“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Arguably these are even worse times than the mid-19th century, when Charles Dickens wrote his “Tale of Two Cities.”
In the 21st century, we have effectively divided into two countries, separated by impenetrable fortifications. President Donald Trump heads up the hordes on the right. Those on the left are led by, well, actually they’re not really led by anyone. That’s a big part of their problem: All they really do is focus their utter contempt on Trump. He’s constantly making that easy for them.
With the latest legal setbacks for Trump and his cartel, the Trump enemies cling to the hope that he’ll somehow be run out of office. However, their mood darkens the moment they review their track record. Trump is, after all, president of the United States, a concept they couldn’t even fathom until he had pulled it off, leaving them in the dust of despair.
“How could this happen?” they wailed. Let us count the ways: For starters, there was the elitist candidate, Hilary Clinton, whose qualifications were so superior to Trump’s that it shouldn’t have been a contest for her, except she appeared to place herself so much higher — I believe “high and mighty” is the phrase — that she really couldn’t relate to the rabble below, the ones she called “deplorables.”
When the effete suffered the agony of defeat, they zoomed right into the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: Their first stop was denial, as in “This is just a bad dream.” When they woke up to realize that the nightmare was here to stay, they settled on anger. That lasted until their first latte of the morning-after. Then it was on to the bargaining stage, as in “I need to understand this, so it never happens again.” Unfortunately, they are not really that good at introspection, so when they desperately tried to relate to all those put off by their pretentiousness, they scurried to their Kindles and read “Hillbilly Elegy” so they could comprehend the motivations of the millions of Trumpsters.
After that, they felt that they had done all they needed to do to comprehend what makes the bourgeoisie tick. Then they returned to their safe spaces. By the way, “Hillbilly Elegy” is about a grossly dysfunctional Appalachian family. It had nothing to do with the mass of Americans who were so fed up and frightened that they voted for Donald Trump because he convinced them he was not part of the corrupt establishment.
Many of the anti-Trump forces are stuck in the depression phase. Other than their protest rallies, they sulk in their bubbles. They’ll never move to acceptance, the final stage.
The question is whether they’ll overcome their usual complacency and actually condescend to vote in November. If they do not and decide that Trump is in such trouble that control of Congress will be a cakewalk, they’ll get another pie in the face. Their dreams of rescue by Bob Mueller will be dashed. Donald Trump will stay in office. They, in short, will have blown it. To quote Charles Dickens one more time, “the spring of hope” will become “the winter of despair.”
(Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)
© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.