Sunday, August 6, 2017

An American Carol: A Short Story for Tough Political Times

In the year 2026, a corrupt president not named Donald Trump, whose political party we will not tell, sits in the Oval Office closing up work for the day. He closes down work on his presidential actions, all of which have been much worse than Trump's. He has banned immigration outright. He has raised taxes on non-white males. He has even bribed Congress to let him off the hook numerous times, even after he has assaulted other people. He's even bombed his own nationally treasured locations and framed the people he resents.

He is hated by his own country. He has become unpopular in a way Donald Trump never was. His impeachment is only prohibited by his repeated bribes to Congress not to impeach him. Unpopular with even his own party, he has brought out greed and jealousy in the political system.

He does not think highly of Trump, but only because even Trump is not nearly as xenophobic and unpopular as he, and to an extent his country, is.

He finishes his work for the day, self-absorbed as always, ready to give a speech about how great he and his country are on the country's 250th, July 4th, 2026, the very next day. He strides off to his bedroom. He lives alone in the White House, no woman - or man - wanted him. He goes to bed, getting undressed, looking forward to his big day tomorrow.

He's drifting off to sleep when he hears a voice. He looks up in shock. There, in front of him, is a slightly transparent man in a suit and tie. The president is speechless.

The figure then speaks to him in a creaky voice. "Hello, Mr. President. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits. Each shall show you the consequences of your actions."
"Who are you?" the President asks.
But the man in the suit and tie fades away as soon as he came. The President drifts off, wondering if it was a former president, going back to sleep.

He wakes up hours later to another voice, a voice he recognizes, as that of an American president from fifteen years prior.
"Barack Obama!" he exclaims, reaching for his treasured gun he keeps by his bedside, looking up, then seeing a similarly transparent Obama.
"What's a darvog like you doing here?" Now, if you don't know, "darvog" was a racial slur for African-Americans that the President had invented, thinking the "n-word" was too overused.
"I am not Barack Obama," he says. "I am the Ghost of America Past. I will take you back in time twenty years to the year 2006, back when you were not as corrupt."
"I have never been corrupt!" the President retorts. But then he is swept out of his bed, and finds himself watching his own self in 2006, in an office in a skyscraper adorned with his name, a much younger version of himself.
This younger President, not President yet, calls in his aide. "I'd like to make a hire," the younger President says. "Find poor, homeless people who need a job. I'd be happy to hire them."
With a wave of his hand, the Ghost of America Past, still standing by the President, activates a TV, which says "This is CNN" and is giving a report on how the younger President's business is "the most welcoming, diverse, accepting business in America." Then the news graphic shifts to say, "Is he only doing it for publicity?"
The President turns to the Ghost of America Past to answer the question the CNN anchors have posed, but he is gone. Then the President is sleeping, in his bed once again.

A little later, he is awake. A Congressman stands in front of him. The Congressman is slightly transparent as well. "President!" he yells. "Wake up!"
The President awakens. "I am the Ghost of America Present," he says. "Come with me to the border with Mexico, where stands the wall our former president Trump conceptualized, but you finally built."

And then, the President watches the border wall perform its function. He sees Mexicans, risking their lives to get over it, saying, in Spanish, which the President can somehow understand, that they will risk anything to get into this land of hope and opportunity. "Wait until they see how much opportunity awaits them in America," he says.
"There will be opportunity," says the shimmering Congressman, "but only without you. You built the wall. You raised their taxes. You made it against the law for any company to hire them. And you are proud of this?"
"I am," the President says. "I have made America safe."
"In this day and age," says the Ghost of America Present, "your opposition comes from protesters, from people disgruntled with all politics, from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. No one can do anything about you holding office. You've bribed your supporters into the Congressional majority."
"[Expletive deleted] the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and their pledge drives," the President says. "My IQ is the highest ever recorded and they should know not to make war with me."
"Now see," the Ghost says, "that American flags are hung at half mast. People are hanging their own flags at half mast to mourn those you have persecuted."
The President sees the flags at half-mast, looking around at them, seeing the people who have hung them. He turns to the Ghost. "Have I made my own country unpatriotic?" he asks.
"Let me put it this way," the Ghost says. "Fireworks displays tomorrow night are getting canceled because no one wants to celebrate a country run by an idiot."
The President readies to assault the Ghost, but he is back in his bed, and the Ghost of America Present is gone.

It is almost morning. The President wakes up again. A third man stands in the doorway. As this third man strides toward him, the President realizes it is none other than his much older self.
"Are you the Ghost of America Future?" he asks.
The Ghost does nothing but point, and the President finds himself in the year 2046.

America is stricken with poverty. Washington is in ruins. American flags are torn. Worse yet, the prisons are full of women, non-whites, non-Christians, immigrants, and LGBTs. America has been torn apart - by a genocidal war the President has brought about.
"And what of me?" the President asks.
The Ghost of America Future leads him to Arlington National Cemetery. Catching on, the President asks, "Where is my grave? Have I died?"
The Ghost finally speaks. "You died after sixteen years as dictator," he says, "and now I, being you, have been dead, but not properly buried, for none mourn my loss."
"What of the rest of the world?" asks the President.
"All the other nations of the world are even more dreary than America is now."
"Why?"
"Because you nuked them all."
And then, the President fell to his knees and screamed, blinked, and found himself in his own bed.

The President awakened. It was morning, July 4th. He got dressed quickly and ran to his Chief of Staff. "Call everyone who stands before the eighteenth in line for presidential succession," he says, "and tell them they must resign. You will resign. I will resign. The Vice President will resign. The Speaker of the House will resign. The whole cabinet will resign."
"And who will become president?" asked the Chief of Staff.
The President holds up a picture of a woman in a burqa. "She will."
"But she wasn't even born in America, and she's trans!" the Chief of Staff exclaims.
"That's what I want for my country," the President says. "I have acted above the law and executed many unconstitutional actions. I have acted too supreme. I have done wrong. I was shown the past, the present, and the future last night, and if I stay in office, I will be a danger to the world and to the goal of peace America stands for."

That night, as fireworks are readied on the National Mall, and a large crowd gathers, the newest President of the United States, a Muslim transgender woman, stands on the steps of the Capitol. She addresses her country, the first President of her kind in so many ways. The first transgender president. The first Muslim president. The first woman president. The first president that does not belong to a political party.
The fireworks light up the sky above the Tidal Basin, the Washington Monument, above all of America. Now it is the xenophobes who seek to leave America.
For one night, America basks in the fireworks as one, watching as one, all as one community. As they go off, loudly, but not blocking out the new President's speech, the old President hands over his title. He steps down with dignity. He accepts his replacement with dignity rather than disdain.

The protesters' cries have been answered, and America is finally great for the first time in 250 years.













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