Category Archives: Politics
Some years ago, circa November 2016, I told my wife that under Donald Trump, we’d eventually reach the point where U.S. Army tanks would roll through Times Square in New York City to quell protests.
For the better part of three years, she’s told me, “It’s still not that bad.”
Well, would you look at that. Washington, DC is on fire, there are protests in every major city, the National Guard is helping the police to hold the riots back, and Trump has just called up every active duty serviceman to ensure “perfect law and order.” Tonight she told me with a very pale, sober face that she’s thought for three years that she was sure it was just an exaggeration, that there was no way Trump would send the military into the streets.
I hate being right.
Well, actually, I’m pleased to say I wasn’t right this time. There are no tanks in Times Square. Yet.
So let’s do some more prognosticating. If there’s still an Internet next year to read this on, you can all grade me on how the next six months play out.
- Trump will send Army servicemen into a city that doesn’t actually want them to quiet the protests.
- A shot will be fired by an Army serviceman. A civilian will die.
- That will change the nature of the protests from “A lot of policemen are racist” to “The entire government is out to get us.”
- The protests will get bigger.
- COVID-19 will get worse, thanks to all that close contact, and even more people will die.
- Trump will double down on the protests and summon more servicemen into the cities.
- People will fight back, increasingly seriously, and a lot of civilians will die in the crossfire. The summer of 2020 will be bad.
- Trump will declare Martial Law, even though that’s not an actual power of the presidency.
- The election of November 2020 will be suspended for safety concerns, even though the Constitution forbids its suspension.
- Trump will declare himself President “until further notice.”
- Every president selected in a year that ends in zero dies, usually by assassination.
- If there’s still a United States after all this, historians will easily rank Donald Trump as the worst president ever, because James Buchanan at least tried to prevent a Civil War, even if he failed badly.
I’m really, really hoping this timeline doesn’t play out. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it won’t. Maybe one of Trump’s advisers will manage to pull him back from the brink. Maybe the protests will burn themselves out before the military makes a mistake we all can’t go back from. Maybe this year won’t play out like 1968 on steroids.
I can hope, can’t I?
For twenty-two years, I was a registered Republican.
In the ’90s, it was pretty easy: The Republicans were the party of small government, of fiscal sensibility, of moderation, and of prosperity. The Democrats were the “crazy hippies,” the tie-dyed tree-huggers who wanted us to eat nothing but kale and drive only solar-powered cars. And while I didn’t agree with the social conservatism of certain parts of the Republican Party, or the weird racist crowd in the South, those were small fringe groups, and they were easy to ignore. The Republicans represented centrism and sensibility.
Today, those small fringe groups rule the Republican Party. It has gone from being the party of sensibility and moderation to being the party of extremism and racism and hatred. I cannot support Trump. I will never support Trump. Everything he stands for is something I’m against. He is not “classy.” He is not “yuge.” He is not “tremendous.” He’s an overgrown schoolyard bully, a bigot, a strongman, and willfully a fascist, and he bankrupts and ruins everything he touches.
So today, I reregistered: I am now an Independent.
On the down side, this change comes at a severe cost in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: By doing so, I effectively gave up my right to vote in primary elections. But I cannot associate myself with the elements that drive the Republican Party. They do not stand for what I stand for, and I worry they may never do so again.
But on the plus side, I now join the most-heavily courted of all voter blocs: I am an educated Independent voter, in a swing county, in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania. My vote matters, and today, I just made sure that my vote no longer comes with strings attached. I can vote my conscience, and no-one can tell me otherwise.
So goodbye, Republicans. Goodbye, Gallant Old Party. Goodbye, Party of Lincoln. You were a good thing, once.
I’ve watched with great interest the chase of Edward Snowden. And it’s resulted in a change in my attitude toward government.
Once upon a time, I distrusted government, but I generally assumed that they were simply too incompetent to do anything truly malicious. These are the same people that can’t decide what color to paint a wall, my reasoning went, so there’s no way they could possibly be capable enough to be able to apply the level of evil so many of their detractors accuse them of. That, and there are so many bureaucratic checks and balances that they’re at best handicapped; I envisioned NSA spying on a level only slightly less primitive than tying an extra string to a tin-can telephone.
And then Snowden. Good news, crackpots, you’re not paranoid. Instead of the government being a well-paid collection of Mr. Magoo’s closest relatives, they suddenly morphed into the worst Orwellian nightmare Hollywood can depict. Even as I write this, I’m not at all sure that these very words aren’t placing me on a watch list — if I’m not on one already for having a brain in my head and a tendency to ask probing and awkward questions.