Not All Is Lost | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Not All Is Lost

Taking a Gander: Resilient we may be, but we should steer clear of Trump encounters.



They say that the sea is a harsh mistress. Luckily, the near-fatal collision between America's "Ship of State" and the floating debris of the Trump administration just narrowly missed sinking us.

Despite the POTUS's belief that he has a wildly supportive electorate that dearly loves him, the Orange Buffoon's flamboyant future is rapidly contracting. It would appear he has simply run out of options. Though clinging to his best delusions—that only fraud could give the election to his opponent—there's a glimmer of light for Americans; our democracy may yet be saved.

People have been scared—and rightly so. It was starting to feel like the movie All Is Lost, in which the hero—known only as "Our Man," played by Robert Redford—is stranded in the Indian Ocean after his sailboat, a 39-foot sloop named the Virginia Jean, strikes a large shipping container during the night, slashing a wide breach in its hull and threatening imminent sinking. Despite heroic effort, novel resourcefulness and indomitable optimism—interrupted only by one futile expletive—Redford slogs his way toward a meeting with the Grim Reaper—although it's not clear if they shake hands or not.

So much luckier than the fate of the Virginia Jean and its captain, there is hope for this great nation.

Lest anyone be confused, the analogy should be clear: In this story, Donald Trump is the shipping container that caused the damage—a chuck of steel that had slipped from a container ship and was bouncing, without direction, on the sea. His election was an accident that should never have happened, and he's done an untellable amount of damage.

Like "Our Man," Americans were asleep when it happened—otherwise, Trump's election would have been impossible. It is actually a rather trite storyline—of how failed vigilance can end in disaster. In our world, this scenario is not unique: People wanting change from the same-ole, same-ole, get sucked in by audacious promises of someone they think can break with old ways of doing things. But rather than ushering in fresh air, Trump's ascension to the throne, like the flotsam in the ocean, put a gash in America's most treasured institutions.

With all of America's experience in dealing with—and condemning—banana republics around the world, it's troubling America failed to stop this threat. How many relatively stable democracies have been hijacked by ruthless leaders who would be king? It was something inconceivable to most of us; we suffered from the failed reasoning that it could never happen here. We simply didn't see it coming.

After Trump's election, many of us spent our waking hours with our mouths wide open in disbelief. Each outrage seemed to upstage the last. There were those who worried the national leadership debacle would never end. But perhaps a supreme being—whom some claim wrote our Constitution—smiled upon our country. Of course, it would have helped if the miracle had been more pronounced, if the margin of victory had risen to the excitement of, say, turning water into wine.

While America has taken a step in the right direction—defeating Trump's second term with 5 million votes—it is still too early to say "Phew!" The nightmare of the Trump presidency is nearing its end, but it ain't over till it's over, and when that will be isn't clear, but we can at least look forward to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2021.

We know that Trump is no quitter, which is ironic considering his growing tally of failures. The golden spoon in his mouth has been going through color changes for years. It may have looked like 24-carat at one point, but now it is showing a distinctly green tinge—just like the guaranteed oro puro necklace you bought in Tijuana.

As we know, real gold is a metal that doesn't tarnish, so it should always look the same. But, in Trump's case, everything he has—and everything he is—is no more than illusion. His inherited fortune has mostly disappeared and now his finances have come into question; hundreds of millions in tax liabilities are looming, eviction from Pennsylvania Avenue is imminent and a slew of potential criminal prosecutions threaten his peace of mind.

Hopefully, America will erect a large "Don't tread on me" sign for any other extortionist-opportunists who wish to undermine our democracy for his/her own selfish gain. During Trump's four years as president, he has done what he has always done—exploiting those who had misplaced their trust in him and defaulting on virtually every sacred contract, always leaving someone holding the bag and wishing they had never done business with him. At least, we're not at the bottom of the sea.

The oceans are vast, and there will always be hazards on the high seas. We can't help that, but the best protection for our Ship of State is the sustained vigilance and commitment of its citizens. Like the durable, fiberglass hull of the Virginia Jean, our ship is not unsinkable. It's time to stay alert, respect our duties as the night watch and avoid any bobbing jetsam that threatens to sink us all.

The author is a novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.