I fought hard –though not entirely successfully – to keep presidential politics out of yesterday’s post on “The ‘Reality’ Explosion.” To live a relatively hopeful life, I try to keep that debacle penned in. Still, it remains an inescapable presence. It’s like there’s this festering swamp in your backyard. You tell yourself, “Don’t look.” But the “Don’t” registers less powerfully than the “look.”
Yesterday’s post reminded me of the speech I occasionally make in my head, where it can’t get me in trouble. I am a presidential candidate in 2020, appearing on a televised debate with the current president, about to deliver my closing remarks. When I am called upon, I momentarily pause, not sure if I really want to ”go there.”
And then I begin.
I don’t know. I have this stereotype in my head about small-town people living in areas who will probably not vote for me. (A BEAT) I just heard half the country go, “You got that right!”
Maybe I got it from movies. Or it’s, like, “Conventional Wisdom.” And if I am off-base about it, then so be it.
The thing is, I have always believed that, more than the rest of us, small-town people are naturally loaded with…
(GESTURING TO TRUMP)
And then you voted for this guy.
And you are thinking of voting for him again!
(SHAKING HIS HEAD, GOOD-NATUREDLY. THEN, TURNING SERIOUS.)
Hard facts, okay?
The country’s becoming more racially diverse and there is no possible going back. Gay marriage is here to stay. Reproductive rights, at least to some degree, aren’t going anywhere either. A hyper-sexualized society? That one gets to me too, but what are you gonna do? It’s part of “Free Speech.” It’s constitutionally protected.
All I can say about these changing times no one can stop, quoting the late conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, with, hopefully, a little greater sensitivity, is
“Get over it.”
Of course, I know it’s not just about that.
Times are tough in the working world. Jobs are leaving the country. Automation in the factories. And you’re paying maybe a bigger price for these modernizing changes than other people.
(GESTURING TO HIS OPPONENT) A guy comes from “outside the system.” He promises to help you. And you take a shot.
(HEAVING A HEAVY SIGH)
You know the movie Red River? My favorite western of all time. John Wayne – a real conservative, who never blamed anyone for anything because real conservatives don't – plays Tom Dunson, a cattle drive trail boss who starts losing his mind because of the pressure, and he begins to act crazy. Finally, they stop him. At which point, his longtime compadre, played by Walter Brennan, bravely confronts him, telling him straight to his face,
(IMITATING WALTER BRENNAN, CONVINCINGLY) “You was wrong, Mr. Dunson. You was wrong.”
That’s what I’m saying to you. Times are tough. You look for a rescuing champion. You think you found the right person.
(LOOKING STRAIGHT AT THE CAMERA)
And “You was wrong.”
You’re not voting for me? Fine. But make sure it’s for the right reason. And that turning away won’t cost you any of the benefits you currently enjoy.
I know you already know this, but it was, for some reason, set aside, so – with respect – I am reminding you.
When the person you elect faces the serious problems of the country and the world, trying to decide the right and decent thing to do, keep in mind:
That’s not my opinion.
It’s just plain common sense.