So, first off; my apologies if I’m a little loopier than normal; I am an insomniac, and last night was particularly bad, but it has been a weird, fever-dream of a week, and it’s only Monday.

In the previous month or so — forgive me if I’m repeating the talking heads on television — we’ve seen for-profit concentration camps erected; funding ties between the KGB — er, “Russian interests,” sorry — and Mitch McConnell and the NRA; Trump trying to soft-censor the Internet (because it worked so well in Morocco); multiple mass shootings; the realization that the wealthiest 1% is, apparently, a gang of kiddie-rapers that make the sexual predators in charge of Hollywood look almost benevolent. We have a president misspelling his own name on Twitter (Boomers lose the right to complain about participation trophies forever, now that the other generations have to give them credit for spelling their names right). Have I missed anything? Oh, yeah, Anthony Scaramucci emerging from his lair to tell America that The Donald is an unreliable sumbitch who’ll turn on us all in a second. And the planet is literally melting. Oh, and The Donald has signed onto the idea that it’s okay to deny green cards to anyone who needs federal assistance (as an able-bodied person, that might not seem like a big deal to you, but, as a chronic cancer survivor, I know that the phrase “useless eaters” is marching toward the national dialog).

To all of my friends in non-shithole countries, all I can say is, this is about as weird and abnormal to most Americans as it seems to you (a majority of us, remember, voted for Clinton). What I’m deeply worried is, this will become normal to us, very soon. To understand this, let us consult with John Hughes’ masterpiece, Home Alone. This is the film — and it’s okay if you don’t remember this, this is one of those cultural artifacts, like the McCarthy hearings or Bruce Willis’ career, that we all collectively like to pretend never happened. But, the core of the story is that an entire extended family goes on vacation, and conveniently leaves one of the kids behind without adult supervision (to be fair, we all have a family member we immediately consider abandoning when it comes to vacation). Kevin wakes up in a world without any adult supervision, and two incompetent burglars trying to rob his house. There are so many weird ways this wouldn’t work out that I won’t go into too many details, except to say that, by the end, Kevin is semi-functional without any adults around, and the grown-ups coming back is the weird, disjarring, out-of-place incident; not setting a man on fire (yes, that happens in the film — if we want to talk about violent video games, fine; let’s first talk about the awful examples set by cartoons supposedly for children), or eating tubs of ice cream (which, as an adult, you see that in a film, and your response is, “Oh, that’s just SOP after a bad first date.”), or setting off fireworks indoors (again, the number of terrible lessons in this film are uncountable).

Most telling, however, is Kevin’s fascination-bordering-on-obsession with the violent film he’d been previously forbidden to see (the film-within-the-film — which doesn’t actually exist, sadly — is titled Angeles with Filthy Souls). At the start of the film, he’s paralyzed by fear; by the end, he can recite it line-for-line. We’ve all been tempted by forbidden fruit (and I don’t even mean in the Biblical sense — we’ve all dated horrible people simply because they previously rejected us, applied to jobs we have no intention of getting just because the company rejected our college internship application, etc.). In this case, it’s electing a psychotically coked-up television personality to high office, under, I can only assume, the hope that the inevitable melt-down will be televised. If that’s the case, America, there are better, safer alternatives to consider. Maury Povich is still around; you probably have dysfunctional family members on speed-dial, etc. What we can not afford to do is to learn the whole thing by rote (“No collusion,” “Lock her up,” and, “bigly” come to mind), and then act surprised when the grown-ups show up and tell us to turn off the TV, shut-down the for-profit prison industry, institute universal health insurance and background checks, etc.

In short, we can not make this the new normal. And we need to understand — and keep in mind at all times — the current state of affairs is not normal. I’m not even interested in telling you how to vote; just get out and vote. If Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are truly the will of America, they have nothing to fear if every American shows up at the polls next November. If we continue pointlessly arguing about 30–50 wild hogs (it’s a really stupid thing)(on Twitter), we will, effectively, be endorsing them (the hogs) for office. We’ve already done that once, and I’m tired of that horror movie.

Written by

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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