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A Big What-if
What if the President of the United States were a con artist? Okay. Okay. But stay with me, now. Here’s where it gets weird: What if, in addition to being a con artist, his motives were wholly altruistic? What if instead of conning his way to the most powerful political office in world for money, power, self-interest, even boredom, what if he conned his way in for all the right reasons? Give it a second to sink in.
Now let it get weirder: What if he’s still conning us for all the right reasons?
This isn’t a grand manifesto to exculpate jingoistic, narcissistic, hyperbolistic, misogynistic, racist, ageist, bigamist, seditious, noxious, nefarious, dangerous, and, we may as well face it and list here, downright unfashionable behavior. This is written, in fact, for President Donald Trump. This is written in the form of a life vest, an escape hatch, a way off the reputational rock-bottom of history, which is certainly where Trump will end up if he continues galumphing along his presently-trod path, progressivism being, by definition, what it is: movement forward, onward through time, inexorable and entirely devoid of backward glancing, devoid of the word again, as in making [fill in the blank] great again.
Of course, there’s no way to prove that. Neither is there a way to prove the other option, that Trump will be, in generations to come, revered as some kind of savior. However, almost all the circumstantial evidence and historical comparison, if taken with a gulp of bitter honesty, will force us to admit that those from history whom we now revere have never personified any of the aforementioned characteristics, let alone all of them. (”Almost all” because Thomas Jefferson had a few…fine, a lot.)
At the moment, I’m not interested in how Trump came to be where he is. At the moment, I’m not interested in Russia or elections or fraud or grabbing any group of people by any specific parts of their bodies. This interest does two things and two things only: it looks backward and it does so in anger.
I have no use for anger because I’m interested in saving Donald Trump. In the future. I’m interested in saving him in the future from his past. (Yes, a past that I just claimed to not care about; and yes, I understand how that creates a logical fallacy, though, still, I don’t think it undermines my ultimate point, and I do have one.) So, here’s how he does that.
He wins the presidency again in 2020.
A couple months and change after that victory, he waddles to the podium at another small (possibly smaller) inauguration. He taps the mic and the thud thud ricochets off the rotunda. He steadies himself. He looks out to the people. And here is where it gets really fucking weird. Here is where heads all over Twitter fucking explode:
“My fellow Americans,” begins the fleshy blob of a forty-fifth president. “My fellow Americans. On what many, many great people would think should be the happiest day of amazing my life – and it has been an amazing life – I stand before you heartbroken. I am heartbroken that nearly half of you voted for me. I led two campaigns and an entire term of fear, division, and hate. Why would you vote for that? Are you a bunch of low-I.Q. individuals? [Okay, not entirely weird; it’s not like he suddenly transformed into Walt Whitman.] I did it all to make a point. I ran for president because Washington was broken. It was a swamp. I was right when I said that. I wasn’t even here and I knew it. Is it still a swamp? Yes. Is it still broken? It’s much, much worse than before. But that’s how you create real change. You don’t put band-aid over band-aid. You don’t layer duct tape over light-gauge steal. I know things like this. I used to build buildings. Many, many very wonderful buildings. You should see them. They’d make your head spin, they’re so wonderful. But back to the point. If you want to fix something that’s broken, you destroy it. Did I destroy America? I gave it my best shot. If I hadn’t, nothing would have ever gotten better. America would have lived with the same sickness she’s had for a century and a half, since after the Civil War. Reformation was a joke. Since 1865, we have reformed nothing. We got a horrible president in Andrew Johnson, just horrible. Then a string of idiots after Grant. That led us to the entire U.S. Senate being controlled by Dale Carnegie and John Rockefeller. Which led to Teddy Roosevelt invading half the world, which led to that spineless racist, Wilson, trying to please the world. Then the 1920s. Then war. Then this huge lie of American greatness that we had to tell you so you’d stop crying. And maybe the only guy who had brass balls to do anything about anything throughout that entire period, Lyndon Johnson, gave it up to try to save it. Big mistake, LBJ. Huge! Then America propped up dictators and made deals with plutocrats all over the world, all so we could keep our own power. Barack Obama did no better. Don’t kid yourself. I’ve been pulling your chain about my racism and the really bad things I said about women – but I never lied about hating Barack Obama. He came here with such promise and hope, and when the chance came to actually do something, he kowtowed to the same people who’ve always run Washington! Well now I’m here. And I’m here to tell the Washington elite that the People can disrupt you. They can take your power. They may not take it for the right reasons, but they can take it. It’s a lesson I hope this country remembers for a long, long time. Even after I’m dead – although – I never plan to die, I never said that. So, where do we go from here? I don’t know about you, but I’m going home. I consider the lesson taught. I am a great teacher. Just ask my second smartest son, Eric. This morning, I did two things. One thing was that I resigned as President of the United States. I never even wanted this job. You all knew that. But! Before I resigned, I looked into using what my lawyers like to call the Twenty-fifth Amendment. It’s a very, very good amendment. Full of all sorts of wonderful words. Some of those words are ‘Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority of both Houses of Congress.’ After Mike Pence’s term as Vice President had ended at noon, and before he was sworn in for another term, I nominated a new vice president. That person was sworn in, confirmed by the House and Senate. Then I resigned. So, now, let me now be the first to introduce you to your new President of the United States…”
And so forth. Trump wins history by telling a bunch of terrified assholes on the social “right” of the political spectrum that he trolled them for five years. The move is the stuff of legend. It has taste, fashion, a bittersweet finish. (Bitter because he kicked Obama one last time.) It’s a primo example of dissolution of ego, as if Buddha, himself, reached in and exercised one of the biggest egos on our planet. It’s Trump’s way out.
Take it, buddy.