Fifth Avenue

“You know what else they say about my people?” he shouted in Sioux City, Iowa, on a cold morning in January 2016. “The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like incredible.”

Man alive, can he read a room.

I was working on a piece about this quote before the impeachment circus began (part of my essay hinged on Pelosi’s Reluctance), but my main point was going to be this: He’s right. He may be the most prescient dipshit in the country, and your friends and mine shoved him headlong into unrelenting power. Now, to borrow his lyrical verbiage, “we’ll see what happens” with this House inquiry, but nothing that comes out of the investigation(s) can tamp down the hatred and the ignorance foaming at the seams of reality in America.

You can see it everywhere. The anxiety. The teeth-gnashing isolation. It’s obvious that we’re less connected than ever before—digital technology ain’t helping—and now this! This regime!

And it’s not always there on the surface, no, but it’s always there, somewhere, behind their eyes or underneath their mislaid dreams. I don’t think this moment in history is that much worse than many others, ontologically, but the way we relate to one another—well, ding, ding, ding! That’s where the experiment’s gone off the rails.

Right now, though? If I were to sit with my thoughts and think about what’s to come? I’m less concerned with the international mafioso bullshit in the White House than I am with the clear-cut development of concentration camps, tear gas at the border, malicious attacks on the press and the First Amendment, the sell-off of public lands, the idiotic us-vs.-them rhetoric that punctuates every tweet and every news segment and every conversation about politics in 2019—but, hey, call me a purist. I know lots of people who voted for this, and I don’t mean *him* explicitly. I’ll spell it out: I know lots of people who may not be overtly willing to trap a Honduran child in a cage themselves—but they’ll pay someone time-and-a-half to do it for them. They may not say the words that you’re not supposed to say in public, but they sure do get all rosy-cheeked and hard in their khakis when a rich man on television says them. They wouldn’t shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York—no, sir!—but they’ve got their guns at home, their little fantasy objects, their projections of who they want to be, all nestled in desk drawers and bedroom closets. Might makes right! A big strong American man! Blood on the walls. Annihilation of something-that’s-not-me. No, they wouldn’t shoot someone! But if he did it for them… If it just sort of happened, say, in the natural course of events…

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