Election Day: Through a Mirror Darkly
It was three and a half years ago we made the decision to come back to Trump’s America, though, at the time, it was still Obama’s America, as well as my America.
I have a difficult time recognizing that America today, though I readily admit that’s probably my fault. I remain stuck in the old verities of compassion, honesty and respect for humankind.
Today, America’s lipstick is smudged, and her red rouge is clownish. She smells of ignorance, which can never keep a society afloat for long.
I was, however, gratified this week when the House of Representatives flipped and that a collection of know-nothings at least got a partial comeuppance, thorough not a thrashing. It was more a blue splash than blue wave.
In my 22 years in Eastern Europe — Moscow and Kyiv — I never once considered the land of my birth anything but my America. This, even through Clinton’s embarrassing Lewinsky escapades and a disastrous Bush the Younger presidency.
Now, ironically, how I yearn for Bush days, those rambling wreck Cheney and Rumsfeld moments of misguided foreign policy that begat forever wars that today linger around like Banquo’s ghost.
Those times seem almost pastoral compared to — and I use the adjective Donald invoked on his inauguration day — the “carnage” of the current White House. The stately building is occupied by a fellow without a drop of human comity coursing his veins; and, whose many lies are laid down like a barrage of fire from an AK-47.
No matter what, this remains my America, even though Uncle Sam sometimes takes on the characteristics of a drunk hanging to a lamppost for support. But he is my drunken uncle.
I console myself that it has not been Uncle Sam’s fault since January 2016. Our country was hijacked by Russian interference, Republican cyber shenanigans, an antiquated Electoral College System and, a collective zombie madness.
Take your pick, though I am aware it adds up to a lot of Hillary-esque excuses.
Hopefully, though, these mid-term elections represent an intervention by thinking Americans — not just some elites — but a cabal of every day, everyman/everywoman. People who drink beer out of a Bud bottle, but also crack a book from time-to-time.
I also remind myself that history’s pages can swiftly turn and that this country, which has endured for nearly 250 years, has swatted away challenges big and small.
Still, on the day after the 2018 mid-term elections, I reflect back to 2015, and the moment my family left Ukraine, flying toward the promise land of my youth, and my career in news, politics and business. It was life’s preface before the roller coaster of Eastern Europe.
Up until a few months before leaving Ukraine, I remained the Optimistic Alien, even penning a book describing the challenges and the euphoria of uphill battles. Having weathered two severe economic crises — 1998 and 2008 — Willard, the agency, had proven resilient, bouncing back each time stronger than before.
We were battle-scarred and weary, but, my gosh, those were exciting times. It was, though, time to come in from the cold. There were two daughters about to enter college, and a mom in her 90s.
The Optimistic Alien remains a realist who dreams. We had been through two revolutions in a decade, the economy in Ukraine was again tilting toward disaster, and the Russians were shooting at us in the East where we had abandoned a Willard outpost in Donetsk.
We shut down our operations in Russia after working with Vladimir Putin’s main nemesis, Alexey Navalny, in the Moscow mayor’s race. We were the equivalent of persona non grata, at least business-wise.
When asked why he robbed banks, the notoriously successful 1930s American bandit Willie Sutton was thought to have replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” That principle is also true for we entrepreneurs, regardless of location.
We go where the business is.
Generally, that can be done by merely switching gears, being more creative and going after opportunities like a banshie. At the time, we didn’t see those openings. Besides, I had already thrown sufficient Hail Mary passes for a lifetime, and I was approaching 70.
This is not to shed crocodile tears, merely to state the obvious. True entrepreneurs are kind of like those inflatable balloon dolls. You knock them down and they bounce right back up.
So, we bounced right back up, but 6,000 miles away in Orlando where we serve clients — some CEOs, some authors, some entertainers — doing, for the most part, press agentry stuff. It’s fun, rather creative, and we work from California to New York plying our trade.
But, back to the pinkish elephant in the room:
We are hopeful that America — once the democratic correction takes place — will once again be my and our America. I have two American citizens-in-waiting with Green Cards.
If not, hell, I love our home in southern Turkey we visit infrequently, and I can sell hotdogs and rent beach umbrellas and rubber floats in the Mediterranean sun as well as anyone.