Astute Observations

Stranger than fiction

At this time last year, in this magazine, I wrote a column of gratitude and resolution. I had much to be grateful for then and still do, and I am resolved to make 2017 a meaningful year. This January, however, I can find nothing more important to write about than the current state of the union.
     Statistically speaking, some of you are happy with the outcome of the presidential election. To those I say, congratulations and good luck. This particular column may not be your cup of tea (party).
     If you are like me, you are probably wondering what the hell to do now.  I have a few ideas on the subject. …
     Personally, I realized on the morning of Nov. 9 that I have been living in a bubble. I surround myself with people of like mind, and I fooled myself into thinking that most folks in our country feel like I do. On that morning after Election Day, I received a wake-up call from a friend in Ontario offering me a room. I am not moving to Canada.
     Here’s the thing, folks — I have struggled with this column for weeks. I really wanted to write a satire to lampoon Mr. Trump’s cabinet choices. I wanted to point out, in a comedic and thought-provoking fashion, the outrageousness and danger of Trumpism. I thought of a fantasy federal politics league where I could pit Trump, Sessions, Puzder (The Hamburgler), and a few historical figures like Joseph Goebbels or Nikita Khrushchev (Oops, Putin!) against a team of my choosing: Bernie Sanders, JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter, Nicola Tesla, etc., but I’m no Jonathan Swift.
     Try as I might, I could not come up with anything as un-American or shocking as the truth of Jeff Sessions’ (separate and unequal) Alabama legacy as Attorney General or Rick (let’s scrap the … what was the third one? The EPA!) Perry as Secretary of Energy or Rex (former Exxon Mobil CEO) Tillerson as Secretary of State or Stephen (“birth control makes women fat and unattractive”) Bannon as chief strategist.
     To put my literary struggle in a nutshell, it is beyond my abilities to conjure a satire from a satire. Truth, in this case, is far stranger than fiction.
     Donald Trump’s America is a country of frustration and anger. It is a place of exclusion and discrimination. Mr. Trump has harnessed the base emotions of the alt-right — racism, misogyny, homophobia — wrapped them in his demagogic blanket of “I’m great, I have all the answers, trust me,” and rode that wave of fear straight to the White House like Slim Pickens on the back of a nuke in Dr. Strangelove.
     The Democrats failed their traditional base and, out of arrogance, inattention, and overconfidence, alienated voters that could have given them the election.
     I have no desire to be a useless complainer or a loud empty barrel. I am neither a politician nor a political scientist. I am an empowered voter and a very concerned citizen.
     Right now, the Trump administration has narrow majorities in the House and Senate. Midterm elections are two years away. In the meantime, it is up to us to have our voices heard. Congressmen and senators live and die by votes. Popularity and strength are everything.
     When important votes are occurring, we must call our members of Congress. We must stop by their offices to demand meetings to voice our concerns and questions about corporate deregulation, climate issues, or civil rights issues, to name an important few. Go to town hall meetings with your representatives and ask the tough questions. They were elected to represent us. Organize and peacefully protest. It is our right to have our voices heard. When done strategically, pressure from the voting public can have great effect. This is what we can do now to affect the political future.
     In two years, get out and vote in the midterm elections.
     To the Democratic Party, please get your house in order. Remember the working class. You counted on their votes and did not get them. Get to work now. Humility and inclusiveness should be your mantra.
     Friends and neighbors, I wish you a peaceful and meaningful 2017!
Hags is a part-time bon vivant, man-about-town, and contributor to The East Nashvillian who earns his keep as a full-time bassist extraordinaire. We were relieved to hear he won’t be moving to Canada, since bassists who can write are hard to come by.