A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.
In polite New Albanian society, of the sort currently extinct, one must be eternally cognizant of protocol, so kindly excuse this brief thank you note.
Thanks for your invitation to join the anti-Trump opposition movement, as advertised daily by your posts on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
Your feelings are very much appreciated, although I must remind you that my personal antipathy to The Donald, and my disgust with just about everything he stands for, extends all the way back to the year 1988, if not earlier. I’m very proud of my credentials in this respect.
I respectfully note that while there are ample reasons to be disturbed by Trump and Trumpism, there are just as many doubts to be harbored about the presumed movement against him, which is characterized by some as “resistance,” though relying solely on an inchoate Democratic Party for leadership, augmented by frequent derogatory memes on Facebook, might prove in the end to be (shall we say) inadequate and perhaps even feeble as it pertains to direct action.
For this reason, seeing as the “resistance” to Trumpism as currently constituted (or not) is under an explicit obligation to identify itself, what it stands for and why, I eagerly await clarity about these parameters. Let me see what you’ve got, and then we can talk.
Until then, I’ll continue protesting the ongoing Gahanization of New Albany, which is the threatening kakistocracy closest to my front door. I’m older now, so please, one resistance at a time -- and get off my porch.
Your humble servant,
You never know who you’ll bump into deep in the heart of Luxury-R-Us, Jeff Gahan’s selectively scrubbed and branded downtown Nawbany, soon to be rid of affordable housing because Gahan cannot grasp who actually works in those State Street fast food joints he belchingly frequents.
It was a weird, rainy January day, and the Green Mouse was elegantly ensconced at a picnic table by City Square, under the ritzy big top, smoking a hand-rolled cigarette. Something was bothering me, and if anyone might know the answer, it was him, so I asked.
“Say, have you seen any Democrats around lately?”
His expression was pained. After furtive glances in both directions, he growled.
“Democrats? You mean around here, out on the street, in full view? In New Albany?
“You’re not from here, are you? That’s crazy talk. They barely show their faces when life’s normal.”
Together we watched as a Kentuckian ran the red light at Bank and Market. I persisted.
“But seriously, shouldn’t there be a local Democrat visible somewhere right about now? You know, a battlefield promotion -- someone to step forward and lead the troops after the platoon leaders all got mowed down by the Trump tsunami?”
The Green Mouse suddenly dissolved into mirth. He was laughing so hard that I feared for the health of the municipal-issue picnic table.
“A local Democrat do that, right here in New Albany? I never took you for a drug user.”
“It’s theoretically possible, isn’t it?”
“Right. It’s also theoretically possible that this gorgeous monument to shifting consumer dollars toward farmers residing far outside the city limits was built with no campaign finance kickbacks. It’s theoretically possible that Breakwind will accept a Section 8 voucher. It’s theoretically possible that Gahan’s human, and not a hologram.”
Well, I'm nothing if not stubborn.
“Okay, but shouldn’t someone be formulating the political game plan for coping with the Mighty Trumpolini?
“Duh -- of course someone should, but first you need to stop asking these stupid questions, as though you’ve forgotten who and where we are. Most of the Democrats in New Albany voted for Trump. The ones who didn’t are sitting obediently, like always, waiting for the Boy Wonder to tell them when to use the toilet.”
“But why would they do that? Adam Dickey’s lost more seats than any Democratic chairman in history.”
The Green Mouse nodded sagely.
“Funny as hell, isn’t it? Fact is, he’s out there with the rest of the chickens, their torsos rocking the gavotte while their severed heads are stacked like cordwood over by the storm water drain. He’s waiting for the Indiana Democrats to tell HIM what to do, and the Indiana Democrats are busy slicing their wrists and falling out of windows – first floor windows, but give ‘em an A for multiculturalism, seeing as defenestration’s not really a Hoosier concept.”
“I don’t understand.”
The Green Mouse’s butt landed in his empty coffee cup.
“They don’t, either. Local Democrats are exactly like that stupid meme, repeating the same action over and over, hoping it might turn out differently next time. Me, I’m flummoxed that Gahan hasn’t annexed the party outright – just call it the Anchor Party, and then he can get on with putting framed photos of himself on every mantle in every house, and also up by the flat screen at all the bars, just like back in the USSR. Boy, those were the days.”
A Tiger Truck rolled past. I spat, and the Green Mouse smiled.
“I almost forgot the latest gossip about our favorite greasy party chairman. Seems our kid wants to take on Ed Clere for House in 2018.”
“Huh? Adam the back-alley gray eminence, actually running in an election with real humans voting?”
“Yeah, I know. It’s like a surgeon operating on himself in the smoldering ruins of a train wreck, with no booze for anesthesia. Dickey had better hope his hands are steadier standing for office than they are driving the bus for others.”
“Could he really beat Clere?”
The Green Mouse just chuckled.
"Maybe he'll run against the ghost of Grooms instead. Then we’ll finally reach peak entertainment, a redevelopment commission Hamlet for the flood plain.”
We watched as David Duggins skulked into Quills for his daily latte.
“Shouldn’t he be at a Motel 6 somewhere in Sellersburg with his favorite inflatable TIF doll?”
A rant has been building, and I might as well let it out, so just know this.
If you intend to “resist” Trumpism by doubling down on behalf of the Democratic Party as it currently exists and operates on a daily basis right here in the real world, as opposed to Disney World, then you’re in for yet another apocalyptic shock, because the party requires gutting down to the foundations, and probably beyond.
Speaking personally, I don’t care. Both major parties can go to hell, and the Democrats might as well go first. If the Democratic Party disappears, perhaps something better can be built in its place. How can it be worse?
Our gutless right-wing local version of pretend-Democrats is on life support, and the chairman’s delusional cluelessness seems to have become institutionalized. The humane thing to do would be to euthanize the party, and start all over again.
It’s also time to consider a point that almost none of us are prepared for, including me. This is the element of risk sustained by the resistance during the course of the opposition.
Or, if you will, an occupation.
If you’ve studied history at all, you know that when the going gets tough, the majority usually remains seated atop its collective hands. Meanwhile, the minority resolving to openly act finds that standing up for what they believe requires some skin in the game.
It’s risky, and isn't always pretty, either. Demonstrators are beaten and jailed. Dissidents are harassed and lose their jobs. Neo-Nazis attack people in the street, and Soviets ship them off to the gulag. It’s precisely the sort of retaliation that blacks, union members and Native American pipeline opponents experience as a matter of course, although whites like me tend to think that we’re exempted – because “law.”
I’m guessing that precious few Americans have a clue about how painful this “resistance” might become. We’ve taken for granted inalienable rights and freedoms, and when these pipe dreams actually have existed outside our idealized and addled imaginations (again, mostly white), they have been gained through direct action -- agitation, peaceful protest, civil disobedience and at times, regrettably, bloody violence.
That’s history, plain and simple, and a better appreciation of history would at least be helpful, although you may or may not discover the most relevant bits on your iPhone.
Finally, it won’t be enough for the left-of-center resistance to be solely predicated on identity politics and social justice issues of the precise sort that Mayor Gahan routinely and insincerely barters to local Democrats who are sufficiently gullible to accept toothless Potemkin human rights lean-tos in exchange for looking the other way as Gahan’s increasingly self-serving and megalomaniacal “luxury” expenditures exit the rails.
Up and down the line, Democrats have fiddled past the carnage of neoliberal economic orthodoxy for far too long, and it helped bring us to this lamentably idiocratic juncture. Understand that what’s coming over the horizon is very much about economics, too. Capitalism didn’t “win,” and all those –ism frictions have never left us, although we may have left them.
Earlier today, I remarked to friends that there’s nothing like a room filled with annoyed citizens to produce remarkable levels of concentration on the part of local elected officials. Everything changes when humans act together, in concert, as opposed to separately, isolated from each other. I'm a cynic, but I haven't abandoned hope.
I’m trying my best here in Anchor Flats. If there is any time left over, I’ll help you with Trump.
January 5: ON THE AVENUES: Gahan's stadium arcadium kicks off a new year with hilarity, pathos and own goals.
December 29: ON THE AVENUES: The
December 22: ON THE AVENUES: For New Albany’s Person of the Year, the timeless words of Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”
December 15: ON THE AVENUES: Truth, lies, music, and a trick of the Christmas tale (2016).