”Not my president!”
”He will not divide us!”
”Lock him up!”
”Say it loud, say it clear: refugees are welcome here!”
”Love! Not hate! Makes America great!”
They had heard their familiar chants. These were cries for sanity or perhaps for a return of their preferred brand of madness. Madness will always rule this world. This is not the problem. As long as you can handle the narrative of the madness. As long as you can play by the rules or find a way to break them without the madness breaking you. As long as you are able to laugh about the absurdity, you will be okay.
Harry and Stone were among the crowds of people watching the protesters marching in circle in front of city hall. The mayor was an avid supporter of the President and despite the majority absolutely loathing him, the magic of Gerrymandering kept him in power. Some protestors were holding apocalyptic signs and one of them struck a nerve with Harry: ”All of this used to mean something.”
It was an early saturday afternoon, the sun was beaming on all of us, as if encouraging the political unrest. A militarized police force was watching, some even through sniper scoops. They were dressed in body armor, holding massive assault weaponry, as if it was a warzone. That’s the thing about America: it isn’t a warzone but people act like it is and sooner or later, you can’t be surprised if the streets become to look like one.
A few months ago they decided to break up a march which erupted into violence. This has also become a fairly common occurrence in America, from all parts of the world. In fact, the violence was rather mild. Only three people died, all of them were protesters. One was shot dead on the street, another died in the hospital, another in custody (in rather unsurprising peculiar circumstances). A police officer stomped someone’s head and the victim became paralyzed. There were mass protests about this but the president had their back. According to him, they did ”nothing wrong,” and the protesters were just a bunch of thugs.
It was a small march, barely a hundred people. Such protests happens at least once every two weeks, depending on what ridiculous statement the president makes to bolster the fury of identity politics. Despite Harry mostly agreeing with the politics of these protesters, it saddened that none of them realized that this wasn’t going to do any good. As long as the party remains as disorganized and fractured, none of this was going to do any good. A strong leader was needed. Someone that could appeal to the more popular and lucrative anti-establishment sentiment but also someone incorruptible, a true believer. But true believers are in short supply and most of them are too disgusted or disillusioned to even consider politics.
”This must be how God feels,” grinned Stone with a giant blunt in his mouth, ”watching his creations pray to him as if he was ever going to intervene. I’m sure he gets a kick out of every time people thank him for something he didn’t even do.”
”It saddens me,” said a melancholic Harry gulping from a beer bottle.
”That’s because you’re a true believer. If you’re a true believer this hurts, because this used to mean something, this used to be the ultimate form of political dissent and now it has become the complete opposite: it’s engineered so that people aren’t seeing what’s really going on behind the scenes. While they are doing this charade, protesting whatever stupid fucked-up thing the president said, he’s sneaking another through the senate that will diminish the already fleeting democracy.”
He passes the blunt to Harry who takes it mindlessly.
”And let’s be honest here, most of them are also hipster liberals with only a passing interest in the lives of the real people that are suffering in this country- and around the world. They worry more about their colleges remaining as hostile to right-wingers than about the desperation and loss of meaning in the lives of millions of Americans.”
Harry passes the blunt, blows big smoke from his mouth and then takes another chug of beer.
””The consistent losses of elections has also made them more extreme, to the point that the average Joe is looking at two whacked out groups, not knowing who to join. People splintered from both these groups, engineering more political brands of extremism, disrupting whatever unity could be had and in the end, giving more power to the current and glorious president of America.”
Stone passes the blunt and after Harry pulled a big drag, he states: ”I need to get some sleep.”
”You hope to dream of a better world but you know very well, that you will always wake up in this one.”
”Maybe I was thinking of the big sleep.”
Stone looked at him and laughed, ”you think the soul is at peace there? You have no idea what’s waiting for you there old friend.
Suddenly the roar of of different chants could be heard in the distance:
”Hail our America! Hail our people! Hail our victory!”
”They will not divide us!”
”Lock them up!”
”Let’s keep America great!”
then their signature chant: trollollollintrolllllling….
”Oh god, not them,” said Harry while Stone kept smiling.
In the distance they could see a large mass of people dressed in white with black bowler hats with huge white cup supporters.
”Not the fucking droogs.”
There were less of them, though they matched their opponents fury. Many of them were carrying sheeps on a leash who were bleating desperately and wanted to stop walking. They would hit them and kick them and many of them were bleeding badly. The cops were smiling when the Droogs came. Harry suspected that they knew about their arrival.
When they came close enough, an encore of senseless screaming would commence. Both sides screaming their favorite obscenities. The droogs seem to be having the most fun. Many were throwing bananas at them- a racist reference to a previous American president of African-American descent-, putting their trousers, mooning them. Some made loud farting noises. It was a cacophony of madness and Stone was loving every minute of it.
”This could get ugly,” said Harry.
”We could only be so lucky.”
Many people were already leaving, feeling the oncoming of violence. The police seemed pumped but nobody tried to stop them. Perhaps, for many of them, it was more fun to let it escalate.
Harry then turned to Stone, realizing something, ”did you engineer this?”
Stone didn’t say anything but gave him a serious look, if only for a few seconds: ”does it matter?”
As if on cue, the two groups began to charge at each other. Harry turned and walked away. Stone stood there for a while, watching the spectacle. Harry could hear the manic bleating of sheep alongside the screaming of man, the loud screech of microphones and finally bullets. Harry began to ran away.
Forty people were arrested, five people died. None of the sheep made it.
Art by Norman Rockwell