by Willem Lange
EAST MONTPELIER – I’ve been away for a few days, and haven’t been keeping up with my email as diligently as I normally do. But when I did check it finally, just today, imagine my surprise when I discovered that in my absence I’ve been transformed from a quiet elderly widower, main-line churchgoer, and casual Democrat, into one of the closest, staunchest, most faithful supporters of the recent past President and his lovely immediate family. It’s been a fascinating experience.
It apparently started last week, the last week in August during the run-up to Labor Day. I can’t tell yet whether it was the brainstorm of a zealous, but not over-bright minion on the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee (hereinafter JFC), or the creation of a mischievous algorithm in a bank of artificial intelligence, or whether the JFC is targeting registered voters in their eighties, or whether it’s just emailing the whole state of Vermont, willy-nilly. In any case, its message has plopped into my inbox several times a day; and I’ll tell you what: It’s made me a new man, almost.
I’ve spent many decades till now considering myself a patriot. Not one of those pissed-off open-shirted Mel Gibson types, or even a guy in an Uncle Sam suit throwing candy to kids watching a parade. Just a voter, a taxpayer, and a fairly astute judge of character of the candidates for political office; a union member; a grateful beneficiary of at least two beautiful socialist programs, Social Security and Medicare; someone who knows that, as the song goes, you can’t always get what you want. Ready also, if needed, to answer his country’s call.
Clearly, I’ve been missing something important. Like, for example, the destruction of the United States. And it started a while ago. Here’s a quote the JFC sent me from August of 2020: “…as long as I’m president, we will never waiver [sic. “Waiver” is probably more familiar to Mr. Trump than “waver,” and just slipped out.] in our undying loyalty to the American worker and to our country as a whole.” The decline is clearly more advanced now than ever, because the tone of the week’s tributes grew frantic as the Pennsylvania rally approached. I can’t begin to imitate the pyrotechnics of this appeal: “Friend, DID YOU SEE MY LAST MESSAGE? On Saturday, I will be taking the stage in PENNSYLVANIA….I want to show you just how much your loyalty means to me, so I have something special for you. (This is ONLY for you, Friend.) DURING MY RALLY ON SATURDAY, I WANT YOUR NAME DISPLAYED LIVE FOR THE ENTIRE NATION TO SEE….All you have to do is contribute $50 or more by 11:59 PM TONIGHT…”
There follow several more irresistible appeals, from Donald, Jr., Eric, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump, all of which moved me nearly to tears: I was reaching impulsively for my Venmo app and wondering where in the house I’d hang the autographed photograph of Himself, when a random thought fluttered across my consciousness: Wait a minute! This guy’s a billionaire, right? So why does every single appeal from what’s called Team Trump start with a warning that we’re going down the tubes of history; that any criticism of or action against him by any agencies is a witch hunt; that if we remain his loyal supporters, our ten-to-fifty-dollar donations will . . . that’s never quite clear, let alone where the money goes. What these billionaires and their scions need (and if I thought they’d use them, I’d find some way to get them) is a set of matching, personalized tin cups so they could stand on various street corners of our disintegrating nation panhandling honestly for a change.
Meanwhile. however, inspired by the constant references to my stalwart support and patriotism (this came in just this minute) “Friend, when the Left comes after President Trump, they’re really coming after YOU. This is your ONLY chance to STAND WITH US!” I decided to join the patriots. I called my local pickup truck dealer. How much for a really big honkin’ truck with loud vertical stacks behind the cab that belch black smoke, and flag-mounting sockets at the rear of the bed? The salesman checked to make sure I was serious, and quoted me a price. Hmm. I decided that being a quiet, subdued old patriot up in the woods at the end of a long driveway isn’t too bad a life. I just feel bad for the folks who believe that claptrap, get sucked in, and can’t get out.