Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach.
Brandenburg, bitch. Tough shit if that got y’all sunflower salty.
What’s the matter with Kansas is the matter with a lot more than just Kansas. The government is the only reason the railroad ever did a thing to keep us safe. Besides, I’m not getting anyone hurt by playing Fantasy Industrial Accident, which is noticeably safer than real professional football. Holler back at me from Congress when Americans are no longer dying because they’re rationing their insulin to make ends meet.