So be it.
The biggest threat to my generation’s democracy somehow won’t be the indignant terrorists of 9/11, but a delusional jackass in a power suit. I won’t tell my grandkids I survived an invading army, but invading trolls and bots. I’ll never learn of the threat in film reels or newspaper cartoons, but memes and hashtags. I guess instead of internment camps, it’ll be walls.
But rest assured, the threat we face is no different from that of any great war in American history ― another abuser of power with a weird face and weirder voice thinks if he talks loud enough, and frequently enough, that a country can be his. Except in this case, it’s not in black and white. It’s in meme and GIF. And it’s not some other country: it’s ours. And instead of bombs and bullets, this war’s battles will be fought with spin, and misinformation, and disillusionment. It’s the kind of crazy war that instigates fake wars in order to distract from the real one.
It’s a bad screenplay, but it’s our screenplay, and we’ve gotta live it and survive it.
But before we throw around juicy Jeopardy words like “tyranny” or “dictator,” first let’s frame this as it really is, which isn’t yet political high-treason, cyber crime, and whatever else will come to roost one day, which it will, I promise, pinky-swear: No, right now it’s that silly cartoon where the captain on a sinking ship cut to Swiss cheese from cannon fodder is running around frantically, stopping one leak only to see another sprout up. And one thing is clear:
That funny-looking, funny-sounding captain? He’s going down with the ship. He and his comically stupid crew.
So welcome to the inflection point, which demands some new terminology.
It’s time to stop calling him “president,” because a president he is not. A president tasks himself or herself with leading an entire nation, undivided ― and this man chooses instead to villainize huge swathes of it. You no longer have to call him president because that’s what his title or our constitution says he is ― he’s just the con man who used one to get the other, and believes in neither. He’s not your president because he’s using the office as a means to his end, instead of a means to yours. You don’t have to do it, because he didn’t just break every promise he made to the American people broadly, he’s honoring secret promises he made to other people. The presidency is the highest position in our land, and he thinks that means it is simply our most powerful ― not our most sacred. You don’t have to call him president when his appointments to positions of power are his closest family members, not the candidates who are most capable. You don’t have to call him president if he took your child’s special needs education, or your daughter’s right to choose, or your health care, or the jeopardy of our shared planet’s health. Simply put: You don’t have to call him president because he took these, too.
He isn’t Nixon and he isn’t Hitler (not going there!), but he absolutely thinks he can hijack history. That makes him a villain, and the most special breed of villain: The psycho kind! And yes, I mean that medically: he is delusional, creates his own realities, and appears utterly untethered from truth. The dude still sees himself in a boardroom ― an oval one ― and he’s just crazy enough to think a country can be bought low and sold high, as if this was any other investment in his portfolio. He forgot this country was around long before him, and will be around long after him, especially after he has been bold enough to teach us this very valuable lesson.
So no, you don’t have to call him president.
Especially if we want to get technical here and go to the tape, when the man didn’t even win the election. No, we can’t qualify how many votes were “flipped,” to paraphrase a woefully undermanned (and not independently-fueled) Congressional hearing, but he stole the whole damn thing. And you don’t need to audit internet traffic, fake headlines, and the bots that amplified that fake traffic (uh, I started a novel about this five years ago... and it’s almost done, so hang on!), or anything else to prove it... he’s proving it with every single action in this crappy cable-TV police procedural movie we’re living through. It’s in how he dismisses those who oppose him, installs figureheads who won’t lift a finger, and discredits and distracts anybody “foolish” enough to pay some attention. He thinks he can cover this up like he thinks that orange crap he puts on his face covers him up.
Like I said... delusional.
But here’s the deal.
If we’re all in agreement he didn’t earn the office of president, and hasn’t earned that title through a single shred of action since, then we’re not going to call him president and must do something else.
You have to call everyone else.
Your senators. Your congresspeople. The kinds of folks who can step in where others are being deposed, and carry on the baton.
Because while I hate to say it, welcome to the frontline, America. War. The kind that melts party lines and defines your fireside chats as an old person with grandkids in your lap and cataracts in your eyes. Swap that old-timey pipe for a vape, and envision it: you’re about to define your legacy.
It’s that time. The one when you decide to stand with every other American in our country’s history who shed democrat and republican colors for the unifying colors of the flag, who saw a criminal in a position of power and volunteered to fight. We’re lucky. At least our nation’s great villain is already in retreat, but rest assured, history is still repeating itself, and can still go another way. He has time to do more damage. To start wars. To decimate economies, and climates, and the education of an entire generation.
Forget partisanship and remember the root word, partisan, as in the other meaning of the word—the partisans who fought in shadows against impossible odds, with fewer weapons but truer motives. They fought for what was right on behalf of those who who needed it.
I don’t think anyone wants to belong to the other group, that special fraternity of future apologists who were “just following orders” and “couldn’t have known.” You know the kind. They’re the ones stinking up Congress toeing party lines and avoiding the obvious ― which is due process ― and an independent commission into what happened in the Fall of 2016.
There will never be a draft to fight this war because this, like all battles against democracy and truth, will require democracy to stand up for itself with the one weapon it has and will always have.
You, The People.
I have no great track record for you to all follow, but I suppose I can make a few suggestions. Make calls to the people constitutionally obligated to listen. Then make some demands. Make donations to the people who have pledged to fight. Then make it recurring. Make amends with what has already happened. Make time to listen, not just to radio, or TV, but to people who might disagree with you. And most of all, make damn sure of one thing:
Never, ever name your son Donald.