Gary Horton | In the Trump Era, Abnormal Is the New Normal

Gary Horton


’m cheating in this column.
Carrie and I are enjoying a quiet week’s vacation on a boat, mostly disconnected from the world. The calmness here reminds of something I wrote two years ago.  So, I’ve adapted some thoughts from that column – that are now more pertinent than ever before…

Oh, what I really want to do is to just wake up to a non-eventful morning. To enjoy a cup of coffee and maybe a piece of toast while reading a mostly non-eventful newspaper before my non-eventful bike ride down to Starbucks to have non-eventful conversations about essentially nothing.

Non-eventful days were wonderful.

But oh boy, are those days gone.

Remember way, way back, there was a guy with a nickname, “No-drama Obama.” Remember that guy? It’s almost hard to now, because well, there wasn’t much drama. Not too much out of the ordinary to grab your attention and memory by the huevos and really shake you up.

Eight mostly boring years. Once he got the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression successfully tamped down, every day was generally just a little bit better than the day before. Stocks generally a little bit higher. Employment 100,000 or 200,000 higher each month, at a rather steady pace. Not much international drama. No bimbos, whores, porn stars, indictments, jail time, FBI raids, presidential kids running the government, or neo-Nazis traipsing around the White House. 

No daily inflammatory, dog-whistle racist tweets – or more now, straight-up racist tweets. No constant feeding of “red meat to the base” – in the basest ways. No Russians apparently calling presidential shots – and no constant tearing down of democratic alliances in favor of coddling horrendous dictators.

Back then in the Obama days, the English language was used the way it was supposed to be used. Grace and protocol used to be exemplified, dignifying the Office of the Presidency. Folks were appointed to the agencies they believed in, and the folks appointed knew what the hell they were supposed to be doing. 

Ah, it was oh so boring, bland. And to top it off, America was respected internationally so much we could hardly stand it all.

It’s gone. All gone.

Instead, the FBI raided Trump’s lawyer’s office. Instead, there’s the payments to the whores and the porn stars that litter our president’s life – and no one cares. Instead, there’s a staggeringly huge deficit of well over one trillion bucks a year – and no one cares. Instead, we intentionally blew up the Iran agreement and now yet one more potential war lurks just barely out of view, waiting for the next tweet or next miscalculation to set the whole thing off. Instead, we’re well on our way to becoming an international pariah ourselves. Our old allies are now fearful of the next steps we might take.

And we’ve got trade wars and tariffs and industries getting hammered as they scurry to find new sources and our farmers need bailouts. We may lose some international food product customers forever…

And hardly a day goes by without our own president bemoaning “witch hunts,” and “fake news” and “rigged systems.”

And now, the newest bombardments aimed at congresswomen of color. The president tweets that these elected officials, a “hit squad,” needs to go back to where they came from… you know, back to those “s—hole” countries where brown people live. Only for three of them, that country is the U.S.A.

Now, with no attempt at subterfuge, we’re entering a period of race identity politics of old white guys and non-college-educated white guys against all the rest of us. A fight crafted by the president himself, of “Us” (white guy) Americans against those “others” who will ruin our nation…

The headlines of today have left the realm of shocking, troubling, disturbing… all the way to outright disgusting. 

We’re so far past some nut job accusing Barack Obama of being a Kenyan to an American president launching a race war to energize his base…

America has become a very bad reality show led by a guy who indeed knows how to run a reality show. And we’re the sorry participants. Powerless to do much more than wait, wait, wait for an election that seems light-years away…

A prayer for our souls: “Dear God, if you’re out there, please save us from the chaos, the fear and hate mongering, the lies, the deceit, the economic mayhem, the loss of decency, the very real risk of very large wars. Please, oh please, help us return to days of normalcy, days of decency.”

Here’s a question to consider: When you go to bed each night can you reasonably accurately guess the headlines for the next morning. No way. It’s terrifying. And all we want is a quiet cup of coffee and a boring newspaper to read… 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.

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