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Joep Bertrams, The Netherlands

This Wretched Political Polka

The Best America Can Come Up With?


Of all of the appalling tableaux complicating my consciousness in this wretched political polka was the Chameleon’s exuberant reaction to polls showing him well ahead of Secretary Clinton among “non-college white men.” His response to that news unfolded itself at some raucous rally, the candidate for President of this young nation greeted his followers, arms spread wide, his manly hands splayed, and then the Pompadour shouted “I love the undereducated.” Not surprisingly, he did not reference Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that an educated and informed population is essential to the health or even the survival of the Republic. The Charlatan, the Peacock, has the most selective memory in memory.

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Marian Kemensky, Slovakia

He takes his place in the long, curious parade of Americans who have championed brawn over brains or slogan slapping rather than scholarship. Intellectuals are “eggheads” hiding in “ivory towers.” They are effete parasites who teach because they cannot do and are out of touch with essential/mythical American staples like the sanctity of hard work, a healthy fear of God, and the absolute conviction that America is an exception — identified by a higher power and blessed by His identification. It is, for Trump and his ilk, an exclusive club to which you can only be admitted if you were conceived in North America, and that doesn’t, as his birther “movement” would have it, necessarily include Hawaii.

Only America, this fledgling state, would have the nerve to so blithely ignore history because everybody has more of it than we do. France? Greece? Rome? China? Jerusalem, Constantinople — mere flukes? Antiquated anomalies? They are all old, tired, and in the way. We are the rail splitters, the tamers and shapers of the wilderness — at no less than God’s behest — conquerors of the Mexicans, the Sioux, and the moon. The Bad Dream sees the world from his own sort of tower which, much like him, is gilded, garish, rude, and shallow for all its height.

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Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung, Austria

I spend a couple of months every year in Mexico, Europe, or Asia, and the Yellow-Haired Martinet is a source of astonishment and concern. Reagan’s City on the Hill seems to have serious infrastructural problems. There is a leak in the plumbing, and its grid is sputtering. The natives are restless, pissed off, and given to flights of undeserved fancy, magical thinking, and occasionally amnesia. The rest of the world has held America to be the last best shot at stemming the generally ugly tide of history — punctuated as it is by what seems to be a succession of shallow dangerous men, wed to their own interests and more than willing to throw allies, old friends, and little old ladies under the bus (the ox cart and the chariot) in the name of the Fatherland or some other handy, if lethal, hash-tagged hysteria.

We cannot let this man occupy the Oval Office, the Situation Room, or the bully pulpit (redundant in this case) or be an example of the best America can come up with. Shame is a word not in his vocabulary except when used as a weapon against someone else. His view of the world is narrow, color sensitive, and misogynistic. We will all miss President Obama, with his self-assurance, white hot intelligence, and good old class. With the Orange Man in the White House, we will be embarrassed and the office he seeks diminished.



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