Once upon a time some people had finally had enough. America was completely broken in their huffing, frustrated minds. There was so much corruption, there was an endless swirl of hypocrisy, and these few people found everyone else irretrievably lost. People were all stupid, as far as they were concerned. Americans were stupid. It was finally time to give up on the past and reform in a far away, hopeful future. America was ashes in their memory. There had to be a better way.
Ron McCann had been yelling everyday since George W. Bush stole the 2000 election. It had been a sham, an outrage! Back then he had not yet met his wife Briana, and he was part of a college crowd that shrieked and moaned and protested every spare moment they had, pointing their fingers, and preaching the collapse of America. It had been the best time of his life.
In the Fall of 2001, a few weeks before September 11, Ron was getting high with his dorm mates, the gang of them chortling over Bush, Jr.’s many failures as President up to that point. “Yo,” one of them said, a boy whose name Ron would forget by the following year, “Fucking Bush is, like (pause for a long pull from the joint), yo, he’s like (coughing . . . more coughing), he’s like a fucking fascist, know what I’m sayin’?”
The other three of them certainly did know, Ron the second angriest among them. The angriest was Tom Pike, the singer in a punk rock band called Starving Young Anarchists, who could be set off by a discussion about anything. “Hey!” he said, banging his fist against his knee. “Fucking America has fallen! This isn’t America! This is . . . like . . .” (he reached out and took the joint. He took a long drag, held it, then finished his thought while smoke curled out, panting in a breathless grunt) . . . it’s Nazi Germany!”
“Yeah.” This was Ron’s contribution to the discussion, at least up to that point. On Monday, September 10, Ron finally got into it, enraged by a conversation with his mother earlier that day, standing up in English 254 (“The Radical Novel since World War II”), following the professor’s lead, condemning the President, finally finishing up a broken, thirty-second rant met with anticipation followed by disappointment, with the standard “I’m moving to Canada!”
Sixteen years later Ron was married to Briana, and they had two children, Ulysses and Persephone, aged fourteen and eleven. Ron (now “Ronald,” a more adult name for a grown-up) was working as a middle school Social Studies teacher, while Briana made her way as an elementary school guidance counselor. Both of them–all four of them–were extremely unhappy, and yet they had no legitimate outlet for their rage. All of that changed when Hillary Clinton somehow lost the election.
“Can you believe it?” Ronald said, having at first laughed, then finally screaming about Donald Trump. “That goddamn Nazi cheated–somehow he cheated. I mean, what was that shit with telling the Russians to get the e-mails? Who gives a shit about e-mails? Who are these morons who even voted for that fucking asshole?”
This was a regular conversation for the next few weeks, as the smugness of the incoming President made Ronald’s skin crawl, among the profound disgust he mostly encountered with his friends and co-workers at school. That was until Dave Trawlsky, one of the math teachers (and a right-wing idiot proudly boasting a Trump/Pence bumper sticker on the back of his truck), invaded the sarcastic discussion by calling the small group of them traitors.
“Why don’t you want to make America Great Again?” Dave said, nearly enunciating a trademark symbol with the tired old slogan. “You libtards are nothing but whiny little snowflakes!” This repetition from one of the variety of conspiracy radio programs Dave listened to out in his car during lunch would have been laughable had any of the actual libtards he was mocking realized that nothing he said were his own thoughts, much less his own words.
“Because he’s not my President!” Ronald screamed, believing that this was somehow an original thought. He continued, “Not my President, not my America!”
“Love it or leave it . . . faggot,” Dave responded, offending everyone in the room, regardless of whether they were involved with the conversation or not (even the other one who voted for Trump). One of the teachers who actually was homosexual (there were two of them among the nine teachers sitting in the room, one formerly gay but now a happy trans woman) stood up and shouted angrily with an exaggerated lisp.
“You’re a homophone and I’m going to get you fired for saying that!” The teacher looked around nervously. “You’re all my witnesses!” he finished, having nothing else to say. He sat back down and sipped his coffee, glaring at Dave.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Dave started trying to say, “It’s just that when–”
“Just get out of here, Dave,” one of the other teachers interrupted, having no patience for any of them.
“I’m moving to Canada,” Ronald mumbled.
“What?” someone said.
“Canada,” he repeated, now with more enthusiasm, realizing that he had an audience. “I said that I’m moving to Canada.”
Over the next few weeks, in the days leading up to the end of the year and the inauguration of the dictator into the White House, Ronald secretly made his plans. He put the house on the market. He gave the school his notice. He set into motion the cashing out of his pension. He did not mention any of this to his family.
And yet it was a slow process, the outrage seeming to grow, and inspiring more and more talk about how Ronald was “getting the fuck out of this country,” and how “America is doomed, you wait and see!” Most of his time outside the classroom Ronald (now “Ron” again) spent shouting at the television like a sports fanatic watching his favorite team lose. Even though he would not admit this to himself, watching Donald Trump lie and insult people from his questionable position of President of the United States was the most entertaining program he had ever seen, and it was on every day of the week. Never before had Ron been such a news junkie. There was once a passing thought going through his head that Donald Trump was the greatest reality TV star of all time (and he hated those ‘reality’ shows–fake, scripted nonsense!)
As the days got closer to March 31, Ron’s last day at work, he finally decided to tell Briana that they were moving to Canada in the summer. There had finally been some interest in the house and Briana had discovered that it was on the market accidentally, snooping on one of the online realty sites, seeing how much their neighbor’s houses were worth.
And yet Briana accepted it, not really angry (although she had no interest in moving to Canada. She hated the cold.) “Can’t we move south?” she asked. “I’ve always wanted to see Texas.”
Ron gave her an incredulous look. “Texas? That’s Republican country.”
“Not in Austin–”
“We need to get out of this fucking country before the whole world explodes! That’s Trump’s plan, you see. See, Trump is a stooge of Putin’s, and he’s a crook anyway, and all this will be proven in the end, and we better get out of here before something like marshal law is declared, and all the right-wing gun nuts go crazy, and we get killed, or arrested and sent to the gulag!”
Ron’s paranoia only increased as he left his job and they had an offer on the house. But it was then that Briana told Ron that she was pregnant (Ron knew that it wasn’t his, as they hadn’t slept together in almost a year), and the failure and misery of his life overwhelmed him. He went down to the school district building and pleaded to get his job back. The regional superintendent whom he finally met with after two postponed meetings had a cruel smile on her face. She was another anti-Trump person, but was also savvy enough to use the liberal outrage of most of the district’s employees against them, pretending that the unfair deal the district was now offering new teachers was the only lifeline remaining that could keep them alive during the current administration.
He was hired as a long term sub, no offered health care. He was forced to pay into TRIP (the Teacher’s Retirement Insurance Plan), of which only a small portion had been paid over his fifteen previous years in the classroom. Eventually he was forced to sell the house anyway, no longer able to afford it with the new child (who was very dark skinned) and their increased expenses. Ron never said anything about the child clearly not being his own (although both children frequently asked the baby “Who’s your Daddy?” before breaking up into giggles and finally being yelled at by their humiliated father.)
Ronald McCann never really left America (except during a family vacation the summer of 2018, a cruise to Alaska and western Canada), and eventually got a permanent job at an high school, teaching the newly Republican curriculum of the newly revised history, to an ignorant group of children of terrified right-wing parents. At least one of these brats would smugly wear one of those red Trump hats everyday, challenging anyone to challenge them.
By 2020, with the election getting closer and closer, and with all the sleazy, mostly untrue scandals exploding about the many Democratic candidates, when the person whom Ron most supported got cheated out of the primary by the left-wing Tea Party, he finally decided that, for the first time, he was not going to vote. Since he had given up on Canada, he finally decided it was time to give up on America too.
©2019, 2020 Lance Polin