A LETTER TO PRESIDENT
GIVE THE GOP A LANDSLIDE VICTORY
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
MONEY GRUBBING FEMALES, UNITE!
WE AREN’T ELECTING A HOMECOMING QUEEN
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
THE TOOTSIE ISSUE
Toddlers 4 President!
CRYING BABIES AND OTHER PRESSING
MATTERS OF STATE
Democratic Convention 2016: How It
Might Have Been
I’D LIKE TO FEEL THE BERN,
AN UNFORTUNATE REMEMBRANCE
OF THINGS PAST
On Matters of the Lie, the
War, and Judgment
EGO, POLITICS, AND THE
On Getting What We Deserve
HOW JANUARY 2017 WILL LOOK
to Main Website
On Getting What We Deserve
I remember reading, years ago, an opinion column written by Carlos
Fuentes in the Los Angeles Times. His subject was the Fatwa that had
been recently declared against Salman Rushdie upon the publication
of The Satanic Verses. Fuentes pointed out that there are two
kinds of societies in which it is dangerous to live. The first, he
said, is a society in which nothing goes and everything matters. The
second, he said, is a society in which everything goes and nothing
matters. I have feared for a long time now that we are becoming the
second sort of society, the slope we are on now greased by the
coming celebration of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for the
The blame for this can be placed on…just about everyone. With the
medium of television long focused on profits and barely focused at
all on what the FCC once demanded of their licensed stations—that
they “serve the public interest”—we have seen since last summer that
hours and days and weeks have been devoted to the self-promotion of
Donald Trump as a qualified candidate for the Presidency. Since
Trump’s face on television screens equated to money, nothing was
required of him but to declare the country a ruined place brought to
its knees by unrestrained and illegal immigration caused by a porous
border with Mexico, by allowing Muslims entrance into the country,
by trade deals in which other countries gained much and the US
gained little, by treaties with NATO countries, by a weakened
military, by “Obamacare” and its disastrous consequences. Mexican
immigrants were accused of being rapists and drug users, Muslims
were called potential terrorists, women were demeaned, journalists
were threatened, disabled individuals were mocked, protesters at
rallies were punched out by audience members and encouraged to do so
by the candidate. And those of us who watched became complicit in
sponsoring the candidacy of an individual who wished to represent
the party of Abraham Lincoln.
He was allowed to define the narrative of the primary process. He
learned early on that insults and lies were an addiction for a
populace who didn’t seem to require anything else from him. He went
for Jeb Bush first because he knew Jeb Bush represented the biggest
threat to him, having been a governor, the son of one President and
the brother of another, clearly the choice of the establishment
Republicans who have brought the country to its present state from a
passion to destroy the Presidency of Barack Obama. In Donald’s eyes,
Jeb had to be eliminated and by pooh-poohing him at rallies, in
televised “debates” that were no more debates than bear baiting was
a dignified sport, he dispatched him with very little trouble.
People claimed that Donald was saying what everyone was thinking
anyway: Jeb Bush lacked energy, Carly Fiorina was too ugly to be
President, Ben Carson was a liar, and on and on. Soon enough, simple
monikers began to suffice: lyin’ Ted Cruz and little Marco Rubio
stood in place of substantive discourse. Indeed, discourse wasn’t
necessary at all. All that was required in addition to insults were
a slogan and a list of promises.
Make American Great Again would do for the slogan. No one
asked exactly what that meant. No one inquired what it was that was
making America less than great. In place of anything that might
serve as an example of the nation’s weakness, the candidate made
phone calls into morning talk shows—always breathlessly accepted by
the producers—and he reduced discussion of problems and policies to
140 characters sent out on Twitter. These, too, became stories on
the televised news.
The promises were dazzling to the rally goers, addressing as they
did every secret fear and unspoken hatred of a populace that has
long sought infotainment in place of knowledge. The candidate
promised a wall across the border with Mexico paid for by the
Mexican government; the candidate promised an end to Obamacare,
swearing that it would be repealed within his first one hundred days
in office; the candidate promised heavy tariffs on products from
companies that have moved their means of production out of the US;
the candidate promised to halt the legal immigration of Muslims into
the country; the candidate promised to bar the entrance of Muslim
visitors to the country; the candidate promised to deport illegal
residents of the US along with their US born children; the candidate
promised to bring back the coal industry; the candidate promised to
increase spending on the military; the candidate promised to wipe
out ISIS. Along with the promises came the suggestions: the use of
nuclear weapons against ISIS would not be ruled out; the use of
nuclear weapons in Europe would not be ruled out; Japan and South
Korea ought to be encouraged to develop their own nuclear arsenal;
NATO nations that allow the US to have military bases within their
countries should pay for that dubious privilege.
It didn’t seem to matter what he said. His contempt for his voters
became so great that, as he put it, he could have shot someone on
Fifth Avenue and it would not have cost him a single vote. Indeed,
he began to bang on about the polls, his standing in the polls, and
what the polls were saying about his candidacy as if this were or
could ever be an adequate substitute for knowing how to govern a
country of over 300,000,000 people. And along with his standing in
the polls came the complaints about the primary process, about the
allocation of delegates at the GOP convention, about how the process
itself was “stacked” against him, about what his supporters would do
inside the convention if things did not go his way. The threat of
disunity did not serve him well with the GOP powerbrokers. But the
threat of disunity was a heady drink that his followers swallowed as
their addiction to him was fed once more.
It all worked. So now the public waits to see what sort of monster
will be born from this slouch toward Cleveland. Will it be more of
the same? Why would it not be when what has gone before has served
the interests of gaining the Presidency so very well?
And here is what you don’t want to read, here is what is going to
make you very angry, here is what will make you want to stop reading
this very moment although I hope you will not.
In the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is the Donald, just without
the insults and the ugly monikers.
His slogan is forgivable in that every campaign must have its
slogans. The plethora promises are less so.
Like Donald’s promises, Bernie’s promises hit his supporters
viscerally and they speak to his supporters’ greatest fears:
How will I pay my college debt? Why, public colleges and
universities will be free for all. No reference is made to the
actual question being asked. Your personal and present college debt?
Will the government pay for it, picking up the tab for the years you
spent becoming what you wished to become? No mention that I’m aware
of has been made of that.
What will be done about the outrageous cost of medical care? It
will be covered by the government.
What will be done about Wall Street? Legislation will be passed
to control excesses, despite that legislation already being in
What will be done about the obscene amount of money spent on
elections? Citizens United will be repealed by the Supreme Court.
What will be done about the reliance on fossil fuels? The
government will spend money to develop alternative sources of energy.
What will be done about ISIS? The candidate’s first act as
President will be to ask Congress to authorize military action in
the Middle East. (April 24 in an interview on national
Although the candidate has spent over 20 years in the Senate without
passing one significant piece of legislation, the answers to our
nation’s ills and to people’s fears, are right there within his
promises. Aren’t they?
As the primary season has rolled on and as Bernie Sanders’ route to
the nomination has narrowed, he has begun to indulge—as perhaps
anyone in his position would—in strategies that served Donald Trump
Now we hear references to “what the polls say” about his candidacy.
Now we hear his accusation that his opponent is not qualified to be
President. Now we hear how he has been treated unfairly by the
primary process. Now we hear the plan to persuade super delegates to
change their support to him either prior to the convention or on the
convention floor. Now we hear the subtle threat of what will happen
if he does not get the planks he wants onto the democratic platform.
Now we get to see what happens when a candidate places himself and
his ego above public interest.
I know you don’t like reading this. It is what I’ve believed for
many months now but what I have been reluctant to put in writing and
send out to people. Bernie is our Donald. He is better spoken (but
then, who could fail at that task?) but nearly from the first he has
done exactly what Donald has done. He has listed promises that he
cannot hope to fulfill and he has undermined the candidacy of his
opponent through the endless repetition of a list of accusations
against that candidate. In doing so in the interests of ego over
ethics, he has placed the nation into the perilous position in which
we find ourselves today.
I am sick at heart over all of this: on one side the ascendancy of a
demagogue in the person of Donald Trump who wears his
psychopathology like a badge of honor and on the other side the
self-righteous tearing down of the only person left standing who is
remotely qualified to be President of the United States.
Ultimately, I believe that we get what we deserve as a nation. The
person for whom we cast our vote makes a statement about who and
what we have become.
- Elizabeth George