Warning: define() expects at least 2 parameters, 1 given in /home/rrejr/public_html/wp-config.php on line 38
19 | September | 2017 | REnotated

Day 9:00 pm

  • Lorenzo the Clown Coach

    Lorenzo, the clown coach at my son’s circus camp in Germany, being an expert on all things orange headed and absurd, turned out to offer the most memorable insight into America’s current “political situation”.  The additional facts that Lorenzo was Italian and held a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Florence, completed his already unique credentials.  When I’ve traveled to Europe in the past, there is usually no shortage of opinions to be found about American politics from the people I encounter.  This past summer, however, things were noticeably different, because no one was saying very much at all.  Friends, acquaintances, and total strangers, who would normally have a lot to say about all things American and wouldn’t hesitate to share it, were suddenly mute.  Of course there was the jarring Stern magazine cover showing Trump making the Nazi salute, while draped in an American flag.  If someone saw that cover and made the salute themselves, they’d be arrested in Germany, but there it was on a German newsstand.  Excessively provocative, the cover screamed out everything that was being left unsaid and more.

    Having been prepared to discuss American politics, but not receiving any openings, I finally brought the topic up myself at an informal dinner.  But even then the responses were subdued, the comments and questions circumspect.  It felt like everyone was struggling with something they could not yet fully comprehend.  Or unable to say anything at all positive or hopeful, they remained on the edge of things.  I had raised the topic, but found myself embarking on a detailed discussion of the electoral college.  This was safer territory.  Even though everyone at the table seemed genuinely interested, prodding me with questions, it had the feel of a less threatening diversion.  I did my best to explain the technical aspects of how this all had happened, while avoiding the reality of why it actually did happen.

    After exhausting all I knew regarding the historical basis and current intricacies of the US electoral system, I leaned back in my chair and said, “Well, we’ll see what happens.”  As I leaned back, Lorenzo, the clown coach, took it as a sign to lean forward.  Then he asked, “You say that “you’ll see,” but what does that mean?”  He proceeded to tell me what he thought it might mean.  “It’s just like Berlusconi,” he said, “Trump will win again.”  Lorenzo wasn’t the first person to draw a comparison between Trump and Berlusconi, but since Lorenzo was Italian his comments had added credibility.  I was still trying to accept eight months of Trump, but Lorenzo was making a very compelling argument for eight years.  I think he sensed my denial.

    I had never quite understood the popularity of Berlusconi, but Lorenzo was educating me.  “It didn’t matter the corruption or what he did,” Lorenzo explained, “Berlusconi had his supporters and they loved him.”  The answer as to how any leader stays in power is simple, Lorenzo seemed to by saying, even if the deeper understanding is elusive.  Leaders stay in power, because they have enough supporters who love them – and continue to vote for them.  As much as it was somewhat of a shock, everything Lorenzo said had a straightforward logic.  It also doesn’t necessarily matter how outraged the opposition is.  In fact, the more outraged the better, because it reinforces division and disorientation.  By keeping everyone unbalanced, opposition is fragmented, disorganized, and can’t coalesce around a viable alternative.  A relatively small group of intensely loyal and highly motivated supports can be enough to retain power.

    I had been clinging to a belief that things would somehow correct themselves, but Lorenzo had laid out a more likely, if sobering, scenario.  A scenario based on facts, simply stated, even if those facts were difficult to accept.  It took a clown expert, well schooled in nonsense, to help me begin to see reality.  Trump got elected by winning the election.  It may have been by electoral votes and not the popular vote, that’s a quirk of the American system.  The fact is Trump won, because he had enough voters who supported him.  And he’ll win again unless someone emerges who can win more electoral votes.  A whole range of unpredictable things may ensue before the next election, but right now one very plausible scenario is that Trump wins reelection.  And his reelection in 2020 would be less of a surprise than his election was in 2016.  I’d like to say, “we’ll see,” but after my conversation with Lorenzo that now just sounds like denial.

    continue reading