When Donald Trump first came down that escalator in 2015, politics in America changed forever. Like him or not, believe he is truthful or not, think he brought Jesus back to the White House or makes Jesus vomit, whatever — it’s indisputable that politics, particularly at the top of the spectrum, changed forever for better or for worse.
Whether we are better off for America’s relatively new politics of personality over principles is not what I’m here to talk about … or type about in this instance. It’s here to stay, so I’m thinking about how we navigate these nasty waters.
One of the things many folks said they liked about Trump was, “He says whatever he wants and doesn’t care what people think.” I suspect Trump does care about what people think or he wouldn’t be constantly obsessed with everyone’s polling numbers. But I do think people were weary of politicians dancing around every subject while trying not to offend anyone in the process or lose a single vote.
I’ve even heard right-wingers say similar things about Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist from Vermont. While folks call him a “crazy commie” and such, I’ve heard some of those same folks like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson basically say they at least respect him for standing up for his principles and not trying to hide what he believes no matter what he thinks and no matter how revolting things like taxing the rich sound to right-wing ears.
Both Sanders and Trump have inspired others to begin speaking boldly and being themselves. Today, we now have folks like Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who when she saw Trump come down that escalator in 2015 Tweeted out, “What kind of demon-possessed stairs move by themselves?! I bet they’re powered by Jewish space lasers.”
Of course, some of the statements we’ve heard on the right from folks like MTG and Louie Gohmert and on the left from folks like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib could have been career-ending for politicians only years ago. Today, a little candid craziness just endears you to your base.
But where does that leave independents and folks in the middle? I’ll tell you where — with Jimmy Joe Fatzwaller, the Possum Holler native whom I’m nominating to run for president as an independent in 2024 against the Democrats’ likely ticket of Jimmy Carter/Dianne Feinstein and the GOP’s likely ticket of Trump/Gruden or Trump/Trump Jr. Jimmy Joe combines the age of today’s most prominent Democrats with the gall or today’s most popular Republicans and the audacity to be himself, like it or not. He’s the anti-politician candidate we’ve all come to expect these days.
Jimmy Joe ain’t going to any of the debates because he doesn’t like talking. And no more State of the Union speeches. “The state of the union is screwed, and everybody knows it. Ain’t no point beatin’ a dead horse and gettin’ applause for it. No debatin,’ either. I’ve got my opinion, and they got their wrong opinions.”
No more fancy state dinners with folks from other countries, either. “I don’t like foreign folks like Frenchies or Chinamen or Oregonians. And if you’re expectin’ champagne instead of Bud Light, we don’t need your fancy-shmancy self in my White House.”
Who’ll be the first lady? “Earlene Hayfield. Well, I don’t reckon she’s the first lady. More like the 47th.”
How about the campaign? “Well, I ain’t kissin’ no nasty babies or shaking folks’ hands. And I ain’t askin’ for nobody’s vote. My name’s on the ballot. Vote for me or don’t. I don’t give a …”
Sir, you can’t talk like that! You’re running for president. By the way, you’re gonna need a running mate. “Fine, then. I’ll run with Ol’ Smoke here.”
Sir, that’s a bulldog. “Yeah, well, ain’t nothin’ in the Constipation that says your VP has to be human. Besides, if my supporters get angry and storm the Capitol chantin’ ‘Hang Ol’ Smoke’, good luck gettin’ that noose around his neck. I can’t even get him to wear a collar.”