Opinion » Maxed Out

Ignorance may be only option

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Out of, perhaps, an over-exaggerated sense of fair play, I offer this spoiler: If you've landed on this page expecting humour, satire, light-heartedness or limited insights into the goings on of Tiny Town, move along; nothing to read here.

With extreme reluctance, I'm going to mourn the death of a dear friend, an acquaintance I've known intimately and loved deeply since the day I was born. It was a relationship of chance, not choice, but it was a relationship that shaped the very person I became, at least until I put some distance between us and, well, started to become a different person.

Rest in peace, United States of America.

The USofA lives on as a hobbled body politic, not as an experiment in democratic ideals visualized by the founding fathers. The death blow came last November when over half of those paying attention watched in horror as the state-by-state vote tally — surrogate for the electoral vote, not the popular vote — crept up in favour of the eventual outcome. The epitome of U.S., democracy fell victim to the unseen hand of artful manipulation, the depth of which is only beginning to be told.

The coup de grace happens tomorrow (Jan. 20) when a vile, thin-skinned, amoral, misogynist, racist, hedonistic man places his hand on the Bible — which, if there is a God in heaven, will burst into flame — and takes the oath of office, an office he's done more to denigrate and deligitimize than any man who has even held it.

Unless you were raised by wolves or conscienceless gangsters, Donald Trump, the 45th President of the U.S., epitomizes everything your parents ever told you not to become when you grow up. In what's left of 1,100 words, I can't begin to even list his personality shortcomings and character flaws. He's a bully and has been since childhood. He's incurious, egotistical to the point of being unable to ever admit he was wrong, he's cheated every wife, business partner, investor, contractor, student and, yes, every voter who's ever been silly enough to believe anything he said or vote for him. His business record is an endless litany of failures and bankruptcies.

I feel physically ill thinking about him soiling the presidency and the White House. This is man who honours neither, who mocks everything greater than himself and whose only metrics of success are money and adoration. He's a man who has never conceived of a personal relationship with women that evolved beyond the centrefold of Playboy magazine. A man who believes fair play includes cheating, lying and deception.

He holds nothing sacred largely because nothing matters more than his own unrealistic image of himself. He's willing to gut the cornerstone first amendment right of a free press if that press doesn't print what he wants. His Minister of Propaganda, Newt — Contract on America — Gingrich, threatens to break the press because of the unverified story of Trump's golden showers with Russian prostitutes. Did it happen? Time will tell. Is it something the Russians can exploit and blackmail him with? Hell no. He'd brag about it and his supporters would enjoy their own vicarious fantasies.

But recall, this is the man largely responsible for the unverified, and unverifiable stories that the current president was not born in the U.S., as required by the Constitution.

Which brings us to the saddest part of this travesty. Whatever his shortcomings and failures were, Barack Obama was a class act. When the birthers blathered on and on about his Kenyan roots, he didn't get up and tweet in the middle of the night that they were losers. He rose above it. He stayed classy... to the end. His was the first presidency in my lifetime untainted by scandal, either personal or professional. He raised the bar for presidential behaviour, making it all the more nauseating to think of what's coming to follow him.

I am no longer a citizen of the U.S. It was a decision based partly on the deep roots I've grown in Canada over the past 37 years and partly on the administrative hassle and expense of retaining a status I realized I'd never again take advantage of. But the U.S. is still where I was born, raised, educated and, well, indoctrinated. I learned its history, studied civics in school, political science and law in university and had the opportunity to employ the guarantees embodied in the Bill of Rights as both a shield and a sword on behalf of clients when I was practicing.

I loved the country and much of what it stood for throughout its history. Part of me still does. But that love was chipped away by, among other things, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Bill Clinton's romps in the Oval Office, the cascading tragedies of the second Bush administration and now the seismic crumbling of my faith in the legitimacy of the presidency.

I stand with Rep. John Lewis in believing Trump's presidency is illegitimate. And I stand with the vast majority of the world who believe it will be a disaster.

Beginning tomorrow, many of those who voted for the man will begin to realize the true nature of the monster they've unleashed. There is no promise he made that he believes he has to keep. Just as the No. 1 Google search in the U.K. the morning after the Brexit vote was, "What is Brexit?" many of Trump's clueless supporters are only now discovering the reviled Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act, which, for the first time gave them access to healthcare, are the same thing and, surprise, they're about to head back to a time when America was great and they were uncovered.

They're only beginning to wonder how you can drain a swamp polluted with self-interest and dirty money by filling that swamp with self-interested millionaires and billionaires. They're witnessing a Republican congress willingly embracing slashing social programs while they cut taxes on the wealthiest citizens. And maybe one of these days, they'll wake up to realize their real enemy wasn't those badass immigrants they were told were keeping America from being great again.

I haven't had much to say about the U.S. election since November. It's not denial so much as it's disgust. I have done everything I can, as much as I can allow myself, to embrace the lifestyle best described by the cliché, ignorance is bliss. I've stopped watching the U.S. news on PBS. I've all but stopped reading the New York Times. I skip over any article in the Canadian or international press that has Trump in the headline. I find solace in the mountains and in this most comforting of winters.

And I suspect my isolation will get worse after tomorrow. Ain't bliss but it's better than that reality.

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