Have we normalized the absurd? The real Donald J. Trump legacy

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by Sharon Kennedy

A couple of years ago, I was watching a television program and the guest was former secretary of state, the late Madeleine Albright. She said something about the absurd becoming accepted as “normal” in today’s politics. Anyone who survived the past six years with their intelligence intact is aware that things are going haywire in our democratic republic.

I have no intention of getting into a verbal battle with anyone. However, like Marcellus, an officer of the palace guard in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we know something’s rotten in Denmark. We may not know who or what is causing the stink, but we know a strong stench is blanketing America.

Albright also made mention of unscrupulous leaders elected to high office. She said something about plucking a chicken one feather at a time. Her point was that nobody notices slight changes in the hen until all the feathers are gone and it’s too late to save the fowl. Basically she was saying while the majority of citizens focus on the ringmaster’s inconsequential red herrings, he’s busy stirring up society’s underbelly. She expressed concern that normalizing the absurd began during the 2016 presidential campaign when bullying, name-calling, cussing, crying “fake news” and outrageous lying became acceptable means of communication.

When that campaign started, we laughed at the unconventional way one candidate conducted himself. Donald J. Trump made politics entertaining. People loved him because he was a novelty equivalent to a county fair’s two-headed calf. Although he was an oddity, he was also a breath of fresh air. We laughed at his outlandish tactics and dismissed his vulgar speech as mere showmanship. We ignored his treatment of women and mockery of the disabled. We embraced his “good old boy, straight-talking, beer-drinking, gun-toting,

Bible-thumping, I feel your pain, Mexico’s paying for the wall” image. Most of us knew it was phonier than a three-dollar bill, but for the first time in our history we looked forward to political debates. His wouldn’t contain much in the way of substance or truth, but that was of no consequence. Neither would they be as dry as burnt toast and full of campaign promises destined to shrivel like prunes if he wasn’t his party’s candidate. He convinced a majority that he was a man of his word.

When he won the Republican nomination, I watched his rallies courtesy of RSBN, a conservative media outlet dedicated to promoting the man who would be king. I sat in my favorite chair, bowl of popcorn on my lap, bottle of Squirt by my side and sang along with Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” as Trump took the stage. It didn’t take long to realize he was hitting home runs every time he spoke. When I listened to his final speech in the early morning hours of Election Day 2016, I knew he had won.

But governing a country is serious business. If an egomaniac takes the reins and refuses to let go, trouble happens. Jan. 6 was the continuation of the revolution begun years earlier. Underneath our collective ears, we now hear our government’s death rattle. Maybe it’s time for it to go. Maybe another form is what we need to make America great again. We’ve accepted the normalization of the absurd. Why not accept fascism? We’re not really a democracy anyway so we won’t miss it. After all, nobody missed that freaky two-headed calf when it was shot the day the fair ended.

— To contact Sharon Kennedy, send her an email at authorsharonkennedy.com. Kennedy’s latest book, “The SideRoad Kids: Tales from Chippewa County,” is available from her, Amazon, or Audible.

This article originally appeared on The Sault News: Sharon Kennedy: Have we normalized the absurd?

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