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Category: Politics

Forward March
It took 5 million women to make me do it, but I finally took part in a protest march. Okay, “make me” isn’t quite the right phrase. Inspired me is more like it.

I like to think of myself as a political person, but the idea of jostling along in a mob of unpredictable strangers does not appeal to me. The occasional letter is fine, or a phone call, and I have my cartoons of course, but marching and chanting and yelling has never been my cup of activism.

I know that makes me sound like an elitist, and maybe I am. On this one occasion, though, I’m glad I came out of my bubble. The vibe was nothing but friendly. There was no violence during the Women’s March on Washington…anywhere. And no arrests. The San Francisco march was brimming with positivity and determination. There was some anger, but mostly the event was a kind of joyous rejection of the Drump agenda and the brand of ugliness he’s sold to our country. As one sign pointed out, “So bad, even introverts are here.” I hear that, sister.

It was by most accounts the largest single protest march in the history of the planet. Red states, blue states, and plenty of other countries added to the 683 total marches (though nothing from Russia, it should be noted). Better yet, it was a completely grass roots event. Any politicians who participated were strictly late add-ons.

This was a people’s march — female people in particular. I was a little hesitant to join at first, thinking that men might dilute the impact of the event. But no. This mass expression of conviction was in no way exclusive. All genders, all ages, all issues were represented, and that fact in no way detracted from the power of this show of unity. We experienced as one the solidarity, the strength in numbers, the satisfaction of standing up and counting for something.

So we all felt better — even in the dark and the pouring rain at the end. We’d expressed our discontent in one big, newsworthy show of strength. That is certainly something good in itself. But is that it? I’m new to this marching thing, so I don’t know what happens next. In the past I’ve seen big marches covered in the media, and the next day it’s like they never happened. Will the Women’s March on Washington be one of those? It set records for turnout, tripling the numbers of the inauguration itself, and stomped all over Drump’s headlines from the day before. Those are all good things, too, but will anything come of it?

I can only say that I sent an email yesterday to Anna Eshoo (my congresswoman, in case you’ve never heard of her). My issue was women’s health. I wrote to Senator Lamar Alexander today on the subject of education and the godawful nominee Betsy DeVos. I’ll probably contact DiFi tomorrow about the suppression of climate change data. There are plenty of things to be pissed off about, that’s for sure.

But will I keep it up? It is kind of a hassle. Maybe I’ll eventually just punk out and shrug my shoulders. Maybe I don’t care about this stuff as much as I thought I did. Maybe my righteousness was just a contact high from that huge, chanting crowd of women. Maybe it will fade, and nothing will change.

I don’t know. I can only hope that all my fellow marchers continue to have the same doubts.
Elective President-Electomy
Okay, that didn't work. I hadn’t done a caricature of Drump since late May because I didn’t want to go on feeding the ego beast. At the time it seemed to me that withholding attention from him was one of the few weapons I had in the battle against the tsunami of stupidity and celebrity worship that has now consumed our nation. I had hoped that focusing on issues rather than personalities would clarify the situation for anyone who might be paying attention. But no; the tactic failed, and here we all are.

Back then I was even doubting the power of satire itself. All the brightest, funniest, most insightful satirists had lined up and done some of their best work against Drump, and he still won.

But I am in a different place now, and as of this week I have once again taken up caricature as a tool of my trade. The election has changed things, including my view of the president-elect. He’s a disease. Henceforth I will treat him as a boil needing to be lanced, a cancer begging for radical chemo, a malignant growth that must be surgically removed. I don’t know that my humble pen is that sharp and deft, but I have to try.

I will portray him as bloated, corrupt, and reeking of evil and bad cologne. A shallow, mendacious fool, utterly callous to the needs of his (or any) people. Yes, I will be descending into the dark waters of character assassination. In my defense, I can only say that my depictions will be 100% factually accurate.

Maybe this tactic won’t work either, but I can’t help thinking that drawing is better than not drawing. When you’re dealing with a deadly disease, no medicine is too strong.
Good Grief
After the last election, I waited for myself to move through the five stages of grief. I was looking forward to a time when I could feel good again, or at least normal. Now, however, I have concluded that this process will not take place. I have reached the last stage, acceptance, and begun my new life under this ugly set of circumstances, but I have not left any of the other stages behind. Nor do I want to.

Furthermore, I don’t want to feel normal. The denial, anger, bargaining, and depression are still with me, but I have no complaints. I find the denial and anger quite handy in maintaining my rejection of Drump’s legitimacy. He isn’t a real president. He’s a creature from the dark side. I won’t be “giving him a chance” or hoping for something good to happen or fantasizing that the office will humble him or any of that crap. He is a Sith Lord. There is no middle ground. Any real good that comes from his reign will be strictly our dumb luck.

The bargaining phase of my grief presents a slightly different case. I’m actually enjoying that part. I relished Jill Stein’s pathetic recount efforts. I cheer on the hopeless quest to rig the Electoral College and change the outcome. I am happy to see others clinging to the idea that Russian hacking will somehow outrage our leaders enough that they vote for impeachment. I even allow myself to entertain the notion that some states might actually secede from the union. None of this bargaining is going to accomplish much, but it all perpetuates the drumbeat of stories that reaffirm Drump’s illegitimacy — and it clearly irritates the hell out of him. That’s the fun part, and that definitely helps with the depression phase of my grief.

The acceptance I’m experiencing is not an acceptance of Drump himself. No, no, no. That I will never do. My acceptance is of my new role: resisting him at every turn. I will not say a kind word about him. I may end up working parallel to him on some issues, but never with him. I don’t even want to say his name. I just want him to be ground into a paste by the gears of history and be force fed to his nightcrawling enablers. That is a role I can get behind.

If you think that my attitude will only worsen the deep divisions in our country, you are right. In fact, I’m counting on it. If ever there was a time for clear lines and complete separation, this is it.

I read a piece recently by the Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein that projected a near future in which the fortunes of red states plummeted while the quality of life in the blue ones soared. It would work this way: Once the deep cuts in taxes that Drump promises take effect, the rich people (who live mostly in blue states) will have lots of spare cash. If the blue states are as smart as they claim to be, they’ll raise state taxes on those folks and use that money to make themselves into blue paradises where we take care of one another and corporate greed cannot run rampant over ordinary citizens.

The red states, meanwhile, will descend into penury and poor health. Without that fat wad of federal tax dollars (the lion’s share of which used to go to them, not to their blue cousins) they will need to depend on the good will of corporations, the charity of the obscenely rich, and the bounty generated by supply side economics. Good luck with that, cousins.

I don’t wish these people ill, but they will be reaping what they have sown. Moreover, there’s not much I can do to help them short of making charitable donations. I will choose to focus on my side of the great chasm between red and blue. In fact, I propose that we go Mr. Pearlstein one better by dusting off Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution and really getting down to business.

In case you don’t know, that’s the clause that deals with interstate compacts. Ordinarily these agreements concern themselves with geographical commonalities between states and the standardization of statutory language, but I see no reason not to expand their scope. Does the prospect of a west coast single payer health care system ring your bell? How about mandating electric cars west of the Rockies or east of the Appalachians?

Both great ideas, if you ask me, and unlike the kooky dream of secession, they could actually happen. Once the red states got it through their thick skulls that the blue states were onto something, I think they’d want to join us in our blue state paradises. The rifts would heal, and America would be whole again.

In the meantime, buckle up, keep the grief alive, and hold strong against the Sith Lord.
My Fellow Americans
I’ve been looking for an upside to the recent electoral catastrophe, and I think I’ve found something. If you’ve been on a similar quest, you know the pickings are pretty slim. In fact, you might not take any comfort at all in what I’ve come up with, especially if you don’t find populism very appealing.

Most post-election analysis has concluded that a large share of the winner’s votes came from people who are categorized as the lower middle class. That is the portion of our electorate that populism was made for. Unlike the poor, they receive very little help from our system. The boom-and-bust economic violence wrought by bursting financial bubbles hit them the hardest. Globalism and the changes that come with the rise of technology damage them and their loved ones most of all.

They didn’t like being ignored, so they lashed out. It’s hard to blame them. They were hurting, and the system did not seem to care. This is not the way things ought to be. A society that doesn’t see to the needs of all of its members is doing something wrong.

And now they have our attention, as they should. This is my upside: an underserved segment of our society was able to break through the indifference of their leaders (or at least of their institutions) and demand what they are entitled to — a government that cares. That is a victory for populism, and that is a good thing.

The downside of my upside, of course, is that these populists aren’t of the Democratic Socialist variety. They don’t want new, expansive ideas designed to help ordinary people. Instead, they find it easier to abandon reason in favor of darker explanations for their lot in life. As a result, they show a marked preference for the kind of authoritarian leadership that feeds those suspicions. They were willing to overlook the non-stop lying and corrupt nature of their candidate. They had no trouble ignoring the crook, the bigot, and the sexual predator. They didn’t care about any of that stuff as long as he channeled their anger and stoked hatred for The Other. In other words, they’re boneheads.

Still, they are my fellow citizens. That’s the essence of populism. We should all have rights in a free society. Even the boneheads.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee