“You’re fired!” President Trump scowled, “Who do you think you are, coming in here with a question like that? That’s disgusting. You disgust me. I bet you think you’re smarter than me, don’t you… look at him, everybody. He’s a smarty pants. Mr. Know-It-All Reporter. Get out of here…
“No, I’m just kidding… but really, what a disgusting question. I mean, we got people, you know, who are dangerous, and they are after us, you and me. And I know people are going to cry, ‘Second Amendment’ and ‘standing armies’ and all that nonsense but we have to realize that these are dangerous times. Dangerous. And those people will try to take what we have. And I’m not going to let that happen, so we have to, you know, do some things, and fix it up where we can defend ourselves against that.”
This was at President Trumps most recent press conference, where one of the few reporters left who dared ask a probing question put the query to him: “During your campaign, you seemed to suggest that you were a big supporter of the Second Amendment and Gun Rights, but with this recent Executive Order you say you are going to prosecute anyone who has not had the official, Bona Fide sanctioned firearms training and certification but -…”
And that is where Trump cut him off with his trademark comment….dismissed with an upward thrust of his jaw and his ever-present, petulant scowl and dismissive hand waving.
None of the other reporters dared follow up nor press him on any of his other policies which made the actions of his predecessors, Obama and Bush, seem like the benign and petty usurpations of greater men than he. Besides, ever since the revision of the Smith Act which allowed for the imprisonment of anyone engaged in the spreading of “slanderous, libelous, unAmerican or seditionous lies, whether verbally or symbolically” few reporters made much effort to be publicly critical of anything the administration did. And not for any small reason were they now mute sycophants, for ever since the thirty-fold increase in the construction of for-profit prisons in Trumps first year in office no one wanted to entertain the thought of being arrested and sent for reeducation.
At the time of their construction, the prisons were lauded as a great works project, with praising nostalgic chatter about FDR and the New Deal. He claimed that he was a Great Job Maker, which was true; the prisons and the continuous construction and infrastructure needed to achieve it did create jobs. Unfortunately, most of the jobs were being performed, not by US citizens, but by a virtual slave labor force of illegal immigrants and already existing inmates. The fearful sentiment the President had cultivated in his campaign paid great dividends in that respect.
President Trump quipped, “See, I told you I’d get Mexico to build the Great Wall…I just made them do it where i say so, not on the border where they expected it. El Surpriso, amigos!”
His still-enthralled supporters foamed at the mouth in ecstasy and schadenfreude at the servitude and imprisonment of their fellow man. But it was not directly affecting many of them, so it seemed easy to allow the growth of the prison system without thinking too much about it. Out of sight, out of mind. The failed War on Drugs was stepped up, incarcerating 3 times as many people as both his predecessors combined. All the usual morally righteous do-gooders throughout the country roiled in their gleeful indignance and sense of superiority.
The shipping industry was thrilled at all this and gave it their hearty endorsement. After all, “those people” had to be transported to the prisons and many trains and freight trucks were redesigned to haul human cargo for that purpose. With Teutonic precision and efficiency, they delivered their convicts through the gates of each prison.
Not that it was a life sentence. Not at all. One could work to obtain their freedom by attending the government designed “Work To Freeducation” programs offered to the incarcerated. Attendees of the WTF programs not only learned how to become Great Citizens, they took part in work programs that were novel private-public partnerships that helped entrepreneurs to grow their businesses by using affordable, highly motivated prison labor.
Certainly there were the usual criticisms at first: Constitutionality, indentured servitude, corruption, etc. but after the Smith Act was amended and vigorously enforced in Trumps second year in office, all those concerns seemed to diminish. It was clear that the prisons were very profitable, both for the owners and the government, and so they became normal fixtures, as normal as the Department of Motor Vehicles, and so complaints died away in acquiescence.
While the prisons were indeed profitable (for some) the idea was floated from the Oval Office that they “…got to be paid for somehow…” and so the Great Purge of Departments began. First up was the EPA. In a nationally televised scene, President Trump brought all of the major players in environmental protection into the White House where he, unbeknownst to them, recorded and had produced a thirty minute show recycling his famous tv show line: “You’re fired!” to each of the Department heads or non-profit CEOs. This is how “The Apprentice:DC” was born. Contestants had to prove the value of their Department or Agency to the President who, alone, made the decision to keep or cut each one. It was the most watched reality t.v. show of all time.
Many in the general populace absolutely loved it. Television “News” channels had talking heads in a roundtable discussion salivating over “Who’s next?” without ever entertaining the thought of “Is this the right thing to do?” No, they had bodies to count. And in the news, if it bleeds, it leads… just as long as it wasn’t their bodies or their blood.
Once poorly-managed and ill-conceived but somewhat functional social services disappeared in an instant. Inner cities and rural communities erupted into crime-ridden wastelands, not because poverty creates crime, mind you. The reason was that the meager support and social service systems that were in place were suddenly eliminated overnight, without any warning or transition plan in place. There was no concurrent investment in the areas of business or infrastructure. No one built factories or businesses in the poor areas, not a big change from before, to be sure, but this went deeper.
President Trumps “Luxury and Get Back to Work Tax” was implemented which burdened any and all commerce in the newly designated Realignment Zones with a 47% surcharge per transaction on all exchanges of goods. The tax revenue was supposed to be earmarked for the military but was always, in some emergency reallocation, shifted to the Uptown DC Trump Towers and Capital District Casino Projects, a joint venture of Trump Enterprises and the federal government.
The President explained the tax: “These people, these loafers… they got to get back to work. They got to pull their own weight and quit being Welfare queens, eating junk food and smoking the doobies all day on your tax dollars! So we’re going to make them pay for the right to live in the Realignment Zones. And if they don’t like it, they can just get out!”
Postal service, fuel delivery, and other necessaries stopped shipping to the Realignment Zones. Eventually, even supermarkets became scarce and poorly stocked in an attempt to avoid the federal tax on all items. The very real threat of starvation within weeks hung like a sudden cloud over the heads of many who formerly were receiving the scraps of public assistance while trying to build a life in the Sisyphean struggle out of generational poverty.
By the time the last denizen of the Realignment Zones had moved out, the joint Trump Enterprises/federal government ventures were already building in the area. The Kelo versus New London Supreme Court case wasn’t even necessary for the taking of the land, though President Trump often touted it’s virtues at the ribbon cutting ceremonies.
President Trumps reasoning was, “You got to get these people off the teat cold-turkey. These leeches and moochers. You know who I mean. And I don’t just mean the blacks. Because, you know, I’m good with the blacks. We go way back. I once rented a room to a black guy at Trump Tower. I mean the white trash too, you know, those inbreds in the country. You know, like West Virginia and Ohio. What’s the matter with these people? If you can’t afford to live in the country, get a job! I have a job…so stop drinking meth and waiting for the Mexicans to do all the work for you…all my Bona Fides have jobs.”
Ah yes, the Bona Fides.
It was during his first 6 months in office when he began talking about “…somethings got to be done. We just gotta do it… all this instability and problems in ‘Merica… we need strong leadership to Make ‘Merica Greater…we need good ‘Mericans who are ready to take their country back and make it great again…” (The “A” having been dropped from “America” as a “cost-saving measure” on official US documents during Trumps first week in office.)
PresidentTrump never missed an opportunity to fan the embers of discontent among the hordes of his khaki clad paragovernmental supporters. They called themselves “The Bona Fides” after a speech he gave in Nuremberg, Germany during a G8 summit where he denounced the rest of the world as: “…being unMerican. You people, you people aren’t even bona fide. You got no juice, no sex appeal. And look at me, I’m a winner. A winner! I’m bona fide…”
The Bona Fides routinely patrolled the streets after “The Disturbances” began. That’s what the media called it, The Disturbances. Travel permits were created, curfews enacted. It was all “very necessary for our safety.”
As the bodies of the working poor and disenfranchised grew thinner, they grew more desperate. References were made to the 80s film “Escape From New York” to describe the conditions in the Big Apple.
Trump laughed it off, saying, “Yeah, I guess that makes me the Duke. I’m The Duke of DC, baby! I’m the Duke!”
The Bona Fides called them “riots” in the cities and “insurgencies” in the rural areas to reflect the inherent prejudices and/or racism which each story line required.
The Duke, as President Trump became known, called them “Malcontents, layabouts and rapists… stirring things up and trying to steal our ’Merican Dream… You know who they are…. those people. They aren’t like us.”
At a Bona Fide rally in Rome, Georgia (called The March on Rome) The Duke said, “You know who’s keeping ‘Merica from being great? Those people. You know who. And they whine about “freedom of speech” and “Bill of Rights this and freedom that…” Well you know what? They’re ALL fired!”
A roar of applause and cheering from his khaki uniformed Bona Fides.
The next day was when the Second Great Lynching began. It was a three week long, obscenely violent affair and only ended when Mexico and Canada threatened to invade the US to put an end to the slaughter. Of course, there was no real attempt made to find and convict most of the perpetrators of the murders, and in point of fact to do so would have reignited the fearful hatreds that expressed themselves during those dark times. Just a few sacrificial scapegoats were convicted and sent to prisons where they quietly disappeared in solitary confinement before committing suicide. Unconfirmed sympathy in the highest places for the lynchings was suspected but never proven.
Everyone was caught up in the fever, though most people were simply victims of it. The usual victims were sought at first: minorities, ethnic, racial, religious. But the Bona Fides were quite fundamentalist and fastidious in their pogrom, quickly moving to anyone who “supported or approved of un’Mericanism” which included dissenters, pacifists, non-Christians, people with remotely Spanish first or last names, homosexuals…the list was truly endless.
In the aftermath, all that was left for the populace was to live with the loss, the hurt, the eternal absence of loved ones, and with the guilt and shame of having partook in the deeds. The government of Rwanda offered to send trained counsellors to the US to help with the healing and reconstruction efforts but The Duke refused, saying, “What the hell do we need you people for? You don’t even have running water and electricity…” then he mumbled some unintelligible remarks about “pure, distilled water and vital fluids…”
While things on the domestic front were deteriorating, The Dukes foreign policy was equally as catastrophic. Alliances and treaties forged over decades and lifetimes were summarily dismissed, ignored, denounced and insulted. The word “nuance” was dropped from dictionaries.
The eagerly pursued (at first) “War on Isis” spilled into the neighboring countries, well beyond the borders of Syria and western Iraq. The convoluted but necessary art of diplomacy formerly practiced with such clumsy effect by The Dukes predecessors was simply abandoned. The phrase ”Bomb the shit out of them!” became the de facto foreign policy in the Middle East. The draft was reinstated to feed the supply for troops, despite several Supreme Court rulings which declared it unconstitutional.
The Duke remarked, “Andrew Jackson? was he one of the Jackson Five? Haha… no really. Sometimes you just got to tell the Supreme Court to go fuck themselves. That’s what a leader does, baby. And we need bodies for the war effort…”
Then, The Scandal. A British news outlet reported that during every one of The Dukes visits to foreign countries, he brought along a male porn star. At first he denied it, saying he “…didn’t swing that way…have you seen my fifth wife? She’s hot, hotter than yours…”
But eventually he had to come clean with it all. The fact was, early in his tenure he brought famous porn star Bob N. Kneel to the White House for a secret mission.
Bob N. Kneel recounted the events on The O’Reilly Factor:
Kneel: “I was summoned to The Dukes, I mean, the Presidents office. I thought he was going to send me for reeducation since my grandmother is Cuban but he brought me in there and said he wanted me to work for him. I asked him how much it paid and he asked me if i was ‘…some kind of hooker. You trying to haggle with me over money? I’m the Deal Maker. You’ll make plenty. Just do as you’re told. Now, whip it out.’
“I didn’t want to at first, with all the Cabinet members and Secret Service there but what else was I going to do? He could send me to one of the Centers for Reeducation, Muslims, Mexicans and Other Maladjusteds[sic]. So I whipped it out.
“President Trump said, ‘See, I told you.’ Then he grabbed it, like really grabbed it, and said, ‘When ol’ Vlad sees this, he’ll do just what I tell him. I’m The Duke! I’m The Duke! I keep my electrolytes free and pure of Commie poison!’
“Then he dropped his pants and displayed himself for the whole room to see, saying, ‘But I’m bigger than that, aren’t I? Come on, everybody, aren’t I? yes? I got what plants crave!””
O’Reilly: “And he was, wasn’t he? I mean, after all he’s The Duke, the Leader of the Free World, the Deal Maker. C’mon, how big? Not that I’m interested… but really, like, big as my forearm?”
Kneel: “Well I don’t want to -”
O’Reilly: “I get it, you don’t want to kiss and tell…”
Kneel: “Let’s just say that all of his Cabinet members agreed with the President.”
Of course, the real story was only slightly less surreal. But the Bona Fides didn’t care. The Duke could do no wrong. His apologists didn’t miss a beat, they just incorporated each twist of the plot into a new narrative. The mental gymnastics they engaged in were positively Byzantine by then.
The real story was that Bob N. Kneels job was to serve as a “Trump Card” to insult foreign leaders whenever The Dukes diplomatic skills fell short, an event that happened often.
If things went sour during a visit, he’d call in Bob who would display his “‘Merican Pride” while The Duke would berate the Prime Minister, King, whomever, screaming, “See! ‘Merica is the best! You [insert appropriate ethnic pejorative here] don’t have what we got! And if you people think you can outdeal the Deal Maker, you’re gonna get fucked by ‘Merica!”
The Duke would then storm off, leaving everyone speechless, except for Bob. Bob would retrouser, bow politely, and excuse himself from the room with “I’m sorry, it’s my job.”
On Air Force One, The Duke would hold dick measuring contests. Literally. He’d make everyone in the plane play along, telling them it was harmless fun “…like we used to do at Wharton…” keeping himself unexposed until everyone else was wearing their pants around their ankles. Yes, even the women, who, by the way, were expected to go first.
Then he would, like a proud three year old after his first unassisted potty, stand there, flashing the whole entourage who were all expected to declare him the winner in a sycophantic orgy of “Yes, you’re The Duke! The Donald! The King of the World!”
Then came the visit to Russia.
Vladimir Putin was as cold and calculating as a Bond villain, with none of the comedic relief. The Duke was rightfully apprehensive and scared of their upcoming talks about Russian military exercises on the border with Finland.
When the day arrived, The Duke, as usual, handled the whole thing in his ham-fisted and blundering fashion. Putin, behind his shark-black predators eyes, easily sensed the stink of fear, self-loathing, and low self-esteem which megalomaniacs all reeked of. He should know, right? President Trump was an uncomfortable mirror for Vladimir Putin, but a sort of carnival funhouse, warped, negative mirror that only reflected a vague shadow of Vladimir. Trump only reflected a simpering, boastful bully with no actual spine to carry out deeds personally. Vladimir Putin despised The Duke for this. He resented the reflection for what it showed as much as for what it did not.
When the time came, inevitably, for Bob to “Raise Old Glory” in front of Putin, The Duke uncharacteristically didn’t storm out of the room. He wanted to savor this “victory.” But it never came. Putin calmly, deliberately grabbed Bobs endowment, put it back in his pants for him and zipped them up, carefully buckling his belt afterwards.
Then he gestured to the liquor cabinet, asking Bob in imperfect English if he would like some “…real vodka, not that cheap дерьмо you get on Air Forz Wuon…”
The Duke was furious. In a rage he stomped over to Putin, tearing his pants down to his knees and waving himself at the former KGB man, screaming, “I’m The Duke! I’m The Duke! You sonofabitch!”
Putin, turned, bemused, smirking slightly and in a dead, flat voice proclaimed, “You are average. You have always been average. You will always be average. But to make your trip feel betters, I am offering to cease military exercises on the border of Finland if we make deal. You are Deal Maker, yes?”
“Yes.” The Duke replied, his pants still halfway down his legs.
“Ok, here is deal: I know you are liking the Eastern European womens, we have many. You will marry the third cousin of Gary Kasparov, my sworn enemy. This will make him leave Russia to go to America or some other place for good. Then, Russia is leaving Finland…I mean Finland border. Yes? Is deal?”
The Duke, flaccid, could only half-whimper, “Deal…”
But then, regaining his composure, and realizing he was still in a state of undress, stood upright, thrust his chin out in his defiant yet petulant manner and pouted, “But I’m telling the press I made the deal. You got it? I’m the Deal Maker!”
Putin, replied, “Sure, is good.” Then he turned to one of his aides and muttered something.
That is how The Duke acquired his fifth wife, Varvara. Before The Duke returned to the United States, Congress amended the Constitution to allow polygamy for elected federal officials. The escort service in the District of Columbia never recovered from the economic impact.
The Dukes “2019 Tour of the ‘Merican World Tour” departed Turkey in May, bound for Italy. Meeting with the Italian head of state, The Duke was only coldly received. He didn’t know why. He was sporting a brand new fez the Turks had gifted him during the previous diplomatic exchange of pleasantries. The Duke really liked his new hat, going so far as to actually cover that famous hair with it in public. He kept overhearing the phrase “Il Duce” and so he asked what it meant.
The interpreter, in a pained smile, hands clasped, said, “Uh… Il Duce… it means…uh… ‘The Duke.’ Yes. It is ‘The Duke’ in Italiano. It is our way of uh…recognizing your position.”
The Duke beamed with delight. His chest swelled, his hair felt electric. His ever-present downturned pucker turned into an ill-fitting but genuine smile.
“Well,” he said, “you should have told me earlier. I thought you greasers were just being rude but I guess my reputation precedes me. I like that, Il Duce… I think I’m going to start using that. Gives me a cosmopolitan flair.”
Egypt, Israel, Kenya, South Africa flatly refused Il Duce entry. But Air Force One had to refuel somewhere, since the next stop was Brazil. But no country in Africa allowed Air Force one to even stop for refueling except Nigeria. So ‘Merican taxpayers forked out money for jet fuel at 237 times the market price that day, deposited to a Swiss bank account before the pumps started. The Nigerians also sold Il Duce a time share in Lagos for a mere 25 million dollars.
As Air Force One was streaming across the Atlantic toward Rio de Janeiro, the President of Botswana was interviewed as to why he and other African leaders refused to meet with President Trump. His response:
“He has confused the term “leader” with “ruler.” And he is not good at either. He has a lack of any real experience in anything except being a boorish, rather uninteresting fellow who labors under the delusion that his uncreative and simplistic remarks are profundities. He has never actually had a real occupation, nor created anything substantive. All of his business ventures were turnkey operations that he did not have to build from the ground up. In short, he has no actual skills besides that of a B grade reality tv actor. Just a sad, sad little man. My heart, and the heart of all Botswanans goes out to the American people for having to endure him.”
But it wasn’t like Il Duce was in any hurry to return to the States. His ban on Muslims did not go over well. Although “Islam is still legal, since we have freedom of religion and all that, just as long as there are no Muslims to terrorize us with the Sharifa[sic] or whatever the hell they call that bag the women got to wear…I don’t know…”
Of course, this only served to foment resentment and bred home-grown reactionary groups. Il Duces speeches were used as recruiting tools by the newly formed but extremely violent Islama al-Bubba faction of Muslim extremists that sprouted up in central Mississippi. Sister groups also formed in Ohio (Al-B’hrowns F’bol), Idaho (D’prep Resistance), Iowa (Ibn of the Corn) and numerous others.
Politically, though, Il Duce was not terribly concerned. Succumbing to the pressure to respond in kind to the hard right turn of Trumps Republican Party, the Democratic Party had devolved into two warring factions, the Blue Dogs and the Comrades. The Blue Dogs,while they had much clout and a war chest of funding and connections, could not motivate the masses of their voters the way the Comrades could. The Comrades, for their part, had shed any pretense of hiding their Communist leanings and promised rainbow stew in silver spoons for everyone, and they’d get the “greedy capitalists and Zionists” to pay for it. Il Duce regularly dismissed the Comrades out of hand in spite of the irony of how very similar their “lowest common denominator” approach to politics were to his own.
The Republican Party had shed itself of the dissenting factions, losing most of those people to the various other flavors of right-wing, religious, and so-called conservative parties and a curiously large portion of them to the Libertarians and “unaffiliated.” The remaining Republicans were effectively all Bona Fides now, though. And since they were the party in power, they made the rules.
Occasionally, he had to do some things that were for the good of the people even if the people didn’t like them, no matter how fun they were for him. Things like the arrest of the former Presidents.
There was a popular magazine dual interview with former Presidents Bush and Obama. A very candid but humanizing interview. Apparently somewhere there was a journalist who still presumed to be a writer.
When asked about Il Duce, Bush said:
“On one hand, I feel sorry for the guy because he is like that spoiled rich kid from secondary school that no one really liked, but who the social climbers in the class glommed onto because he had money, and so they tolerated his behavior. I can relate..hehe… but hell, I’m teachable. Once Laura told me to get my shit straight, well, I got it straight. So, you know, there but for the grace of God go I… And yet, on the other hand, I have no sympathy for him, he was born with a trust fund, private education and tutors, achieved wealth and fame, and yet remains as indifferent to the plight of most Americans and to the rest of the world as Cheney was, but in addition he’s astoundly stupid and irrational too. America used to be great…” his voice trailed off.
“I was accused of being a dictator, a tyrant, what have you by a lot of folks, and I’ll admit, I did push the envelope a bit… and extended the reach of the Presidency into areas it should never have gone, like my good friend George did before me. Why, just last week we were at a charity event together in Moncks Corner, SC, remarking how we let the exigencies of the office get the better of us and often sacrificed liberty on the altar of security, or rather, the appearance of security. And looking back on it, we realized how wrong-headed that was. But we both agreed that President Chump, er, I mean Trump, has become something more akin to Joffrey from Game of Thrones. That’s when Joe [Biden] said he’d like to go all “The Mountain” on him and poke his eyes out. Me and Dubya laughed… oh boy did we laugh. Joe was looking at us like, ‘I don’t get it, what’s so funny?’ Dubya just handed him the spliff and said ‘Just hit this and think on it a bit.’ Hahaha…”
Later that year, both former Presidents were arrested for “Crimes against ‘Merica” under the revised and expanded Smith Act. They were given 23.7 year sentences at the Reeducation and Get Right Camp in Angola, Louisiana.
It was about this time that rumors began to float about a bill to be introduced to allow the president to temporarily postpone the swearing in of the next president due to “extraordinary circumstances” like Imminent Danger and Heightened Terror Threats.
Trump was cryptic about it, as usual, resorting to his boilerplate message of “…something’s got to be done…danger…‘Merica needs to be Great… They want to take it all away…” The bill, when realized, passed with a total of 23 yeas, 7 nays, and 12 abstains between both houses of Congress. Most Congresspersons had resigned or been imprisoned by then. It was just academic at that point.
So there we were, on the day before the swearing in ceremony of a (hopefully)new President, and we all were wondering if it will actually happen. The election results hadn’t actually been unsealed yet, per an Executive Order by Il Duce “to maintain the integrity of the democratic process” and would only be announced at the swearing in. The National Guard had been called out to maintain order, although over half of them had simply quit and refused to follow any orders from Il Duce. Same for the police forces. It really was an uncertain time in ‘Merica. People were genuinely scared. Many were hoping for a real Leader. Someone “strong and confident” to “Make ‘Merica Greater”. Someone like Il Duce used to be during his campaign.
That night, the regularly scheduled reruns of “The Apprentice: DC” were interrupted by a Special Report of Breaking News, Live from the White House. The President delivered an emergency speech regarding the results of the election:
“My fellow ‘Mericans, Bona Fides, remaining members of Congress that haven’t resigned like a bunch of pussies, other countries and foreigners who wish they were ‘Mericans, and all the other members of the Earth, humanoids and aliens and other creatures with pure bodily essence… I come before you tonight to deliver a special announcement regarding the results of the recent voting we had back in, uh… sometime last year, whatever.
These are dangerous times, dangerous… and we have to do something to set things right, to back where it ought to be, with right, and pure essence of bodily fluids. Now, we all know I made ‘Merica Great, and I could do it again, if I wanted… but I need to, uh… see, the thing is, if you put water on the crops, like out the toilet water, people, scientists, whatever, say that they’ll grow. But that’s just fancy talk. We know what plants crave…”
And so began the second of three terms For Donald J., “Il Duce”, “The Duke of DC”, “Pucker Face”, Trump as President of the former United States of America.
Author: Tim Propst is a man with too many hobbies including chasing solitude and gathering morels. He avoids small talk and pop culture inanities and would prefer watching grass grow over any conversation about popular culture or other peoples personal lives. If he isn’t getting stung by honeybees, making videos with his creative friends, practicing bushcraft, making mead, or throwing heavy things in a kilt you might be able to find him writing about whatever strikes a nerve… if he hasn’t gone fishing.