*Writer’s note: Credit Bill Maher and his guest, historian John Meachem, for briefly discussing on Friday what the founding fathers may have thought of the current nightmare American government has morphed into. Meachem cleverly insinuated that the fathers might have actually been surprised that it took THIS long to get a tyrant into power. This got me thinking, and writing.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
GW = George Washington;
TJ = Thomas Jefferson;
BF = Benjamin Franklin
The three men are seated in a bar on M Street, Georgetown, in Washington, DC, May 2018, sipping ale
GW: Want me to be frank? Honestly I feel energized… Oh glorious day! Finally, Americans will have the chance once again to fight a tyrant who endeavors to rule over them and once again, prove their mettle to the world! What luck for the citizens of 2018 to be born into an era on the razor’s edge between democracy and dictatorship not seen for so long, not since 1776. 242 years of laziness and complacency have not the Republic served well.
TJ: George, as per usual proving much the indefatigable and overconfident jock…always relishing, nay, spoiling for the next fight. Your masculinity and raging hormones at times cloud your judgment, methinks. And the Yoda thing, you’ve been watching too much Star Wars lately, Sir.
BF: Speaking of. My labs are quite close to reverse engineering a portable light saber, which may one day yet prove fruitful to my secret Jedi contacts at the US Special Forces Command (SOCOM).
TJ: But you do digress, Benjamin.
BF: Indeed, but I do digress from your very own digression. Digressions and transgressions are those aspects of our personalities which make us human, Thomas. Embrace them like the polymath you are.
TJ: Benjamin, ever the philosopher. Coming back to this tyrant, this Pervert Orangutan of sorts.
GW: This tyrant who lies in bed eating cheeseburgers two miles away from us will be defeated by the institutions and systems we put into place to check and balance just such a vile figure. We were brilliant in our framings and ruminations in the late 18th century.
TJ: You are quite upbeat, old chap. But what if the tyrant beats the patriots this time and our little experiment goes to shit within just 242 years? What if he succeeds in cancelling democracy?
GW: Did I sit around crying in the freezing winter cold of Valley Forge, my men dying of hypothermia and lacking even food rations or shoes, obsessed by the specter of defeat, allowing my troops to witnesseth my mourning in my own depression well before anti-depressant pills were even invented?
BF: Bravo, George. But let us not underestimate the lengths I went to in Paris, wining and dining my way across town and wooing all manner of ladies to gain the trust of the Versaille court and bring France to our cause.
GW: Such hardships you had to overcome, Benjamin. Without exploring the cracks, one will not find the Liberty Bell that today does yet ring so sweet and true, eh?
BF: We aren’t so different, you and I. George, you are a born pugilist and I, a natural diplomat. One hand washes the other.
GW: We also happen to agree that light sabers are fabulous, and of the highest order of importance is their speedy production without delay for our soldiers at arms.
TJ: We seem to have a political party, the Repugnicans, that is somehow fallen in line 100% behind the tyrant and his dictatorial tendencies. Those within the party ranks who speak out are raked over the coals most cruelly and unusually.
GW: Didn’t we ban such punishing behaviors in the outset?
TJ: Tell that to the boys of Abu-Grab!
BF: In seriousness, perhaps the threat of gravest import is the number of our American descendents who are so willing to support the tyrant no matter what he does. He could shoot a person on 5th Avenue, but the sheep would still follow. Some citizens seem to have forgotten the value of democracy, voting rights, human dignity, a free press, and facts. Without these, our little experiment could be dead in the water.
TJ: These fools stand at 40% of the adult population only, and not enough to maintain the corrupt tyranny for long.
GW: Let us be honest with ourselves, Sirs. WE too, miss our slaves.
BF: Of course. But most people moved on long ago, while some others did not, especially in those pesky former southern colonies built on cotton, tobacco, and loathing.
GW: The institutions led by patriotic Americans will always win against the wannabe tyrants. We baked it into the system. We will see victorious patriots winning the elections, marching in the streets, gaining the upper hand in courts, and in general waking up the country to the potential for possibility and progress.
TJ: What will become of those supporters of the tyrant who witness their pipe dreams of white male supremacy and retrograde social rules cruelly dragged along and dashed to the ground once and for all?
BF: Who cares about what happened to the loyal deputies of King George who wanted to see US lose? Their time on the wrong side of history too shall soon come to pass in front of the world.
All of my life, I had heard about the concept of depression from other people, but it always appeared to me as a foreign object that I would struggle to understand. People I know over the years would talk about their depressions or nervous breakdowns, or those of their own family members and friends. But I would be on the outside looking in, like watching it snow inside a snow globe but not understanding what it would be like to get 5 feet of snow dumped on top of my head and stay buried under it.
All that would change. November 8, 2016 started out great enough. As a New York City civil servant, I got election day off that day, just like I had every year. I woke up on that nice fall day in Brooklyn and went to vote at a school in my awesome neighborhood called Cobble Hill. There was a beautiful five year old girl waiting in line with her mother, and on my way out she asked her mom if she could get an “I voted today” sticker that she saw on people’s shirts. Just as her mom told her it had to be earned by adults who voted, I gave the little girl my own. I felt great and so did the little girl.
It was a happy moment for me, and the first of many on the day. I hung out for the rest of the day off with my good friends in the hipster enclave of Red Hook, joking, laughing, eating, drinking, walking, talking, flirting with strangers, and trying to soak in the fact that within a few hours, America would finally vote in its first female president in history.
By 11pm that night, I went into a state of physical and mental shock. I exchanged a set of WhatsApp messages with my close relative, who was sitting on a beach in India and drinking beers early in the morning, India time, seeing the same live US election results that I was. Indeed, he had predicted Trump’s victory months earlier, but I refused to entertain even a hint of that thought. “Are you doing okay?” he asked. For the first time in my life, after quick consideration I responded to him with the honesty that a close relative and friend deserved: “No,” I replied.
It sounds cheesy to say this when so many people have worse problems than me, like painful stages of cancer, dead children, blindness, or missing legs. Plus I am by no means alone in falling into a dark abyss late in 2016. But I had to admit to myself that my world had shattered. Many others probably felt as bad or worse, for example those who worked on Hillary’s election campaign and were cheated out of victory.
But I can only speak for myself. I finally learned what depression meant, the hard way, as I mourned the end of America as we knew it. It was like a family member I loved dying. My optimism, which always drove me for 36 years of life was melting away in real time. I went from an optimist to a cynic. And being unused to cynicism, I found out for the first time that it’s a very hard way to live.
I have always had jobs since my 16th birthday, and I always worked hard. But on November 9th, 2016, I could not do a single shred of work properly. I sat and largely stared at my computer screen. My body felt frozen. My mind was numb. I couldn’t focus for more than three minutes at a time. I was surrounded by colleagues who were going through the same thing, and on this particular day, it was considered acceptable and almost predictable to be useless and unproductive. After all, most of us lived and worked together in New York City. We knew the criminal scumbag con man Trump better than anyone else did. It wasn’t us who voted that charlatan and his evil family in, it was the rest of the country’s fault. Not that it made us New Yorkers feel any better.
The next few months were painful as I descended into feeling hopeless and helpless about the world, and wondering what the point of it all was if we were headed toward destroying humanity and our planet anyway at some point soon. Family members and friends were feeling many of the same cynical things and didn’t offer a way out. I burned. I started giving up on trying to be healthy, or caring about current events, or the future. Classic depression type symptoms. And I was smart enough to know it.
But then something happened. By February 2017 we began seeing the flickering glimmer of a path towards takedown and impeachment, which I am now confident is inevitable. I went through a few dark and deep spiritual experiences in this period of time. My optimism gradually and slowly re-emerged, like a glorious Phoenix from the ashes of the very fire that had burned me.
I got serious about writing fiction, something I had been talking and thinking about since I was 12 years old. I entered a fiction contest on a whim and got second place. I became active on Twitter, starting arguments and rants and making jokes, and it all felt therapeutic during a hard time. I started donating to political campaigns, and signing petitions. I regained some of the joy and fun in dating, which had been absent for several years since my divorce, a period when I viewed dating as a chore and a bore. I initiated a serious job search process, which resulted in me moving out of New York City to Wisconsin to take on a new job, career trajectory, and life in an extremely different place. I began playing the tablas again after a 20 year hiatus. I began playing the drum set again after a 20 year hiatus. And between 2017 and early 2018, I finally completed a first draft of my novel manuscript.
If I were to blame Trump for feeling depressed, it would only be fair to assign my nearly pathological quest to improve myself in isolation on an island while the world was falling apart all around me, to his specter too. I was forcibly stuffed into a dark place by a monster. I feel that I have clawed my way out of the hole. Shouldn’t the monster get at least some of the credit too?
I believe so. And I also think that other people, and the national conscience as a collective may be able to do the same, and use the sorrow and hate and rage and depression to their advantage, and our advantage. Donald Trump, his supporters, and all of the evil that they represent can be viewed as a giant stress test– on you, on me, on the country, and on the world. Assuming we survive the stress test, we will be better off. That which does not kill you will make you stronger.
I feel like I am living proof of that. Now, when the idiot tweets something, threatens somebody, lies about something, bombs somewhere, or goes golfing while the world burns, I don’t give a shit like I used to. I ignore it. He is too dumb to be worth my time. SCREW HIM. It’s up to the creaky system now. Let the old white Republican men like Comey, Mueller, Rosenstein, Flake, Corker, and McCain take out their own trash.
I’m going to be over here, working on becoming a constantly new and improving version of myself. Thank you. I mean that sincerely for helping me become a better man. I am using you like the tool that you are.
-Mahanth S. Joishy
Just before the election in October, Trump said something remarkable. He promised a large group of Indian-Americans at a Republican Hindu Coalition concert in New Jersey that the United States and India are “going to be best friends.” He even said “I am a big fan of Hindu and I am a big fan of India” during this speech and called Narendra Modi a great man, all after lighting a traditional Hindu “diva” lamp.
We shall soon find out if the promise comes true.
You can find the full speech, the diva lighting, and the introduction by RHC chairman Shalabh Kumar, below:
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Let’s take a step back in time for just a second to show a little empathy and appreciate what the white American male has gone through, and where he came from. When the United States started, white males used to own the WHOLE pie. They owned it all, everything, including all the money, land, and property. They literally owned other human beings who happened to be darker than them, from cradle to grave, so they could make even more money with less work.
As a white man in those good old days you usually didn’t have to compete against any woman or black person to secure a job or buy a piece of land. You were just given it by the other white men or could simply steal it from a native. The women and the slaves and the indentured servants did all of the housework for you too, while tending, perhaps in some frisky combination, to all of your sexual needs.
On top of it all, it felt good to know that God and Manifest Destiny were on your side too. Let’s admit it: what a great deal! Not a bad deal if you can get it. Hell, if I were a white man at the time I would probably have loved my life and wanted to keep things that way forever. And more to the point, we Americans to this day still worship at the altar of what these white men made for their progeny, for me and you: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Continental Army, the Minutemen, the Boston Tea Party, and the Revolutionary War. Those white men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and my favorite Benjamin Franklin are considered polymaths and heroes worldwide, and rightly so.
Relative to back then, the allocated proportion of the pie has gotten a whole lot smaller for the American white man, just as it has for white males in South Africa, Britain, and the rest of the world. White men in fact used to rule over most of Africa, Asia, North America, and South America from their European corporate headquarters, but nowadays Europe is in descent, Russia is a basket case, China and India are knocking on the door of superpower status, women can be CEOs, a Hispanic can sit on the Supreme Court, and a half-black can be POTUS. This is a zero sum game. White males get less pie. Minorities and women get more pie, and their share just keeps growing. This must be thoroughly emasculating, and I totally understand it. The backlash was bound to happen. It was only a matter of time. That time is now.
As a minority, it’s easy for me to believe that everything is better in America for everybody nowadays thanks to more equality. To folks like me, Barack Obama is the ultimate embodiment of the promise of what America just could be, the full realization of the dreams of the founders, Abraham Lincoln, the 600,000 Americans who died in the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, Martin Luther King, Jr., and all four of my grandparents in India who admired this country so much. They were gushingly proud that my mother and father lived here, fully understanding they would hardly ever get to see them from so far away.
It’s gotten gauche to deny the reality of American progress. And yet, I believe a lot of Americans feel otherwise; they resent that it’s not trendy to lament their current lot as white men losing ground to others slowly and steadily as time goes on; that Black Lives Matter marches in their neighborhood; that no politician truly cares about their perceived victimhood, while the government apparatus ominously benefits women and minorities instead of them. Robots and foreigners are stealing their jobs, while Mexicans are pouring across the border to rape their daughters. Having a half-black president was barely digestible; following that up right off with a lecturing woman would be too much insult to take. It’s just not fair. These fears are very real, and they are perfectly embodied by one white man. He promises to be their savior, that most thoroughly American of characters, the con man who each day dines on bowlfuls of gauche, Master Donald Trump.
Whether Donald Trump wins or loses the presidential election itself, his place in the history books has already been cemented, and I even almost admire how this deeply insecure pathological liar has clawed and tweeted his way onto those pages, shamelessly, tirelessly, and without an ounce of self-reflection. Trump’s foremost legacy will forever be as the face of the last gasp of American white male supremacy. And it’s too bad that history will not look upon him, or indeed those of us who lived in America through 2016 and let this happen, kindly. Think of how we today look back on the Vichy regime. We’ll be listed right next to them in history’s basket of deplorables.
It had to be ugly. And it sure is. White male supremacy won’t go down without a fight. But the joke is on the white man who votes for Donald Trump. White supremacy is verifiably in its death throes, as America continues to lead in bending the arc of history toward justice, in spite of our true colors. The young white males of today are far to the LEFT of Hillary. Trump has no plan, let alone any sort of ability, to reverse the forces of technology, globalization, or progress that are helping foreigners, women and minorities rise toward more equal footing. To be fair, nobody does. It’s simply happening.
Ironically, the process can certainly be sped up by Trump’s political participation if white men decide in large enough numbers that they want to keep playing with this shiny new orange object in November. There will be no border wall built to keep the Mexicans out. There will never be an America that’s great “again.” There would simply be an America that blunders around for four years with racial violence, gridlock, war, and trillions of dollars in obliterated equity, while the march of women and minorities would continue apace anyway, because they still have so far to go. The pendulum would be sure to swing more unforgivably than ever against the white man during this period.
The white supremacist is today, instead of working to advance himself, educate himself, and acquire the requisite skills that will make him more competitive in the new global environment full of opportunity, watching Fox News and waiting for Donald Trump’s teeny little magic wand to make everything better for him. If Trump loses in November, at least the fantasy of these simple, uninformed people will come to an end for good, and the tandem of Trump and Clinton will have done us all a favor. If Trump wins, the fairy tale reverie will simply continue until the unfulfillable hopes of the white supremacist are much more cruelly dragged along and dashed into the ground. The reckoning comes either way.
For all of America’s 240 year history, it was awesome to be a white man. And it still very much is. The solution lies in white men coming to recognize that fact. A calm ocean lifts ALL boats. The long forward march of progress for the white man on the backs of other human beings can be looked upon with affection by its descendants, and it’s worth remembering, including all the good it’s done for us as Americans. But today these sentiments belong not in reality but in a museum, right next to where the dinosaur fossils are.
This is one of these times where no editorial is necessary…
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
What a remarkable week in US history. The great human experiment with democracy in America has arrived at a dangerous moment. Many people ask me why as an observer of US-India bilateral foreign policy I spend so much time commenting on the sad reality television of domestic US politics. The reason is elementary. He or she who arrives in power in America will have profound effects on India’s future. Meanwhile, India’s own experiment with democracy is at a less mature and more delicate stage, and it is important for Indians to learn the stark lessons to be derived from the litany of poor American decisions: the slave trade, the treatment of Native Americans, the Civil War, Vietnam, Iraq, and yes, Donald Trump in 2016. In the next episode, we might witness democracy being voted off the island.
In a way Donald Trump has done the United States and the world a favor by perfectly embodying the worst instincts in the United States of America today so that we can work toward dealing with it. We’re not here to litigate this truth, because we hold it to be self-evident. Rather, below we will simply break down how we got here politically, because nobody else has successfully done so. It has nothing whatsoever to do with policy.
Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, we’ve begun seeing the predictable expressions of shock, disbelief and horror among liberals and moderates, and badly misguided analysis of why he won. Trump fans of course saw this coming from a mile away and explain his victory in bizarre terms, such as “America will vote for Donald Trump because once he’s in office, ISIS won’t even dare to mess with America ever again.” Yes, nihilistic terrorists will retire their suicide vests out of fear of the furry head and that’s why he’s winning. Right.
For the record, I too predicted the Trump victory, and even endorsed Donald Trump, in September 2015. His victory became obvious for one exceedingly simple and elegant reason requiring only three letters: E-G-O. Shockingly, despite a candidate who is defined by a pathological ego run amok, Trump’s ego is not the one to blame here. It’s the fault of many others on both the left and the right.
The Republican Party Clown Car, 2016 Edition It takes a near toxic dosage of self-obsession for ANY person from either party to convincingly tell the world every day for several years that they would be the best possible leader of the free world. In a watered-down field of 17 deeply flawed Republican candidates, all driven by their own outsize ego tripping, the time was especially ripe for a figure disliked by most of his own party to win the nomination with just a minority of the total votes. If a party is going to deliberately run a clown car, then it should not be shocked when the biggest clown takes over the wheel.
Let’s look at the results in the first state to vote in the primary, Iowa, courtesy newyorktimes.com. The Iowa circus is responsible for gifting the world Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as the front-runners for the rest of the GOP primary season despite the highest negative ratings. This small state, with less than 100,000 votes, started the narrative that this was going to be a Trump vs. Cruz race nationwide.
Of greater interest is the sheer number of governors, senators, and non-politicians who cannibalized each other before, during, and after Iowa to the point where two guys with only around 25% of the vote each would be anointed the front-runners. Similar results played out in other states such as New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada: Donald Trump established the lead with much less than 50% of the vote. Thank you George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Jim Gilmore, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Dr. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb!, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and everyone else who made sure that the donations, political operatives, volunteers, media airtime, voters, and America’s short attention span were all chopped up into little pieces in the months before and during the primaries. Thanks for wasting record amounts of money. Thank you for lathering up the right wing base into a froth over Barack Obama’s birthplace, immigrants, homosexuality, terrorism, China, abortion, and guns for years on end, scaring the crap out of our citizens with your political strategy of “sheep tremble, and here come the votes!” in the prescient words of Rage Against the Machine.
If I were one of the many members of the Republican party establishment wringing my hands right now, I would point to this absurd parade of so-called leaders for putting their own ego above their party, and their own party above their country, and failing all three levels in the process anyway. Trump would have been eminently beatable if leadership had consolidated its resources behind one or two viable options and a sensible and inclusive platform with fresh ideas early on and strategized to defeat the cancer within their ranks. That option would have easily won in November too because no party has won 3 White House terms in a row since World War II. But too many egos got in the way. And to a man (and woman), every single one of Trump’s opponents, whether they were in the race or were simply acting as halfhearted bystanders like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, fatally underestimated Trump’s hostile takeover of their party throughout this process.
Barack Obama Just as Obama greatly benefitted as a candidate in 2008 from the failed presidency of George W. Bush, his two botched wars and an epic financial meltdown, so too is Trump benefitting from the Obama administration’s shortcomings. Although Americans are in far better shape than they were in 2008, the president has failed to communicate the relevant facts and figures to the American people. Obama has not done a good job of educating citizens about the challenges presented by a changing economy, ISIS, or China, nor has he explained most accomplishments in terms people can understand. As president, he had a bully pulpit, and a chance to renew Americans’ confidence in themselves, and this effort has been inadequate. As a result, Americans are even more polarized than they were before he arrived in the White House. Obama’s ego failed him on this count, because he was under the impression until it was too late that the power of his personality would help heal the rifts that are rendering the American people apart from each other, and cause them to view one another as the enemy. On both sides, party has become more important than country, and we are reverting back to tribal behaviors based on race, income, or geography. This was Obama’s biggest failed promise, and even he recognizes that today.
In such an environment, a backlash against all politicians and all government is a natural result. Obama’s own ego led him to believe that his great successes in office would speak for themselves and he didn’t have to do the hard and, to be fair, perhaps futile work of marketing them to a woefully uninformed and balkanized public. The result could be as disastrous to Obama personally as it is to the country as a whole: the potential dismantling, brick by brick, of all of the hard work that Obama and his team have done over the last 8 years on domestic and foreign policy, while perhaps watching helplessly on the sidelines as Americans begin to violently riot against each other like in the 1960s, egged on explicitly by one party’s standard-bearer.
Yes, Obama underestimated Trump and did not take steps, especially in 2015 and 2016 that could have neutralized Trump’s rise. He has been overconfident that Trump wouldn’t win. He has not been forceful enough about the existential consequences of this race, including during a press conference on Friday when asked about Trump. He had better start if he doesn’t want to hand the White House keys over to the Donald.
The Media. The media entertainment complex is the most unforgivable culprit for giving Trump 99% of the political airtime simply because it amuses consumers the most. In a truly delicious irony, it is the media that would be the foremost victim of a Trump presidency, as we can expect the industry to lose a great amount of freedom, protection, and access to Trump and his cabinet, such as Treasury Secretary Kim Kardashian.
Trump has already encouraged hatred and violence towards journalists on multiple occasions and promised to ban military officials from speaking to the media. He said TV anchor Megyn Kelly was on the rag. His campaign manager manhandled a female reporter and the boss defended it. Trump kicked out a Hispanic journalist from his rally for asking a question. Supporters routinely beat people up in his name, and he hasn’t even yet held a real position of government authority in his life. His supporters send death threats to journalists they disagree with. Just imagine the very real possibilities if Trump had enforcement powers. Trump would make his hero Vladimir Putin proud; we should not be surprised to see media figures harmed by Trump’s henchmen or even thrown in jail for writing something he doesn’t like. The warning patterns are out there for all to see.
In order to make a cheap short-term buck, the media has not only failed us, they have put themselves in harm’s way. Trump has been covered as a serious candidate for fun and games and the reality show audience is entertained, instead of witnessing a proper vetting. The media has planted the seeds for the erosion of their own freedoms. The gigantic egos of media figures have blinded them to the delicacy of their own position and the ability to continue practicing their craft at all. And I’m, um, sort of sensitive to this particular issue.
Next Stop, Ego Train? All of this is to say, there is plenty of blame to go around up and down the ego train. With Republican attempts to stop Trump’s constant march forward already a miserable failure in our rearview mirror, the duty to spare the country and the globe from a Trump presidency now falls on the dislikable shoulders of Hillary Clinton. She is going to need all the help she can get. Bernie Sanders is grappling mightily with his own ego trip, which has lasted long enough. This is war. Hillary underestimated Obama for much of 2008, Bernie Sanders for much of the Democratic primary, and is doing the same with Trump in 2016. Surrogates including Obama and others of all political stripes will need to set aside their own agendas and get with the program. It’s serious now. This is the election of our lifetimes.