We have finally arrived, America. Arrived at the point our dear president has been leading us toward for nearly four years. Total chaos. I would call it perfect chaos, but I am not sure that chaos can be described as being “perfect.” Anyhow, we’re there. Remember Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Remember the Charge of the Light Brigade. Remember the Russian Revolution. Remember the Vietnam War. Remember the 1960 New York Mets. The contents of total chaos are never the same. It is like great art. You know it when you see it. I’m sure the majority of my fellow Americans see it now, though 40% are in the dark and will remain there forever.
Perhaps I should list the ingredients of our current witches’ brew of total chaos. Get them down on paper before more are added. The latest one is that fine old reliable elixir Law and Order. A favorite of Richard Nixon and many fine demagogues before him. A philosophy best expressed by his own contemporary Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago when he said: “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.” Even our own president could not have put it better. But he is taking it even farther than Nixon ever did. Taking it all the way into Mussolini territory with unidentified armed-to-the-teeth thugs in unmarked cars hauling people off to places unknown for reasons unknown. Would it be going too far to call these goons Trump’s Brown Shirts? He says he’s just doing it to restore order to certain big cites, all of which happen to be run by Democrats. That they should be requesting the assistance of his jackboots, but if they don’t, he’ll send them anyway. Is putting a flame to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights an impeachable offense? I’m sure Mitch McConnell would say “No,” though it might take him several thousand words to do so.
But that’s only the latest ingredient. The coronavirus has been around for six months now. To be fair Trump didn’t invent it. He just made it worse, infinitely worse. So bad that the richest nation in the world has done the most pathetic job in the world in combatting it. Countries that only have five cents to spend on healthcare for every one of our dollars are not just outpacing us but lapping us. Don’t blame the docs and nurses. They’re knocking themselves out. Sacrificing even their lives in our erratic, misbegotten, mismanaged, totally chaotic effort while Trump and his junk science Republican dumbbells toss more batwings and eyes of newt into the cauldron. The man who believes in bleach as medicine and whose latest half concession to pandemic prevention is carrying a mask in his pocket so he can show it to the world but not wear it is “totally” in command issuing bold orders every day. Open the schools! All students must be in classrooms or no cash from Uncle Sam! And besides, young people have strong immune systems. Wear masks! If you feel like it or they don’t inconvenience you. Open up the economy! I have a master plan to do it safely…somewhere. I’m the big chief! Except where it’s up to the states. Chaos!
Of course, one man can only create so much chaos. Trump has needed help all along to get us where we are today, and his faithful toadies of the Republican Party have been there to ably assist him in sowing chaos from the beginning. There to protect him from doing his constitutionally mandated duty to keep the Congress informed of his executive actions and policies. There to award a thundering “not guilty” of any impeachable offense. There to help him discredit and malign his many enemies. Some of his faithful may be getting a bit tired of fawning and bootlicking these days, but with an election just three months away they must keep at it. Beware the wrath of Trump! Toadies. Keep on groveling or you’ll lose your cushy jobs.
Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in states like Florida, Georgia, and Texas. It’s almost amusing to watch the governors of these states twist themselves into pretzels “explaining” their “policies,” which they change daily desperate to stay in tune with Trump’s witless meanderings. To watch them attack mayors and county executives on the front lines of the pandemic battle using proven tactics to fight it which might anger His Excellency. To listen to them spew out thousands of words that end up amounting to nothing in hopes of “touching all the bases.” Occasionally you can catch a flash of that “deer caught in the headlights” look on their faces. Stuttering and stammering, rambling, spouting nonsense, weaving one direction then the other. “Don’t blame me, Boss. I’m doin’ my duty. Please don’t blame me!” Profiles in cowardice. Fiddling around while their constituents die by the thousands…and they do nothing effective to prevent it. Amusing in a ghoulish way, almost laughable, but tragic. The very essence of chaos.
And that chaos, horrible as it is, is only going to get worse, for the next three months at least. Trump and his crew will surely find a few more poisons to add to their toxic brew. And even if the Democrats win, the chaos may continue to build. He has announced in advance that if he loses, he’ll bellow his usual “fake, fraud, rigged” and “may” refuse to leave. Perhaps he’ll summon his cronies to protect him. The best we can hope for is that some day we will reach the point where the only chaos we must deal with in America will not be self-created or self-magnified. I hope that day will come. But I do not think it will come soon, or without great effort.