We have just witnessed the most bruising political struggle in modern times. So brutal, in fact, that it prompted journalist Owen Duffy to call it:
The biggest upset in US electoral history…the most outlandish and acrimonious presidential campaign in living memory. – Owen Duffy
Gallons of digital ink have been virtually spilled in analysing this political event, an event beyond historical comparison. On my seemingly never-ending search (desire?) to find meaning, I continuously read articles and listen to various experts and opinion makers, all with their unique take on what happened, why it happened, and what next.
Recently I came across two rather brilliant articles and two very surreal monologues, which go some way in explaining the overwhelming sense of bewilderment many of us still feel (assuming it ain’t just me).
With regards to the articles, first up you have Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair magazine, with his article Only In America. The article begins with the line:
Only in America could a man whose staff took away his Twitter account be given the nuclear codes. – Graydon Carter
From there on in it only gets better. Carter gives reason after reason as to why the election of Trump shows how America truly is the land of opportunity because (and this is just one reason among many):
Only in America could a man who kept a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside rule over the second-largest Jewish population in the world. – Graydon Carter
The second article is written by my favourite Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. We Shall Overcome is an analysis of why voters perhaps chose to vote the way they did, and what we Muslims should do now that we all find ourselves dragged into this post-Trump era. The article begins with a quote from the Bible, and ends with the following positive and strong statement:
Reject the race-baiting, celebrate the progress, and work to bring people together under a banner of brotherhood and sisterhood, united in a struggle that goes on. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
With regards to the monologues, I recently came across two very surreal speeches from two of Britain’s finest comedians. Yes, these running commentaries are very surreal (you have been warned), but I feel that the surreal nature of both of these orations reflect the surreal shenanigans of the 18 month election campaign, and of the presidency so far.
First up we have Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy, a BBC comedy discussion show hosted by the always controversial Boyle, which ends with the following eerie monologue from Boyle:
The second monologue is from the popular podcast The Bugle, hosted as always by Andy Zaltzman. Zaltzman tries, in his own bizarre way, to reassure listeners that everything will be just fine:
As usual transcripts are presented below…
Before I go I want to leave your with this. You’ve got to look on the bright side. As I dropped my child off at school today I said “Be positive. If everything kicks off, that’s your blood type.” David Bowie was great at predicting future trends, wasn’t he? He always seemed to know what was going to be fashionable next. He had an unfailing sense for what the future would be like. And that is why this year he chose to die. David Bowie willed himself to die like a dolphin. Our civilization is coming to an end. Not at some theoretical point in the future but soon. [Removes the American flag from a box to reveal a bomb-like countdown clock] We have just under four months left. The death throes of humanity will be a carnival of indescribable horror, which I will know describe. We will see limbless men raping people with greased heads. Members of ISIS beheading themselves. James Corden continuing to perform an endless monologue, caked in the flung excrement of the 54th Southern Highlanders. At the zoo wild animals will form a dignified queue as they wait for the elephants to stamp them to death. Watching lions and tigers being trod on like grapes, humans will attempt to join them and the elephants will use their trunks to pull their heads off like champagne corks, to the ecstatic applause of the sea lions. The only currency will be the Vienna Boys Choir. 10,000 traumatized infants in makeshift lingerie will flee the Vatican like rats from a factory fire. For the people of Swansea life will go on as normal. The bloody pelt of Tom Hanks will be flown as a flag of humanities surrender to the inevitable. Alien spacecraft, seconds from earth, will turn around. God will avert His gaze in disgust, then send down His self-righteous son to be murdered again because He hates him. So please don’t waste time on petty rivalries and hatreds. That neighbour who annoys you, invite him round for a BBQ. Get drunk with him. Kill him. It doesn’t matter, he’s dead already. Life on earth is over and we can mope about it or we can enjoy the relief of knowing that nothing matters anymore. I don’t know about you but I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. After this I’m off to the National Gallery to fuck a Rueben’s. And don’t feel sad. You’re the lucky ones, you made it to the end of the game. The movie is over and we’re living in the blooper reel. I’ve buried a time capsule for the people of the future, and you know what’s in it? A pressure-sensitive land mine. Good luck rebuilding society with no legs. The very last chapter of human history will involve Richard Branson trying to flee the earth on a spacecraft, but as he blasts off he’ll feel my shotgun at the base of his skull, and my erection at the base of his spine. I will be the alien to his Sigourney Weaver. Anyway, I’m sorry that I won’t be with you for the coming struggle. In these final moments of existence I’m afraid I have better things to do than try to amuse strangers. Goodbye. – Frankie Boyle, from his BBC show Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy, Nov 2016
Remember…it will all be fine. Don’t worry, it will all be fine. Possibly. Depending on who and where you are, and what your definition of fine is. And whether by all you mean not all. It’s just been a storm in a tea cup, admittedly a storm that has seen the democratic process and the concept of human dignity capsized and buffeted to within an inch of their lives. And in a tea cup that is the world’s most powerful nation. That is a big tea cup. A big, big tea cup. And we are all now going to be forced to drink that bitter, bitter tea for 4 years. That potentially poisonous tea. It is still just a storm in a tea cup. And look, the economic markets have been quite stable for the last few hours. That proves that everything is going to be okay economically and socially on a national and global for the next 4, sorry, 8 years. And yes that shattering sound you can hear, that is not the sound the glass ceiling being smashed to pieces. It was the sound of Vladimir Putin high-fiving himself in his own mirror. There is no point crying over spilled milk, even if that milk is spiked with arsenic and it’s been spilled directly into your mouth before someone forcibly holds your lips together and shouts “It’s democracy in action. If you don’t like it why don’t you fuck off to North Korea.” It will all be fine. – Andy Zaltzman, from The Bugle Podcast, Number 4004, Nov 2016