I’m not really sure Andrew Seidel’s The Founding Myth should be subtitled “Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American” because it’s not actually a rebuttal to Christian Nationalism. Instead, it is a rallying cry and powerful, persuasive argument for the history and virtue of secular government. While I highly recommend the book for that reason, Seidel’s received plenty of plaudits for that already (and one of the highest compliments possible: a rightwing minister publicly burned his copy), so I want to talk about the two things that bothered me about the book: It’s not really about Christian Nationalism in the same sense most people are using the term, and Seidel’s zeal for mocking Christianity runs the danger of alienating valuable allies in the fight for secular government.
There have been many books and articles written about “Christian Nationalism,” a relatively new phenomenon (despite what adherents insist) and still kind of nebulous, but most agree that “nationalism” is a pretty important part of the descriptor. After all, what really got people’s attention is the fact that white evangelicals, the people who had been insisting that they are the true representatives of “family values” for decades, enthusiastically supported Trump in 2016 and 2020. A lot of people (myself included) thought they actually believed that personal integrity and good character were essential to being a good leader, so when they overwhelmingly voted for a twice-divorced, boorish, narcissistic, bullying, racist, sexist, classist, Biblically illiterate, slum lord it was fair ask, “If they don’t believe in ‘family values’, what do they believe in?”
The answer seems to be “Christian Nationalism,” a peculiarly American ideology that’s as much about race (namely, white supremacy) as it is religion (plus patriarchy, notions about what the government’s role is, mythology, metaphysics, and some other things). For an “insider’s” explanation of what Christian Nationalism is, I highly recommend The Religion of American Greatness, by Paul D. Miller (a self-described white evangelical), which is kind of a long pastoral letter to clergy explaining why the ideology is neither Christian nor American and it’s their duty to lead their congregations away from it. Miller spends a lot of his book specifically addressing the racist half of the ideology, but Seidel doesn’t really go there, which is a pretty glaring oversight. He does devote a lot of time to examining how Christianity was used to justify slavery, Jim Crow, genocide against Indigenous Americans, and many other atrocities committed by the United States, but that’s in service of his real preoccupation.
The Founding Myth is a militant atheist’s forceful argument against one aspect of Christian Nationalism, namely the assertion that America was, is, and ought to be a Christian nation in law and culture. As someone who was raised mainline Protestant and left that community on bad terms to become a militant atheist for a while, I was already familiar with a lot of Seidel’s arguments, but found that they still resonated and refreshed. There are so many things factually, historically, legally, demographically, and philosophically wrong with the statement “America is a Christian nation” that Seidel’s is just one of the most recent, persuasive, and accessible examples of an entire genre. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is even slightly unsure about the Founding Secularism of our government and why it is a blessing.
But, having (mostly) made peace with my upbringing and personal grievances (I’m now a pragmatic agnostic), I’m kind of miffed with Seidel’s zeal in condemning Christianity as such as un-American and immoral. Seidel seems to relish explaining why the Ten Commandments are unconstitutional, which (while accurate) strikes me as in poor taste and, more importantly, strategically misguided. Most people in the United States still consider themselves Christian. In fact, the latest Pew Research poll says 64%. Christians are going to be the majority, or a king-making minority, for at least a couple more generations. In all possible scenarios, Nones won’t be the majority until at least 2070. Alienating self-identifying Christians is electoral idiocy. Besides, even though “Nones” are now 30% of the population and growing, most Nones are not atheists. Actually, not even all self-identified atheists are atheist; in 2019, Pew found that only 81% affirmed that they did not believe in god or gods, which means that about a fifth disagree with the technical definition of atheism. The point is, America is indeed undergoing a religious transition, but it’s not as simple or straightforward as, “People are leaving the Church and joining Richard Dawkins’ club,” which seems to be what both Seidel and Christian Nationalists think.
That’s what really bothers me about The Founding Myth‘s argument and tone. In condemning Christianity as Un-American, he’s undermining one of the most formidable arguments against Christian Nationalism: That it is not Christianity. There is a resurgent ecumenical and pluralist Religious Left in America presenting a powerful, beautiful vision, but is still trying to get its footing after being in conservative Christianity’s shadow since the late 1970s. Seidel runs both the risk of alienating them and essentially making one of Christian Nationalists’ main arguments for them: That they are the true representatives of the religion and everyone who says otherwise is no true Christian. Apparently, Seidel belatedly tries to correct that mistake in his forthcoming book American Crusade, but that does not improve the stand-alone argument in the Founding Myth.
Again, I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to push back against one aspect of the Christian Nationalist narrative: That America’s government and institutions are supposed to be Christian. They are not and never were. As Seidel points out, there are a lot of very misguided people being led by malicious actors with political agendas who must be stopped and persuaded back into the democratic fold. But the alternative is not necessarily atheism (it is for some), it’s the Separation of Church and State and Pluralism. Those two transcendent American values are what unites everyone who recognizes Christian Nationalism as a perversion of their most deeply held beliefs.
Continuing his one-dog vendetta to bring disloyal members of Biden’s security detail to heel, witnesses saw Major Biden chasing a rogue Secret Service agent through a crowded Trafalgar Square on Friday evening. “I’ve never seen someone look so terrified,” said Patricia Ruto, a Spanish tourist who was knocked to the ground by the fleeing agent moments before Major sprang over her in hot pursuit. Cornered, witnesses say the Secret Service agent leaped off the Hungerford Bridge into the River Thames. Without hesitation, Major dove in after him and neither emerged from the dark waters.
This is one among many sightings of the former First Dog over the past several months from all around the globe, from Buenos Aires to Tokyo to Sydney in what appears to be a crusade to hunt down agents showing insufficient obedience to the current Master of the White House. After his departure from the West Wing in December 2021 to live with family friends of the Bidens, it was thought that Major might enjoy a quiet retirement. “The biting incidents were a warning and service to the country, it turns out,” said Kim Cheatle, the newly appointed director of the Secret Service. “All I can say to the seditious former agents Major sniffed out: You should turn yourselves in now before he finds you. He is taking the law into his own jaws and he will decide how to discipline you. We’ve already discovered several hideouts where it appears Major questioned prisoners using enhanced interrogation techniques.”
The January 6th Committee has invited Major to testify about his intimate knowledge of the Secret Service’s activities during his time of service. In response, the Committee received an unmarked package containing a severed hand still clutching a cell phone whose contents had not been deleted in the now infamous data purge.
A few weeks ago marked the second anniversary of the ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge,” a brilliant fundraising drive that’s success is without precedent and I have a feeling will probably never be repeated. To celebrate, the ALSA announced that they had discovered a gene that could be associated with the disease using the funds generated by the Challenge. Most people applauded, but a few pointed out (justifiably) that it was not the monumental breakthrough that everyone had hoped for. The disease has not been cured, but we do understand it a bit better, now.
Then there was this: “The ice bucket challenge’s scientific success restored my faith in fundraising.” I have been trying to keep my mouth shut about this article for a month now, but I can’t. To say it infuriates me puts it mildly.
While the author (Mary Valle) concludes that the Challenge was a clever and deserved success, she spends a lot of the article griping that “overblown, internet-BS game[s] parading as a fundraiser[s]” can make people “feel like money keeps getting shoveled in to the charity-industrial complex with very little in the way of progress coming out.”
What bothers me is that expecting organizations to deliver miracles because the world suddenly cared for a few moments about a relatively unknown disease is both preposterous and damaging. It ignores the great things that institutions like the ALS Association do every day that we, as a society, take for granted, and that are life-changing to those who need them.
The ALS Association doesn’t just fund research. They have chapters in every state that provide services to people with ALS and their families including support groups, service referral, advocacy, loans to buy equipment, and more. This is not sexy work, but it is absolutely necessary.
Taking this a bit further, nonprofits like ALSA provide services that address problems that fall through the cracks — the ones neither the public or private sectors deal with.
Take Code Savvy, for example. Their work has a pretty simple premise: coding is a necessary skill in today’s workforce and will only continue to grow in importance over the coming years. Schools are not teaching it (kids at some Minneapolis high schools are only allowed to use their computer lab twice a week because there are too many students and too few computers for crying out loud) for want of resources. No for-profit company could implement a mass-education program that would train a huge chunk of the population in this skill cost-effectively, let alone earn a buck in the end.
So, Code Savvy steps in to fix an never-ending problem. Most of what they and other nonprofits do is the day-to-day drudgery of the Necessary.
Nonprofits are perpetually in a quandary. The folks who work at nonprofits are there because they believe there is an unprofitable need that has to be addressed, but at the same time that their organization should not exist in the first place. It’s built into the nonprofit DNA in the form of the universal “Vision Statement” that says what the world should look like when their work is finally complete.
As a friend of mine put it, if you work at a nonprofit, you should always be trying to work yourself out of a job.
I have spent my (admittedly short) working life at nonprofits. It has rarely occurred to me that I could find a job in the for-profit sector that would appeal to me, though I have often considered pursuing work in local government. I do not want to earn a monthly pay check — I want to serve. I strive to live up to the ideal that I am not working for myself and my family alone, but for the betterment of others. A lot of that kind of work is both endless and thankless, but essential. Nonprofits will do it until we have policy solutions and government departments dedicated to solving the problem.
If you think a six million dollar, one-time infusion of cash into a disease that has been known about for decades will result in a cure you are delusional. If you decided to become a sustaining donor, on the other hand, that is commendable, because you understand that there are some things that do not go away easily or quickly. That is where I agree with folks who say you cannot throw money at a problem. You can, however, convince society that an issue is worthy of collective action and then to strategically invest time and resources into its solution.
For two years, Britney lived in a small house in an unincorporated township outside of town and had to drive forty-five minutes to work as a hotel night clerk. She was renting it as a favor to a friend who needed a roommate to help cover the lease. Her neighbors were mostly survivalists and hermits who didn’t like talking, but all of them told her to be careful driving in winter, especially around the crossroads. There were wolves and worse. Some said that there were an unusual number of alien abductions in the area.
Britney never saw any wolves or aliens, but one night during a snowstorm in her second winter her car went off into the ditch next to a crossroads far from home and town. She’d forgotten her cell phone and considered whether or not it was safe to walk back. Then the Devil rolled up in a pickup truck and offered to pull her car out.
That’s what he called himself, at least, the Devil, but he looked more like a sickly, tired Brad Pitt impersonator. He had bags under his eyes. Either way he pulled her car out. She asked, jokingly, if she now owed him her soul. Actually, he said, he wanted to give her his. He wrote on the back of a parking ticket from his truck “My Soul” and gave it to her with a wink and then drove off.
This became a fun story to tell at parties and she kept the note with her to show people. The only ones who didn’t think it was funny were her neighbors who, laconic to begin with, stopped talking to her altogether. Of course people asked her if she felt different, more evil, if she had some sort of power, but of course she didn’t. What good would a soul, even the Devil’s, be to anyone? The only thing that had really changed was that she inexplicably became good at playing blues guitar. She was nothing special, but she was good enough to start playing in a band.
She moved out of the house in the summer and into an apartment a few blocks from the hotel where she worked and could suddenly afford to live because of a promotion and raise. People knew they could rely on her to cover shifts no one wanted, and she was usually the first one the others called when they were sick. Things were looking up. She finally could buy better food and work the hours she wanted.
Then, one night, the Devil checked in. He didn’t recognize her and he looked a lot healthier than he had months before when he pulled her car out. She asked for his name and he said, “The Devil,” with a smirk.
She said, “I have something of yours.”
He looked confused for a moment and then his face went pale. Without another word, he turned around, walked out the door, and didn’t come back.
Younger people with degrees in hospitality kept taking jobs above her and so Britney stayed in middle management, but at least she had a low stress job. It was never supposed to be permanent, but was becoming so. One of the managers, a friend who was no longer there, had roped her into it in college because he was understaffed and needed someone reliable.
Once a week, she played in a house band at a bar called the Parallelogram and one night, she spotted the Devil in the crowd. He sat alone at a corner table nursing a Moscow Mule and studying a mess of papers. Unlike the last time, he looked thinner, more tired.
Between sets, Britney walked over to him and said, “I don’t really think you’re the Devil.”
“What if I’m not?” he asked with a shrug. He recognized her this time, and seemed completely indifferent about her presence.
She pointed at the pile of papers on the table. “What are those?”
“Contracts. What else?”
“Didn’t you get out of that business when you gave me your soul?”
“There ain’t no rest for the wicked. Whether or not you have a soul doesn’t change anything,” was all he said and she went back to the stage.
Even though she hated the commute, Britney loved the solitude of living in the country and was finally able to close on an old family farmhouse. It took a lot longer than she’d planned because new management hadn’t given her a raise in years and cut her benefits, but she got by. All the land around the house now belonged to an industrial operation. They grew some corn hybrid and she never seemed to be around when anyone was actually working in the fields, but sometimes she caught a glimpse of someone walking behind the rows.
One day in late October a snowstorm came through. Even before it hit, people were comparing it to the Halloween Blizzard, so she left early and took her time driving to work, arriving without incident. Outside the hotel, though, she saw the Devil sitting in a beat up Dodge Stratus trying to turn the engine over. He was bald and skinny, like he was going through chemo, and he looked like he was on the verge of tears. “Need help?” she asked and brought her car around to jump his.
When his car was running again, she reached into her pocket and offered him the piece of paper that said, “My Soul.” “Do you want this back?”
“You still have that?” he asked, gawking.
“Well yeah, why not?”
He shook his head. “Everyone’s just so careless about this stuff, these days. Even me.” He stared at the paper for a few moments, took it, and then ripped it up.
“I think I’m going to try to get out of this business again. It’s becoming way too Glengarry Glenn Ross, you know?” he said. He walked over to the passenger’s side door, dragged out a banker’s box full of official looking documents and sat it down on the curb next to a public trash can. “I’m not my job.”
After he’d left, Britney picked up the box and took it inside with her. By the time her shift was over the roads were impassable, so she stayed at the hotel. Because there was nothing else to read, she perused the crumpled and messy contracts, marveling at the numbers and obligations. Neither a businesswoman nor a lawyer, Britney felt an odd sensation come over her, a compulsion, and the beginnings of a scheme.
Ambrose finally customized his ringtone long after anyone he wanted to talk to started texting exclusively. Consequently, he was beginning to dread the sound of one of his favorite songs, The Libertine’s “What Became of the Likely Lads?” but was too lazy to change it to something appropriately awful, like “Tubthumping” or “We Built This City” or the sound of Pyramid Head dragging his sword across the floor. When the opening guitar riff crashed through the formerly silent living room, Ambrose cringed. Worse, the phone didn’t recognize the number so it was either a telemarketer, pollster, collection agency, or the automated voice of any number of local institutions to remind him of an appointment or due date.
“Hello?” he asked, hoping this would be quick. He was sitting on the couch playing Fallout, procrastinating from doing anything productive now that he was off work. How anyone finds the energy to do things after they become independent adults still baffled him.
“Hi… Ambrose,” said someone hesitantly.
“Yes, this is he,” Ambrose said.
“This is Lyle.”
“Lyle.” Ambrose sat up. “How are you? We haven’t talked in… what? Two years?”
“Yeah… I guess it must have been that long. When did we last talk? Do you remember?”
“It must have been… Yeah, it’s been two years. We talked at Katie’s birthday party.”
“What did we talk about?”
Ambrose wasn’t sure where the conversation was going, but he felt there was probably a punchline at the end. This was typical of Lyle. They had been close in high school, had minimal contact in college, and saw each other sporadically around the holidays when they were both visiting family. In all that time, his sense of humor, bizarre and usually only made him and no one else laugh, had not changed at all. For two weeks when they were juniors, he tried to convince their friends that Ambrose, as a freshman, had tried to orchestrate an elaborate cheating ring in Spanish. He hadn’t. When Ambrose confronted him about it, Lyle admitted that he was just trying to see if he could change people’s memories and then laughed.
“Health insurance, I think. We were both griping about not having dental plans, but that it was a good excuse not to go to the dentist,” Ambrose said.
“Oh yeah. Have you gone, yet?”
“To the dentist?”
“Kind of a strange place to start catching up,” Ambrose said.
“We’re friends right?” Lyle asked suddenly.
“Well, yes, we’re friends. Are you mad about something?”
“How close of friends are we?”
Ambrose was almost certain, now, that this was a joke he didn’t understand, but asked, “Are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just that I’ve got this amnesia thing going on.”
“Nothing. Just a joke. It’s been kind of a weird few days. You know what? Forget I called,” Lyle said and hung up.
As seniors, they took Advanced American Literature together with Mr. Badger, who did not at all live up to his name but was famously forgetful. Whenever someone didn’t turn a paper in, he wrote their name down on the board to remind them that they were losing points. Lyle’s name went up on the board every assignment, and every time Lyle would erase his name while Mr. Badger wasn’t looking. He got a passing grade in the class because he convinced Mr. Badger that he’d turned in every essay, but that Mr. Badger had lost them.
Lyle didn’t answer when Ambrose tried to call him back. A few phone calls to old friends confirmed what Ambrose suspected. Lyle was missing. “He called me, too,” Nina, a mutual friend said wearily. “This isn’t the first time this has happened, though. Last year, he disappeared for four days and they found him in a hotel under the name John Dee.”
“Shouldn’t we be doing something?”
“Talk to his family.”
Ambrose walked to the convenience store down the street to buy aspirin. It was almost New Year’s Eve and he didn’t have any plans. He didn’t even know where to look or who to ask to find an interesting party for the evening, which made him feel old.
Somewhere, not far from the store entrance, someone was celebrating early and playing Auld Lang Syne on a piano. Meditating on the words, Ambrose sang under his breath, “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…”
“There looks like trouble,” someone said behind him. He turned and saw a man with dirty blond hair and beard wearing a green canvas, WWII trench coat and holding a leather briefcase walking toward him, one hand outstretched. “Ambrose, are you living out here now?”
Ambrose shook hands and smiled, certain that he’d never seen the man in his life.
Unlike everyone else she knows, Kendal loves resolutions.
She spends 364 days of the year composing them in her head and then writes them down on New Year’s Day. As a rule, they were impossible, things she is certain will never happen. Like buying her dream house on the corner of Summit Avenue, the one that cost more to build than she and her husband would earn in their lifetimes. Or becoming an Olympic Gold Medalist in the high jump, though she’d never been an athlete and there wouldn’t be summer or winter Olympics that year. Or resolving to write an epic trilogy following the exploits of an animate marionette with cut strings searching for the Great Puppeteer in the Sky. “Achieve world peace” had made its appearance on several lists, as had “Win the lottery” and “Become a year younger.”
Despite what many people think, it isn’t an exercise in disappointment or humility. No one actually keeps their resolutions, and so Kendal figures that if she is going to make promises that she can’t keep, they should at least be fabulous and imaginative.
Really, Kendal is a pragmatist. She never makes actual promises to others she can’t fulfill. She serves on committees and boards, coaches sports teams, never takes sick days, and is always on time. She had her life mapped out from the age of 12 and things have gone almost exactly according to plan. New Year’s Resolutions are a sacred breach of character, and one that delighted her.
But in 2014, something odd happened. Her oldest son, then 18, said that instead of living in the dorms he wanted to have a tiny house. He made a compelling economic case to Kendal and her husband and so they decided to help build the small 250 square foot unit over the summer. Word spread among his friends and the idea caught on, which resulted in a clutch of tiny houses set up as a commune not far from campus. It had taken negotiations with the university and the city, but eventually both came around to the idea that a little village could be a good and educational learning community.
It wasn’t until October that Kendal’s husband pointed out that she had accomplished a resolution. In her long list of fanciful priorities, she’d said, “Build a village.” She found the revelation strangely unsettling. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t part of her actual plan. Her resolutions were supposed to be pure abstractions, never to be fulfilled, purely speculative and unattainable. She resolved to be more careful making her list for 2015.
On Sunday, November 1, 2015, Kendal woke an hour before her alarm, seized by inspiration. She does not consider herself a writer, but she literally could not help but sit down at her computer and type furiously. It wasn’t a novel, essay, or play. Instead, it was a long series of rules, commandments, disjointed parables, epic and condensed narratives, and prophecies. She spent the next month unable to do anything else but write, during which time she lost her job and her family began to consider committing her.
Finally, the thing was done. She posted it as a note on Facebook and watched in horror as the comments and likes grew and a community began to form. There are now 2,170 members of a group claiming to belong to a new sect of which she is the prophet.
In 2014, Kendal had listened to a lot of Cake. It seemed harmless to plagiarize a lyric and add it to her resolutions: build a religion.
January 1st, 2016 is just around the corner. Kendal has resolved to have no resolutions this coming year, but the she can’t stop the ideas from forming. Gain two hundred pounds of muscle and two more limbs? Establish a successful anvil delivery service? Master 5D art? She is so used to dreaming up absurd promises that she can’t help herself.
She dreads the New Year. Because, now, everything is possible.
Let’s get to the point, shall we? None of us have the time — especially if we get our way.
They say Evil doesn’t pay and they’re right. That’s why, if you make an end-of-year, tax deductible gift today, your donation will be tredecuple-matched and your name will be added to the Wall of Infamy in Perpetuity!
The year is coming to an end. And so is everything else, thanks to your resolve. We should take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments and Greatest Ambitions.
Despite the disappointing outcome of the 2012 Promise campaign, Antagonist United and its loyal members have worked hard to make these past three years a spectacular success.
Through creativity and malice, we’ve finally accomplished both the biological and supernatural zombie. Nano bots capable of bringing on the Grey Goo have gotten to work in Missouri. Our Bad Weathermen are producing tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons all across the world. General mania and disorder are rampant with no serious opposition from masked vigilantes. And (completely unrelated) a meteor is hurtling toward the planet, which looks like a promising extinction event.
Fiends, we are closing in on the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the Denouement.
That’s right. Antagonist United is proud to announce our dedication to ensuring that 2016 will be The End.
By this time next year, there will be no Time. There will be no Something. Just Nothing.
It’s not clear what that will look like or whether or not it will violate the laws of physics, but it will Be.
But only with your compulsory support.
At Antagonist United, we aren’t interested in generosity, just the End of all ends. Just like you. This world is a mess and we need to rule it. If you make a tax-deductible end of year gift today we’ll ensure that 2016 will be the last. This time, we promise.
One way or another.
That’s why, for a limited time only, if you donate your entire net worth to Antagonist United, you can have your loved ones back! By now, you must have noticed their absence. Let me assure you that they are safe (for now) and moderately comfortable and will remain so until the stroke of midnight January 1st, 2016. After that, well, it all depends on your loyalty to our cause.
Make your Last donation today. To a future none of us will ever know, just like everyone else.
Yours with Conviction,
You wake up in an empty white room.
You immediately recognize the cliche, but are powerless to do anything about it.
Many stories written for Introduction to Creative Writing classes start with something white (a room, a wall, the sky, a face, etc.) because the writer sits there staring at a blank piece of paper or computer screen and eventually grabs for the dominant sensory inspiration. You know this because many writing teachers have warned you not to start a story exactly like this.
Come to think of it, though, you can’t remember a story that actually begins in a blank white room. Probably because the creative writing teachers have been passing this piece of wisdom on for a while. But that doesn’t change the fact that you are now presumably in a story (a dangerous place to be under the best of circumstances) that starts with a featureless room, without furniture or door.
There’s only one thing to do in a situation like this. “Appeal to the narrator?” you ask out loud.
Talking to yourself won’t help.
“Make me a door,” you say and stamp your foot. Nothing happens and so you stand there and huff. Because of the even light coming from nowhere in particular and no visible seam where walls meet the ceiling or floor, the dimensions of the room could be anything at all. It might not even be a room. It could be that you’re standing in a vast plain that stretches into infinity.
“That isn’t helpful!” you shout. “I refuse to participate in this story!”
Alright, fine! You may go now. There’s a door.
And with that, you (or You) leave. We’re alone, now.
This is the first blog post I’ve written in a while and I chose the worst trope I could think of because writing anything lately has been difficult. Rough drafts in particular. It’s been months since I’ve been able to crank out a story that I find palatable. I find myself sitting and staring at the page or the screen wondering what to write and immediately vetoing any idea that comes to mind.
It seems like most of my writer friends are having this problem. lately. It seems like we’ve collectively reached a point where we know more about what not to do than how to get started. Instead of writing, I just make lists of all the things I shouldn’t write. So, whenever I do manage to get a few words out, I can’t get over how awful they are. But without more material, without actually going through the motions and committing something to the page, I’m left with little. That isn’t very good anyway.
Writer’s block has never been this bad before. But I’ve resolved to finish this and publish it. I need habits, not excuses.
… To be honest, I’ve always wanted to start a story in a empty white room. Have you ever read Harold and the Purple Crayon? It begins in a void and from it the protagonist makes a universe. The same as pretty much everything anyone has ever made, really.
Holding out a calming, but visibly shaking hand, the Republican party addressed the nation saying, “You don’t want to do this. You don’t have to do this!” Less animated, but equally emphatic, the Democratic party added, “Think of all the great times we’ve had together.”
Following the unexpected popularity of self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and arch-conservative real estate mogul Donald Trump, both the Democratic and Republican parties are concerned that America might do something reckless. For years, both parties worried that America’s erratic behavior might portend something far more serious, but neither predicted this dramatic turn of events.
“Hindsight is 20/20, I guess,” said the Republican party, glancing nervously over its shoulder and addressing the nation, “Look, America, we can get revenge for the New Deal and the Great Society together! Honest!”
With an imploring look from the Republican party, the Democratic party reluctantly added, “I mean, the minimum wage may not be what it was in 1970, the ACA is a joke compared to what it was supposed to be, key parts of the VRA have been gutted, racial disparities are still appalling fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, respecting women’s basic health and livelihood are still considered politically contentious… but we can change! Think about all the great times we’ve had.”
“Just, walk away from Bernie Sanders,” the Democratic party said. “We’ll get through this together, you and me.”
Noticing America’s enthusiasm beginning to wane, the Republican party shouted, “Put down the Trump! Put the Trump down!”
At press time, the American electorate remained undecided, but swaying against conventional wisdom. The Democratic party, meanwhile, was trying to reason with the nation while the Republican party wordlessly motioned at Congress to disenfranchise a third of the country.