Friday, October 28, 2016

AMERICA IS INSANE LIKE MY NANA, AND MIKE PENCE PROVES IT

Thank God Mike Pence is okay! His campaign plane almost ran off the runway at LaGuardia yesterday, a result of mud and rain, and now everyone in the media is showing bipartisan decency by rejoicing that Mike is okay. It’s a good thing too, because if something happened to ol’ Mike, well, hell, if something happened to Mike…

What?

Well, we couldn’t rely on that tower of decency and legitimacy. Because Mike is, above all else, when standing next to Trump, a truly reasonable leader.

And my Nana believed Liberace was interested in girls. Let me just leap to that. I’ll tie this back to Mike Pence in a second. But my Nana, now long gone, believed not only that Liberace dated girls, but that the nicer younger Beatles had been “replaced” by the older, scruffier, and stranger Beatles -- and that Rock Hudson and Doris Day were actually an item.

There is only one conclusion to draw: America and my Nana are one and the same.

Mike Pence as the reasonable half of the Trump ticket is an insult to my intelligence. This guy is Jim Bakker without the moral leveling influence of Tammy. His Christian moral code is a gross and ham-handed fiction: he isn’t Donald Trump’s running mate so much as his chief excuser, and in Mike’s world, he’ll excuse anything and everything eventually. Yet people continue to insist that Mike Pence is the good guy, and a devout Christian to boot.

Why can’t people see this for what it is?

If this guy was in a movie as a character, we’d all know instantly that the bullshit Christian phony had entered the plot; the guy who says we have to keep Amity open despite the shark, or denies his company is flooding petro-chemicals into the water supply. Dabney Coleman as Merle Jeeter, for instance. The act is so transparently insincere and he’s so obviously a hypocrite and yet…. and yet, people buy it.

Imagine Trump as a character in a movie: in that case, the filmmakers would get fired the minute the studio saw the rushes. “Jesus Christ, Quentin,” yells the studio exec, snapping on the light. “It’s so obvious the guy’s a total asshole, there’s no suspense and no one to root for!”

The Clintons wouldn’t fare any better. The plastic boss woman with the pantsuit and VO-5 ‘do’, screeching at the crowds (will someone teach that woman the basic concept of the microphone?) and almost assuredly screeching at her aides, security detail and everyone else behind the scenes -- while her bad-boy Jethro husband alleycats around with every siliconed beauty he can lay his hands on, hoping Mommy won’t find out? In the movie, this is the greasy power couple who own the mill where chemicals created the monster that’s eating the town, all of which Mike Pence is denying.

While I’m at it, how about Mitch McConnell? What genius casting agent dreamt that oily fish up? Or the strangely constipated and perpetually angry John McCain, ready to bomb any country at any moment for any reason?

If this were a movie we’d know them instantly for what they are. In real life, however, we apparently check our brains at the door. The only conclusion I can come to is that everyone takes the movies more seriously than real life. When it comes to hardcore realities – the stuff that determines how we live and eat and whether we go to war -- we’re as gullible as my Nana. More Americans give more thought and offer more critical discernment to the intricacies of “Walking Dead” than to the dishonesty of its actual flesh and blood leaders. And so, Mike Pence is a good guy. I, for one, wouldn’t have shed a tear if the plane had just kept on going and tipped into the East River.



"Trust me, the water's fine." 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

GOOD RIDDANCE TO THE GOP

No less an authority on the prejudices that fester within the bosom of the Republican Party than Richard Nixon said, “There really needs to be two Republican parties.”  Or that was the gist of the idea in the early 70’s, when Dick was daydreaming aloud to the amazingly resourceful Haldeman and Ehrlichman. 

The Party should have taken Nixon’s advice.  Except they knew better.  They knew that the GOP is always in a numbers struggle because they are, and always have been, a minority party.

Therefore, the cultured Buckley's and George Wills' tried tirelessly to pretend that they weren’t sharing the trolley bus with some pretty unsavory characters.  Yes, there are zealous lefties in the Democratic Party, rabid anti-fracking pro-pot stereotypes, and there have even been a few out-and-out Communists, but nothing compared to the grotesquerie of the intemperate, uneducated Pitchfork Republicans who finally took over the party in the form of, believe it or not, a Wharton graduate named Donald Trump, Manhattan maybe-billionaire and class A racist and demagogue -- interested not in the presidency but role of Czar.  They ran an actual fascist.

Bill Kristol can pretend it was a fluke but it wasn’t.  It was inevitable.  In order to win, Republicans who knew better formed an unholy alliance with the Pitchforks, and therefore such presumably decent men as George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan got elected thanks to the good wishes and elbow grease of the Moral Majority and outright racists.   But because they didn’t want to work hard and actually create a thinking coalition of interests -- or folks who could actually understand their Ayn Randian Utopia -- they closed their eyes and courted the “Jesus people” (Karl Rove’s cynical view) and maybe even sold themselves on the “greater good” argument when it came to the race-baiting that Reagan indulged in.  Remember the Welfare Queen?

Well, that kind of whoredom and self-delusion has its cost.  As Malcom X would say, the chickens have come home to roost.  Trump has ruined them.  Ironically, it isn’t going to go the way the Chardonnay Republicans think it’s going to go, with the sophisticates stepping away from the Pitchforks in high dudgeon, moral superiority in tact.  No, the Pitchforks are going to leave them, which is sort of like Ringo breaking up the Beatles.   Yet regardless of who leaves who, the GOP has become so reliant on their most unsavory wing that this divorce means assured destruction. 

The Pitchforks are going to defect to Party Trump, or whatever those deplorable supporters conjure up, and that means…?

Well, it means a Pitchfork Party and a Chardonnay Party.  Neatly fractured as above, both wings will become as consequential as the Liberal-Democrats in the UK or the Bloc Quebecois in Canada, existing friendless yet assuring us a worrisome eternity of Democratic win after Democratic win after Democratic win after Democratic win.

Much as I have mouthed the standard line about the importance of the two-party system, I can’t say, when I’m truly honest, that I’m sorry to see the Republicans go.  In the end, we have to let history tell the tale.

Forget high flown rhetoric about the party of freedom and personal responsibility; since 1912, when the parties took on their current right-left corners, the Republican party has always been on the wrong side of history.   Never has the theory and rhetoric translated into effective action for actual real, living people.

They  oversaw the corporate idolatry and laissez faire complacency that gave birth to the Great Depression, fought FDR on every aspect of relief and recovery,  supported a Jim Crow south,  railed against civil rights,  Social Security, the minimum wage, affirmative action, incentives to education, women’s rights, Roe v. Wade, gave us Joseph McCarthy, Watergate, a military build up that permanently hobbled our economy, supported the NRA to the point of the slaughter of kindergarteners,  and lied to the entire world in order to facilitate a senseless war in Iraq and a hopelessly ill-planned incursion into Afghanistan. 

I’ll give the Democrats Vietnam, but Nixon extended that one to a point of madness (Cambodia, the Christmas bombing), and Bill Clinton getting a blowjob in the Oval Office doesn’t compare to the pernicious lie of trickle-down economics that turned the middle class of this country into perpetual debtors and Wal-Mart shoppers.   Hell, Republicans weren’t even particularly gung-ho on fighting the Nazis.   So on balance, it’s good riddance to them, and while the Democrats are barely better, at least they make a pretense of not wanting people to starve.


Reagan is dead.   The Republican Party is now such stellar lights as Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, Mitch McConnell and the exceptionally craven Paul Ryan.  So it’s dead.  It will be interesting to see what takes its place.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

THIS TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE IS WRITTEN IN CANADA

I stepped into a 1960’S Twilight Zone episode when I moved my family from Ontario Canada to southern California in 2010.

Suddenly, I found myself caught in the hackneyed Rod Serling plot wherein the place I had been didn’t exist anymore, and my annoying pleas to my new neighbors fell on deaf ears.  In my fantasy I was played by Earl Holliman (a perfectly fine actor) or Bill Shatner (pre-Star Trek and also a perfectly fine actor); my plea was “But there is somewhere else out there!  I’m telling you!  There is!”  (The acting was always at fever pitch in TZ, even in the first act, and really, who doesn’t love that?)

That ‘somewhere else out there’ I was shouting about (the more I think about it, maybe I’m a young Dennis Weaver) is anywhere other than the United States.  

That’s right: it’s not just poor, befuddled yet agreeable Gary Johnson who can’t name a foreign leader -- most Americans I know can’t hold a two-minute conversation about a foreign leader or country, present-day.  I add the qualifier ‘present day’ because being forced through AP-EURO in high school doesn’t count, nor does studying the economics of the Ottoman Empire for your master’s degree in “econ” before you went to join the Gringotts at Goldman-Sachs; nor the layman’s knowledge of World War II gleaned from watching old Band of Brothers episodes on Netflix.  I’m talking today. 

This song is old, but the oldest songs are sung because they’re true.

The very smartest people I know in the United States might be able to talk about the Middle East as per the last 48 hours, but it’s always in the form of a game of Risk, or one of those interminable Star Wars sequels where Liam Neeson and the other guy whisper in frantic tones about “swearing allegiance to the federation” and “shoring up the rebel forces!”  But on the level of knowing -- who is the Prime Minister of Canada, President of Mexico, leader of the UK, what it’s like to buy bread in France, going to the doctor in Australia -- the cliché wins: Americans don’t know there’s anything else out there. 

Worse: if they do, they can’t imagine what it matters.

Aye, there’s the rub.  In the American world view, America is still the star of the movie (Dwayne Johnson), and every other country is an overacting, rubber-necking extra in the background, trying to get noticed. 

In light of the current meltdown in American politics, this is tragic.  Maybe even a Greek tragedy.  (Greece, by the way, is that country which fell apart because they didn’t adopt American free-market principles).

Because if Republicans as a gang took a gander at very recent Canadian history, they would feel so relieved they – well, they wouldn’t believe it, folks!   In fact, they could stop running around like gasoline-covered rats in the halls of the Capitol, return home to Niggerhead (Republican candidate Rick Perry’s vacation home), crack a cold one, and wait this one out.

Because here’s the story:  

A center-right conservative party of enormous power is brought down by a demagogic leader of oily charisma as well as a group of Far Right Crazies who appear out of the hinterland equipped with quasi-religious fury at all government. The party is virtually destroyed (the italics are important), but rises again from the ashes to rule the land, wearing almost the same colors it had worn before.  Can’t you just see a young black and white Bill Shatner shaking you by the lapels shouting, “I’m telling you, this has all happened before!!!”

It did.  The party was the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, the leader was Brian Mulroney, and in 1993 they were felled by Mulroney’s own Big Boss ham-fistedness and a group of quasi-religioso conservatives from the far right called the Reform Party.  Even more amazing, the person who felled the PC party was Jean Chretien, dubbed “yesterday’s man,” a political hack of the first order who had been around for decades and whom no one in particular had any enthusiasm for.  Similarities abound!  We even had a “first woman in the highest office in the land,” although this was the newly inducted PC Prime Minister, Kim Campbell.  The national distaste for Mulroney (it really had nothing to do with Kim) slashed the Conservative party’s sway over parliament from 169 seats to… 2. 

Everyone said that this was the end of the Progressive Conservative party.  And, in fact, it was!  Kind of.  The Reform Party (read Tea Partiers) won more seats than the PC’s, yet by the 2000 election the Reform and PC’s had patched up their differences and called themselves the Alliance, and by 2006, the ruling party of Canada was – the Conservative Party of Canada!  This was headed by Stephen Harper, whose greatest political legacy is the adroit rebuilding, rebranding, and re-powering of the same old stuff in a different can. 

Republicans, rejoice!

I’m convinced with American know-how, a little elbow grease and a lot of moxie, this time-line can be cut in half.  And why not?  Whereas Liberals in Canada have a history of taking a bad thing and making it better, Democrats in the US have the ability of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  This thing is in the bag.

But now we come back to the caveat.  The caveat is knowing.  Knowing that Canada exists.  Knowing that there’s, in fact, any country past Maple Street. But that probably isn’t going to happen.  So that leads to the last shot of this particular Twilight Zone episode:
 
Two Canadians/aka aliens, done up in wonderfully cheesy 1960’s alien outfits (I’m picturing Mulroney and Harper, with styrofoam antennae), shaking their heads as they observe the Americans down below racing around tearing each other’s throats out: “If only they knew others existed.”  The Mulroney alien nods and says, “But they don’t.  So they’ll never learn.”

 

 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ONLY FICTION WILL BRING US TOGETHER


My maternal grandmother – Nana – became partially deaf around the age of twenty-six.  It was caused, we were told, by the act of giving birth.  The fact that no doctor, then or ever on the face of this earth, could find any linkage between the inner ear and the successful exercise of reproductive organs meant nothing.  She was deaf. 

Her whole life, Nana was shouted at by her husband and her two children (one natural; responsible for the deafness – and one adopted) and everyone else.

Then along came her grandchildren.

Amazingly, she heard us just fine.  The slightest mew in the night and she was up like a shot!  And she never once lost the thread in our simple little stories. 

This double standard drove my mother absolutely bats, because she had to continue to bellow at the woman just to get a cup of tea.  Clearly, Nana had shrewdly checked out of the Reality Hotel and found a means by which she could hear what she wanted to hear and not hear what displeased her.

In a similar vein, one of my kids refuses to watch “Behind the Scenes” or “Making Of” videos.  Even from the earliest age he disliked these DVD add-ons.  His favorite movie as a child was, inexplicably (yet showing terrific taste), “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” starring Errol Flynn. When I suggested there existed rare footage of the making of “Robin Hood,” he was aghast.  “But I don’t want to know it’s not real!”  Later, even the idea that David Suchet is an actor playing a part, as opposed to Hercules Poirot waddling around 1930’s England solving Agatha Christie mysteries, struck him as extremely unpleasant information.  As Nana herself might have said, “What’s the good in knowing that?”

Why indeed.

In Yuval Noah Harari’s excellent tome “Sapiens,” an anthropological history of our species, he makes the point that we began to truly evolve as a social species when we got into the fiction business. Crudely put (by me, not Harari), the moment we sold each other on the notion that there’s a man in the sky (or men and women, because in the good old days we were equal opportunity pantheists; only later did we exclude women from the God business) we were on our way.  That was the means by which we figured out how to work together and farm, or rather, put up with the drudgery of farming for a greater good.  
 
Certainly the day we convinced ourselves that these truths are self-evident and all men are created equal, we were on to something.  The fact that it wasn’t true is beside the point; it fired our ambitions and imaginations and unleashed the better angels of our natures.  Today women vote. Today blacks are nominally free. We’re getting there. Hey, it took us tens of thousands of years just to get corn right.

Just how important it is to fire up our collective imaginations came home to me last night whilst watching the seedy and greasy story of Trump and the women unfold, as well as Hillary and her turncoat speech to the Goldman Sachs crowd. I made the decision to just stop watching and go upstairs.

There are books piled everywhere in my world.  It’s a problem.  Last night I picked up, for absolutely no reason, Volume I of Carl Sandburg’s chronicles of Lincoln, which I have read in pieces throughout my life but had not looked at in years -- this despite buying a beautiful hardcover set of them (published circa 1939) from a neighbor here in California who told me his dad “liked these old books” but that he had no use for them.  He asked for a dollar.

Let’s be clear.  Gore Vidal tells us not to read Sandburg.  His argument is that it offers up a Central Casting Lincoln, a cardboard cut-out as later truncated and given out (or used to be given out) in volumes such as Lincoln for Young Readers, which I loved.  Vidal is right, of course.  I know that I should not accept this folky, rail-splitting Lincoln any more than I should accept John Drinkwater’s invention, or Robert Sherwood’s “Abe Lincoln in Illinois.”  (Sherwood, by the way, is one of American’s great and forgotten playwrights and, amazingly, an FDR speechwriter).

Despite these warnings, I read Sandburg and felt no guilt at all.  How wonderful it was!  This is comfy-slipper Lincoln, macaroni-and-cheese Lincoln, complete with the lovely smell of musty pages in well-made and cared for books.

I know the real man suspended habeus corpus and was a master political manipulator (“if I could free none of the slaves and preserve the union”...), but not that night.  I confess there are times when I read about Jackson as well, ignoring Andrew Jackson the genocidal Indian killer, and opt for Jackson the adventuring frontiersman.

It is crucial to know the truth, but more and more I believe it is just as important that we agree on our fictions, because when we agree upon our fictions we have a tendency to achieve, because it is, literally, a form of communication and communion.

How are we doing otherwise?  In the age of extreme public cynicism (everything post Watergate, let’s say) America has become more polarized than ever.  The wiser and more cynical we get, the more polarized we become.  We are pretty dysfunctional now.  So to avoid finally just punching each other out in the parking lot over who we're going to vote for, maybe we need to turn to fundamental untruths and remind ourselves of that which binds us.  Honest Abe and the rail splitter, perhaps, is more important in the long run than Abe the political prevaricator.

There are things that wed us to one another immediately, whether they're rational or not: how about the Statue of Liberty or the boy with the straw hat on the raft going down the Mississippi?  How about Boo and Scout and Jem?  How about the decency of the guitar-playing boy from Tupelo?  Certainly we all harken to the tall man in the saddle or the marines storming up the beaches of France, MLK at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the family of Okies in the overloaded truck about to tip over, and certainly, always, Fern, who saves the runt pig and names him Wilbur.

We flew to the moon on such fictions, built a railroad, and created a Civil Rights Act.

We need to communicate, bridge divides and fix wounds -- and as a binding agent truth and cynicism don’t cut it. 

Only fiction, it turns out, will do.

 

 

     

Friday, October 7, 2016

IT DOESN'T MATTER IF TRUMP GROPES WOMEN



America is running downhill screaming, hands to its face, out of its mind with horror. The Thing That Cannot Be Mentioned has been seen, the Horror That Has No Equal has reared its head, The violin strings are being played by a hacksaw, the kettle drums are pounding. The horror has been unleashed.

Donald Trump talked about groping women.

Worse, he talked about wanting to have sex with married women and preying on them, even to the point of taking them out and shopping for furniture. How far will the monster go?

The man has talked about using nuclear weapons in Europe, people.

The man has insulted entire races of people, bragged about his intentions to use the power of the federal government to exact revenge on his rivals, induced foreign governments to spy on his political opposition, and suggested the murder -- murder, folks -- of the Democratic nominee.


Sex is gonna do it for us?


Are we really that simple minded?

This man was wholly unfit to hold political office the day he rode the escalator down into all of our nightmares; Trump the business fraud with his faux Christian faith and his concern for hard-working blue-collar Americans, when in fact everything he "built" he got from his father;

Trump with his cheap Charles Atlas toughness espousing law and order when there's a trail of lawsuits against him and his business practises as long as the Atlantic City boardwalk -- including stiffing the actual hard-working blue collar Americans who hammered his hotels together and grouted the bathrooms;

Trump the business genius who fronted the bogus Trump University, which was, simply, out and out fraud.


How about the Trump modeling agency? Did anyone have any illusions what that was for?

Trump engaging in his gross and seamy "locker room talk" is the least of his sins; deciding he was going to strike any pose, put on any mask, lie and cheat in any way necessary in order to see if he could get as far as the presidency is the real sin.

Where shame enters the story is that so many of us have bought this snake-oil salesman's act.

This is what the Republican party has given us. This is what they're willing to endorse and stand behind in order to get the White House. God knows why, because if Trump actually won the thing, they'd have an uncontrollable maniac on their hands.


Shame on everyone supporting The Beast from the Escalator, and shame on those who continue to push flak for him. Almost every one of them knows better, but the hunger for their own advancement is clearly greater than the best interests of their country.

But shame on all of us if we make his sleazy talk of grabbing women by their private parts the thing that finally causes us to finally kick this creep out the door.


We have far better reasons to do that.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

PENCE LIED AND IT'S TIME FOR A NEW REPUBLICAN PARTY

Mike Pence won the Vice Presidential debate!  Chris Matthews, on MSNBC, even went so far as to say we were probably looking at the 2020 Republican Presidential nominee.

Boy.  That must have been some debate performance.

I clearly missed it.  I was sitting in a parking lot waiting for my 17-year-old son to finish soccer practice, and while I heard some Vice-Presidential debate on the radio, I clearly heard the wrong one. 

In the debate I heard, Pence lied. I said this to my son.  “But he lied.”

“Yeah, dad, he lied.”

“I mean, he just openly lied about all the things Trump has said.  He denied it all. That doesn’t matter?”

“Of course it doesn’t.  Let’s go.”

So we drove off, and I wondered if I now belonged to a generation of idiot values; telling the truth being right up there with the Prospective Boyfriend asking dad’s permission to date the daughter, or a neighbor offering two cows in payment for sleeping with your wife. 

Because Pence did lie.  He lied over and over and over again.  Yet the press put the gold medal over his head anyway.  Style over substance. No one cares.  We’re supposed to ignore that Pence denied everything Donald Trump has said, just like we’re supposed to deny the fact that just about everything Pence himself stands for is insane.

Pence has battled against civil rights for LGBT’s, pushed for forced funerals for fetuses so women who have had an abortion can be tortured and traumatized, demanded that public schools teach creationism, supports “conversion” therapy for gays, and thinks we ought to deny citizenship for babies born in the United States. 

In short, Mike Pence is an intolerant, right-wing bigot controlled not by a belief or interest in the constitution but by his religious agenda.  That is the prism through which he sees the world and it’s entirely un-American.

I think.

I could be wrong.

Because it’s always possible Mike is lying.  Why not?  Maybe that stuff is just like Pence and Trump spouting that Putin is a better leader than Obama and then denying it, or denying that Trump calls women fat, or that Trump is open to using nuclear weapons on a hell of a lot of people. 

Let’s assume for a second that Hillary Clinton is as crooked as Richard Nixon, as incompetent as Warren Harding, and as beholden to special interests as the Tammany Hall hacks.  Or, to put it so the religious zealots can understand it -- Satan.  Okay.  She’s Satan.

Pence is the antidote?  Trump is the antidote?

This is where the rubber hits the road and I rail against the mainstream media and the comment Matthews made, much as I enjoy the Matthews show and his writing.

The mainstream media has no business accepting such odious and smarmy creeps as Pence on any level.  In so doing – and always in the name of fairness – they welcome The Creepy Corps into the real world, and so here we are, with Trump and Pence one heartbeat away from controlling an ungodly chunk of this planet.

Because it's that serious.  The mainstream press needs to call it for what it is, just as they need to stop avoiding the core of the Republican party problem, which Matthews’ comment about the 2020 race suggests isn’t there.

The Republican party problem is this: when it comes to 2020, the Republican party has no business fielding any candidates at all, Mike Pence or any of the other dwarves.  It has sacrificed its own legitimacy as a party, and should have no role in national politics period.  Why?  Because it incubated and coughed up the demagogue Donald Trump, a man universally accepted as unfit for the Presidency or any political office. 

Trump is a monster.  He isn’t Huey P. Long, the dodgy populist who understood how to govern and how legislation is made, and he isn’t George Wallace, who showed he could evolve in his beliefs, and he isn’t even Strom Thurmond, who had actually fought for his country.

He is something new. 

He is a repellant creature supported by a Republican party so blinded by their hatred of the opposition that they didn’t care what they were turning into. This isn’t the party of Reagan, or Eisenhower, or Theodore Roosevelt, or Lincoln.  It certainly isn’t the party of George H. W. Bush or Gerald Ford.  Those were and are honorable people, guided, I suspect, by a true interest in their country and the people who inhabit it.

In raising Donald Trump up from the ooze, the GOP has shown us they don’t care about their country; they don’t care about the consequences, and they don’t care about us. 

Thus, they have forfeited their right to national party leadership.  

This is a Lovecraft story.  The Republican Party is the strapping young lad who has morphed into something utterly unrecognizable and cruel.  It has disgraced and embarrassed this country.  The best thing for all of us would be to call it for what it is and start again with a strong and reasonable body that stands in opposition to the Democrats.      





Monday, October 3, 2016

DEMOCRATS, BEWARE BREXIT AND CANADA

The Democratic Party has a long history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, over-estimating their own appeal, and under-estimating the sheer villainy of the other side. They’re always getting Swift-boated, or conked over the head in a bar fight, or just plain ripped off. Think of John Kerry and his war record, Michael Dukakis and the Willie Horton brouhaha, and most amazingly, the 2000 non-election of Al Gore. By virtue of this, the Democrats gave us the Iraq war and the meltdown.
 
The trend continues: in the current election, they’re running against a complete fool and yet they’re still dog paddling along. I hope they have a plan to pick up the pace, and something more than a “better than Trump” debate performance from Hillary. Anybody can do better than Trump.

What I really hope they’re not doing is relying on the fact that almost every establishment figure in the country is now lining up to either say “you must vote for Hillary” or “you can’t vote for Trump.”

If they are, consider these two dark harbingers: Brexit, and Canada’s Charlottetown Accord of 1992.

The Brexit story is simple enough. Every establishment figure in the UK stood up and said that leaving the European Union was madness and financial folly. All sorts of odd partnerships were forged, and yet in the end an orange-haired carnival barker named Boris Johnson and a smarter-than-he-looks snake oil salesman named Nigel Farage led the campaign for a “Brexit”, and ... it worked! Everyone was shocked, especially Boris and Nigel. Foolishly, the excessively privileged British Prime Minister, who called up this unnecessary referendum in the first place, resigned that very day -- and now the new Prime Minister is surging forward with Article 50, which is basically the getting out of the EU paperwork.

Scary.

Even scarier – and more germane for Democrats – is Canada’s Charlottetown Accord of 1992. Pay attention to this:

In 1992, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney negotiated substantial changes to the Canadian constitution that would bring Quebec more securely into the national fold, guaranteeing them a special status. This was put to a national referendum, just as Brexit was. For the first time, Canadians saw the leaders of the three major political parties standing together on one issue, each of the major newspapers screeching for a national consensus, and the intellectual elite and entertainment figures all endorsing “Say YES to Canada.” Everybody was for this piece of legislation and...!

The people voted it down. Resoundingly. Shock throughout the nation. “But everybody who was anybody was for it! What happened???”

What happened is that democracies and republics are made up, unfortunately, of people, and people – real people – are prickly and ornery. Despite the attention and respect we offer our leaders -- to say nothing of the fancy jets and all that security -- most of us think they’re assholes. So if pushed, citizens will behave like a teenaged boy told to take the garbage out: “I was gonna do it, but now that you asked me, the last thing I’m gonna do is take the garbage out.”

People in Washington and on “Meet the Press” appear not to get this. They think we care about Governor Chip Buckhorn from Loose Tooth, Wyoming endorsing someone; or Congresswoman Maxine Gabforever telling us that “every citizen needs to look at the facts” and that this will move us to action.

The truth is, the only thing this does is move us toward the opposite doorway, especially if every single Establishment Figure and Elite shows up to force the point.

And it’s only getting worse, as more and more people are waking up to the fact that they may have been sold a bill of goods for more two generations, and they’re starting to wonder, why not put everything on 28 black and roll the dice -- despite the fact that Trump is such an obvious cretin?

Here’s how it works: “I lost my savings, I lost my house, I can’t afford college education for my kids who didn’t get much of an education in public high school anyway, I’m up to my eyeballs in credit card debt, and they’re raising the price of my TV package, which delivers the only solace I have in this world; I’ve been fed food that I’m now told will kill me, been paying through the nose for cars that burn huge amounts of fuel so I can enrich Middle Eastern bastards who only want to kill me and my family, and I bailed out bankers so that my retirement age could move from 65 to 80. Everybody I ever voted for lied and delivered on nothing. So why not do a little mad-bomber stuff and, when given the chance, stamp all over their expectations? At least I get the satisfaction of one small victory over people who keep pulling the football away at the last second.”

Fear this, Democrats, fear this – and harken to Brexit and Charlottetown.

A TRIBUTE TO BERNARD SLADE

The last time I posted to this blog, I was writing a memorial to my father, Rod Coneybeare, who passed away on Sept 5, 2019.    The in...