If our politics were novelized, we would throw the book across the room in frustration. Too implausible.
Here, without names, is a brief synopsis, for people who’ve been planning a trip to Mars or haven’t read a newspaper or watched TV news out of exasperation.
In 2016, a woman with baggage but vast government experience won the popular vote but lost the election because of a quirky thing called the Electoral College created to prevent direct election of a president by the people.
She lost to a bully and braggart, a real estate mogul who declared bankruptcy six times, was on his third wife, was alleged to have paid for sex with a porn star and a Playboy bunny, was sued by the federal government for racist policies in housing he owned and had never been elected to any previous public post.
The new president would be caught in 15,000 confirmable lies. Millions stopped caring about the truth as he repeatedly told them not to believe the news.
He alienated all the country’s most important allies and NATO, cozied up to the country’s major foe, Russia, and a host of dictators, tried to ban Muslims from entering the country, pulled the country out of two major treaties, separated immigrant children from their parents, arbitrarily ordered the assassination of another country’s popular general, routinely made racist and sexist remarks, thumbed his nose at Congress and was impeached for trying to bribe another country to help him win reelection.
He constantly broke promises such as an agreement to repair the broken immigration system. He refused to reveal his health records or tax returns. He normalized chaos. He and his family made millions from the office and charged American taxpayers millions of dollars for spending an inordinate amount of time at his golf courses. He gave the wealthy and corporations a big tax cut and did nothing about mass shootings. He started a trade war with China, destroying thousands of farm livelihoods.
He fired many of the competent scientists in government, weakened environmental regulations, hired and fired totally partisan incompetents and kept few promises such as repairing the nation’s crumbling and outmoded infrastructure. But he rode an economic recovery that had started before he took office. He also maintained an almost constant 40% popularity with his base, who were delighted at his outrageous tweets and disdain for the rule of law. He took a polarized country and divided it even further, causing many families to stop speaking to each other and coarsening public debate.
Vowing to stop him, the other party soon had 20 candidates vying to replace him. They included some billionaires, a self-declared democratic socialist who kept running despite a heart attack, a woman who wants to spend $22 trillion to replace the health care system but doesn’t know how to pay for it, a self-help guru, a man who wants to give every American family $1,000 a month, a 37-year-old mayor of a midsize city in Indiana, some governors, some senators and a former gaffe-prone vice president.
After seven debates, much of the country was left depressed and bored with those left standing.
The big issue at the last debate was not how to defeat the lawless and self-involved president, but whether or not the socialist had told the woman with the plan for everything that this country won’t elect a woman.
Next, the Senate begins an impeachment trial of the pugnacious president before Republican senators refuse to convict him (letting him declare himself “exonerated”).
Then, one of the nation’s most rural states, which ultimately will vote for said president, will hold “caucuses.” Iowans will gather in church basements and in neighbors’ living rooms and declare their support for the Democrat who most excites them or at least has convinced them he or she can defeat the exhausting president. The media will go wild and then that very night fly to a Very Small State.
Democrats in New Hampshire will then cast votes for their favorite candidate, likely to be either the woman with a plan for everything or the socialist, both from neighboring states.
The action then moves to South Carolina, where a majority of black voters are likely to vote for the former vice president. Oh yes, Nevada also comes up soon. And so on and so forth. It may be months before Democrats have a front-runner. Whether they unite around that person or not is questionable. But a New York billionaire, who is running but can’t get the party nomination, says he’ll help fund anyone to defeat the president, whom he loathes.
Meanwhile, said president will be raising millions of dollars for reelection, trying to win favors from foreign countries and regularly holding huge rallies to try to win the Electoral College again.
For certain, the FBI and CIA are convinced Russia again will interfere massively in the election, as all evidence proved it did in 2016, because nothing has been done to prevent it.
Unbelievable. No publisher would touch it.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.