Once upon a time, the new school year began shortly after Labor Day. I don’t know about you, but here in South Florida, our Fall Semester begins on Monday August 12 - when many kids will still be up north at summer camp. So why does our school year begin so incredibly early? Only G-d and the Palm Beach County Board of Education know. for certain . . . perhaps. Likewise, once upon a time, presidential elections began in earnest on Labor Day weekend of the year in which the nation went to the polls. Nowadays, presidential campaigns begin on the day the president takes the oath of office. And mind you, some of the potential candidates are gearing up not for the election four years hence, but occasionally a full eight years into the future. Of course, our current POTUS began his reelection campaign the very day he placed his hand on the Bible - a book he’s probably never read cover to cover. In other words, nowadays we seem to have both a never-ending school year and a presidential election season without end.
It goes without saying that a high percentage of the American public is anxiously awaiting - if not praying for - the end of the Trump presidency. We are up to here with all the bald-faced lies and “leadership via Twitter”; with the ceaseless name-calling, and revolving door executive department; with the utter societal divisiveness and the disparagement of the CIA, FBI and the press; with the dismembering of our international alliances and the catering to those who are most base and intolerant . . . and on and on and on. For the first time in our lives, many, many Americans - myself included - are in fear for the future of a country whose very slogan, e pluribus unam (“Out of many comes one”) is on the critical list.
But merely dislodging Trump and his clueless, avaricious crowd’s hands from the levers of power is neither a certainty nor a cure-all; American polity and society have long been fraught with cancerous cleavages. But never in our history have they been so case-hardened and, what’s even worse, so frighteningly weaponized. One of the most pernicious things Trump has done in his brief political career is to make fear the central plank of his presidency; the fear of the “other.” Historically, that is the despot’s way. Where most candidates for president have presented policies and visions meant to inspire, Trump has somehow convinced a sizable plurality that without his firm grip on the reins of authority and leadership, America is doomed - doomed to be brought down by enemies invading our once-great nation. Trump’s America is largely peopled by White Christian males (financed by self-serving billionaires) who fear that their “kind” are losing the country to “socialists,” “illegal aliens,” the arbiters of “political correctness” and atheists.
In the past week, we’ve gotten more than a sneak peak of their 2020 campaign strategy: running against the “socialist America haters”; making the entire “Democrat Party” into a tool of Representatives Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. (I predicted this in an essay nearly six months ago entitled Politics - Like Acting - Ain’t for Sissies..) Trump has his mindless minions so well-trained, so brainwashed, that should he actually lose both the popular vote (which he did in 2016) and the Electoral College, there will begin, the morning after the election, a cacophonous hue and cry of refusal and threat. The “defeat,” they will stridently claim, was all a gigantic hoax; a deadly lie promulgated by the “fake media.” This may well be, I fear, the first time in American history where there won’t be a relatively smooth transition from one presidency to the next. In short, it is possible that there may be no morning after. We saw a minor version of this with the election of Barack Obama in 2008: for 8 years, millions refused to accept him as ‘‘their president,” because he was not - and never would be - “one of us.”
I can easily imagine ‘45 holding a series of post-election campaign-style rallies in which he fans the flames of militant dissension by refusing to concede defeat. He will likely claim that “millions of undocumented illegals” voted twice, thrice and even more to steal victory and insure his defeat; that the will of the people had been thwarted by the Communists and Socialists who, beginning day one of the new administration, will begin confiscating their weapons, outlawing Christianity, and putting the government into the hands of “The Squad.” If such be the scenario, his intent will be nothing short of calling for civil war. Now, whether or not he has given thought to what his words could actually lead to is worth debating, for likely he has not. Nonetheless, as haunting as this possibility is, do remember that a clear majority of the approximately 390 million guns in America, are in the hands of self-identified conservatives, white nationalists and fans of conspiracy. Theoretically, what havoc they can wreak is beyond belief.
So what is to be done? (And mind you, I am plagiarizing neither Lenin nor Chernyshevsky; I may be a progressive, but I ain’t no Commie. This is incredibly close to our family history; just yesterday, Madam [our mom, who’ getting close to 100 years] was loudly decrying all her friends and colleagues - like John Garfield, Marsha Hunt and Larry Parks - who lost their careers due to accusations of being Commie sympathizers). It seems to me that the first thing we can do is accustom ourselves to the fact that we may very well wind up voting for a Democratic candidate who is not our first choice. In the long run, we must vote for - and lend support to - the candidate who has the best chance of sending Boss Tweet back to where he comes from - whether it be Germany, Queens or his mother’s womb. I could care less, just so long as he leaves. Our support must be given to a candidate who is fearless, not feckless, who carries him- or herself with dignity, and has a functioning moral compass. This person must be skilled in the art of governance, capable of appointing a Cabinet of skilled professionals whose virtuosity is vastly above the venality of their predecessors; a president who is already on speaking terms with the people he or she will have to work with, and knows the value of doing justice, loving mercy and walking with humility. Again I repeat: it is likely that this person may not be your ideal candidate and may have a few cobwebs in the attic. But then again, as Grandpa Doc used to say: “If heaven were meant only for perfect people, it would be the emptiest piece of property in the universe.”
Once we have our candidate, we cannot - indeed must not - go sit on the sidelines licking old wounds. We must do everything in our individual and collective power to ensure that ‘45 and his ilk suffer the greatest defeat in all history. It’s time for progressives and moderates, for Democrats and Independents to finally start acting like a vast majority and rid our country of the mindless meanness which suffuses society. America still has the ability to be a beacon of light to the world . . . to guarantee that there will be a morning after.
No one said it would be easy . . . but it’s as essential as the dreams we dream or the very air we breathe.
473 days until the most significant election in American history.
Copyright©2019 Kurt F. Stone