It was the best of years; it was the worst of years. Let me be less equivocal: 2015 predominantly sucked. Despite precious few mixed blessings and curses, it previewed hell on Earth — if hell is the impossibility of reason. If 2015 had a gravesite, I would set a box of wine on its tombstone, then drink, riverdance and pee until I collapse. This is my gleeful ritual when someone I revile expires. Chances are I’ve warned them, following some hideous abomination, “I shall riverdance and urinate on your grave.”
It’s amusingly ambiguous enough to elicit a chuckle — even though I’m dead serious.
Discerning offenders recognize it as a pseudo-clever way of saying, “I’ll see you in the hell that pre-exists the Earthly blast furnace we’re creating via climate change.”
The most hostile response came from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who replied, “We will bury you.”
Instead, I buried him in 1971 — 43 years before the blitzkrieg of Donald Trump.
I didn’t care for Khrushchev’s politics (he was a Communist Party pioneer), but candidate Trump is peddling a more toxic tea flavored with fascism. Alarmingly, his core supporters celebrate the same slurs that tend to nauseate intellectuals. Trump’s bombast and bravado resonate with white Americans who feel disempowered and bullied. While the war on political correctness may seem benignly edgy, it ridicules common courtesies that equally respect the dignity and worth of every person. At a time when partisan aggression divides and disables the nation, Trump champions trash talking. And why not? It’s the mother tongue of angry, fearful, desperate players in Trump’s simplistic, extremist kingdom of good and evil, winners and losers, huge disasters, smashing successes and nothing in moderation. It’s a world that only simple minds can inhabit. And every solution to every problem is a no-brainer as long as Mr. Trump gets to manage your fairy tale with the magic wand of the presidency.
If that sounds too good to be true, it’s probably delusional.
But Trump, a master of illusion, knows what he’s doing. In an Aug. 31 New Yorker offering, “The Fearful and the Frustrated,” Evan Osnos wrote, “Trump takes an expansive view of reality. ‘I play to people’s fantasies’ he writes in ‘The Art of the Deal,’ his 1987 memoir. ‘I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.’”
The Republican establishment is duly petrified. It was widely reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky pre-approved South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s smackdown of Trump in her response to President Barack Obama’s “State of the Union” address. Forces are aligned to take Trump out, but his threat to go commando as an independent if the GOP doesn’t treat him fairly raises the alarms. Pollster Frank Luntz found that Republicans would leave the reservation to vote for Trump.
I would feel fine about the end of the GOP as we know it if I didn’t believe a robust two-party system helps reduce the absolute corruption that inevitably stigmatizes political monopolies.
That’s precisely why Kentucky Republicans should be careful what they wish for when, on election night, Gov.-elect Matt Bevin led a rabid crowd in cheers of “flip the House.”
With two executive appointments and two party defections, the 100-member House has lost four Democrats, thus narrowing the split to a razor-thin 50 to 46, with two special elections scheduled for March.
A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Jeff Hoover, a Jamestown Republican, hinted at a historic Monday surprise, stoking speculation of more intrigue. The prevailing theory was that a few Democrats would retain their party affiliation but would caucus and vote with the Republican minority.
That scenario didn‘t materialize, but all the drama prompted House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, to highlight his own take on history: the continuation of Hoover’s unprecedented tenure as minority leader.
Staggering stakes hang in that balance — notably the speaker’s gavel and all House committee chairmanships. The continuing clamor for control of the chamber and the flow of bills to and from the Republican Senate bodes ill for the kinds of bold measures necessary to meaningfully address Kentucky’s pension crises and antiquated, loophole-ridden tax code. The massive unfunded liabilities in retirement funds coupled with deficient revenues foreshadows a rancorous session defined largely by struggles for finite funds and political posting in advance of another cliffhanger election in November.
May peace and good will trump anger and fear.