Best antidote to GOP-Trumpery: ‘Make America happy, again’

“Make America Great Again” is fast becoming the most infamous, ironic, fake promise ever made – as misery abounds. Trump showed that fear-mongering fixations work short-term; let’s try happiness-mongering.

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Image Credit: Austin American/Statesman via AP

“Happy New Year” is this month’s mantra, a hopeful, widely ironic signal to where we are: not very happy. Why? Because the mean-spirited campaigner who denigrated America as a failed state – and he the only fix – has delivered “incredibly” on his gloom and doom scam. On full display, the most pernicious Trump-GOP government compounds failure upon failure. Time for the ideal comeuppance as optimism and overdue justice loom. With House Democrats set on nothing less than redeeming reality, 2019 punishments will both fit Trump crimes and bring forth Republican collusion (what? “no collusion,” that’s rich). Ruination shall descend with such force likely few other reactionary know-nothings, even not owned by foreigners, will chance the presidency.

The pulsating rightwing catastrophe opens up for progressives a window for far different, far less corporate leaders on the scene. I find positives when Trump’s utter oblivion, contempt for law and the presidency, is self-exposed. “National security,” the phoniest of lawless excuses, served racist travel bans, stupid tariffs and wasted troops sent to the border. Now comes the idle, laughable threat – declaring a “national emergency” – as if he can order soldiers to build his wall folly. TV celebrity logic strikes again.

A desperate presidency, so inept at deal-making only rampant sleaze explains his alleged wealth, plods on, clueless and script-less. Good news: echoing a Jeffersonian idea on democratic insurgency: every generation should face the worst – here deranged disruption – then revolt. Here’s the silver lining to the upcoming great fall: Trump won’t go down without scarring corrupt party enablers, then “betrayers” or “rats” mercilessly abused.

Fears abound

The Fearmonger-in-chief has become the most cornered, fear-plagued malefactor. Since inauguration, Trump cowered over what he never had: majority support. For months he’s shuddered not only at Mueller’s deep digging (well rat-ified by the likes of Flynn, Cohen, etc.) but armies of law and order prosecutors. Now his unforced Wall fiasco makes him dread the worst: losing his suckered base. Is not Trump victimized by his invented Frankenstein? Fixated, literalist disciples plagued with magic thinking demand he alone delivers the goods – oblivious that a phony, symbolic, unbuildable wall won’t gain them either relief or respect. Misery really doesn’t love company, especially when deluded loyalists begin to feel like Custer at Little Big Horn.

Aside from surging Dem insurgents (aware House control is just the beach head), Americans remain mired in misery. Is not the entrenched Hillary-Biden-Feinstein cadre agonizing over losing party control? Centrist Republicans, all 5000, don’t like Trump but resist both “crooked” Democrats and scary democratic socialists. Will disrupted, wishywashy independents not whine when choosing between Trump or Pence and either Biden or Sanders.

The impeachment brouhaha won’t stop the Trump Terror – nor new, PR outrage stunts beyond the third-order problem of immigration. Powerless Republicans, tied at the hip to a loser redefining presidential losing, are dead-ended: if they abandon Trump, primaries do them in; if they keep enabling corruption, the general election dooms them. What a delightful, impossible quandary for the nation’s great menace, whose loss diminishes the NRA, militant Nazis, and conspiracy nutcases?

The bridge to everywhere

Thus, my uplifting, freebie slogan guaranteed to boost wide-ranging opponents: “Make America happy again.” Avoid the easy path, trashing the misfit’s ruthless, insensitive character. Instead, target his depressing, boomeranging message: America falls if Trump doesn’t get his irrational way. By contrast, every sane, “presidential” 2020 Democrat will be more informed, more truthful, more law-abiding, and less sneeringly condescending than Trump, Pence, or right-wing duplicates. Trump’s one-note travesty is way past its shelf life, with no people benefits yet chaos to domestic tranquility, international commerce, foreign policy and stock markets.

No politics of hope and change thrive without solid policy commitments. Fine: Medicare for all, cheaper drugs, consumer protection, taxing the rich, protecting voting rights – plus targeted job training, incentives to move (to offset stagnant wages), massive infrastructure projects and miracle to behold – keeping the government open. The Green New Deal promises jobs, success and happiness writ large, providing income while resurrecting essential research to command the future, plus the opening gambit we’re answering glaring, climate change red lights. Can we not bridge the left and right by disowning wedge politics while restoring this extraordinary idea: government that works for the vast majority? Cutting bloated defense budgets takes care of nominal Pay-go standards.

Our happiness birthright

Is not the pursuit of happiness our national birthright, ennobled by our own Declaration of Independence? Along with “life” and “liberty” – solid legs without which happiness withers. Big words for a nervy upstart government, notwithstanding painful contradictions on slavery or voting by only propertied males. The paramount quest is not (yet) wealth, domination or foreign conquest but the birthright “pursuit of happiness.”

Clearly, “Make America Great Again” is fast becoming the most infamous, ironic, fake promise ever made. What mangled Trumpery managed was “make America much worse” and so many, now especially government workers, far more miserable. Sure, two jobs with minimum wages lower unemployment rates, but less health care (with added threats to pre-existing conditions) and stripped federal safety nets confirm the calculated, full-scale GOP-Trump assault on government. Who’s not totally tired of “so much winning”?

On point, facts confirm the miasma of American misery, with shocking reductions in overall life expectancy from opiate deaths, suicides and health care takeaways. Gallup’s international ’18 World Happiness report tracks the USA falling from #14 to #18 place, reflecting GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption. Hardly anything important, to the rabid right.

Another Gallup poll demonstrated “significant declines in well-being in 21 states in 2017, the most states with a drop in a single year” since first measured after the 2008 financial crisis. And it gets worse: greater maternal and infant birth mortality, more homelessness, extensive child homelessness, hunger and poverty, worse education attainment and test scores, and more explicit racial segregation. No wonder millions of inspired November voters rejected the party of bigotry, ignorance, regression and misogyny.

Big money, not big happiness

Further, we must obliterate the self-serving hustle Trump relies on, crudely equating happiness with great wealth. Not being rich, by this reduction, means you’re a loser when in fact wealth alone is secondary. Extensive research ties happiness with loving family ties, satisfying employment, belief that life has meaning, and high community engagement. Truth decimates propaganda.

Just as Trump showed, that fear-mongering fixations work short-term, let’s try happiness-mongering. That means redeeming state and federal governments — and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, only take the best from history and marry tested programs to current reality. The New New Deal. Thanks inadvertently to Trumpery, the world is all before us, immense reform opportunities press on us, and, with a sensible, compassionate majority that trusts reason, we might just survive the future. Tallyho and, oh yes, Happy New Year.

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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