Over the past few years I've resisted posting anything on my blog that smacked of politics. I've relegated my posts primarily to humorous business/work-related items, reserving my political venom for Facebook, where I have been blocked and un-friended by many (as well as the reverse scenario, of course) and started more than my share of social media wars in the comments section. Fortunately, at gatherings I have shown restraint with friends and family who have different political perspectives, which they are entitled to hold. That said, I can't contain the following true story a moment longer, as I feel it speaks directly to how irreparably damaged American culture is from the past presidential campaign, the election, and now this current administration. So here goes...
A few months ago, prior to the election, I was returning from a business trip on a flight preparing to take off from Gerald Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, MI. I took my seat on the plane when I was met by a familiar occurrence: Someone was kicking the back of my seat. Not just a little bump -- there were some serious leg presses bashing against me -- and I would have been knocked to the floor had I not already been belted in. (No wonder airlines are so strict about seatbelt policies.) I turned my head and looked into the giggling face of a handsome blonde boy, perhaps 5 or 6, as he continued to kick like a mule. The mother, an attractive blonde in her mid-30s, caught my expression and sternly fired at her son: "Now Josh, stop kicking that gentleman's seat. It's not proper."
To my astonishment, the boy ceased and desisted. "Sorry, mom," he said.
"Don't say you're sorry to me, say it to the gentleman," she said.
"I'm sorry," he said to me. It was the most sincere-sounding apology I ever heard from a child so young.
"I'm sorry, too," she beamed at me. "I assure you, it won't happen again."
"Thank you," I said. "I really appreciate it."
I sat forward, proud that manners were still being taught by American families. I could sit back and enjoy my flight in peace. I heard some activity and turned to my left, where I saw a handsome goateed man in a Michigan sweatshirt and reflective sunglasses help an elderly lady place her bag in the overhead compartment. "Thank you, sir," said the lady.
"My pleasure, ma'am," he nodded.
My eyes followed the goateed man as he took the seat beside the blonde mother. The pair was striking together: They were born to be a married couple. "That was nice," the blonde woman said, kissing her husband.
"Yep," he answered.
"Dad," called the blonde boy, who now stood on the seat as he looked out the window. "That's a huge airplane over there. Is it bigger than Mr. Trump's?"
"No, it's not bigger'n Mr. Trump's plane," the father chuckled.
"Will we ever fly in a plane as big as Mr. Trump's?" the boy asked.
"You bet we will," the father answered. "When Mr. Trump is President of the United States, we'll all be flying planes as big as his. They'll be made of gold and will all have bombs on them that we can drop on our enemies whenever we like."
"Wow," the boy said in amazement.
The boy's mother leaned into her husband's shoulder and said, "We can only hope."
How I wish it had all been a joke. But it was not.
I slumped into my seat, my heart frozen. Do I laugh or cry? I wondered. How could this beautiful family teach such terrible things to their young child? And... How could they not see Donald Trump as a bloviating, sociopathic conman like I did (and still do)?
It was my first sense that Donald Trump had even a remote chance to win the election. (The second came from a Michael Moore warning.) Now that the unthinkable has since happened and a few weeks have passed post-inauguration, I wonder what that family from Michigan is thinking. Do they care about Trump's unexplained Russia connections? That he routinely botches calls with longtime American allies like Mexico and Australia? That he still hasn't revealed his taxes or separated his business conflicts of interest? That he and his administration are using political power to help his daughter's clothing line? That he is trying to ban refugees from seven countries who haven't been behind a single terrorist act in the U.S.? That he regularly Tweets ignorant, inane comments against the media being "fake news" whenever he disagrees with them? Or that Michael Flynn -- his handpicked security advisor -- has already resigned in the wake of a major scandal that Trump knew about for at least 17 days? With Flynn in mind, maybe Trump should heed his own advice from years ago: "I should fire myself for having hired you in the first place."
I sincerely wish all the best for that good-looking, well-mannered family in Michigan, and hope we can get through these trying times together without the need of bombs on all of our airplanes. For now, I can console myself that at least Trump has made one thing Great Again: Saturday Night Live."