Day 5: Ghost Dance of the Red Elephant, Magical Thinking by Rational Minds, Hell is High Water: a Red Tide

During the true seismic shifts of history, most historians not on LSD will agree on the trend of “crisis cults”. These are groups who, during a time of radical change, will offer their followers the relief of magical thinking. While the roots of these cults change, the seed of their illogical belief is always the same: we can return the world to the way it used to be.

The most dramatic example of this would be Wovoka, the prophet that lead the Native American Ghost Dance awakening. The belief that new religious practices would bring back the bison, drive White America out of their homeland, and make them immune to gunfire would be, very quickly, revealed as incorrect. Most notably this occurred at the massacre of Wounded Knee, where the U.S. Cavalry wasted no time in proving that a Colt dragoon is a match for any shirt- even if it is prayed over.

On the far side of the world, the Boxer Rebellion would play this exact drama out for themselves. With the comforting distance of history, we can look back and wonder how they could ever convince themselves that their rituals would protect them? That their beliefs were a match for technology?

Much and more has been said about the Trump crisis cult, and to be fair it seemed like the parallels were there. That with one rage filled election we could turn America back to a country that never really existed. The last Ghost Dance of the Red Elephant out on the plains of America.

Whether Trump will make good on his promises, no one knows, least of all his supporters. But what we do know is that we fired a Cavalry regiment’s worth of grapeshot logic into their ranks, and they were immune to the volleys. It did bounce off their shirts. The Magical Thinking was ours.

For nearly a decade, the death of the Republican Party has been predicted time and time again. What we forgot was that movements like the Tea Party, like the Nazis, like Nelson Mandela’s ANC always fail, time and time again, until the time is right. Change comes during times of uncertainty. We just forgot it could rise from those we saw as beneath us.

Now, the crushing weight of reality washes over us. All of our best thinking led to the coming Trump years. We are the ones standing on the dark plains of America, watching the wounded Red Elephant spew a cloud of red mist as it bellows from the depths of its squeezebox lungs. It charges now, and the rituals that we worshipped: national dialogue, honest debate, and common sense have abruptly evaporated. 

-Jack Delaney

Day 4: Chants from a Shattered Tribe, Screams in the Uncaring Void, The Long March to Nowhere

The news out of Los Angeles has been the same for three nights in a row. Hundreds arrested, night after night, in massive, violent “protests” downtown. I normally fall asleep to the low murmur of LAPD dispatchers on my pawn shop police scanner- but lately it’s just been calls for backup, screams for more handcuffs, and calling out the badge numbers of those who have “turned”.

The Thin Blue line seems close to crumbling these days, with cops sometimes simply going mad in the middle of the riot, and either aimlessly wandering onto the freeway, or really “going native” and handing over their cruisers and personal arsenals to protesters before wading into their own skirmish lines, fighting tirelessly until they can be tased or beaten into submission.

Today however, was the first organized “peaceful” protest, that was to start in MacArthur Park, and end in front of the Federal building downtown. Liberal marches always bring the freaks out of the woodwork, and this was no exception. Topless women, single fathers pulling wagons filled with children, and Chicano revolutionaries covered in Aztec tattoos marched side by side. Ten thousand showed all told, a massive show of force for a city so used to apathy and sitting in traffic.

A single question turned over in my mind as I broadcasted fake reports over the official channels, screaming that “the protestors had built a goddamn tank”. How many of these people voted? How many voted in the last midterm election? How many could articulate the actual policy change they were looking for? One protester blurted out to an abc7 camera “We made a huge mistake, and we won’t accept it!” It seemed to sum up the general message of the protests: anger, but also the calculated eschewing of responsibility.

The cops breathed an audible sigh of relief as we were corralled into the Third Street Tunnel. Protesters reveled as their chants grew to a deafening, feverish beat that rolled off the long dome above them. “Say it loud, say it clear: IMMIGRANTS ARE WELCOME HERE!”

And as the thousands chanted and congratulated themselves, I knew that we would never leave that tunnel: chanting to our own satisfaction in an echo chamber. Heard by no one above.

-Jack Delaney

Day 4: Electoral College and You

In modern times, the value of the electoral college began to be questioned in the aftermath of Bush v. Gore. The ensuing eight years did little to deter the increasing clamor for a direct popular vote. Now after another democratic loss in the electoral college but thin marginal victory in the popular vote. We must scroll past statuses, op-eds, and other think pieces on how America is robbed of it’s true voice.

They sound no different than Trump leading up to the election. The notion that voting is broken is wrong. The electoral college exists much like the Senate: as a population equalizer to ensure no one population center silences others nationally. The democrat’s strategy of focusing on urban centers and expecting the rural areas to not vote or just to repeat the votes of their fathers. As much as I read about liberals and progressives wanting to listen more. I still hear the same cracks about the small town across the city line whether in LA or Harrisburg. No one chooses to be poor, and poverty changes a person.

Back to the abolition of the electoral college. Can we imagine our democracy without it for a moment? Every vote is still being counted as I write this with Clinton expected to finish a few million a head or a percentage point of the total vote. While we wait a week as a nation for a final count. Nothing would matter because a vicious recount would commence immediately after. With campaign surrogates terrorizing the volunteers trying to do it right. Every election could end in the Supreme Court like 2000. In short, a direct vote would be time consuming and confrontational which in turn erodes faith in the institution.

I still sometimes forget for a minute the truth of Tuesday and when it comes back 60 seconds later I lose my breath for a moment. Yet, to fundamentally change our union or nation because we lost sets a dangerous precedent. What else will we sacrifice to avoid the hard truths that come with a democracy.

Much like climate change, Trump is an inconvenient truth that there is an America between New York and Los Angeles. They aren’t alive to be the butt of jokes and servants to the American elite, an increasingly entrenched class wishing to become an European aristocracy.  His support is not blind, they expect better jobs to come back nationwide and if he fails, we must be there to take their torch in 2018. To represent the wide electorate’s hopes and dreams. And when we do like in 2006 and 2008, we can achieve what is required.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 3: Hope of the Doomed, The Crack of a Coming Avalanche, Enticing Whispers from the Fringe

There is a kind of optimism on display that should rankle any Radical Centrist. As we wander through the nuclear fallout of the last election, unsure of how deadly the radiation exposure will be, some have already begun to offer “a bright side”.

The argument goes something like this. Yes, the election was poisonous and many things that would shock any semblance of a civilized society were said. But! Maybe the burden of actually ruling will change them. Perhaps they didn’t mean what they said.

It is always terrifying when the only hope to be found is that the realities of leadership will make ideologues into sensible people. But aside from the fear, we have to realize that the great conflict has already begun- in fact, it began 18 months ago and won’t stop for the next four years. We, as Americans, can not allow for a normalization of these politics. What the coasts thought would be a sharp rebuke and destruction to the great Red Elephant was, in fact, it’s miraculous resurrection.

This is not a call to prepare for the worst, but to remember that for every moment, from now until 2020, we have a duty as citizens to roll the fallen marble column of American discourse and rational politics up the long hill. The worst has already arrived. Vigilance, it seems, was not a priority for Liberals, and especially Centrists, who allowed ourselves to be swayed from the center to the far wings. It is our great task to lob rocks over the bridge onto the swerving cars of radicals from both ends of the spectrum, and rebuild a place where rational governing is understood as the upmost display of patriotism. This time, the coup came from the right, but that does not mean the pendulum will not swing the other way. We must never forget our sacred duty.

Woman outside Independence Hall: “Well, do we have a republic or a monarchy?”

Ben Franklin: “A republic madam. If you can keep it.”

-Jack Delaney

Day 3:Why 3rd Party is the Wrong Party

Elections are not a time to protest. One of the two major options wins and makes sense to choose which one stands more for you than the other. To say you only accept perfection because everything you do is in 100% alignment is entitled. Even if a third option won, they would be alone in the swamp. No helping hand to pull them from the muck.

The American Democrat and Republican parties are designed to function as a coalition in and of themselves. Rather than the parliamentary small parties forming coalitions after voting. When your ideals outweigh the reality that most aren’t as fringe as you are. Voting third party becomes the equivalent of taking the ball home after a playground scuffle. Forcing us all to live under our agreed worst option over minor policy disagreements for bills that haven’t even been read on the floor.

We have four years to build our coalitions and the platforms for which they stand. On Tuesday, we saw the new right coalesce and the dissolution of the democratic alliances. Amazingly despite the most leftist platform of any major candidate in our history Clinton wasn’t left enough to earn the vote of all progressives. Both libertarians and green party voters vote democrat given the realistic binary. Age wise the exit polls point 3rd party support to Millennials, many who stood for Bernie. They always said Bernie could beat Trump but Trump could best Hilary. They omitted it would be through their deliberate sabotage. Jill stein received 1% of the vote, the numerical version of the door prize. Yet her 1.2 million votes were the voting, we desperately looked for to flip MI, WI, PA, and FL. So many Americans respected the responsibility of living in a battleground state. It is incredibly sad to see the selfish entitlement of my generation burn the world around us. Now the deportations begin. The DREAMERS flee for the underground once again. Will they check papers in the university lecture halls?

The Supreme Court will be republican for possibly two generations. A president once upon a time nominated ideological opponents they respected. Garland fits in that decision. Now, we get Thomas 2.0. We had a shot and threw it away like Hamilton. One would think we would have learned from Nader. That the next generation of idealists would be more enlightened. That might be one lesson cyclically retaught. There is more to life than ideological lines. Each election, we are presented with two big visions. Two worlds to choose, the outcome and achievement of each is uncertain. Tempered or expanded by the legislature elected alongside the president. Forming a government for all citizens, not the armchair dictatorship of one’s own perception.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 2: A Call to Arms, The Gauntlet Thrown, Revolution of the Stupid, Days of Blind Rage

11/10/16

What enrages Liberals, and is the saving grace of modern Conservatives, is that voting is an emotional practice. For all the polling and statistics, people will not follow logic when the pen is hovering over the ballot. Because of this, the singular question that must be answered before every candidate’s campaign is “what is our narrative”?

The brilliance of Trump was to paint every institution, Republican or Democrat, as corrupt beyond saving, then mixing this message with one that has yet to fail any American politician: economic populism tinged (or soaked) with racism. A reality T.V. star speaking in the naked language of hate during the Days of Blind Rage.

The fault will, historically, lie with the Democrats. When warned of the brewing storm, they refused to believe, citing logic and numbers and every measure of reality they live by, shutting down the opposition with their labels of racism or bigotry. Liberals have always had a difficult time understanding the world beyond conversation and categories. They are at a natural advantage in conversation, and the Red Elephant knows this. This is why they cling to their guns with such ferocity. They are poor, and the object of scorn of every Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers viral video of the week. When Liberals shout that white straight men are the problem in society, it isn’t in a vacuum. The only comfort afforded to them is the democratization of violence, their only measure of power being the ability to choose between life and death at the pull of a trigger.

This is the natural advantage of the Red Elephant: it is forced into very real action when wounded. Once the constraints of truth are loosened, it’s emotions can run wild. And victory does not lie in the accepting of their candidate, but rather in stirring up hatred of the other. People will show up to vote if they feel threatened, no matter how insane their nominee is.

There was a candidate of fury, and a candidate of logic. The rest is now resigned to History, and we are all complicit.

No more.

-Jack Delaney

Day 2: Emperor’s New Clothes

Social Justice Warrior, Progressive, and a host of other self given titles to be inquired on upon meeting the remembered fill up our discussions these days. What do they mean now that the ascendancy of the left has been halted?

I was never a member of the new left even when I was anti-Bush. I do agree that we have a bigotry problem in America and that the evidence can be found in the excessive force of our police. Yet I don’t believe in censorship. I think that was the downfall of the new left: their scorched earth strategy that often consumed well meaning allies. Apparently we don’t all think the same.

As the new left publishes their think pieces, some recognize the folly of shaming and demonizing a group that still is the majority. The error in not making culture inclusive to use a term of theirs. Ideas and traditions from all cultures matter including rural white America. Reading the Hollywood trades, I see a mix of those who are going to continue the course but many hardcore leftists reckoning with the reality of echo chamber, they built. Recall Norman Lear and the variety of beliefs his characters held. All both gave and took punchlines. Media’s self-weaponization didn’t transform all culture as created a bubble to escape to. Trump didn’t need Hollywood endorsements, he already had the shine of the silver screen. A name and face broadcast into everyone’s homes for 40 years. His stances changed, but he never wavered from shooting straight from the hip.

Is diversity important?

Yes, but it is a range. Telling a suffering group that they don’t need opportunities and should be embarrassed and guilty doesn’t foster support or sympathy. There aren’t many redneck superheroes either. The poor white kid from the Ozark has more in common with a poor black kid from the Bronx than a white peer in Manhattan. Yet our culture pits the two against each other (Kenneth and Tracy from “30 Rock” is an exception). Simply writing off trump supporters as voting against their interest is patronizing and ignores their interest.

If we are to stop the Trump agenda and bring real economic change, we have to open the tent. Trump sold them a better yesterday we need to show them a better tomorrow for their descendants as well as ours. Small towns gave us the greatest nation in the world and now that nation must help them.

I hope that will be the lesson of this election that no group has a monopoly on culture or politics or morality. There is a very close split.

-E.C. Fiori