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Monday, May 28, 2018

Stranger Than Fiction–Donald Trump Is ‘One Of Us’ And Time For The Left To Get Over It

Stretchy is member of a local Washington area sports club.  Fit, reasonably well-educated, assiduous, and regular.  Yet he is on the fringe, an outlier in a gym with a mixed demographic profile – young thirty-somethings in the early hours, retirees in mid-morning, ladies in the afternoon, and the rest in the evening, all well within the socio-economic and cultural profile of the region. 

Energy levels, commitment, and humor vary.  The young professionals have a lot at stake, and a trim, able body factors tens of additional thousands in contract negotiations, upward mobility, and public image.  Older men have equally as much at stake – keeping the wolf away from the door for a few more years and perhaps even a vague notion of male attractiveness despite the sags and wrinkles.

Then there is Stretchy, a man whose contortionist regimen, so circus-like and beyond the pale of anything the patrons of the gym have ever imagined, that he is a freak, an outlier, and a side-show curiosity. While gym members have been taught never to stare, they cannot take their eyes of this man who stretches every joint to its physical limits – hip joints beyond 180 degrees, lumbar, shoulder, and elbow joints past the breaking point, and neck vertebrae impossibly twisted.

Image result for contortionists circus side show

Besides the fact that Stretchy could be the circus freak show, a top dollar attraction, and a money maker for Barnum & Bailey, he remains at the gym.  Every day, rain or shine, he is there, on the monkey bars, twisting and pulling his joints as though he were willing them to come apart, wrenching his neck and head so far around that he might even look backwards, and fluttering his hands, wrists, and fingers to loosen them from their binding ligaments.  It is impossible to turn away, impossible to ignore him, and impossible to wonder who he is, what he is doing, and where he comes from.

There is speculation of course.  An odd reference here and there, but no one really knows Stretchy, nor his name.  Rumors are that he was a gymnast or a dancer, and even a circus performer; but nothing about him suggests such a past.  He speaks well.  No accent gives his origins away, no malapropisms his education.  For all intents and purposes he is one of us, a retired government employee, lawyer, or non-profit employee.

So to what can one attribute such an exaggerated behavior? Most patrons of the gym are there to keep reasonably limber, reasonably strong, and aerobically fit.  No one is ripped, perfectly proportioned, or trim and lean.  All are there to keep from deteriorating further rather than reach some ideal.

Image result for images old men at the gym

There can be no way that Stretchy’s routine can possibly help him in real life.  Such exaggeratedly attenuated ligaments and tendons cannot possibly help him in his work, around the house, or in the garden.  Nor has there been any proven correlation between extreme limberness and life expectancy or morbidity.

The man must be unbalanced, quirky, and socially unsettled.  He is not one of the majority but in the language of Freaks, ‘One of us’.  He belongs to a cadre of exceptional, unique, but peripheral individuals who are rarely noticed but when they are, gawked at for their eccentricities.  He is no different from other gym characters – ‘Death’, a grey, skeletal woman who drove the ellipticals to some hoped-for reprieve; Jabba the Hut, a ponderously obese man who overflowed the whirlpool, who had one elephantine leg (his surgery had been only partially successful) , the man who polished his balls, using a towel like a shoeshine strop, or the barking scarecrow, 70ish, neurasthenic, unbalanced, and hectoring.

But of course these men and women are not anomalies.  They exist in the thousands on the street.  They talk to themselves.  They walk in rectangles, twitch and jerk in corners, and wear beanies with propellers.  They are the unhinged, the off-program, the emotionally estranged, and the weird.

Image result for images crazy people on the street

Yet if we are honest, their ranks are not in the thousand but the millions.  In a country where most social fetters have been loosened, where anything goes, and where the unexpected has become the norm, then many of us are pedestrian versions of Stretchy, no where near as eccentric, but borderline, persons of tics and emotional twitches that have become so common as to be unnoticed.

Transvestites, drag queens, transgender, cross-dressing sexual mutants are not unusual or remarkable but points on a fluid gender spectrum.  What was formerly considered mental illness has been reclassified.  Bi-polarity has its upside, adding diversity to a uni-polar world.  Even schizophrenia, a horrible disease of distortion and unbelievable reality, is now considered part or the normal emotional range.  While schizophrenics might need medical help, they should never be marginalized, institutionalized, or rejected.  They are one of us.

To take this metaphor one step further, is there nothing amusing in ‘normal’ behavior?  The excesses to which we take politics, religion or social engagement?

How can one take totally, completely predictable behavior seriously? Is there nothing funny about someone who marches in every march for environmental justice, gender rights, economic and social equality? Who is persistent and daily in posts about injustice, climate ignorance, and racial discrimination? In whose family no offending word may be allowed – ‘stupid’, ‘dumb’, and ‘ugly’ are terms non grata, no aggressive behavior is tolerated, no unkind reflection permitted? For whom every possible social ill – climate change, the glass ceiling, misogyny, racism, sexism, and economic elitism – are products of American capitalism and must be fought and the Republic defended against rightist tyranny?

Image result for images climate change armageddon

Of course it is funny.  Any exaggerated behavior is funny.  Any move off the mark, any puncturing of the social bubble wrap, condemned.  Only the diffident, the indifferent, the unconcerned are serious cultural heroes.   The dispassionate, like cockroaches and raccoons, are the inheritors, the survivors.
Where does this leave Donald Trump?  There are those on the Left for whom the man is evil, a reincarnation of Hitler, Stalin, Genghis Khan, Garfield, and every carny barker, Elmer Gantry, charlatan, snake-oil salesman, and travelling Lothario that ever walked the earth. 

Yet what is new about Donald Trump?  Is he not the huckster, squire of beautiful women, magnate and owner of yachts, mansions, and things that we would like to be?  Is he not quintessentially American in his appetites, his braggadocio, and over-the-top personality?  Who can possibly judge Donald Trump who has ever been to Las Vegas or Hollywood; or who has ever set foot on Wall Street or the streets of New York?

Image result for images trump with miss connecticut

He is one of us.  We want everything he has.  We want to say what we think, elaborate the facts a la Sunset Boulevard, dismissively judge amateur talent and ridicule amateur intelligence.  We want his yachts, his women, his palaces, and his power. 

We want nothing to do with nor pay any attention to the wailings of his opponents.

Finally we have an American president, one of us.  Kennedy was an aristocrat from Downton Abbey, Clinton a horny dissimulator who refused to acknowledge his hillbilly roots, George Bush a down-home wannabee who misceginated his cowboy and patrician heritage, LBJ who, as much as he hated Camelot and Hyannisport, would always define himself as the not-Kennedy.   Trump is not Kennedy, Churchill, Roosevelt, or Reagan.  He is American – at heart, fundamentally, and absolutely.

Image result for images kennedy compound hyannis port

The tens of millions who voted for Donald Trump understand that he is a Man of the People more than any other president.  The Left, and especially the progressive Left cannot and will not accept that he is in the Oval Office; but in this rejection of his legitimacy have ignored what is really America and not their imagined vision.  Trump is bourgeois, crass, and unschooled.  He is a streetfighter, a hooligan, and a showman.  He is a gambler, a risk-taker, and an unabashed, in-your-face, cultural thief.  How can he possibly be President, progressives ask?  How could this sexist, racist, etc. etc. man have fooled so many?

He did not fool anyone.  Those who voted for him and those who almost did understood him completely and voted for him exactly because of who he was.   They are not disappointed, but requited.  Nothing he has done – no turnabouts, questionable relationships, friendships, or deals have turned them against him. 

Why? Because he is ‘one of us’ – forever outrageous, independent, defiant, unintimidated, and controversial.

Image result for images freaks movie

The Union is better off with Donald Trump than Obama, Hillary, or Bernie Sanders because he represents American values – not necessarily home, family, and faith, but patriotism, bourgeois taste, frontier justice, and Barnum and Bailey showmanship,

No special prosecutor, nor FBI, an no Congressional inquiries will change that.

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