A PARABLE OF LIBERTY LOST AND FOUND — Part 8 of 10: The Coup
One day two weeks before the national election on the island, breaking news rocks each presidential campaign.
Turns out that a decade earlier, Jason Bull had unwittingly been recorded on tape boasting to a chum about sexually molesting beautiful women. He confides that he can’t stop himself from kissing them and grabbing their crotches. He brags that women let him do it, that he can “get away with anything” because he’s famous.
The salacious tape goes public two weeks before the election. Public outrage is universal. Some call The Bull a “sexual predator” who should be jailed. Others call him a “sex addict” who needs therapy.
A dozen women come forward to tell their stories of Bull preying on them, going back decades, like specifics about his antics on airplanes. Bull calls them liars. He mocks an older woman as too ugly for him. (He ignores her beauty in youth when he hit on her.)
Religious conservatives at first condemn Bull for his crude immorality. None will condone his lewdness nor deny his lust is a sin. Bull is a bad guy. He should drop out of the campaign. His opportunist running mate offers to stop in and be the main candidate.
Bull shrugs off public outrage at his blatant misogyny. His defense is a sly smirk. “It’s just locker room talk, folks. Boys will be boys, after all. What’s the big deal?”
Adoni Rafi thinks it’s a very big deal indeed.
“Women are more than sex objects,” she writes. “We have a natural right to be treated as equals. We have a right to be believed when we report sexual assaults.” She urges women to stop accepting abuse, to stop seeing themselves as helpless victims.
Adoni then calls on women to stop using feminine wiles for getting men to take of them. “I do not trust the flattery of men who lock women in gilded prisons to prove their superiority. I imagine every woman standing free in her true power as a divine soul.”
Adoni is denounced across the classes. Infuriated men go online to put the uppity “bitch” back in her place. She is rebuked by refined women vested in the status quo.
Still, Adoni Rafi’s postings spread across the internet like a virus, going “viral.” The network buzz ignites grassroots organizing by many women to go get out the vote for the liberal candidate. In reality, this means getting their men to go out and vote.
Meanwhile, pundits across the spectrum scoff at Bull’s reckless antics. They tell the liberals to rest assured that such a misfit and unfit man must and will lose the election.
Two weeks pass. Religious conservatives relent. They decide winning the election matters more than morality. Forgive the sinner who strays, they intone like a chorus, “for have we not all sinned and come short of God’s glory?” Bull’s wealth proves he still has divine approval, after all. “We know that if any man truly sins, God will make him poor.”
Bull’s popular base rebounds in enthusiasm. Religious working-class voters from Bull’s majority racial group decide they will get out the vote for their man, again a hero in their eyes. They throng to Bull’s exciting rallies. His campaign regains momentum.
Now reset. Go back two weeks.
Within an hour of the vulgar tape going public, Bull’s campaign gets a big boost when an outlaw website publishes leaked documents exposing liberal party corruption.
The leaks site publishes a trove of electronic mail (“email”) by a top leader of the liberal party. The emails reveal how partly leadership secretly suppressed primary voting for an upstart progressive candidate who’s enjoying a surge of grassroot support. They rig primaries to deliver the presidential nomination to their favorite, their insider. Support for the liberal candidate falters. Liberals and progressives openly fight among themselves.
Most liberals and progressives decide to hold their nose and vote for their party candidate anyway, despite the corruption. If only to keep Bull from winning, they pick the lesser of two evils. Some now feel too dismayed or disgusted to vote at all.
In the final days before the polls open, Bull talks about “election fraud.” He yells, “The election is rigged! It’s all rigged, believe me!” Critics assume he’s making excuses in advance to cover his inevitable defeat. Nobody views his outbursts as a confession.
On Election Day, opinion polls show that Bull has gained traction. The contest might be closer than expected. Even so, experts predict, based on vast past experience, Bull will surely lose. Only diehard loyalists, a third of the island, insist Bull may yet win.
Bull himself does not expect to win. He does not really want the job. He’d entered the contest after being ridiculed by the outgoing president at an annual dinner. To avenge the slight, he ran for president and threatened to undo the man’s legacy. At the worst, Bill figures, losing the election will build his brand and fortune. He looks to win by losing.
On election day, however, somehow, amazingly, as precinct vote counts come rolling in, in a few critical districts, Jason Bull edges into a thin margin of victory.
Bull wins the presidency!
Shock and disbelief polarizes the island nation into feuding tribes.
Bull is the most shocked of all. In his heart, he is not ready!
In the days and weeks after the election, stunned islanders questions how Jason Bull could have won. Liberals and old-line conservatives call for a public inquiry. Bull forms a transition team from his closest family and friends. They invite loyal people to join the administration. The ensuing chaos features plenty of comings and goings.
Three months later, President Jason Zack Bull is sworn into office before several thousand at the Unity Tree. His inauguration “gala” is the most expensive ever, more than makes sense, really. The event falls way below par, such as fewer banquets with dancing and table hopping, and no big stage performances by any of the nation’s top music stars.
The very next day, a hundred thousand women and awake men, drawn from every racial and economic class across the island, march down the main boulevard in the capital city to join a massive protest rally that overflows spacious Unity Tree Park.
Women carry banners demanding the vote. Men and women carry signs poking fun at Bull’s character defects, all the ways he’s unfit for office. Some carry signs asking if Bull won the election unfairly or illegally, questioning the legitimacy of his electoral victory. Some carry signs demanding a full investigation. A few signs urge impeachment.
Adoni Rafi is a featured speaker. “We gather in peace for the good of the whole,” she begins. “We women have suffered dastardly things. Enough is enough. We are here today because we know in our hearts and minds and souls that we are all equal in spirit. We should be equal under the law. Let love trump hate as a way to govern our lives.”
Bull shrugs off the protest. He claims the modest crowd at his inauguration was tremendously larger than at the women’s march. Aerial photographs of the park prove otherwise. He dismisses the hard evidence as “fake news.”
Such absurdity is a signal of the insanity to come.
Once Jason Bull is president, the Bullies assert control over the conservative majority party governing the administration and both chambers of congress.
Loyalists show a keen willingness to do or say anything to make Bull look good, to hide their own corruption. Looking right matters more than doing right. Any story that works for now is fine with them. They make up facts at will. Facts are a casualty of faith. They call their lies “alternative truth.” They loyal fans echo such habits of thought.
In congress, the liberal party, backed by a handful of genuine conservatives, prevent Bull from pushing through his populist agenda, as he had promised.
Frustrated but still cunning, Bull gets his way by going around the congress.
Bull makes agency appointments and issues executive orders that rip the guts out of administrative departments protecting consumers, the environment, health, education, and more. The venal men he names to lead agencies are foxes devouring their henhouses, like the banker ending bank regulations, the fossil fuels shill waiving ecology and health standards. All appointees adopt policies that discriminate against minorities and women.
Bull urges the police to be far more violent when making arrests. He says the accused are usually guilty, so they deserve no better. Forget due process!
Bull “packs” the courts like stacking a deck of playing cards. He names only likeminded men as islandwide and district judges, all lifetime appointments. They share Bull’s devotion to unfettered “free enterprise” and his disdain for civil rights and liberties. Their views will shape island justice for decades.
Many of the appointed judges do not know the Law, just like Bull, who does not understand the constitution. Bull’s sole criteria for naming judges is their loyalty to him alone, a bias Bull will construe as “fairness” in their decisions.
Judges tacitly agree to issue court rulings that favor Bull and his policies, such as undercutting minority voting rights, such as denying women’s right to control their own bodies, so the men stay in charge of reproduction.
Bull does keep one campaign promise. Conservatives in congress pass a tax cut for corporations and the rich. Bull sells the law with lies to the middle class and working poor, promising the bill mostly is as a tax cut for them.
Bull’s populist base fails to grasp how the wealthy will prosper, but they will not, or not by much, and not for long. Over time, they will suffer higher taxes and less health care. Over time, such burdens will increase their despair and disillusionment.
In the first year of his administration, President Bull faces a robust groundswell of opposition to his autocratic policies. Bull goes after liberal, progressive and conservative critics with relentless ferocity. His speeches and social media outbursts insult and belittle his political foes, especially minorities and all those insolent women like Adoni Rafi.
Bull is a fighter. He hits back twice as hard. He’s in charge of the island now, and nothing will stop him. Loyalty to himself is all that matters to President Bull, not loyalty to the constitution, not loyalty to the island nation.
Bull loyalists go on media talk shows to overwhelm and intimidate all those who speak up for the rule of law. They distract the people by asking, “What about this? What about that? What about the other thing?” The Bullies always change the subject.
President Bull hates being blocked by the limits in the constitution he has never read. He simply wants to rule everything — the administration, the legislature and the judiciary (called a “unitary executive”). Bully loyalists defend him as he eliminates checks and balances, ignores the old rules that once preserved any balance of power between the branches of government.
Bull is remaking the government in his own self-image as the Big Boss, the rogue businessman, the king of all he surveys. He is getting away with it.
In this way, the people on the island abdicate their power. They surrender their natural right to rule the government ruling them. They elect an alpha male disruptor of society who dismantles traditional republican democracy. They go along to get along.
The Bull has staged a coup without ever firing a shot.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events or places is entirely coincidental or is intended purely as an allegorical satire, parody or spoof of such person, event or place, and is not intended to communicate any true or factual information about that person, event or place.