The Campaign I’d Like to See Unfold in 2020
Donald Trump reminds me of the Mule, a character in Isaac Asimov’s original Foundation trilogy. The Mule was a mutant with fearsome powers of psychic manipulation, who took over the entire human-colonized universe. Having been shunned and ridiculed as a freak during his formative years, the Mule was cruel, angry, and vindictive. He enjoyed inflicting pain, particularly on anyone who tried to oppose him.
The Mule was not overthrown, but he was ultimately converted by special agents of the “Second Foundation,” who ambushed him in a moment of psychic unguardedness (which they’d ingeniously set up), and reset his emotional dial (so to speak) to compassion, contentedness, ease with himself, and gratitude. The remainder of his lengthy rule was a humanitarian boon period for the civilized universe.
Now of course that was fantasy/sci-fi, but ACTUALLY in real life, something similar happened to the iconic racist governor of Alabama, George Wallace, who vowed in the 1960s, “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!”
Wallace, while running for president in 1972, was shot and injured and crippled for life. And his suffering changed him. Still the governor, he began implementing programs to help disadvantaged people. He made a record number of black appointments to state positions. In 1979 at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery – where Martin Luther King Jr. had pastored in the 1950s – Wallace made a surprise Sunday morning visit and told the congregation, “I have learned what suffering means. In a way that was impossible before, I think I can understand something of the pain black people have come to endure. I know I contributed to that pain, and I can only ask your forgiveness.”
In 1985, George Wallace was awarded an honorary degree from historically black Tuskegee University, and as he sat there on the stage in his wheelchair, shriveled with pain, two young African American students gently placed the cap and gown on him and Wallace burst into tears and choked out the words, “This is the greatest honor of my life.”
So my dream of redemption for Donald Trump is that he catches COVID-19 and suffers wildly. He comes close to death but doesn’t die. He is reduced to a whimpering lump of agony as he struggles to breathe for weeks. He experiences total abject helplessness. And he realizes that all his self-aggrandizement and greed and ruthlessness were just band-aids all along, to try to cover up his elemental fear of death.
So Trump emerges from COVID with newborn humility and even a capacity for empathy. He now freely admits to himself and to the world that he’s been a shitty president, and he endorses Biden. He gives interviews in which he frankly acknowledges how terrible a person he’s been all his life, and, like George Wallace, he says something like, “I can only ask your forgiveness.” Over and over and over again, he says things like that.
Trump does not abdicate the GOP nomination – he’s already got the delegates pledged to him – but as the nominee, he will exhort his followers to vote for the other guy. Trump will hold mutual (virtual) campaign rallies together with Joe Biden, and he’ll say extraordinarily lovely things about him, and even though they’ll both be wearing masks, they will inevitably hug. This will bring viewers to tears. The pundits will be dumbfounded.
Higher Thought at the Confluence of Two Apparently Contradictory Truths
I posted a quote on Facebook, taken from Barbara Kingsolver’s novel UNSHELTERED: “A mother can only be as happy as her unhappiest child. Willa believed in the power of worry to keep another human from flying out of orbit.”
Then a friend of mine commented that this reminded him of a different quote from somewhere: “You can only love someone to the extent you love yourself.”
I pointed out that the two quotes were very different in meaning, contradictory almost. My friend agreed … and proceeded to come up with a very higher-thought-like synthesis.
Lesson learned. Any time we encounter two (apparently) contradictory truths in close proximity, we have an occasion to apply higher thought! So fun.
Brilliance from a Friend
I was walking with a different friend, Melanie, in Mt. Tabor Park. Melanie has two baby grandchildren in whom she takes enormous delight. I have a goddaughter with a baby, so I understand. I said, “Isn’t it kind of terrifying though, in these perilous times, to love such an utterly vulnerable being SO MUCH?”
Melanie shook her head. “I don’t feel that way. I feel like … even if I knew we were all going to die in two weeks, it’d be the perfect time to die deep into love.”
I Gotta Remember to Look All Ways
Walking along the path that borders one of the reservoirs in Tabor Park, I noticed two people standing on the adjacent lawn, pointing their cell phones a little bit upwards, and to my left. So I looked at where they were aiming their cell cameras.
A double rainbow! Wow! Thank you, phone holders! I would have totally missed it if not for you.