Defeating Trump is Not Enough

He’s gotta go, of course. But Donald The Dictator’s raptorial reign is far from the only damage being done to our democracy. There are numerous more dragons to slay, if we want our country back. A short list: Mitch McConnell’s broken Senate, the absolute Republican control of too many state governments, the easily distracted media, and lest we forget… our gullible selves.

Win the Election.

We absolutely have to dump Trump. That is Jobs One, Two, and Three—for all the reasons you’ve read too many times already. But that task looks harder every day. Impeachment had exactly the effect I feared: what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I’m grasping a glimmer of hope that the Revenger-in-Chief’s excessive retribution will sit uneasily in the minds of his more moderate supporters. Hah! Now I’m assuming that such creatures aren’t mythical.

And I’m worried about the Democratic field: I see lots of competence, but little charisma. To paraphrase The Donald: where’s my Barack Obama? Worse, the Other Side is organized this time—read and weep about Trump’s billion-dollar assault on social media, pumping out tightly targeted misinformation. And Facebook’s decision to ignore false campaign ads. 

Who needs a cyber attack from the Russians or Iranians or Chinese? Trump’s campaign learned well from Putin’s 2016 hacks. And Zuckerburg profited handsomely. Who’s gonna mess with a successful business plan?

Now fret about how to accomplish the really necessary but virtually impossible: defeating Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in his home state of Kentucky. I’d love to see Bloomberg toss a few million bucks into that race, but I’ll wager that most of the Senate cheating that he practices, despite unmasking by repeated TV ads, would actually meet the approval of McConnell’s constituents.

It’s a sad truth of democracy—if his voters want him to break the Senate and stuff the Federal Judiciary with young conservatives, then he is doing the correct duty of an elected official. Yay, democracy!

Defang the Filibuster.

That leaves the Democrats with retaking the Senate by a simple majority—doable—and defanging the filibuster. Not destroying it, mind you. As designed by the Founding Fathers, to filibuster was to prolong debate on a bill by refusing to sit down. As long as you could occupy the rostrum by talking, you could prevent a bill’s passing. Strom Thurmond holds the current record, 24+ hours spent trying to block a 1957 Civil Rights act.

Impressive. But as soon as Thurmond sat down, the vote came up and the bill passed. That’s how democracy is supposed to work: the minority opinion is heard, but the majority rules.

I want to see McConnell, dark star of a horror film that I would title, The Man Who Broke the Senate, lean on the rostrum for hours and piss into an adult diaper while he tries to block liberal legislation. I’d pay to watch that movie! And I can think of a number of other Republicans that I’d like to see up there with him, pissing their pants…

So do it, Democrats: win the Senate and fix the filibuster! …but do it understanding the price to be paid when Republicans regain a Senate majority. And you know they will.

While they’re at it, the Dems should also disembowel the unwritten Hastert Rule (the majority party allows a vote only when their will is assured). I propose that each Senator and Representative can, during each 2-year session, force a floor vote on one bill. 

Why? Because Mitch Grim Reaper McConnell, who is sitting on more than 300 bills passed by Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives. Example: we’d have universal background checks on gun purchases right now, but for McConnell’s refusal to bring it to the Senate floor.

So we voters have a straightforward task: repeat the 2018 election. Embellish it… 

Keep a majority in the House of Representatives. 

Drum those psychopaths out of the White House. 

Blue-wave wash the Senate. 

Even that last one is do-able: Republicans will defend 23 Senate seats this year, and the Democrats only 12. Can they pick up four to make a simple majority? Bloomberg has pledged money to some of those races and I dearly hope that he follows through. 

Liberate State Governments.

State governments needing flipping too. In 2010, the Koch brothers seeded dozens of flippable races in numerous states. The result: Republican-controlled legislatures and statehouses gerrymandered voting districts during post-census reapportionment. Since then, they’ve culled voter rolls of hundreds of thousands of likely Democrats in the name of “fighting election fraud.” In truth, they’ve legalized their election fraud.

So here’s the agenda:

  1. Get out the vote on Election Day! Basic, right? Ah, but it’s as complex an answer as “Score more points” is in sports. You may recall that Hillary Clinton’s supposedly superior “ground game” did not get out the vote where it was needed in 2016. Gotta fix that. Oh, and gotta win big enough that the Electoral College doesn’t reward the popular vote loser—again.
  2. Democrats need to hire lawyers and be ready to handle irregularities. Never forget how Republicans manipulated an early end to the Florida recount in 2000. Or how a poorly-designed “butterfly ballot” redirected votes intended for Al Gore. Which leads me to the next point…
  3. Dare I say it? Democrats, stop fucking up! The Great Iowa Caucus Disaster of 2020 was yet another wake-up call. So wake up. Republicans may not govern well, but they have elections figured out. You, Dems, have to take more care in planning. And test every damned plan before you act on it. Sheesh!

But wait, there’s more…

Tame Social Media.

You can’t limit free speech. You have to appeal to a reader’s ability to think critically. And good luck with that. Sarah Palin didn’t invent willful ignorance, but she gave it national prominence. Trump has perfected it, aided by Fox News and its own brand of misinformation. A friend of ours with conservative co-workers summed it up succinctly: “They have a different set of facts.”

The problem with our free society today is that consumers of information don’t do critical thinking any more. It’s too easy to find a public opinion that matches your private one, a pundit who validates your wildest imaginings—and invents new ones.

My own solution would be not to silence their message, but cut it back to human proportions. Bar all ‘bot accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Their product can’t be that hard to identify. Just cut ‘em off, for the same reasons that Wall Street should be blocking algorithm-triggered trades. Humans, with human speed and human quantity, only. But that’s a fantasy.

Really, it gets back to critical thinking: people educating themselves about an issue or a candidate. The catch: educating yourself assumes an agreed-upon reality. And now we’re back to that friend with conservative co-workers who have a different set of facts.

In 2016, I ranted about uninformed voters, featuring the questions that Britons googled after the vote on Brexit: “What does it mean to leave the EU?”and “What is the EU?” After. Really!

That’s it in a nutshell: ignorance now wins elections. In many cases, it’s willful ignorance, perhaps best summarized in the book Fantasyland. A quick summary: Americans have long entertained fantasies about How Things Work. It’s the reason casinos thrive: gamblers keep imagining that they will win, despite knowing otherwise.

The American Dream isn’t a white picket fence in your front yard any more; it’s a sack full of cash that someone hands to you. Game Show winnings? Casino jackpot? Rich uncle? It doesn’t matter; everything’ll be great after that happens. And even though it never does happen, they keep buying lottery tickets.

Reset the Mainstream Media.

The so-called mainstream media must take away Trump’s megaphone when he lies. I’m amazed that news organizations are still printing or broadcasting what they know to be lies, just because The President Said It

Hear me: NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN! The people who await every word that dribbles out of Trump’s mouth—they’re watching Fox News. So stop manufacturing false equivalencies. Stop prentending that you’re broadcasting actual news when you publicize Trump’s lies. You don’t even have to broadcast the obvious ones. But you do have to fact-check the not-so-obvious. Everything, really. Why broadcast anything that you cannot verify as true? Is it readership and ratings? That’s what granted Trump over a billion dollars in free publicity during the 2016 campaign.

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times keep track of Trump’s lies. That’s progress. By now, the default expectation of any Trump statement ought to be that it’s false. Newspapers and networks should try to corroborate each and every statement before they grant it cachet by publishing or broadcasting. 

And I’ll tell you this: I am projectile-vomiting sick of TV news anchors reading to me a tweet that fills the screen. I know how to fucking read! My wife and I usually hit the mute button for these unneeded recitations, even when performed for laughs by Stephen Colbert.

You take away Trump’s voice, you take away his manhood. Think about it, media.

Conclusion: We’re Quite Possibly Screwed.

I’ve gone on too long with problems that have nearly impossible solutions. And I haven’t even mentioned the Electoral College or Russian hacking of our infrastructure. We just may find out what true chaos is, when they take down our electrical grid on Election Day. 

Terrified yet? You should be. The only solution we citizens have to the chest-deep shit that we’re in right now, is to vote these fuckers out of office. Every one of them that we can, and by massive margins! …and hope that the vote is counted honestly. 2020 may be our last chance, if we even get that.

So do what you can. Vote. Encourage others to vote. Donate money to get-out-the-vote causes. And cross your fingers.

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 comment
  • ernest kearneyernest kearney

    A wonderful piece Cassandra…..er, excuse me, steve.

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