Anyone who knows of the Mendocino Whale War, expertly documented and photographed by Mendocino’s Nicholas Wilson, knows that Donald Trump is not Byrd Baker, not even close.  Byrd Baker, quirky, odd, funny, compassionate, a character for sure, was a true Mendocino personality.  He was a decent man.  I don’t know what he would have thought about Donald Trump.  Never the less, I chose Bob Avery’s comical depiction of him to headline this blog.  I hope he likes it or forgives me if not.  He’s gone now sadly so I’ll never know.

I have followed politics since the race between Eisenhower and Stevenson.  I’ve never seen anything like last night’s debate.  There is really noting more to say beyond what the talking heads on CNN and FOX and elsewhere have already said but I do have just a few observations. I suspect Donald Trump knows he’s finished.  Last night was the last gasp of a fish out of water.  It was an embarrassment for all Americans or it should have been.  You didn’t even have to listen.  Donald Trump’s facial expressions were sufficient to express where he’s coming from, a loser and fraud who is in the process of being exposed.  He indulged himself in every lie, conspiracy theory, and ugly depiction of those he hates.  And, he is a hater.  Of those he loves, he puts himself at the top.  He is befuddled by the fact that the American people don’t love him back.

They never have.  What they like about Donald Trump is that he is useful.  Conservatives are happy with the judges but they are not Trump’s judges.  They have been groomed over many years by the Federalist Society as Kurt Andersen among many others has assiduously documented (see Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America).  The fact that Donald Trump appointed them has nothing to do with him.  Well, almost nothing.  The tragic death of Justice Scalia and the untimely death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg provided the opportunity for Trump, nothing he did.  With regard to Justice Kennedy, the details are murky.  A conspiracy theory as yet unproven is that Justice Kennedy retired to protect his son, a banker at Deutsche Bank.  Deutsche Bank was a major lender to businessman Donald Trump and the relationship is currently under investigation.  Perhaps we will never know the truth.  Evangelicals are happy with Trump’s appointment of Justices likely to weaken or repeal Roe vs. Wade.  Big business and wealthy individuals are happy with the lower taxes and the deregulation.  So, useful he is but not liked.  It is possible, more likely after last night, that his usefulness has run its course and that his faults are beginning to alienate those who have joined with him in a marriage of convenience.

This election is going to be a very trying time for America’s fragile democracy.  Poll watchers, a high number of absentee ballots, the ongoing COVID pandemic, and the unprecedented divisions made worse by this President’s rhetoric and behavior may permanently damage democracy as we have known it for over two hundred years.  I’m no expert on any of this but I’m far from alone in my thinking.

I hope in my next blog to dive deeper into a few books I just finished that take a broad view of America.  I particularly enjoyed Jorge Castaneda’s America Through Foreign Eyes.  Debates, especially the one last night, are not the best way to understand where we are and where we will (or should) go.  The election will come and something will happen.  I hope for the sake of my sons and grandsons and granddaughter that what happens will preserve the best of the America in which I’ve been privileged to live.  Unfortunately I’m not as optimistic as I’d like to be.  Time will tell.

Poor Donald.  His behavior precludes him from the love he so desires and his ego blinds him to the personal changes it would take to obtain that love.