This Looney Toon of a presidential election takes me back, gods forbid, to elections past.
It takes me to Nixon-Humphrey, the previous absolute-worst political pairing in my lifetime. Before that, I was political, but only because my mom was political and I took after her. All Democrats were good, all Republicans were Eeeeevil, and John Kennedy was the best Democrat of all because he was handsome and a Democrat and he came to our town campaigning and I almost got to touch him. Life was simple.
I was still too young to v*te when the major parties threw up Nixon and Humphrey. But it was the first time I knew something was rotten on both sides. And Mom’s adoration for the tubby hack from Minnesota merely made me wonder what she’d been smoking (or rather, not smoking, since the smoking people of 1968 were as horrified by Hubie the Mediocre as they were by Milhaus the Whining Retread).
I think I may have even declared my intention to leave the country — years ahead of Alec Baldwin and his ilk, but just as insincerely. The fact that I was too young to get a passport excuses me, right? And shortly after that, there were Libertarians and retreaters (the name back then for prepper-survivalists) and cool non-political newsletters from the heady combo of Rothbard and Hess, and many other things besides politics-as-usual to put hopes in.
But this utterly hope-less election of 2016 — with its likely pairing of two megalomaniacs who use government for incessant personal gain and whose “principles” are light enough to blow wherever the next breeze takes them — also takes me back to the one-and-only national election where I felt an actual stirring of hope.
It was 1994. Bill Clinton was entrenched in office and presidents couldn’t get much worse than him. (Little did we know!) But We the Natives had gotten righteously restless. We were Armed (with ideas) and Dangerous (with the will to do something about those ideas).
Though we couldn’t kick the Arkansas Tyrant out of office that year, we could certainly kick some political backside. And we did — starting by booting the sitting Speaker of the House, Tom Foley, right back into private life and continuing with the glorious (for that one night in November, anyhow) Republican Revolution.
Which was going to change everything. And of course changed nothing — other than the names and party designations of the slimy, opportunistic, corrupt, hypocritcal, deceitful, parasitic, egomaniacal, scrofulous uber-weasels in Congress.
I shoulda known. I’d been around long enough to know. But I wanted so utterly to believe that We the People had shown so much power, so much rage, that this time they’d have to heed us. They’d be terrified not to heed us.
I shoulda known.
Why does 2016’s absolute no-hope presidential election take me back to a non-presidential election filled with exilarating, if entirely false, hopes?
In part it’s because I see so many angry people putting so much hope in Trump — a man who, should he manage to buy his way into office (or tumble in by default after Hillary gets indicted) will betray them even worse than than the poltroons of 1994 betrayed We the Hopeful Fools.
But also because, horrible as the prospect of either President Trump or President Clinton the Second is, it’s a relief not to feel hope.
Or despair, for that matter. Horrible as the prospects are, it’s glorious to know how very little it really matters. For freedom. For anything that counts. Oh sure, either pretender to the throne has the potential to make a ghastly mess of things — up to and including World War III (unlikely, but someday somebody’s going to do it). Or building a wall to keep us all in. Or decreeing that all guns must Go Away Now, So There, I Have Spoken. More likely not much happens except the routine bad getting routinely worse. And millions ignoring whatever “the most important leader in the world” says, decrees, promises, etc.
And those poor hopeful fools losing hope. Been there. Done that. It hurts. It burns. It makes you want to go postal. (That was the state of mind I was in from about February 1995, when the betrayal became obvious, to late 1996 when I took my life back, laughed, sat down, and wrote 101 Things to do ‘Til the Revolution.)
Yeah, it hurts. But it hurts like growing up and learning that Santa didn’t really put those presents under the tree. Or, more, like growing up and learning to … think like a grownup, live like a grownup, BE a grownup.
False hopes can be educational. For those smart enough to let them.
It’s great now. No matter what the winners and losers do, we don’t need to get all het up about them and their works. Or worse, to blame ourselves for their deeds (even if we actually went out and v*ted for one of the scoundrels). We know what freedom is. We know how to conduct ourselves in freedom. Despite them. Around them. Beyond them.
Just live a good life, as free a life as possible. Watch the clowns perform. And be on hand to befriend the disillusioned audience members who leave the clown show, disappointed, devastated, believing nothing works, and wondering what, if anything, comes next.
We know what comes next. Been there, done that. And rediscovered the wonderful world of real promise beyond the false promises.
So, without hope, there’s the hope. We may soon be welcome a few million newbie freedomistas into our fold.
Think we’re ready for them?