Spider Jerusalem & These, Our Failed States of America

 This is all true: 

    You wake up this morning and, for the first time, find yourself in this new, undeniably Post-Trump world. 

    For someone like you, someone for whom the concept of divine providence or fate or whatever you want to call it rests solely in the domain of fiction, this morning will serve as a reminder of the ease with which the human mind is tricked into believing impossible things. 

    A pall hangs over the city of New York. Everything is the color of concrete.

    You leave your apartment and find yourself on a silent, empty street, usually a nexus of early-commuter foot traffic. It is unnervingly quiet. You wonder if you’ve gotten up too early. Then you wonder why you’ve even gotten up at all.

    Later, while driving to work, Metallica’s new song Hardwired comes on over the radio. 

    A platinum-white 18-wheeler zooms by you on the highway, big black letters emblazoned across the back of its trailer. They form words: THE END. It is at this precise moment that James Hatfield barks: WE’RE SO FUCKED / SHIT OUT OF LUCK/ HARDWIRED TO SELF-DESTRUCT.

    And all of this—the grey sky and the grey street, the music, the truck—it all stitches itself together in your mind as if it’s all supposed to make sense. It seems, for a time, like the universe is being unnecessarily cruel (but perhaps cheeky is what it’s actually being). You will recall these seemingly-connected events over the course of the day, and they will retain an air of the cinematic.    

    But you know that it’s not the universe that’s cruel. It’s people. And providence is only real in the movies. This isn’t a movie. This is something called “Politics.”

    You don’t know anything about politics. The electoral college mystifies you. The word “superdelegate” sends you into a frenzy, because it’s been explained to you half a dozen times by well-intentioned friends and you still have no idea what’s so super about it. But you know smart people and you listen to them. You listen to the people on the radio and on Twitter and on Facebook and basically anywhere that you can find intellectuals with something interesting to say. 

    You were told that certain things needed to happen for Hillary Clinton to win this election. You were told that she had to win because the pervasive bigotry and hatred and ignorance that Donald Trump has unleashed upon a complacent populace had to be repudiated. But that never happened.

    The only things that were repudiated were your views. The views held by your liberal, educated friends. The views held by the intelligentsia and the art-community and those inside the great progressive bubble that you’ve so proudly crafted for yourself online. 

    White people did this, you’re told. Racism. Classicism. Voter suppression. The FBI. The DNC. The KGB. Russia. The media. During the twelve hour period following the announcement of Trump’s victory, you never once hear the same permutation of explanations. The complexity of it is astonishing. It’s like Matt Damon trying to solve the equation on the chalkboard.

    Takeaways are recreated or emerge anew. News networks went too far in humanizing Trump. They presented him as a real, three-dimensional creature, when in fact he was nothing but a vapid cartoon character (although he seems quite real to you). White feminists have shown their true colors (lily-white), just as (white) evangelicals have dispelled—irrefutably—any remaining aura of the traditional/family values they prided themselves on. Xenophobes quietly made an exception for their foreign first-lady-in-waiting. Fiscal conservatives anarchically embraced a candidate who seems hellbent on bankrupting the nation. And perhaps, most two-faced of all, Republicans changed their minds about our age-old enemy—the Klingons of American politics—Russia. How quickly those pinko-commie-freedom-hating ruskies have been forgotten. And in their place we now find our newest friend: the smug, bear-riding Putin. 

    This is all real. This all happened. But the facts, like before, are not facts. They are fact-esque. They are small truth-shaped things soaked in bias (“Bias!” they screamed) and agenda. They are conspiracy theories and fairytales and leftist indoctrinations run amok.

    You’re now reminded of a comic book you’ve read many times called Transmetropolitan. It is a work of singular genius. It’s written by a Brit named Warren Ellis and drawn by an American named Darick Robertson. It is a comic about a fearless journalist named Spider Jerusalem and it tells the story of his work in “The City.” It is, in its own way, a journalistic endeavor about a journalistic endeavor. It occurs in a place that does not exist. But this place is filled entirely with the kind of stupid shit that good reporting seeks to expose and hopefully destroy. Despite Transmetropolitan ending in 2002, The City feels very much like a reflection of our Post-Trump world. 

    The work culminates when Jerusalem exposes the POTUS—a man named Gary Callahan, aka “The Smiler”—for the uber-corrupt, psychotically saccharine bastard he truly is. Spider’s work, the pursuit of The Truth (capitals intentional) is enough to end a criminal’s career, despite the fact that he occupies the most important seat in global politics.

    This is a lovely notion. It is so simple.

    And yet here you are.

    People are protesting here in New York. Liberal twitter has spun an endless stream of delusional pontification and navel-gazing. Fingers have been pointed in every single direction. Grief-stricken Hillary supporters are grasping at straws. Third-party candidates have had very little to say about the possibility that they might have ensured Trump’s victory. The Right has already laid bare its plans to destroy years’ worth of hard-earned progress. Trump’s minions gloat maliciously, like triumphant juveniles at the top of the swing set. But you’re jealous of them, aren’t you? They got exactly the leader they were looking for, hoping for, praying for. And they never had to compromise along the way to get him.

    There are still so many questions. And so much more ahead.

    And you can’t explain any of it.

    Because none of it is true.