Peter Cavanaugh

Free fall

By Peter Cavanaugh

It was the greatest political upset in American history.

We are in free fall.

I’m still reeling from the shock. As national returns started scrawling across the screen, it was like being nailed with a 2 X 4 right between my eyes, again and again. Even if I enjoyed that sort of thing, Election Night 2016 wasn’t any fun.

No one knows what Donald J. Trump is going to do, particularly Donald J. Trump. They say a chimp on a computer keyboard, given enough time and random opportunities, will eventually write “Romeo and Juliet” word for word. So the Trumpster does have a chance to make America white again. I mean right. I mean great.

In fact, I have one desperate fantasy. There does seem to be potentially persuasive evidence suggesting that Donald Trump is a savant.

The word savant is derived from the Latin “sapere,” meaning, “to be wise.” “Savant syndrome” is defined as a condition in which a person with a developmental disability, such as autism spectrum disorder, demonstrates profound capabilities far in excess of that which could be considered normal. Savants often exhibit highly functioning behavior combined with obsessive compulsions, simultaneously displaying pronounced deficits in social and language skills. I’m not making this up.

John Pero is my favorite area Tea Party person. He and I were congenially discussing the pending Trump presidency last Thursday night at Tom Wheeler’s town hall. I pointed out to John that I would have preferred Ted Cruz or any other clearly conservative leader to Trump purely for purposes of predictive clarity. I know where they stand. Trump?

The Donald’s past pronouncements on certain progressive issues sure sound like Bernie Sanders. Rebuilding our crumbing infrastructure? Expanding Social Security? Reforming an economic system that enables billionaires to not pay a penny in federal income tax? Retaining critical aspects of The Affordable Health Care Act? Renegotiating NAFTA and other trade deals unfairly balanced against U.S. interests? Ending any further pursuit of a Trans-Pacific Partnership? Count me in.

But then there are such items as lifting restrictions on fossil fuel production, canceling millions of dollars in payments for U.N. climate change programs, appointing new justices to the Supreme Court pledged to reverse Roe vs. Wade, deporting millions of “illegals,” banning Muslims from our shores, ignoring the plight of Syrian refugees victimized by terrorism, opening the door to Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition, repeatedly offering horrid examples of appropriate adult conduct to impressionable children and so on. Count me out.

Two old friends from Michigan were back in the news right before the election.

Far right Ted Nugent, with whom I worked dozens of times through the 60s and 70s as a rock concert promoter, introduced the Trumpster before a cheering throng of blue collar workers in Grand Rapids on the last night of the campaign. I watched incredulously as Trump wildly promised he would bring the auto industry back from overseas - or wherever - with “big league pay.” The crowd went wild.

Far left Michael Moore, whom I introduced to an unsuspecting public on WTAC’s “Radio Free Flint,” predicted Trump would win way back in August and vaulted to the top spot in iTunes sales that same evening with “Trumpland” - a film he tossed together at the last minute. Mike’s been back on all the network talk shows ever since. He says the Democratic Party and Hillary took far too much for granted, believing working class support for Secretary Clinton would be inherently automatic. This turned out to be a fatal miscalculation.

Even FBI Director James Comey’s unforgettable, unforgivable, blundering, thundering, utterly witless impact on the election would not have proved the fatal tipping point it was - were it not for deep seeds of discontent previously sown and inarticulately addressed.

Descend we now to a future uncertain and unforeseeable.

Consider the first two schizophrenic Twitter tweets of our president-elect less than 48 hours after the polls closed as he watched thousands upon thousands of protestors march spontaneously in dozens of cities against his ascension to prominence:

6:19 p.m.: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair.”

3:14 a.m.: “Love the fact that the small group of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud.”

In the immortal words of the late Jackie Gleason, “Away we go.”

How optimistic rang the words of the Rolling Stones in their classic anthem with which Trump closed his victory speech early Wednesday morning:

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes - you just might find - you get what you need.”

A trying time has begun.

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