So which Donald Trump will be inaugurated on Jan. 20? Will it be Trump the badboy lecher, Trump the ungovernable disruptive force, Trump the Putin fan, Trump the deporter, Trump the cunning and ethically challenged businessman or the Great and Powerful Trump, intent on rewarding loyalists and punishing his enemies?
I wish that he'd just resume being The Donald, the cheerful scammer who created a powerful brand and made billions after nearly going broke in the casino business. Sadly, it looks as if he's chosen to be a bullying authoritarian, laying down the law as he sees it.
He apparently intends to shut down the retail marijuana business, snuff out solar and wind energy, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, nullify environmental regulation, transfer federal lands to the states, allow mining and oil and gas exploration and production in national parks and wilderness areas, open up the Arctic and other offshore areas to oil and gas exploration, withdraw from the Paris climate treaty, undo the Iran nuclear deal and make Bill and Hillary pay for the wall.
Never mind that Hillary beat him by about 1.7 million votes. The great and powerful one figures that he has a mandate, and he's going to run with it. His stated agenda seems designed not to move the country forward, but to punish the states that opposed him. Take this, you arrogant coastal elitists, you Colorado marijuana dealers, you Minnesota immigrant lovers, you snooty Massachusetts liberals and you D.C. lobbyists! Go ahead, try to stop me!
I spent some time this weekend reading my great-grandfather's account of his service as a soldier in the Confederate Army. Gen. John Gill (after whom I am named) was an ardent patriot who firmly believed in the Confederate cause. He enlisted as a private, and participated in a dozen major battles. Deployed as a picket covering Lee's retreat from Gettysburg, Gill described the scene in a memoir, Reminiscences of Four Years as a Private Soldier, published in 1904.
"The dead had already turned black ... to add to the horror of the scene and cries and groans of dying men, in the midst of who we stood, a terrible thunder and lightning storm broke over the battlefield ... the lightning flashed in our faces casting shadows on the dead strewn around us."
It's hard not to be struck by the similarities between his time and ours. Then as now, the national government advocated policies that targeted the perceived economic interests of many states. Rebel states advocated nullification, and refused to comply with federal mandates (like today's "sanctuary cities" might). Disagreement led to secession and secession led to war. Call it what you will — The Civil War, The War Between the States? — the ensuing conflict was a national disaster without parallel, one from which we have yet to fully recover.
And now, a century and a half later, the old wounds are reopened and the roles reversed. Modern-day irredentists and revanchists are firmly in control of the national government, leaving the moderate/liberal heirs of Lincoln, Grant, the Roosevelts, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Clinton and Obama with little recourse.
What do we do? Do we sit passively, and rely upon Trump's incompetence and the federal government's sluggishness to prevent any truly awful outcomes? Or do we follow the example of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, and take arms against our sea of troubles?
What arms? Hey, we're peaceful liberals who don't even own BB guns. The nation's armed middle-aged guys voted for Trump, and he'll soon be commander-in-chief of an outfit called the United States Armed Forces. Let's leave Fort Sumter alone, and deploy our available assets.
We may not have guns, but we've sure got lawyers and money. Let's create the Federated States of America, a new national entity conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal — even undocumented immigrants. We'll lure Trump into negotiations — c'mon, Donald, let's make a deal!
In exchange for certain concessions involving casinos, golf courses and hotels, we'll be free. We'll protect our environment, grow our businesses, trade freely with other countries and even welcome immigrants from the impoverished and misgoverned USA.
"Everybody welcome," as Fannie Mae Duncan would say. And remember Johnny Cash: "Leave your guns at home, son."