This post originally written the first week of August, 2017. Not sure why it never made it to publish then, but it stays depressingly prescient, almost three years later. Enjoy?
August 8, 2017.
Well, we finally did it.
We finally elected the perfect president — the most accurately American president for his time since George Washington.
Donald J. Trump.
To spin a memorable line from the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy: Donald Trump isn’t the president we need right now, but he is the president we deserve.
The honeymoon phase of the American dream is over, and this is the USA’s true face — the one that most represents us to the world, to ourselves — whether we wish it did or not: a grotesque mask of rotted flesh and matted former hair held together by hideously outdated principals, some good ol’ fashioned white supremacy, and whatever you catch from drinking the water at Mar-a-lago for several decades straight.
In our defense, we really only did what anyone does when nothing goes wrong for them on a long enough timeline: assume it never will. And that our good fortune wasn’t a blessing (to be counted and thankful for), but an attribute of our character — a testament to our own greatness. We have confused good fortune with ~being~ good; but comeuppance-via-hubris is only ever delayed, not defeated; and America’s massive fiscal debt pales in comparison to the karmic deficit we have accumulated.
Let me be clear: Donald Trump is an American icon and a legend, and he represents us better than any legitimately elected official ever could. Trump is a breed of obliviousness so extreme that he would seem unrealistically over-the-top if he were a character on a fictional TV show from the 1970s. He is a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, self-important, uncaring, uncharismatic, idiotic, sexist, egomaniacal, aloof elitist whose only notable qualities stem from having money handed to him at a young age, swindling money from the less fortunate/less intelligent at an older age, and name recognition that — prior to 2015 — was primarily from being an easy punchline or vaguely familiar pop culture reference that people knew, but they didn’t know why they knew (like Silly Putty or Tiktok).
Barack Obama acted how we wished we could act, spoke how we wish we could speak, was confident like we wished we were confident, and was intelligent like we wished we were intelligent. Donald Trump, unfortunately, acts how we actually act, speaks like we actually speak, is confident how we’re actually confident (undeservedly), and is intelligent how we’re actually intelligent (that is to say, not very).
We’ve let ourselves be casually racist, low key intolerant, high key entitled, and major key swept up by easy catchphrases for so many years that we actually conjured into flesh the physical manifestation of all the qualities we wished we didn’t have, but always knew were right there festering below the surface — and we just never took the time to purge from within ourselves. Donald Trump is the Jesus Christ of the Religion of Self, the god of entitlement made manifest, the ego incarnate. If the Holy Trinity is The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost; The Don represents the unholy Trumpity of The Falter, The Dumb, and The Lowly Host.
But forced jokes aside, there is a very real chance that we have put a man into office who might actually get us killed. As a nation. You can picture it, can’t you? Like, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of what *could* go down, right? How horrifying is that? Now to be perfectly honest, I don’t really think that’s gonna happen. Even the craziest of the crazy (and surely the men with their hands on the triggers these days are just that) understand how little a zero-sum game benefits them. But think about how wild, how outlandish it is that the ~possibility~ even exists. That you can imagine a reality where Kim-Jong-Trump wakes up one day and just /decides/ to start a world war. (Or maybe even an apocalypse, just by virtue of how much better we’ve gotten at world warring).
Or maybe we’ll just have three and half really backwards, really oppressive, really tremendously awful years. And if that’s our best case scenario, it will have been too light a punishment for all our previous crimes. We should be so lucky.
However, I think in one form or another, what’s left after the dust clears and the ashes settle (possibly literally) will not be the same stupid tropes of small men who bungled or outright fabricated massive disasters so that their fragile little egos could feel validated, but the hope and kindness and love of those who endured. You could call it a different form of insanity — the Newton’s Third Law of emotional energy — but I truly believe that whether or not it has a name or there is anyone even left to name it, that you will always be able to feel the love of those who knew better, who were better, who did better. And that was always what love had going for it anyway, wasn’t it? That you could leave something bigger and stronger and more unnameable than yourself or your “rightness” behind, and that you didn’t do it because the history books (lol books) would keep track of it or you’d get a commensurate amount of glory for every good deed done, but just that love was its own reward (cliché or not). Because love poured out, was really just making extra room for more love to be received. The worst things in life can last a long time — three and a half years; a lifetime; all of human history, maybe — but the best things in life are infinite. Hope is infinite. Love is infinity. And love can’t be elected, impeached, and isn’t bound by term limits. I think that’s from a first draft of Corinthians 13 that the apostle Paul wrote on his wordpress blog a long time ago. Retweet. YOLO.
Donald Trump is who we are, America. And like anyone who’s ever had a long, cold stare into the mirror after a night of heavy drinking, this is the moment where we — as a community, as a nation — get to decide if who we are is who we’re gonna stay, or if we are going to raise our standards for ourselves, and truly become better. We the people get to choose if The Don is going to continue to be the reflection we see in the mirror in the mornings when our head is pounding and we’re regretting all our past choices, or if he’s just going to be the molted husk that we will have left behind after our metamorphosis into the beautiful creature America has the potential to become.
One outcome or the other, America as we know it ends with Donald Trump. But the real America starts with you. With us. With We. With The People. Let’s build ourselves into something we can be prouder of than a failed reality TV show personality, failed businessman, failed politician, successful sex offender, and failed father figure. Let’s make America great, for the first time.