Wednesday, November 9, 2016

a supposed conversation (a work of fiction)

It’s 8:41AM on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.  I’ve just finished my 8AM scrum call with the members of my dev team, where much of the conversation revolved around the election and almost no talk of work – and my cell phone rings.  It’s Dad, and it’s his every-4-year post-election morning call.  I settle back in my chair and take a nice long drink of my now lukewarm coffee.  This is gonna be good.

“Hey!  Somehow, I knew you’d call.” I answer.

“You didn’t really think I would miss this chat, did you?”, Dad says.  I can hear him smiling.

“So…..how long did you watch last night?  Was there much yelling at the TV?”, I ask knowing at least part of the answer.

“Not a lot of yelling.  Some hand wringing for sure.  I think I fell asleep right around the time Wisconsin went to Trump.  I still can’t believe that happened.” he says, flatly.

“Can’t believe what?  Wisconsin or Trump?” I ask.

“Well……both.”, he replies.

“You voted for Hillary, right?” I ask.

“Of course I did.  Did you vote for ‘The Donald’?” he asks.  He never refers to him as anything else, and he always votes straight Democrat ticket.

“Absolutely not.  That guy is a fool.  I actually voted for Johnson.”

“Well, I’m just glad you voted.  Weren’t you afraid of wasting your vote?” he asks, wryly.

“I gave that some thought.  I don’t look at it that way.  I’m just tired of the establishment, and I just cannot stand the thought of another Clinton.  I would have happily voted for Bernie.  If there was a Bush in the running, I couldn’t have voted for them, either.” I answer.

“That’s my boy.  Any vote isn’t a wasted vote.  I’m proud of ya.” he says.  Not the answer I expected.

“I’m really curious as to what you think happened here?” I ask.  I’m genuinely confused.

“That’s the real question now, isn’t it?  I think what we just saw was a replay of the 1948 Truman and Dewey election.  The press was so sure that Dewey was gonna win, they all but called it for him before the vote was cast.  You’ve seen that famous picture of the Chicago Daily Tribune, right?  I remember that really well.  My dad brought one of those papers home.” he says.  I’ve heard that story so many times.

“I have seen that picture many, many times.” I reply.  “I have never understood how the Tribune could have made that prediction.  Didn’t it take a long time to get election results back then?” I ask.

“It did, but that apparently didn’t matter to them.  Remember that Chicago wasn’t exactly the bastion of political reality back then.” he replies, laughing.

“I’m curious as to what Grandma and Grandpa’s reaction was to that headline.  Were they happy about who actually won?” I ask.

“They weren’t exactly happy and they weren’t exactly sad.  The whole country was still very much for anything having to do with FDR, and Dewey’s campaign seemed to not be very in touch with that.  I think my folks were more worried about Dewey being out of touch than they were about Harry.” he replied.  That makes sense, knowing my grandparents.  They were die-hard Democrats.

“So, where did the Dems go wrong?” I ask.

“It’s probably a bunch of things.  My guess would be that they tried to force a candidate that no one was really terribly interested in.  She was perfectly capable of doing the job, and would have done a great job, but after that news came out that the DNC kind of railroaded Bernie, it seems like they lost steam.” he says.

“Would you have voted for Bernie?” I ask.

“If he were the candidate, I would have.  I voted for Hillary in the primaries.  I don’t think Bernie could have won, though.  He was too old.” he says.

“Yeah, but wasn’t Reagan older?” I ask.

“I honestly don’t remember who was older, but the Democrats have had a habit of always wanting someone younger since JFK.” he says.  “Besides, you’re asking about a Republican.  I can’t answer that because I don’t think that way.  Those people are crazy.” he says.

“Nice.” I say.

“But, seriously, I don’t think that Bernie was electable, but not just because of age.  I think his ideas are not really in keeping with the rest of the people he’d need to be working with.” he continued.

“I agree with that, unfortunately.” I answer.  “I gave that some thought.  If the Dems didn’t field Hillary, who would you rather they have fielded?”

“The fielded the right candidate.” he answered.

“So what went wrong?  Why did this happen then?  No one saw this coming.” I ask.

“I really think what we saw last night was more of a rejection election than anything else.  Hillary has made a couple of major mistakes like the email thing and her handling of Benghazi.  I don’t think she did anything illegal on either of those, but the way she handled it wasn’t very good.  She always seemed to appear above it all to me.  I think the American people saw that, too.  And then there’s the problem with the Mid-West.  She didn’t do well in most of it.” he says.

“Yeah.  I know.  It always seems like the Dems ignore fly-over country, but Barry did that, too, and still won over Romney last time.” I say.

“I really wish you wouldn’t call him ‘Barry’.  It sounds disrespectful.” he says, admonishing me.

“I just call ‘em like I see ‘em.” I reply.

“Mr. Obama has done some great things for this country, you know.” he says.  He’s angry.

“Name one thing.” I say.

“Obamacare is a great thing.  He’s gotten your children insurance.  He’s gotten the economy back on track after George ruined it for everybody.  He’s united his party during a very difficult time, and he’s made a lot headway in getting moderates a voice in the government.” he says, flatly.

“I don’t see it that way.  Obamacare is nothing more than a tax being paid by people who can’t afford it in the first place.  And the economy didn’t tank because of W.  It tanked because there were a lot of greedy bankers in this country that made bad loans, and everything tipped over.” I retort.  I hate it when he brings this up.

“Yeah, but it happend on George’s watch and he didn’t do enough to stop it when it did.” he replies.

“He was working with an all Democrat House and Senate.  And, as you like to point out, that’s where the money is.” I spat out.

“Whatever you say.  All I know is that we’re in a better place for Mr. Obama than we were before he was elected.”

“Are we?  The Dems just cratered, Dad.  Did you forget?” I reply.

“No, I didn’t forget.  Do you want to hear what I think happened last night, or do you want to try and teach me history?” he asks.

“I do want to hear what you think.” I say, backing off.

“So, you know the farmers.  They always think no one cares, and they are always just about to go out of business, right?” he asks.

“Yep.  I know that well.”  I reply.  I’ve heard this first-hand since a lot of my family are farmers.

“They are always looking to blame someone for that, and the US Government has always been a favorite target.” he replies.

“But what is different this time?  They blamed ‘Mr. Obama’, too.” I say.  I have my fingers up in the air doing air quotes.

“I think what they did was to more actively vote against Hillary instead of voting for The Donald.”

“That seems like an over-simplification to me, Dad.” I reply.

“I think it’s really that simple.  You have a better idea?” he asks.

“I really don’t.” I say.

My coffee is now ice cold.  Great.

“Ok, I have another question.  What do you think is going to happen with a president named ‘Trump’”?  I’m baiting him.

“Absolutely nothing.” he says.  That surprises me.

“Why do you say that?” I ask, confused.

“Because The Donald has made way too many enemies.  No one is going to help him do anything.” he says.

“Yeah, but the Congress is all Republican.” I say.

“He’s made way too many enemies there, too.  Remember him holding up Mr. Graham’s phone number during the campaign?” he says.

“I don’t.” I say.  I didn’t pay much attention to Trump during the campaign.

“Well, he did.  That was pretty low, and he made the whole campaign very personal.” he says.

“Oh, and Hillary didn’t?” I ask.  Wait- am I defending The Donald?

“No, she did, too.  In fact, that’s probably the single biggest thing she did wrong.  She should have ignored him and let him dig his own hole.” he says.

“So you’re saying that he won’t get anything done, then.” I say.

“Not much, I think.  He’s gonna have a heckuva time getting anyone to do anything he says.”

“What about executive orders?  Can’t he do that?” I ask.

“Those are very much double-edged swords.  The rest of the government really doesn’t like it when the President does that, regardless of their party.  They want to have a say in things, and if they don’t get it, they pout.” he says.

“Yeah, but he can still do it.”

“And, when he does, it makes it that much harder for him to push through real legislation.  Every time he does that, he makes himself a target by the powers that can impeach him, too- and you just know that they’re just looking for a reason to do that.  Constantly embarrassing people like that is not a good thing.” he says.  That makes sense to me.

“What about things like gay rights, illegal aliens, the Wall and mass deportations?” I ask.

“Those are things that could happen, actually.  He could sign an executive order to do some of those things, but the problem is that he won’t be able to sustain it.” he says.

“How’s that?  If he writes the order, they have to do it, right?” I ask.

“They do and they don’t.  He can start things moving in a direction, but someone has to pay for it.  That’s where the Congress comes in.” he says.

“Yep.  And they’re all Republicans.  That’ll be easy.” I reply.

“Not so fast, junior.  There’s an election coming in 2 years for House seats, and a lot of folks are really, really nervous about keeping their jobs right now.  If they think that supporting The Donald is going to cost them votes and their job, they’re going to think about making that decision at least twice.  And, once he doesn’t get his way on an executive order, that makes it easier and easier for people to refuse him when he issues more of those orders.” he says.

Holy hell.  He’s right.

“So, what you’re saying is that he’s going in as a 4-year lame duck?”

“Not exactly that, but pretty much.” he says.

“So what worries you about him?” I ask.

“His mouth.  He has no filter and he doesn’t act like a President should.” he says.

“And, that’s all?” I ask.

“Ha!  Hardly.  The man is a walking hormone.  He can’t keep anything to himself!” he says.

“Isn’t that the same thing as ‘his mouth’ being the problem?”

“Maybe.  Yes.  No.  Er…..I guess.  All I know is that I’m pretty sure he’s going to say something terrible to someone important, and that’s not going to go well for anybody.” he says.

“At last!  Something you and I agree on!” I exclaim.

“I dunno.  Mr. Johnson said some things that made me cringe on an almost daily basis.” he says.

“And he was a Democrat.” I answer.

“Barely!” he says.

“So, do you think we’re going to get 4 or 8 years of Trump?” I ask.

“No one knows the answer to that, but I’ll be surprised if he makes it 4 years.  I’m way more interested in Mr. Pence than The Donald.  I think we’re gonna need to know a lot more about him.” he says.  He can call the VP by name, but not Trump.  Funny.

“You think it’s likely that he’ll get impeached?” I ask.

“Pence?  No.  I meant The Donald.” he says.

“I know what you meant.  You think Trump will be impeached?” I ask.

“I think we might see it happen, actually.  It’s really, really hard to do, but The Donald does seem to be someone who will motivate people.” he says.

“That’s funny.” I reply.

“Not really if you think about it.  When Johnson was impeached back in the 1800’s, it was very messy and ended up being something of a joke because it was toothless.”

“And Johnson was never removed from office, either.” I reply.

“Nope.  In the end, they just couldn’t get it together, and we ended up with Grant because he was a war hero and not much other than that.  And, he was an absolute abysmal choice.  He spent most of his time in office drunk, and got nothing done.” he says.

“Kind of like Trump?” I ask.

“Worse.  Grant did things like perpetuate the Indian Wars and had a lot of people killed as a result.  I don’t see The Donald doing that.” he says.

“I don’t either.  At least I hope not.” I say.

“Nah.  Even The Donald is not that stupid.  At least I don’t think so.  There’s too many other things that would get in the way of that like the ACLU.” he says.

“Ah, yes.  The Anti-Christian Luciferian Union.” I say.

“Yeah.  Right.  At least I know where you stand on that.” he says.

“I’ve made no secret of that.” I reply.  “So where does this leave us, then?” I ask.

“We’ll just have to see.  All I know is that we’ll survive this.  It’s gonna be interesting, that’s for sure.” he says.

“Yeah.  We agree on that.” I say.  Its now after 9.

“Dad, I gotta scoot.  Thanks for the talk.” I say.

“Anytime.  Bye-bye.”

“Bye, Dad.  I love ya, even if you are a Commie.”

“I love you, too.  In spite of you actually being a Republican and you just don’t want to admit it.”

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