What an election year! I feel like I've been transported through a cosmic squirrel hole and into a baffling political universe where facts are fiction, bizarre is normal and corruption is a virtue. Am I hallucinating? Or has this insanity really happened?
Since I can't yet conjure up the deep meanings (or lack thereof) in this year's national vote, I'll offer instead a reflection on some of the oddities from this rutted and potholed general election road we've traveled, jouncing through the destruction brought largely by the furies howling from deep within the Donald.
Here's Trump on his own splendiforousness:
"No one RESPECTS WOMEN more than me."
"Nobody BUILDS WALLS better than me, believe me."
"MY IQ is one of the highest."
"Nobody knows more about TAXES than me."
"Nobody knows BANKING better than I do."
"I have a great relationship with THE BLACKS."
"There's nobody that's done so much for EQUALITY as I have."
"I'm the LEAST RACIST person you'll ever meet."
"Nobody's ever been more SUCCESSFUL than me."
"Nobody knows THE SYSTEM better than me."
"I'm REALLY RICH. And by the way, I'm not even saying that in a braggadocious way."
"There's nobody who feels more strongly about WOMEN'S HEALTH ISSUES!"
"There has to be SOME FORM OF PUNISHMENT" for women who seek abortions.
Finally, who can forget Trump's assessment of his own magnificence in a 2015 Lincoln Day speech, when he declared, "Bing bing, bong bong, bing bing." Honest Abe couldn't have said it better, could he?
Trump's limitless ego wasn't the worst of the spectacle, of course. Again and again this year, packs of Republican Congress critters rushed to the media to denounce the boorish comments and bullying behavior of their party's presidential nominee. And then having blasted Trump as being somewhere between thuggish and morally depraved, they proceeded to urge voters to elect the brute our nation's leader.
The worst of these gutless lawmakers are the top two GOP leaders: House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Like clowns in a jack-in-the-box, they kept popping out to decry the Donald's latest attack on the people he hates. Then these pitiful two leaders meekly folded back into the box, reiterating that, well, they would still endorse him to be president of our United States of America!
For example, after October's stunning revelation that Trump had bragged on video about how easy it is for him to assault women sexually, here came McConnell, professing outrage: "As the father of three daughters," he sputtered, "I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize . . . for the utter lack of respect for women." In turn, Ryan proclaimed that he was "sickened by what I heard." Nonetheless, neither Ryan nor McConnell was offended enough to withdraw his embrace of Trump, instead insisting that the misogynist should be our president. How sickening is that?
Then came the congressional two-step, a Republican line dance featuring stalwarts so appalled by the Trump "Access Hollywood" video that they summoned the integrity to withdraw their endorsement of the purported serial groper. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska declared Trump's attitude "disgusting and totally unacceptable under any circumstance," calling on him to withdraw. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota also demanded that the presidential nominee step down, fuming that Trump's boasting of grabbing women's genitals was "more offensive than anything that [he] had seen" from the narcissistic candidate.
At last, some political courage! But only momentarily. Scorched by a furious backlash from Trump diehards, Fischer and Thune quickly stepped back into line, obediently dancing again to Trump's tune and pledging anew to support him.
Even though I still can't make sense of it all, I do know that now more than ever it is important for us to continue to organize and mobilize across the country around populist issues and local campaigns. The Working Families Party, the Green Party, the majority of Democrats (including Hillary backers) and the no-party people are in open rebellion and change is coming. To advance it, thousands of us Berniecrats have launched Our Revolution, an independent, state-based political network that flows from and is building on the progress and grassroots structures of Sanders' seminal run. It's already organizing for next year's local elections and looking toward the 2018 congressional races, the 2020 presidential contest — and beyond. Link up at www.ourrevolution.org.