BY MICHAEL DAVIDOW, Radio Free New Hampshire
Karl Marx, while not one of the Marx Brothers, was famous for several other things. Among them, this well-worn quote: that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
I cannot remember what he meant by that. I have not read any of his works since college. But as I watch Donald Trump’s press conferences these days, I am growing increasingly concerned that whatever Marx was driving at, he got it wrong; that history will repeat itself in reverse, here in America. Because someone is bound to come along soon, someone who has a brain, corporate support, and serious, non-personal goals; he or she will use the tactics imperfectly (if not accidentally) pioneered by that sherbet-faced clown in the long red ties; and this person will take those practices, and with them, he or she will attempt to drive a stake through the heart of America’s democracy.
The lies, the self-serving, the shamelessness: imagine if someone who actually knew how to speak and think in full sentences decided that it was worth it. Now that people have proven that they accept such horrors in our public life; imagine if someone took full advantage of that weakness. Farce– then tragedy. Marx got it backwards.
Thankfully, we have the Democratic Party to stand in the way of such a nightmare. Kidding! I like Joe Biden, and along with most other human beings, I think he is a decent person. I will vote for him without hesitation. But this year’s primaries were sad. Biden was pitifully weak at the beginning. He was saved by the reactionary politics of the deep red deep south; he was saved by the lack of other strong candidates. The democrats had apparently decided it was time for a woman; it was time for a black; it was time for someone non-white and non-male. In short, they had apparently decided to elect a figurehead, putting aside how this figurehead was actually going to govern. Well, they got what they wanted, one level down from the surface: another old baby-boomer (because that generation has done such a great job of handling the levers of power: Bush! Clinton! Obama! Trump!).
People are now concerned that Biden can’t match Trump, tactic for tactic; that he can’t handle the Internet; that he can’t get out of his own basement. It doesn’t matter. He is the unadulterated essence of what any democrat would be this year: he is not Trump.
In my never-ending attempt to understand American politics, anyway, I have been noticing lately that my seven-year-old son reminds me a lot of Trump. He has a fairly blunt vocabulary; he is fond of baseball caps; he will do whatever is required to get what he wants (which is usually ice cream); and he often lies when he gets caught doing something shameful (usually something to do with ice cream). Thinking this might help, I asked him if he has any friends who back Trump, so I could interview such a luminary and gain insight into their thoughts. He therefore introduced me to his pal, Alfred Zupp, seven-year-old Trump supporter. The following is a transcript of our recent conversation (we did it on Zoom).
Moi-meme: Hello, Alfred.
Alfred Zupp: Hello, small friend’s father. Are you a liberal, or just someone who reads the New York Times and celebrates strange holidays?
MM: Probably both. I like your hat! MICMA. What does it stand for?
AZ: That’s fine. No, really, that’s fine. I don’t mind that. I like some liberals. You guys have good ice cream. And my hat stands for Make Ice Cream Mine Again.
MM: Wow. Very cool. We do, yes. Unless, you know.
MM: That soy garbage.
AZ: Right, right! [laughter] But seriously. Ben and Jerry are liberals. Right?
MM: I think they are, yes. So, Alfred, thank you for speaking to me.
AZ: I like this. I get ice cream, right? Ben and Jerry. They’re good people. There are good people on both sides. Blue Bonnet. What, they come from Texas. So where’s my ice cream?
MM: You should probably ask your mom. That’s her department, not mine.
AZ: Okay. Wait one minute. Because there was supposed to be ice cream. I mean, I’m not saying that you lied to me. But you lied to me. There, I said it. Everyone happy now?
MM: No, Alfred. I never promised.
AZ: Ice cream. Yeah, you did. Check the transcript. Just check it. See? You won’t, because you know you’re lying. Deep state, fake news. There has never been a kid, in the entire history of America, that gets lied to, like I get lied to, by people… like… you.
MM: How did this get out of control so fast?
AZ: [throws a spoon] New York Times. Fake news!
Well, folks, I tried. It’s enough to make me miss Chloe Schlagobers.
Michael Davidow is a lawyer in Nashua. He is the author of Gate City, Split Thirty, and The Rocketdyne Commission, three novels about politics and advertising which, taken together, form The Henry Bell Project. His most recent one is The Book of Order. They are available on Amazon.
Views expressed in columns and opinion pieces belong to the author and do not reflect those of InDepthNH.org.