Debt, Death, Dysfunction and Democracy

If only Hunter S. Thompson were alive today. He would have a field day with the 2020 campaign trail. It would be entertaining, if not constructive, to have his insightful, brazen and irreverent commentary regarding the state of the nation today. If he hated Nixon and his corrupt cronies as much as he revealed in his best book, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, I’m sure that he is rolling over in his grave regarding The Donald, The Princess and the rest of the fascist mob in the White House.

Thompson, of course, invented “Gonzo” journalism, which pursues truth with a piercing wit. I can see him now, trolling Trump in person and on social media. I see Thompson wearing a mask into the presidential press briefing that reads, “His lips are moving.”

Thompson’s mask features a tiny hole that allows his trademark cigarette holder to poke through (unlit). He’s wearing his trademark sunglasses indoors to help cloak the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that keep him from choking the living sh*t out of these lying fascists in Trump’s circus act.

As we now know, Trump despises anyone in search of the truth. He’s quick to paint those journalists and their media outlets as “fake news.”

I’m fairly sure that Thompson would relish such a title from a fake president.

Of course, when Trump talks about being the law and order president, Thompson, if still alive, would likely burst out laughing right in the middle of the news conference. He would mutter a few words that no one could here, much less interpret, scratch a few notes and then wave his hand in a motion for the president, or one of his proxies, to continue with the briefing. The rest of the fictitious interview might sound as follows:

“What’s on your mind, Mr. Thompson,” asks Trump.

“Well, Mr. President, just a few questions. You claim to be the law and order president. How many felons have you had in your inner circle in the past decade? How many felons have you pardoned since taking office? Doesn’t that put you and your associates above the law? You wanted to lock Hillary Clinton up for using a private email server. If your wife or your daughter used a private email account, shall we lock them up?”

“Good question,” Trump said. “It’s clearly different. The people that I pardoned are very fine people. Joe Arpaio is a great America. We would all be speaking Spanish right now if not for him. The others helped me get elected and much more. I couldn’t have done it without them. Great Americans. On the email topic, I directed Melania, Ivanka and many others to use these private servers for national security. You never know who might be hacking these servers at the White House. This place is a real dump.”

Trump associates under arrest

“I do recall those comments about the White House. It makes sense. Good thinking, Mr. President, please proceed,” Thompson says.

“Sir, while we are on the topic of law and order, you recently urged citizens to vote twice. That’s a felony, as you know. How does that fit under law and order,” Thompson said.

“I will pardon anyone who votes for me twice–especially the members of the Electoral College. Problem solved, Hunter,” said Trump, while cocking his head back and to the left.

By this time, other reporters in the room are staring straight at Hunter S. Thompson. He’s feverishly going through his notes, which are written out on several pages of paper. The shuffling sound holds everyone’s attention, including Trump. Before Trump can get back to his rambling press conference, Thompson shakes his head, looks back up and raises his eyebrows, which just rose up from behind his sunglasses.

“I’m sorry, Mr. President, but I do have another question,” says Thompson—looking confused and slightly frustrated. “The civil unrest across America, the protests against police brutality, racism, masks and more. Of course, these citizens are expressing their First Amendment right to speak out. What’s your plan to reunite America?”

“If someone burns a confederate flag or tears down a confederate monument,” Trump said. “We will shoot them. These are nasty people who don’t care about our nation’s history.

What are they fighting for—our future? That old wadded up piece of hemp paper called a constitution? If anyone from my cult sees these desecrations of our history, knock their block off. I’ll pay your legal costs. That’s what I call law and order. We defend thugs, flags, statues and property—not people who aren’t willing to defend our country.”

“Mr. President, you dodged the Vietnam draft more than once,” Thompson quipped. “What’s different between you and the so-called infidels?”

“I don’t do well in the tropics. I would have gone to Vietnam, but my doctor said that I had a nasty hangnail. So, I stayed home and studied science and humanities. Somehow, I got into college at just the right time. That entrance exam, by the way, it was really tough. It’s much easier when the test has drawing of elephants and giraffes,” Trump explained.

“Mr. President, you also claim to be the only president who can be tough with Russia and other foreign leaders.”

“Right, right” says Trump.

“We know that Russia interfered with the last election and we know that they are interfering with this election. We know that Russia offered bounties on American soldiers. Russia is providing safe harbor to Edward Snowden, who exposed wrongdoing by the NSA. I’m sure a legendary tough guy with your view of the world has had some very tough conversations about these events. What did Putin say?”

“I really haven’t talked with Putin about these details. I’m trying to be polite because he has some really nice photos of me in Moscow,” said Trump. “He says that Russia didn’t do it and I have no reason not to believe him. He’s a very charming man. Have you seen those photos of Putin in Russia’s great outdoors? He’s a war her, you know. He really grabs me by the groin.”

“Thanks, Mr. President,” Thompson says, while shifting his cigarette holder from a downward-pointing direction to an upward one just by moving his teeth. Then, he pulls the cigarette holder out of his mouth and looks upward. Everyone in the room, including the Teflon Don, can’t take their eyes off of Thompson. He has another question.

“Mr. President, on the coronavirus front, we have lost 185,000 Americans and counting. We have lost millions of jobs. We have spent trillions of dollars on the pandemic and it is far from over. There has been no transparency on how these dollars have been spent. You eliminated the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense. You said that the virus will just go away and that we should all consider giving our inner bodies a good scrubbing with disinfectant. Is this unconventional leadership how you saved the millions of lives that you talk about?”

“I have complete authority over this pandemic, but I have no responsibility,” Trump said. “We are leading the world regarding the coronavirus. It might have started in China, but we have taken the lead. We are number one in the entire world. I really get this.”

Thompson pulls a can of Lysol out of his old-fashioned tote bag and sprays a burst in the air in tribute to the stimulating conversation and to protect him from the bullshit. Trump goes through the motions of a silent clap in return. The other reporters in the room are in shock as Thompson rolls his sarcasm under Trump’s radar. Trump’s latest press secretary tries to deflect the conversation away from Trump and Thompson, but Trump’s ego is pumping up with every breath, which helps Thompson stay under the radar with left-handed compliments.

“Mr. President, one more thing,” said Thompson. Speaking of law and order, let’s talk about the QAnon conspiracy theory. Many of your supporters think that you are the savior who will expose the global sex trafficking rings run by Democrats. Of course, Jeffrey Epstein has already been caught up in the scandal. Is there any truth to this movement?”

“Well, I have been working on this case for years. I have been conducting my own investigation—that’s why you will see pictures of Jeffrey Epstein and I together gawking at young women at these elite parties. I’m not sure if anyone in the world knows more than I do about sexual extortion and sexual abuse. Suffice it to say, I went in under the radar, and yes, I can confirm that the Kennedy’s are behind it all. Epstein was framed, so I hope that he is still alive. I hope that his death was just fake news to get him out of prison. He’s a very fine person—I mean he was a very fine person. I wish him well.”

“Mr. President, while we are on a related topic,” said Thompson. “Tell me about that Billy Bush interview. How did he set you up to say such vulgar things about women?”

“I’m glad that you asked that question,” Trump said. “That was just part of my investigation into the sex trafficking ring—and all of the QAnon people know it. They know that I have no tolerance for sexual exploitation or sexual abuse. That’s why they love me. So, I was just trying to put Billy’s guard down that day. I wanted him to know that I was just one of the boys. It worked very well and no one knows what I was doing. It was brilliant if I say so myself. No one could have done a better job. I should have joined the FBI (wink). I’m really good at this stuff. How does that grab you, Hunter?”

“Right by the groin, sir. Thanks for clearing that up,” Thompson said.

“Since we are on a roll,” Thompson said. “I have one last question. The coronavirus has pushed this nation and others closer to bankruptcy. The U.S. now has a national debt of about $26 trillion dollars. The coronavirus relief package accounted for about $4 trillion of that total and it could go even higher. Is the U.S. at risk of going bankrupt?”

Shock Doctrine and crisis capitalism

“As you know, I’m an expert on bankruptcy,” Trump said. “If it can happen to a great business man/boy like myself, it could happen to anyone. Of course, that would nullify our constitution and many other elements of our democracy. The good news is that we could strip some of the pesky things from our government’s list of responsibilities–things like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, National Parks, the US Postal Office and many others would go away. We would get rid of the First Amendment, because, afterall, these protesters are destroying our great nation. They think that their individual rights and liberties are more important than mine. If we could make the transition to mass privatization, it would solve many of our problems. Corporations are better at running the world than good governments that have a compass and a conscience. We are almost there. We are making America hate again–I mean great again.”

“Mr. President, the United States and the allies too a strong stance against fascism and expansionists in World War I and II. It was a defining moment in our history. There are those who say that the United States has become, or always been, a fascist nation–a nation that puts the interests of corporations and the wealthy above the interests of the common man and above the interests of the nation. Today, you are waging war against the ANTIFA movement in the U.S. and around the world. Help us make sense of this, sir,” said Thompson, peeking over the top of his Ray Bans.

“ANTIFA. They are nasty people,” Trump said. “They are trying to destroy my way of life and I’m the Commander in Chief. I wave flags, bibles and bullets better than anyone else. Plus, fighting fascism is overrated. It’s for losers and suckers. Look what fascism has done for the nations that the United States has overthrown in just the past century. It’s been great for Wall Street, too. I’ve made a killing on others misfortune.”

“Speaking of veterans, sir, you say that no one has done more for the military than you, but you have done and said some questionable things. Square that up for us, please,” Thompson asks.

“Sure. Granted, I did say that Vietnam was a stupid war. My dad and my doctor agreed, so my military career ended right after I was removed from my post at the New York Military Academy,” Trump said. “I was probably the best cadet in the history of that school, so that asked me to step aside and let someone else give it a shot. It’s not like it was mutiny or anything. That’s where I learned to salute. Have you ever seen me salute? It’s a good one. Except for John McCain. I just can’t salute him. He was a roadblock to my attempt to overturn Obama Care. That’s not patriotism. And I can’t salute our POWs, because I like people who weren’t captured. How can they help us spread democracy if they are behind bars? Losers. And I can’t salute the names at the Vietnam Memorial. Suckers. But they knew that’s what they signed up for. I would have been happy to tell them how to dodge the draft. I’m really good at that and I’m a well-known humanitarian. Which reminds me, this is why it insults me so much when those professional athletes kneel during the National Anthem. They say that they are standing for justice, equality and end to police brutality, but it’s just an insult to our veterans and our police. I can’t stand for that. We will keep shooting innocent, unarmed citizens in the back until they get with the program. We will keep militarizing the police until the mission is accomplished.”

“Of course,” Thompson said. “One more question, sir.”

“Shoot,” Trump said with another wink and a grin.

“Don’t tempt me sir,” Thompson said with his right index finger pointed straight in the air like a loaded gun.

“Sir, in 2016, you accused the electoral system of being rigged. Do you still stand by that indictment?”

“Of course,” Trump said. “I’m never wrong. I’m the latest example of a rigged system. How else can you explain that I’m here in the White House making obnoxious phone calls to leaders around the world, flying around the world for photo opps. You can’t make this stuff up. Look, in 2016, I was trailing in every poll by a wide margin during the primary. When I started calling the system rigged and corrupt, everything changed. Everyone became so helpful. Then, when I thought that Hillary had beat me, god forbid, the Electoral College stepped in recalculated everything and I won. That Electoral College was a brilliant idea. We can’t have 300 million people trying to lead this country with a vote and a prayer. Democracy is a spectator sport. We need to leave the heavy lifting to professionals like me and Mitch. He’s married to the secretary of transportation, you know. She’s really hot for her age. What a country.”

Again, it’s too bad that we don’t have Hunter S. Thompson on the scene today. His uncanny wit and pursuit of the truth would at least add some comic relief during the year from hell. He’s one of many who has inspired me to live, laugh and fight. RIP, Mr. Thompson.

public relations firm Phoenix

Gary Chandler is the CEO of Crossbow Communications. He also is the founder of Sacred Seedlings and Earth News. Gary Chandler is the author of 11 books about health and environmental issues from around the world. Chandler also is the author of the Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia.