I felt such hope for humanity when Obama was president. He was far from perfect, but his generally rational, sympathetic demeanor, his focus on ethics, and his attempts to use government as a social tool to improve quality of life made me feel that perhaps a kind, wise government was somewhere not far ahead.

When Trump was elected, that feeling of hope died, replaced by a feeling of despair for humanity that I’ve learned to mostly ignore for the sake of my own sanity.

It felt (and still feels) like a horrible mistake, like somehow the country had backlashed itself off the rails and the lunatics were now running the asylum.

I was shocked and horrified that there were so many people in this supposedly advanced country who could let themselves get taken in by this conman. He had been so obvious about indulging in grandiose self-glorification and manipulating people’s worst instincts. It was clear as day — all his words and actions revealed himself as someone obsessed with the power and status of the White House, with winning the biggest game on this planet by any means possible, at any cost, with no inconvenient, unmanly empathy getting in the way.

If it took paying a smart guy to take the SAT for you, or paying a porn star millions to stay quiet, or stirring up irrational rage so that you could play savior, or telling people exactly what they wanted to hear (true or not) in order to lure them into blind loyalty….why not, if it meant you could be the ultimate winner, the most powerful, the biggest celebrity on Earth? Here’s the PR spin: tough guys and renegades don’t play by the rules.

Until Trump came along, I never would have believed that a sociopathic charlatan could actually con his way into the White House.

How could so many people fall for this? How could they not eventually notice his obvious shell game?

His facade as a tough, smart renegade, a self-made millionaire, a business genius, was so obviously a twisted PR creation that concealed the ignorant con-man underneath. The whole charade was completely busted if you just looked the verifiable details of his life. There’s a reason fellow New Yorkers called him “Don the Con” for decades. He was a ruthless, reckless businessman, not a genius at all. He had lived his public life doing and taking whatever he wanted, and usually getting away with it. Bankruptcies, duplicitous products, deceitful and racist business tactics, aggression toward women, endless affairs and divorces……is it a surprise that this person then proceeded to seek political favors from foreign dictators, to pay mountains of lawyers to hide his shady dealings, to recklessly disregarded diplomacy and constitutional restraints? Even before all this, he had already felt entitled to grab any woman he wanted because was rich and famous — why wouldn’t he feel entitled to do whatever he wanted as president? Don the Con, at it again.

Look in his eyes — you can see it there, and in his body language, and in the manic way he tweets. His tacky spray tans and hairpieces, his trophy wife and daughter, the hyperbolic bragging, are all part of the chaotic, inane attempt to advertise himself as a manly, courageous renegade for the people. His petty cruelty and rage are spun by the true believers at Fox to seem like righteous anger, a misunderstanding, or a joke. Or maybe just “Locker Room Talk.” That’s super manly, right?

His facial expressions are over the top, and he pairs his arrogant self-congratulation with lots of wide, smug grins. But there’s no warmth behind his smile, no real concern in his eyes. His political modus operandi boils down to “I’m awesome cuz I say so, and so are my loyal followers — screw the haters and the liberals.”

I’m more worried than ever today, less than two weeks from Election Day. Will it happen again? Will people fall for the big con again, after all that’s happened?

Can the noble task of moral progress through humane government ever be resurrected from the depths of this swampy disaster?

Just a few more weeks and at least I won’t have to fret and worry any more about what will happen. Either the horror show will be over soon and the rescue and rebuilding efforts can begin, or we’ll all be forced to live through an even uglier sequel while this country continues sinking deeper and deeper into the muck for another four years.

If the worst does happen, then I’ll have to make a decision — whether to resign myself to living in the muck and just keep trying to hold my head above water, or start looking for a way to escape to Canada.

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Ellen — Thinker, writer, babbler

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