Smell no evil

Harry Welty

“Make Trump!”

That was the command of the grade schoolboy who stuck his head out of a back window on his yellow school bus as I was scrambling over a big pile of snow. I had been trying to remember the sculptor’s advice about how cut an elephant out of block of marble, wood or snow. I wanted to conjure up a herd of them.

Since this was a young fellow I didn’t want to crush his dreams. I shouted back that, well, gosh, I’d already made Trump a couple times. The boy disappeared down fourth Street but he was not deterred. He drove by a couple days later. “Make Trump,” he shouted again. For the record Trump’s been perched on my front lawn twice since 2016. My yard still aches from those indignities.

At church last Sunday a couple ladies suggested it would be nice if something graced my snow pile that would take everyone’s mind off politics. I just couldn’t do it, however, I did try to disguise my elephants by planting them under red and green elf hats.

When I was that schoolboy’s age in 1960 my Republican family’s candidate was Vice President Richard Nixon. His Democratic challenger was heart throb, Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy. For a couple weeks at the beginning of the school year I taunted my next-door neighbor Becky. I assured her that Nixon was going to win. Becky’s family was hardcore Democrat. She calmy reciprocated, telling me Kennedy was going to win. When my prognostication fell on hard times I was chagrinned but that was the end of it. Until 1964 and 1968 and 1972.

Millennials and younger voters can’t remember a time when both political parties were more like a middle school dance with boys on one side of the gym and girls opposite them waiting for the call to change partners. In my junior high someone would call “Snowball” and innocents would find themselves pulled from the flanks onto the gym floor. Today partisans have all the grace and reserve of Soccer Hooligans. I feel for the kids who are just pulling for Mom and Dad’s candidate to win.

America has skirted disaster before in 1776, 1860, December 7th 1941, and the peace time Cold War. Joseph Stalin stole our nuclear technology forcing American children to practice duck and cover drills. That way, if a thermonuclear device detonated over their heads they would have a solid inch of desk-top over their heads to protect them.

And then there was 1968 which harked back to Barry McGuire’s 1965 anthem, “Eve of Destruction.” The Selective Service system cranked out my magic number 41. That made me Vietnam draft bait unless I went to college. It was a helluva year all round. MLK was shot at the Lorraine Hotel. Riots in black neighborhoods burned everywhere, George - Segregation’s my middle name - Wallace trooped northward looking for workers to support his presidential run. Richard Nixon saw his chance to win by making the catch phrase “law and order” sound ominous. And finally, baby boomers unwittingly helped Nixon by charging into Chicago where the Democratic nominating convention was being held. After more riots the Democratic party was shattered. Older folks thought America was going to hell in a hand basket. “Law and order” won. Now I’m older and it’s my turn to fret about our nation’s future. I find one aspect of today’s politics particularly troubling. Truth counts for nothing.

Not a single Republican congressman is expected to vote for Trump’s impeachment. That wasn’t true when Richard Nixon faced the Congress. Such party “unity” has never before occurred. It is “group think” not far removed from George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. How we’ve metastasized. We once honored George Washington for never telling a lie and Abraham Lincoln who was nicknamed “Honest Abe.” As for Donald Trump? He has a super power none of his predecessors had. The absolute power to defeat any “fellow” Republican with his army of “Lock her ups.”

I am inclined to think that Donald Trump doesn’t know any better. Perhaps his blindness is genetic. Perhaps it is the habit of a lifetime of fortune granting him his every whim. Maybe Mr. Trump is on the “spectrum.” A lot of our Presidents had a neurotic side. Lincoln was a depressive. Reagan was oddly remote even with his children. Nixon was strongly introverted. But Donald Trump is something else. His 12,000 boastful lies are at least the equivalent of Joseph Goebbels’s one big one. Surely 4 of every 10 Americans won’t keep their eyes, ears and mouths closed forever from evil. Or, for that matter, pinch their noses like a motorist passing a dead skunk.

Winston Churchill once said of us: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. I hope Trump voters stop pinching their trunks.

Harry Welty shoots his fingers off at; www.lincolndemocrat.com.