- 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
- 02. A Public Service
- 03. The 22% Solution
- 04. On The Campaign Trail
- 05. Athens of America
- 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
- 07. My Canadian Family
- 08. Edmonton? Why?
- 09. Prairie Singers
- 10. Deconstructing Calgary
- 11. My Kelowna
- 12. Wine Whine
- 13. Fire Mountain
- 14. A Stopover and a Popover
- 15. Inspiring Victoria
- 16. Planet Rosehip
- 17. Carry On Grunge
- 18. Street People
- 19. The Curse of Portland
- 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
- 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
- 22. Managing Yosemite
- 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
- 24. Parched
- 25. Brave New San Fran
- 26. Over The Hill
- 27. Greatest Again
On Tuesday the eighth of November in 2016 about seventy million Americans will vote for the next President of the United States. With that mandate, 22% of the population, the winner will celebrate long into the night, blathering about unity, promising to govern “for all Americans”. It will be the realization of a lifelong dream. It will go downhill from there.
When he sobers up, the President-elect will get his first security briefing. This entails that poor soul having a meeting with both the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA Director.
It’s a tough meeting for all involved.
Head spooks aren’t known for their witty repartee, and let’s face it, they aren’t particularly interested in full disclosure, either. Their preference would be to leave the victim of our electoral exuberance in the dark. At least one recent President agreed with them, providing a long list of things he didn’t want to know about. At that first meeting, though, somehow those scary people have got to figure out what the new president does and doesn’t want to know.
A curious President-elect might try to navigate the barrage of innocuous sounding euphemisms. Those “advanced conveyance devices” are not fast trains, “covert revelation manoeuvres” do not refer to Sunday’s sermon, and “plausibly unestablished happenings” probably means we got caught. Presumably, the euphemisms are intended make breaking the news easier. Well, easier than saying “President-elect, you know all that shit you couldn’t believe America could possibly do? Well, we did it.” The President-elect will leave the meeting with whiter hair, possibly masked by more dye.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about the USA, my native land, a land that I love, amongst others. Since moving to Australia eighteen years ago, I’ve found America increasingly difficult to write about. It’s not for a lack of things to say. On the contrary, I have said plenty, getting reactions from Americans which makes me hesitant to write them down. After four days with a dear friend in New York City she finally broke down, begging me “You’ve got to stop dumping on the US – I gotta live here, remember?” Point taken. New Yorkers are not known for an aversion to confrontation.
The sad thing is that I wasn’t even aware that I was dumping on the good ol’ U S of A. Perhaps I thought I was offering helpful insights to those too close to things to see what was really going on. Or maybe I thought that, as an American, I was allowed to dump on it, much as we gays are permitted to say “faggot” or blacks are allowed the use of “nigger”. Truth is, I don’t like it when gays say “faggot” or blacks say “nigger” – so I shouldn’t have expected my fellow Americans to take it on the chin with a smile, repeatedly. One runs out of other cheeks. Anyway, she was right. I need to be more selective and circumspect in my criticism of America.
Today I start a North American trip, eighteen days in the USA bisected by eighteen days in Canada. The weird thing is that only a month ago I spent two weeks in Boston and New York City. You see, my mom died about as unexpectedly as an eighty-nine year-old woman in a nursing home can unexpect. That trip was about as pleasant as a funeral trip can be. Indeed, it was healing in many respects — for me, certainly, but also for my family as a whole. I did not write about that trip, ostensibly out of respect, but in reality because I was a bit of a mess, psychologically. Dead moms do that.
It did not stop me from registering a whole new litany of helpful insights regarding the USA. This created something of a conundrum. How do I share these ideas without pissing off my audience? There’s little point in writing something that nobody ever reads.
These days I carry dual citizenship, but like it or not I remain American to my core. Eighteen years ago, in response to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract On America” that screamed “Love it or leave it”, I left it. Despite that, and much to my surprise, I have found little choice but to love it, too.
There is something to be said for “Love it and leave it.” Since The Great War (also known as “The war to make the world safe for democracy”, the “First World War”, “the war to end all wars”, “the war before Downton Abbey got insipid”), American soldiers have come home, worldly and wounded, with all sorts of pesky ideas and ailments, neither of which would have occurred to them if they had never left. Consistently, those ideas and ailments have proven to be an irritation to great swaths of America that didn’t want to know.
I do not presume to put myself in the same category as those unfortunate souls, but it is worth pointing out that most of them left America because they loved America, whether they knew it or not. Love is involuntary.
While I cannot lay claim to a soldier’s honour, I can lay claim to the ideas and ailments borne of years abroad. Which brings us back to my conundrum.
Amongst the great challenges that confront our American democracy is that no one in their right mind would want to be President. Many of questionable sanity, myself included, do not want to be President.
Even so, for many there is something irresistible about running for President. As I write this, there are twenty-five candidates for the Republican nomination. Every one of them is trying to convince a magical 22% of Americans that they are simpatico on how and why the USA is in a horrible state and headed in the wrong direction. Outraged malcontents throw money at them, and the more they complain about the horror of America’s current reality, the more money gets thrown.
Yet, nobody doubts their sincerity with which they dump on America. They draw throngs to their ranting speeches which are applauded wildly. Their diatribes, poorly written by half-wit ghosts, are published, getting tremendous exposure, finding their way onto the Best Sellers list.
I want some of that action!
Today I confirm that I am a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America.
Today I give America an honest choice, asserting here and now that if nominated I will not run, and if elected I will not serve. Let the message go forth from this time and place that I plan to give America a piece of my mind, which like that of our greatest statesmen is in short supply.
Tomorrow I take you on the campaign trail — with hope in my heart, irony in my soul, and indigestion in my stomach. We have nothing to eat but over-sized portions themselves.