Letter: Politics and the armchair quarterback

Somehow, I have wound up on email lists of both Democrats and Republicans. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re going to join the debate today it helps to hear what both sides have to say and how they say it. It’s no secret I didn’t think much of the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. All that’s transpired since his flameout has served to prove all my points and criticisms.

Like many, I am even more wary today of my fellow citizens who continue to display his muscle-ripped physique on red, white and blue flags emblazoned with his name and emails addressed to “Friend,” or “Patriot,” or worse, “Patriot Friend.” These appeals prove my point about how delusional his supporters are since anyone can see there’s no resemblance between their fantasy and what the reality turned out to be, just like his policies.

He was an amateur, a Monday morning quarterback who got to play president of the United States for four years and by all measures the same thing happened to him that happened to George Plimpton in his book “Paper Lion,” when the latter got to pretend to be the Detroit Lions’ quarterback playing on a real NFL team in the real NFL. He got sacked often and painfully. The difference, of course, was Plimpton wasn’t taken in by his own charade.

All this is nothing new. What is new is what we Americans choose to do about it. By that I mean how we choose to treat each other as we continue the herculean task of evolving that greatest of political experiments, the United States of America into that “more perfect union.” Politics is illusion at its most sophisticated where even one person by the force of his or her personality can convince the most educated, the most sophisticated of our citizens to do the unthinkable and to have them feel justified.

Fortunately, Americans are a moral people. Some are more moral than others. Some convince themselves they are being moral. But in all cases, even the term American implies a person who’ll do the right thing, even if sometimes they don’t. The idea of “America First” hearkens back to the pro-Nazi movement that gained great popularity in the 1930s under the funding and guidance of Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, to name just two of its prominent celebrity proponents. These men, like the former president, leant their opinions and their fame to what they thought was best.

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Today, by my calculation, roughly 27% of Americans continue to support the movement and its current celebrity leader. But, despite the hot air leaking out of the balloon, we must practice vigilance. Those who have not forgotten history are once again occupying the adult seats. There’s a saying about faith. To those who believe, no explanation is necessary. To those who don’t none is possible. The deluded apply the same argument to their opponents, which makes it even more important that we who employ the evidence of our eyes and our ears continue to practice vigilance and call out those who don’t. The peoples’ business is serious business with serious consequences. Evidence 640,000 dead Americans and counting. Armchair and Monday morning quarterbacks need not apply.

Gus Nicholson


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