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How the Left is Losing …Its Mind

By Steve Schlich  —  Admit it: you’ve clicked on the link “How the Right Lost Its Mind” and read with anxious hope that somehow, naming the beast would slay it. Alas, my friends. The Right did indeed lose its mind, but that was years ago, and it actually worked for them. Now, every time Trump tweets, it’s The Left losing its mind. 

And then losing its mind again as liberal talking heads predict the upcoming midterms:

Signs Point To A Blue Wave Election!

Republicans Resign in the Face of Electoral Defeat!

You’ve also thrilled to the sub-headlines after each special election:

Democrats win in a solidly red district!

12-point shift!

Or even Democrat loses by a small margin instead of by a shitload! 

These days, those exhortations just set off alarms in my head. They remind me of the certainty of Hillary Clinton’s election. There was NO WAY she could lose, just ask all those 2016 headlines. And 2015. Trump would never be nominated, oops, well… he would never be president. Never! Hillary spent time campaigning in red states because polls suggested that she might steal some of those.

Back in those idyllic days, I watched Saturday Night Live exemplify the liberal view of the impending election (at the 3:00 mark in this 9-minute cold opening)…

Alec Baldwin, made up as Trump and pouting his lips like he’s a bottom-feeding carp, repeats the latest stupid thing that Trump really said in a debate. 

“What do you think, Mrs. Clinton?” asks the moderator.

As Hillary, Kate McKinnon smirks at the camera. “I think I’m going to be President!” 

…And the audience howls in delight.

Except that on election night, pigs grew wings and flew right over the impenetrable blue wall of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Those swine remain aloft today, dive-bombing liberals. Any time I want to watch The Left Lose Its Mind—something that happens daily—all I have to do is look into the damn mirror.

That’s exactly what hard-core Trump supporters want, maybe even all that they want. And who can blame them, after all that SNL hee-hawing about the doofus on top of the Republican ticket. Now here we are. No worries about the U.S. place in the world order. No worries about our 70-year alliances crumbling. NATO? Meh. 

Did liberals cringe and cry out today? Did they shit their pants—at least figuratively—at Trump’s latest tweet? Did he violate their norms? Good. Because nothing else matters.

Take the Helsinki press conference following the so-called “summit” between Trump and Putin as a case in point: Trump, for perhaps the thousandth time, trashed the U.S. intelligence community, and sided with Putin instead, about the reality that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. election, and continues to do so.

The world went nuts over that for a news cycle, so he walked it back the next day with a cheesy semantic change: oh wait, he meant “wouldn’t” instead of “would”—and that was supposed to make everything right again. Of course it didn’t, and the world destabilized just a little more. But none of that matters because The Left Lost Its Mind again. 

Yes we did, and the Right got its jollies. Mission Accomplished. There’s something else? If you’re wondering if fighting Trump’s shock-and-eww strategy could be as simple as not losing your mind twice a day—you’re right. But simple is not necessarily easy.

Do you remember the three or four days in October 2016 that candidate Trump kept repeating that Obama and Hillary were the founders of ISIS? He claimed to mean it literally, and predictably The Left Lost Its Mind. A few news cycles later, Trump chastised them for being so stupid. Really? You believed that?

I gotta agree, news media. Really? Trump may be proudly ignorant about a LOT of things, but owning the news media is one thing he knows quite well. He seems to know it better than the people who actually run the news cycles. (Or are those decisions made by algorithms?) Either way, Trump’s the one who is actually pulling the news cycle levers.

“Obama founded ISIS. He founded ISIS!” 

You, the vaunted mainstream media; you, the essential free press. Why do you report his lies as your top story, every damn day? Why do you report them at all? When you know they’re goddamn lies? Why do you print his tweeted lies on your front pages? You could at least verify their truth (or lack of it) before amplifying them with a megaphone. Obama the founder of ISIS. Really. WHY did you dignify that with repetition and endless discussion?

Put down the damn megaphone. You might as well be Trump’s underpaid servant. I’ve read that his own Twitter followers don’t read most of his tweets. But prime time news anchors will, directly off the screen for you, as if you were just learning how to read.

There are plenty of things happening in Washington, that are worthy of multiple mentions on the Evening News. Important things like our government kidnapping children at the border, the still lead-poisoned city water in Flint, Michigan—and other places you’ll hear about once and never again. These are stories we should be following daily, not the tweets of a pathological liar.

Or you could report on the ongoing attacks on our democracy. They are how I’m losing my mind: I’m terrified that we’ll never have another honest election. Not that our elections have ever been perfect, just mostly honest. Are those days over?

You’ve probably read that the Russians are hacking our electrical grid more than our election structure, this year. The truth is, they continue to do both. And we continue to do too little about it! If you’re wondering what Trump and Putin discussed in private for two hours in Helsinki, IMO it’s this: Trump is getting dictator lessons…

“This Mueller guy keeps asking questions.”

“Why haven’t you poisoned him yet? Do you need some polonium?”

I don’t know if they will even bother hacking our election in 2018, since Trump isn’t on the ticket. Consider the possible outcomes:

  • If the Democrats win the House back, they’ll hold hearings and issue subpoenas. That’s more chaos to weaken the U.S. against Russia, but maybe also more sanctions.
  • If the Republicans keep control, Trumpism is validated and the U.S. goes farther down the road to fascism. That’s also more chaos, but maybe the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Which result do you think Putin favors? How about you?

Maybe they just gain entry to our election systems and lay sleeper traps for later. Or maybe they don’t even need to do that…

Consider this nightmare scenario for November 2020. Trump is losing in the polls. The FBI (no wait, make that Trump’s hand-picked Cybersecurity Task Force) discovers serious Russian meddling in the imminent election. What’s he gonna do? By gum, he’ll do The Right Thing!

He cancels the election (reworking an old quote) “…until we figure out what’s going on.” To his base, he’s a hero. Of course, massive public protests ensue everywhere, confrontations turn violent, and Trump is forced to declare martial law, which will last “…until we figure out what’s going on.” Voila: instant dictatorship.

Keep telling yourself that it can’t happen here.

Bernie Sanders is right: our government does need a revolution. But not a hostile takeover. And every revolution needs a plan for after. When you tear down a government, you better be ready to handle the consequences. Look no further than our abject failure at peace in Iraq following the glorious six-week “shock and awe” war victory.

Trump is doing all he can to pull apart the gears of government, but there is no plan for what happens when the machine actually stops. If he really does bankrupt or otherwise break our country, I think a lot of people will be shocked to discover exactly how much they depended on the government.

A classic ballad comes to mind: “You Don’t Miss Your Water ‘Till Your Well Runs Dry.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have a golden opportunity to take back the House of Representatives. That would mean committee chairmanships, subpoena power, and a partial check on Trump’s poor decision-making.

So of course the Democrats are trying to blow this opportunity with an internal war—so goes a lot of Conventional Wisdom. And all of that C.W. is dead wrong. Come on, internal war is situation normal for Democrats. Hell, Republicans have gotten pretty good at it themselves. Conflict arrives any time your party becomes a “big tent” for lots of people.

There’s a name for this concept: democracy. And it’s messy.

So the debate rages on: Democrats should run against Trump straight-up vs. they should never even mention him. You can pick your pundit, and with him your imagined path to electoral success. First, consider former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown scolding Democrats for obsessing on Trump. And a few days later, this Daily Beast editorial scolded Democrats for NOT obsessing. <sigh>

On the one hand, of course the 2018 election is all about Trump. It’s a midterm, which is always an evaluation of the new administration. There’s a fervent impeachment movement rolling naïvely along—but the Senate requires 67 or more votes to convict, meaning some Republicans are needed, which will never happen. And let’s not forget how Republicans went down in flames in the 1998 election, as they closed in on impeaching Bill Clinton.

On the other hand, there have been so many votes cast in anger during the special elections of 2017 and 2018. Can anger alone fuel a wave of liberal voters? It has worked for conservatives more than once. 

In the article Democrats Discard Washington Platform in Bid for House Control, the New York Times argues that “House Democrats, looking to wrest control of the chamber from Republicans in November, are discarding the lessons of successful midterms past and pressing only a bare-bones national agenda, leaving it to candidates to tailor their own messages to their districts.” …and calls that a risky strategy. 

I wish the Times would consider the lessons of total non-cooperation by Republicans during Obama’s eight years and the complete upending of political norms by Trump’s win in 2016. They won both Obama midterm elections handily. So do not tell me that fear and hatred can’t win elections. I watched exactly that happen in 2010, 2014, and 2016.

But later in the article: “Representative Kathleen Rice, Democrat of New York, summed up the strategy this way: ‘None of the individual candidates is being burdened with carrying the national mantle.’”

That actually sounds sensible to me. Of course the overarching national issue is limiting the damage that Trump can do until he leaves office, but the real action is on the ground in your hometown.

What the Democrats need, what this poor crazed nation needs, is a hybrid of emotion and ideas. 

For all the hysterical “she’s a socialist” criticism that you hear about young Democratic House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she’s running on ideas. Socialist ideas such as concern for everyone, not just ourselves. That’s a concept that has fallen by the wayside lately.

I don’t consider myself a socialist, even though I favor ideas such as universal health care and basic income. I’ve also come to Realism through years of hope and disappointment. Your beliefs may be pure and true, but the real world will morph them into garments that you can actually wear. Or not.

But I digress. The debate is whether you should complain about the current shitty government, or offer ideas for a better government. You’ll recall that Trump’s campaign speeches were always complaints—long on All That Was Wrong and lacking any detail on how to fix it.

That won’t work for Democrats. While offering to stand in Trump’s way, Democrats must promise to help with what’s happening locally. And stop losing their minds. In that direction lies madness.

As further evidence that I, an unrepentant libtard, am losing my mind over and over again: I find myself actively rooting against my own country… for example, Kim Jong Un’s failure to curb his development of nuclear weapons makes me roll my eyes and shake my head while grinning sadly. 

China’s retaliatory tariffs? Predictions of economic disaster? Criticism from other world leaders? Omarosa? Bring ‘em on!

I’ll sum up this fatalistic frame of mind with a New Yorker article about Trump’s brusque style with our allies. It explains that his actions will have consequences even when they are inactions. A money quote:

“Robert Gallucci, a former chief negotiator with North Korea who is now at Georgetown University, says that while Trump is ‘doing fine on the international scene with the people he cares about,’ there is more at stake than Trump’s reputation. The failure of diplomacy could set the United States back to 2017, ‘with a preventive strike and the second Korean War hours away.’”

With that, I’ll let R.E.M. play us all out with It’s The End Of The World

Written by

Steve Schlich is retired after 35 years of writing fiction about software: “easy to use,” “does what you want,” and the like. Hobbies include webmaster for www.RodSerling.com, writing songs and short stories. In 2004, he created www.NakedWashington.com, a website chronicling the naughty public art in Washington, D.C. He lives happily with his wife and cats, north of San Francisco.

Latest comments
  • HEY STEVE. THERE IS A MALAISE ACROSS THE LAND. I FEEL THAT MOST OF US – AS A NATION – ARE HOLDING OUR BREATH, WAITING TO SEE. IT’S AS IF WHAT WAS ONCE UP IS DOWN AND VICE VERSA. I AGREE THAT TO HAVE ANY EFFECTIVE CHANGE… “…THE REAL ACTION IS ON THE GROUND IN YOUR HOMETOWN.” LIKE MANNA FALLING FROM THE SKIES, THE POLITICAL GUY RETURNS. THANKS STEVE FOR PENNING SUCH A THOUGHTFUL PIECE.

  • Ernest KearneyErnest Kearney

    great piece. glad you’re back and swinging.

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