Ultra-runner Karl Meltzer just set a record running the Appalachian trail fueled by -- in his words -- beer and candy. I applaud Mr. Meltzer's staggering feat but I'd like to use his recipe for running as a metaphor for our current election conundrum: this is an election that pits beer and candy against a somewhat dull and even dubious, well-balanced meal.
Let's lay our cards on the table: Despite at least 123 military and national security officials -- including former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Colin Powell -- saying in one way or another that Donald Trump is completely unfit to be present and economists -- including all former members of the White House Council of Economic advisors -- sharing their opinion that Trump's tax and trade proposals will be a disasters -- Trump continues to rise as the candidate who promises beer and candy. We know it's no good for us, but we continue to hope: we need a break from this currently vicious world. We need to sit down and watch some TV and break out a pizza nice and warm, and finish it off with beer and candy -- dessert, in other words. We feel a little fat, a little sluggish, but somehow we hope that a little rest, some delicious carbs and cheese, a bottle of our favorite brew and piece of cake will renew us and make us ready to face the world again. This is part of our nature. But as Einstein so famously said, insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.
Fascists through time have always promised beer and candy while politicians of other stripes, serious people of whatever persuasion, from conservative to liberal, have always tried, each in their own way, to offer a balanced meal. We may not like it, but it will make us better. Or so they believe. But fascists -- and make no mistake: Trump has all the qualification -- are always demagogues who pervert populism toward their own appetites.
While I'm a liberal, if John Kasich had won the presidency, I could have lived with it. I would have worked against many of his policies, but I could have lived with him. But Trump is an empty-calorie chef, an aggrandizer of some of our worst impulses, such as believing something is true and good when it isn't. Every country that has had a strongman at the helm has seen -- though the trains might run on time -- the end of its national character looming before them. From this perspective, Donald Trump is a national character assassin. His first step and the first step of all fascists (and you can look this up) is to tell us it is alright to hate, it is ok to divide, it essential to live in fear so that a false strength, a false national character, can come to the fore. Beer and candy. Good for ultra-running but bad for America.
Let's face it: I wish Hillary Clinton was a better chef. But with the evident choice between these two meals, I'm for vegetables, a little cheese, maybe a steak and potatoes. In other words, something that was about my nutrition and not about the mirage perpetrated by a self-aggrandizing salesman who promises me the world with him at the center.
Reality shows are not about reality: they are about an advertising mentality applied to human interactions. They are about manipulating our emotions as the cast rises and falls in a pre-determined drama. Trump knows this and is, let's face it, a master at manipulation. But we should want to be people and not customers. We should not want to be fooled anymore. We should not buy anything advertised as "easy and fast" on TV. Please sit down. Breathe a little. And save the beer and candy for a victory celebration after we elect a pretty decent meal.
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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