Abraham Lincoln, one of the most visionary of our presidents, and a pivotal leader in our history, had a recurring dream about being on a quick boat trawling through a heavy mist. If you were a Hollywood script writer or a novelist, you could portray this as a sort of meta knowledge, that Lincoln transcended his own lifetime and that his dreams, disturbing even in the full awareness of awakening, were evidence of a parallel life lived elsewhere, in a different time and place. Lovely idea. Might make a great YA novel. Unfortunately, this is not the time for a melodramatic alternate universe, where things come out right in the end; right beats might. This is about the long arc of unfortunate reality.
My problem with this past election? I couldn’t figure what the difference was. Hillary Clinton, an aging baby boomer, carried baggage that would have eliminated any other candidate, with the exception of one. Even had she been elected, the Democratic ticket would not have been able to carry the House, or even the Senate. I believe the House would have done its best to tie up her administration with threatened investigations, threats of impeachment, pouncing on each gaffe or faux pas with the calculated intent of a lion stalking an aging zebra. She may have had a year before the government came to the proverbial screeching halt (although that implies speed, something Congress has not shown in years).
Ms. Clinton, of course, was handily defeated by the one candidate who had more baggage than she, our own President Elect Trump. Also an aging baby boomer, his entire life has been eviscerated in tabloids and magazines, even as he smugly lived it up, flying high with various pretty-faced wives and mistresses in his mortgaged helicopters over pre-9/11 New York City.
At first glance opposites, these two candidates have more in common than not. Both are narcissists, both feel they are owed something, and both have a chip on their respective shoulders: Ms. Clinton because she has a philandering husband and should have been the first woman president, and Mr. Trump because, you know, he’s the best and besides that Obama guy humiliated him in public. There’s gotta be hell to pay.
Hell has been paid but whose hell is it? It’s not Ms. Clinton’s; she’ll retire to her palatial Westchester County home and return to the lucrative speech circuit, where she will undoubtedly make more millions. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, may or may not reside in the White House, although his wife, Melania (which one is she, third, fourth?), has turned up her southern European nose at the place (not enough Austro-Hungarian Empire gilt) and will probably spend most of her time in her upscale casino New York digs. In other words, Eva Gabor becomes first lady. In Eva’s defense, however, she seemed like a genuinely nice person. The jury is still out on Melania. (For review, consult reruns of Green Acres. ‘Nuf said.)
This was a thumb in your eye election, both by the Trump camp and by all those who are disenfranchised in the current economy. The country, holding a bloody eye and waiting its turn at the we-don’t-take-your-insurance urgent care, wonders what next? Once the Congressional Republicans figure out that Trump’s ammunition is spent (can’t sue everyone in Congress, one by agonizing one), they will defect, trickling out of line like crabs scuttling back into the water. Something stupid will occur or the Donald Administration will be overtaken by events. Again, the government comes to a halt.
And we, who have to pay the consequences of both of these highly unsuitable candidates, are once again on the sidelines, ignored until the next election. We are on that boat, surrounded by impenetrable mist, stuck with the murmurings of that faulty oracle, aka the petulant and hysterical press; we know better, the commentators assure us, we will guide you through these turbulent waters.
Nonsense. We need a leader, not the fourth estate. We need someone who realizes that we are in the same place Abraham Lincoln was when the Rebs chased the hapless Yankees all the way back to DC in the debacle of First Manassas. We are on the edge of an abyss, as signified by speed-of-light changes in technology, now reshaping our economy even as we binge watch alternative history on Netflix. Thousands, no doubt millions, will be thrown out of work, terminally relegated to penury, in the next ten years. Instead of leading, our leaders do nothing but bicker about the meaning of the Constitution, one up each other and take revenge. May they fall into the abyss first.
That boat in the mist only reached the distant shore right before Lincoln was assassinated. Where is the person who can turn the boat around? Who has enough sense to take the country in hand, chastising a childish Congress and a petty, imperial presidency? What will happen to us? Unfortunately, I am certain that the twitter addicted Donald Administration has no idea, the washed up Clintons have no idea, the Obama progressives have wasted their currency on fringe issues and Congress has proved itself, once again, useless.
We are waiting for the one who does know, who can see through the mist, the visionary. Hopefully, it won’t be long.