It is nearing time to choose a path; do we continue down the current rabbit hole of what columnist David Brooks has called “performative narcissism,” or do we reach back to the values that actually made America great and reengage with each other by demanding honesty, humility and decency? The top of the presidential candidate card for both parties—Trump, Biden and Bernie—appear to be mired in Brooks’ performative narcissism. To be fair, Trump is in a league of his own; I suspect that in the coming years his name will be attached to many newly-named psychoses in medical journals than it may appear on shiny new buildings around the world. Trumpicism may become shorthand for malignant narcissism. Orange skin tone and Aqua Net shellacked hair swirls may prompt calls for an exorcist. Still, the front-runner Democrats offer little more than slightly milder narcissism and, at times, just as much scapegoating and demagoguing, not to mention inappropriate shoulder rubs. Instead of Mexicans as an existential threat, it’s Wall Street. Instead of porn stars slapping ass with a rolled-up Forbes, it’s too close—much too close—hair sniffing. Perhaps old white guys should simply go home and stay there. Patriarchy has become about as welcome as a houseguest who really thought you meant it when you said, “Stay as long as you want.” As a relative newcomer to the old-white-guy demographic, I am totally cool with banishment. At some point, you just have to go fishing and be happy that John Coltrane is available on Amazon music. Plus, you can sleep in later. (If only I could.)
Spring is, however, upon us, and green sprouts are beginning to appear among the younger set of political prospects. Who would have expected that a gay mayor of a mid-western town would rise in a just a few weeks to be third among Democratic presidential hopefuls? But, besides being gay and from South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg is wicked smart and conveys an honest sense of humility with an apparent addiction to solving problems that face those of us outside the top one percent. Whipping the evangelical avatar Mike Pence with lessons from Jesus was a smack-down long overdue. Who knew such a person existed in today’s political arena? Running South Bend may not qualify him to manage an ageing superpower, but his intellect and disposition will, no doubt, send his star soaring well beyond the Hoosier state. Stacey Abrams also catches my ear; when she speaks, listening is a pleasure. Like Mayor Pete, her brain exceeds the collective intellect of the entire Trumplican caucus. In three sentences, she defined the entire game in 2020: “Winning does not mean beating Trump. It means winning America. That’s our mission.” I don’t know if or what she may run for next, but Dems had damn well better start listening to her or Trump, like Netanyahu earlier this month, will be headed for another term.
Happy spring my friends. Now, it’s time to go re-org the flybox.