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Between rage, ridicule, and resignation

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?


  1. RustyGunner
    RustyGunner April 29, 2016 2:36 am

    I’ll keep the coffee hot.

  2. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson April 29, 2016 5:22 am

    I have a good friend who has never voted. She is smart as a whip, but I always thought she was a bit ditzy because she knew nothing about the political world swirling around her. Clueless, I thought. That’s what the lack of a college education leaves you with.

    But my friend has always had an unusually clear mind. She could cut through BS faster than anyone I have ever met. She would listen to me rattle on about some burning political subject of the day, then in a few words she would skewer me with something like “If they lie about one thing, they’re liars about anything.”

    Oh, I agree, I’d say. Except that “my guy” is different. How deluded I was. How ridiculous that my college educated head didn’t have room for the obvious.

    My smart-as-a-whip friend has not changed in the 20 years I’ve known her. She still uses common sense like a sword. Brutal and refreshing at the same time. I’ve changed, however. I now use her questions: , ” Does it quack like a duck? Does it walk like a duck? Then it’s an effing duck.”

  3. Pat
    Pat April 29, 2016 6:01 am

    “Watch the clowns perform.”

    Funny… Throughout this campaign, all I’ve been able to picture is Trump blustering in front of a staid and ceremonial Japanese delegation. They’ll turn around and go home.

    “We may soon be welcome a few million newbie freedomistas into our fold.
    Think we’re ready for them?”

    Think they’re ready for us? I don’t. Like Obama’s second election, they’ll be blind to the consequences of their choices. They won’t see the cause and effect of their votes.

  4. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty April 29, 2016 6:17 am

    Not all of them, Pat… I talk to lots and lots of people every day. And, day by day, a few more take the red pill… so at least begin to see the matrix… It won’t ever happen all at once, and freedom may never reach everyone, but the more we LIVE it today, and encourage others to see it, the better chance we have of living in peace ourselves. I’m not responsible for what anyone else thinks or does, so I can only demonstrate freedom and hope it is noticed.

    And yes, Claire, I once had great hope in Ed Clark and the Libertarian Party. But I got over it. 🙂

  5. Sagebrush Dog Walker
    Sagebrush Dog Walker April 29, 2016 6:42 am

    Thanks Claire, perfect.

  6. Vince
    Vince April 29, 2016 7:10 am

    Outstanding, Claire! Sipping my first cup of coffee and reading your essay as the sun comes up over the garden. Wonderful!

  7. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal April 29, 2016 8:13 am

    But “This is the most critical election in our lifetime!” (for the hundredth time, at least).

    I guess if I ever decided to obey “laws” I would worry more about who is dreaming up the “laws”. As it is, there are people who bully me, and there are people who don’t. Their office or position is irrelevant.

  8. LarryA
    LarryA April 29, 2016 9:03 am

    Think we’re ready for them?
    Think they’re ready for us?

    It will take education. “It ain’t what they don’t know, it’s what they know that ain’t so.”

    1. What is a corporation?
    2. Where do corporations come from?
    3. Why has the corporation been a basic building block of human social and economic interaction for more than 1,400 years?

  9. Shel
    Shel April 29, 2016 2:01 pm

    I had thought Cruz would be good (still might, concerning the real issues) but his campaign has deteriorated like all the rest. Although if Boehner considers him Lucifer, then he can’t be all bad. I’ll still vote, as I want at least to have tried. Plenty of illegals will do the same thing, of course.

    I recently came across a fascinating quote on presidential candidates:

    “Now you take a big sack and you put LBJ in there, and you put Hubert Horatio Humphrey in there, and you put Bobby Kennedy, the blood-giver, in there, and you shake ’em all up. Then you put this Richard Milhous Nixon who with Eisenhower put bayonets in the backs of the people of Little Rock and in your backs, and you put in Earl Warren, who doesn’t have enough legal brains in his head to try a chicken thief in my home county, and you shake ’em all up. And then you put in that Socialist Nelson Rockefeller from the most liberal state in the country, and that left-winger George Romney who was out in the streets with the demonstrators, and that Clifford Case of New Jersey, and that Wild Bill Scranton of Pennsylvania, and that radical Jacob Javits of New York, and you shake ’em all up. Then you turn that sack over, and the first one that falls out, you pick him up by the nape of the neck and drop him right back in again, because there’s not a dime’s worth of difference in any of ’em, national Democrats or national Republicans.” George Wallace, quoted by Jules Witcover in The Reporter, February 23, 1967. From pp.107-108 of the book of his quotes entitled “Hear Me Out.”

    Interestingly, he predicted a very strong public response when people recognized the level of federal control and intrusion the Civil Rights Act would result in if it were passed. The same predictions were made, I believe, about Obamacare. Some things just don’t change, I guess. Wallace, BTW, pointedly never advocated segregation for any other state; he said each state should make its own decisions on that and other matters.

  10. MJR
    MJR April 29, 2016 2:18 pm

    I have to say that your election (I’m Canadian) is turning out to be much more entertaining than the one we just went through. I can’t remember any preliminaries where the candidates filled the airways with such negative, vile hatred. I think the Federalist may be right and there is even a good case for bringing back the classic duel.

    So far ma favorite comment has to be Boehner calling Cruz ‘Lucifer in the flesh.’ That stuff is amazing.

    I hope all of you who reside in the “Land of the brave and home of the free” will start thinking seriously about a plan B because the leadership options aren’t looking too good.

  11. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal April 29, 2016 3:30 pm

    If you’re looking to puppeticians for leadership, there is probably no hope for you. LOL

  12. Joel
    Joel April 29, 2016 4:04 pm

    Well done, Claire. The best thing about this election is there’s no temptation to have even a little hope in any of them. Ergo, no possibility of betrayal. That alone might make this election unique, except that so many people seem to be so inexplicably putting so much hope in Trump.

  13. Joel
    Joel April 29, 2016 4:07 pm

    Also, what I meant to say, I’ll be there are a whole lot of college students stumping for Sanders and convinced he’s the man of the year. Which reminds me of a certain kid during a certain election in 1972…

  14. Karen
    Karen April 29, 2016 4:23 pm

    This election has a song running constantly thru my head.
    “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right….”

    Your ending statement to a great article is the only hope I still see. I hope that Trump and Sanders have at least riled up folks to actually think about how broken our whole system is. At this point, I’d only consider voting if NONE OF THE ABOVE was on the ballot.

  15. Fred
    Fred April 29, 2016 6:04 pm

    You do realize that Trump is (playing) a nationalist and Sanders is (playing) a socialist right? Why don’t the repubs and dems just go ahead and declare themselves to be a single national socialist party already. Many of the soon to be disillusioned are nationalist. You won’t like them much. Real nationalists don’t give up, they double down. to them, You are un-American. you are a threat.

  16. LibertyNews
    LibertyNews April 29, 2016 7:49 pm

    That was awesome.

    “Just live a good life, as free a life as possible. Watch the clowns perform.” is the best advice I’ve seen anyone offer 🙂

  17. LarryA
    LarryA May 1, 2016 1:19 pm

    George Wallace

    I was lurking in the middle of a political discussion between 30-50-YO folks when the subject of Democrats and MLK v Wallace arose.

    I said, “Actually, MLK was Republican.” I got That Look, so I continued, “and George Wallace was a Democrat.”

    “Oh, right.”

    [clicking of iPads]

    “No way!”

    “In fact, so was Abe Lincoln.”

    “But he freed the slaves.” [much iPad clicking]

    “So he did.”

  18. LarryA
    LarryA May 1, 2016 1:20 pm

    Oops. Lincoln = Republican. Need preview.

  19. Ronald
    Ronald May 1, 2016 6:50 pm

    Well said!

    My first vote was for LBJ in 1964 — who then promptly shipped my ass to Vietnam. I, too, couldn’t stomach Dick or Hube, so voted for Eldridge Cleaver in 1968. My last vote was for McGovern (at least he swore to end the war!) in 1972.

    Won’t get fooled again……

  20. Oregon Hobo
    Oregon Hobo May 4, 2016 9:58 am

    LarryA sez:

    1. What is a corporation?

    I can answer that, having owned a significant stake in and served on the board of directors of a small C corp.

    A corporation is a legal construct of the state, structured according to the dictates of the state, existing at the pleasure of the state, and subject to use as a source of taxation and as a tool for implementing whatever social policies the state sees fit to require of its corporations.

    A corporation is managed for the state by a group of owners, directors, and executives, whose interactions with each other are spelled out in detail by the state, and who are permitted to partake in a share of the profits as compensation for their effort and personal financial risk.

    In brief, a corporation is a thinly veiled creation of and extension of the state for the purpose of acquiring revenue and projecting power at no risk to itself.

    Happy trails,


  21. Oregon Hobo
    Oregon Hobo May 4, 2016 10:01 am

    * at no risk to the state, that is.


  22. pdxr13
    pdxr13 May 4, 2016 11:26 am

    UK rebels know how worthless it is to sacrifice yourself to the punishment system. They wear gloves and balaclavas while disabling cameras! Who woulda’ thought such a thing? They also don’t do merely-annoying easily-fixable mis-alignment of cameras that takes 10 minutes to fix, THEY BURN THEM ON THE POLE.

    At 24000 UK Pounds per camera (unfortunately, no longer “a Troy pound of silver”) x 700 cameras, this is beginning to affect the local oppression budget. 😉

    I’d buy my brother a metric pint to help conceal the smoky scent of rebellion. Say no more, this man’s thirsty!

  23. Desertrat
    Desertrat May 4, 2016 2:32 pm

    A country can be great if: Its government doesn’t screw around in the citizens’ daily lives. Businesses make things for export sales such that the balance of payments is not largely negative, decade after decade. The budget is balanced, or the occasional public debt is regularly reduced or paid. There is a strong middle economic class.

    Since I don’t believe any of that will ever come into existence, and our downhill slide will likely continue, I figure it’s probably time for a beer.

  24. Ed
    Ed May 4, 2016 7:20 pm

    You think this presidential race is nasty? The Founding Fathers had it beat. In the race between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson for president in 1800, Jefferson called Adams “a blind, bald, crippled, toothless man who is a hideous hermaphroditic character with neither the force and fitness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

    In turn, Adams called Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

    Compare these with the relative politeness of today.

  25. anonymous
    anonymous May 5, 2016 4:22 am

    Oregon Hobo,

    Please report to the nearest Bill Whittle Re-Education Camp for a proper attitude adjustment.

    Your voluntary compliance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

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