The Tranquilizer

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The Tranquilizer by James Howard Kunstler

A mental health assessment of the Democratic Party suggests that identity politics had lately turned into an identity crisis. Years of staying woke finally produced hallucinations and violent outbursts. It was time to medicate the patient. Enter, stage right, the Tranquilizer, smiling Uncle Joe Biden, the perfect agent to quell an acute case of adolescent rebellion.

Mostly, the rank-and-file don’t seem to know what to make of Uncle Joe’s arrival on the scene. It’s as if they popped .5 milligrams of Xanax a half an hour ago and all the intersectional strife that seemed so urgent last month just up and flew out of the room, like so many leaf-nosed bats from a frightful cave of winds. The chemical rush Uncle Joe provides is reflected in his impressive polling numbers, lately cresting near 40 percent against his closest pursuer, Bernie Sanders — the reincarnation of my 10th grade math teacher, and hence a figure of horror and loathing — at about 18 percent in the polls. The rest of the presidential pack just slogs down-low through the sucking muck of single digits. Many of these are women candidates in a party determined to produce the first president of the female persuasion. What’s up with that?

The salient psychodramatic feature of the Democrats’ relationship with Mr. Trump is that he represents Daddy’s in da house, a situation so alarming as to provoke a nearly three-year-long fugue of patricidal fury among his detractors. In fact, he’s an order of magnitude worse than Daddy… he’s more like Ole Massa… living in that big White House… lumbering out the south portico in that terrible capitalist business suit… the very cutting edge of oppression and misogyny. Of the Democratic women running for president, so far only Elizabeth Warren has gone after Mr. Trump with any real passion — and then, like some stereotypical housewife trying to brain him with a frying pan. It just bounces off his thick skull, and he moves on.

I call Mr. Trump the Golden Golem of Greatness for a reason (several really) but mainly for his seemingly implacable demeanor. He’s exactly like that folkloric figure from the mists beyond the Pale of Settlement, an animate hunk of impassive clay communing with spirits of the dead, blundering blindly about the land, scaring little children and turning the peasants’ blood to ice-water. You might even say he was conjured up by the very deacons of Wokesterism who now tremble at his every thundering footstep.

Uncle Joe Biden is surely the antidote to all that. He served four years under the Wokester Deacon-in-Chief, Mr. Obama, and cheerfully endured his ritual castration, rendering him harmless to all who must-be-believed, and other sub-categories of the aggrieved and oppressed. At 76, he is way older than anyone (anyone serious, that is) who ever ran for President before, perhaps bordering even on feeble, and that’s another plus: he couldn’t hurt a fly. At least not here in the States. He has no plans, apparently, to try to make America great again — but he still has a hearty appetite for international adventuring that might redound to the benefit of the US War industry and its handmaidens on K Street and Capitol Hill.

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.