In the age of Trump, the adage that pet-owners often resemble their dogs may prove true in the realm of politics as well. Even a chief executive who fails to garner the popular vote of his constituents seems to reflect the worst aspects of those who most adamantly oppose him. In the wake of the stunning 2016 electoral upset, Boomers, Millennials and the last vestiges of the Greatest Generation have a formed a circular firing squad regarding who is to blame for the rise of a kleptocratic crypto-fascist with the worst Presidential hairpiece since Mr. Washington himself.
The Boomers blame the Millennials for their failure to get out the vote, the Millennials blame the Boomers for their failure to understand the populist sentiment of the electorate and both generations blame the Greatest for their failure to climb over a metaphorical border wall of racist, sexist, bigoted bullshit that seems deeply ingrained in the denture-laden skulls their brains formerly occupied.
In reality, Mr. Trump represents the most despicable qualities of each of our respective generations, making him the Batman that the crumbling Gotham of our Republic deserves, despite our desperate howling to the contrary as we March down the tinsel-lined yellow brick road of 5th Avenue towards the imposing citadel of Trump Tower while complimenting each other on how funny our signs are.
Trump the bumbling businessman who flaunts bankruptcy as some ingenious financial acumen represents the economic ineptitude of a generation of Boomers riding through the raging 80s into the financial comfort of the Clinton years only to squander our surplus with a bundle of inane investment instruments that nearly led the most prosperous nation since Midas’ Monarchy into an economic death spiral rivaled only by the Great Depression.
Trump the attention-deficit tweet machine sheltering himself in a blanket of undeserved entitlement, seeking a safe space from the bullying of anyone attempting to keep him accountable is the melancholy Millennial living in the One Million Dollar Loan of his parent’s basement exchanging an honest day’s work for a tiring tirade of self-pity.
And Trump the grumpy, fat old fuck wandering around in a bathrobe yelling at Fox News about how fantastic things were in the days of segregation and back-alley abortions is our dipshit grandfather who insists on voting yet refuses to die.
This is our family and 2017 has proved to be the bitter Thanksgiving weekend that refuses to end, as we repeat the same conversation over and over again in some nightmare version of Groundhog Day where Andie MacDowell will never fuck us.
So how did our family get here?
Growing up in the liberal echo chamber of the Bay Area during the 1990s, I idolized the Clintons. They were like my political parents. They made mistakes, often disagreed but remained strong enough to continue moving forward towards a common good like a Griswold family vacation to the Wally World of equality. Bill Clinton was the bumbling Homer Simpsons that didn’t deserve a partner like Marge but Hillary was the wise wife that kept his compass true. When they left the White House in 2001 I crudely superimposed a picture of Hillary’s face onto the Terminator’s body in Microsoft Paint with the caption “I’ll Be Back.” At the time it wasn’t a hint or a whisper of a wish, it was a prophecy. It was destiny. If only I had known.
Enter Dubya. The braindead High School gym coach who had us running in circles, insisting that we were either with him or against him and demanding the question, “is our children learning?” Our children is was learning and we is graduated.
Meet Barack Obama. Our cool college professor. He was tall and lanky and bummed us smokes after class. He slid our textbook away with a sly smile and turned his chair backwards. Call me Barry. Mr. Obama is my dad’s name. I definitely inhale.
We came home for Christmas break extolling the virtues of our hip happening prof. Mom was jealous and got a little hot under the head. Listen to me! Not some guy with a name plucked from the list of 9/11 hijackers!
Mom stewed for eight years. Got a little out of touch. We tried to teach her how to use “the email” but she kept accidentally deleting messages and clicking on suspicious links from Russian hackers. Mom. Jesus Christ. Don’t try to zoom in on an Instagram picture, you’re going to make me like it when I don’t.
Then Uncle Bernie came to visit. Weird Uncle Bernie from Vermont. He’s not really our uncle but we call him Uncle Bernie anyway. He’s so cool! Even cooler than Professor Obama! Awesome that an old dude agreed with us on all the stuff mom told us we were stupid for thinking. Mom told us she knew better. Uncle Bernie seemed to be the only one listening instead of lecturing. Mom made up some bullshit that Uncle Bernie was sexist and sent him back to Vermont. Ugh. MOM. What the fuck.
As Mama Hillary bumbled through the email scandal we knew she wasn’t doing anything corrupt or illegal, she just doesn’t know how to use a fucking computer. It was hard not to be resentful. Suddenly Hillary came to represent every incompetent boomer who makes three times as much as us but doesn’t know how to power cycle the fucking modem. Just retire please.
Well, we got what we wanted. The 70-year-old serial sexual harasser CEO of the company stormed in and fired mom.
And then Mom blamed us for her failure. All of her friends did too. Talk about blaming the victim. Sure, we weren’t exactly the most patient kids but you’re the parent. The buck stops with you. You fucked up. You got fired. Accept your responsibility. This was your job to lose. Forced retirement snatched from the jaws of promotion. Please go home. We’ve got this.
Back to the dog resembling their owner. Maybe the opposite is true. JFK was the glossy-coated Collie that inspired a generation of young people to howl at the moon. Nixon was the grumpy terrier growling at everyone who passed his porch. Reagan the vapid show dog who could prance around the parade ground but couldn’t fetch for shit. Clinton the licking Labrador who tried to fuck a palm tree, Dubya the Doberman whose bark was dumber than his bite and Obama the shepherding sheep dog that led his flock proudly to the jaws of the wolf he swore to protect us from. Now there is a slobbering, rabies-infected Rottweiler eating his own shit and barfing it back on our couch. Every time we walk past the garbage-strewn driveway the Rottweiler guards we think “this is the time I won’t jump like a scared squirrel when he barks.” And then he barks and our heart skips a beat once again.
I challenge you to find a Baby Boomer who won’t weep a bit when you whisper the name “Old Yeller.” Show me a Millennial who enjoyed shooting the German Shepherds in Wolfenstein 3D and I’ll show you a Trump voter. But folks, it’s time for the family to put the dog down — metaphorically of course, not by rifle but through our votes. Things might be fucked for the Boomer’s retirement and the Millennial’s prospect for owning a home but the next generation is still innocent little Arliss. And we can’t let Old Yeller bite him. So it’s time to be the brave Travis and take a rifle to the dog to put him out of our misery (once again metaphorically, I am in no way advocating political violence or any other form of violence). And perhaps let this all be a reminder that we need to focus on something other than a bunch of dogs barking at each other lest we get into another bitter partisan battle like the nightmare of 2016. So mom, dad, aunts and uncles: let’s put the dog down, buy a bag of goldfish and get back to fucking work.