David Brooks is Wrong, Will Rogers had it Right

Harry Welty

     The Symbol of Tao                                                                            America Today

Last week I began sleeping well for the first time since Donald Trump became a Presidential contender. The powerful summation by Congressman Schiff, “Shifty” to the “Lock-her-up-crowd,” comforted me. Then David Brooks the eminently reasonable PBS News Hour pundit wrote off a second Trump victory. Brooks said too many Americans don't want a Trump Presidency for four more years, never mind a hot economy.

I know better. I learned my lesson as a young man when I assured my friends that an actor who had starred with a Chimpanzee in a movie called “Bedtime for Bonzo” could never be elected President. It was just that kind of juvenile analysis that led Hillary Clinton into the biggest upset since Harry Truman pummeled Thomas Dewey in 1948.

Let’s forget for the moment that I am an alarmist who thinks his grandsons are about to be deprived of the glorious Earth God bequeathed us. Instead, let me shrink the objective down to the mere survival of our 250-year-old democracy. I’ll begin my dirge with religious imagery. The Taoist symbol that I prefer shows the world equally divided in a circle of not quite opposites. They swim past each other like goldfish in a bowl. But the black and white each has a big chunk of its opposite embedded within like an eye. It could represent a good person with a bit of bad in them and a bad person with a bit of good.

The other circle cleaved cleanly is what Persian Manicheans handed to Christianity. It tells of a world of polar opposites. God vs. Satan. Good vs. bad. Perhaps this explains why a “Christian” nation has gravitated to a justice system that locks people up till they rot despite a more compelling Christian narrative, that of redemption. It may also explain how some Christians have become so politicized. Locking people up who can’t be counted on to vote the right way is just a little frosting on the cake. Of course, Jesus didn’t put his faith in politics. He only wanted to render unto Caesar taxes not his soul. Yet one of his most ardent preachers, Paula White, Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser, has become part of the President’s political staff. It seems as muddled as the televangelist’s call for Satan babies to be aborted. That makes her a most unusual ally of mine in the pro-choice community although I can’t really explain her call to abort the spawn of Satan since she is in his employ.

Here’s a thought experiment about moderate Republicans who have been “primaried” to the fringe of their old party. Who will they vote for? They voted for Obama in droves in 2008 after the banks and Bush nearly returned us to the 1930’s. They would vote for a Biden but would they vote for Bernie Sanders whose Socialism their families have opposed for generations? I’d vote for Sanders in a heartbeat but I am a rare breed. I haven’t cast a vote for a Republican in two decades. And from my youth all the way through my slow estrangement with the Republican Party I’ve liked Democrats. Barack Obama is my favorite modern president but here's the rub. Even though I like Democrats and I see their success in 2020 as being critical to save our democracy I don't want to be a Democrat. I want to be a Republican. I just want to be the kind of Republican that my parents and grandparents would recognize. Only a drubbing of Trumplicans in 2020 will allow Republicans to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix, as a political party whose testicles are no longer in the grasp of a President so ignorant of our history that he had to ask his chief-of-staff what the Arizona Memorial was all about upon landing in Hawaii.

Will Rogers’s joked that he didn’t belong to an organized political party. He was a democrat! It was the Depression Era and Republicans were at their nadir. Their nightmare had arched eyebrows and a jaunty opera length cigarette holder. President Franklin Roosevelt got himself elected to four terms of office. It’s funny, but for the first time in my life I'm grateful to the grumpy Republicans of 1947. Thank God they successfully passed the 22nd Amendment limiting Presidents to two full four-year terms. Their foresight is all that stands between us and Donald Trump’s tweet teasing about an endless succession of presidential terms for Trump and his family members.

Today’s Republicans have been busy. With Trump they have appointed 187 federal judges who have only just begun shaving. They’ve perfected reapportionment mapping, voter suppression and their Republicanized Supreme Court handed down Citizens vs. United opening the floodgates to untraceable millions donated to the GOP. How did they do this? They captured 3/4th of all state legislatures in 2010 just before the census using a black man in the Oval Office as their bogeyman. If Democrats choose the wrong candidate before the 2020 census changes the political map, shrewd Republicans may persuade skittish voters to counter a vote for a Democratic presidential candidate with down ballot votes for Republicans. Democrats keep saying that they will vote for anybody who runs against Trump but

I’m not so sure. I dream of a dog with two heads, each holding a bone in its mouth trotting over a bridge. At its apex both heads peer over the edge and spy another two headed dog below in the water with sizable bones. Greedy for a prize that will never be theirs they drop their bones and bark.


Harry Welty spreads dread and gloom cheerfully at: www.lincolndemocrat.com