Grandpa arrived early for the family’s Halloween gathering. He waited for everyone to arrive and take a seat before he began. He saw in the amber light that their faces were a year older and worn in a way he hadn’t noticed before.
Years were difficult mostly due to increasing weather situations resulting in hurricanes, tornadoes, unbearable heat waves, droughts, floods and forest fires. Most blamed the government for failing to act on scientists’ warnings early in the century.
Much of the nation’s resources were poured into the cycle of recovery and rebuilding, recovery and rebuilding. Related businesses flourished along with medical services and, sadly, undertaking services. The employment figure was near zero due to the high demand for first responders, firefighters and construction workers. Pay was good but the work was hard and demanding.
This Halloween, the family was glad to be together and eager to hear Grandpa finish the story of the terrible year. It could explain so much.
Category 5 political storm
“The terrible year turned into more terrible years,” Grandpa began and relayed the story. President Grabit T. Grumpet never would have called the years terrible. In fact, he called them the best years that America ever had and said it was all because of him.
Since news and commentary was only broadcast through OGN, Old Goat News, and GTG internet browser, no one heard anyone disagree. The old Facebook became Grumpetbook. Signing in required at least one “like” for the president.
Regardless, anyone paying attention knew it wasn’t as grand as the president said, and certainly not the best. People and families were hopelessly divided. One group was made up of the “zombies” marching in step, the powerful elite who held most of the money in the country and the ruling party in Congress who wanted so much to keep their power, that they renamed their party, GTG, Grand Timeless Grumpet and voted his every whim.
Using the strong congressional support of the GTG, Grumpet started dismantling any institutions founded on scientific principles. He started by deregulating environmental controls and forbid the use of technology to mine ore and eliminated gas mileage requirements, despite scientists’ final warnings issued in 2018 when there was still time to save Earth for humans and other life.
Grumpet went on to “correct” early century shifts in social norms, especially as they related to equal rights for women and minorities. He proposed and passed legislation that forbid the use of all methods of birth control and instituted a requirement that health care providers to report women seeking birth control to a special line in his office.
Grumpet promised to repeal any government support to “malingering” people who did not have health insurance through work or Medicare and any requirement to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Grumpet did nothing without establishing someone or some entity as the cause or the blame of any fallout from his policies. His primary political skills were that and demeaning and degrading others, all wildly cheered by his supporters.
Since Grumpet and the GTG denied the use of science to collect and analyze data, the only available studies of the effects were done in secret by the people in the shadow. Those studies showed that certain de-regulations around the production and use of fossil fuels contributed to the acceleration of the Earth’s temperature. A few decades later air filter masks became necessary to wear when walking outdoors.
The incidence of maternal deaths grew and landed America at the lowest level of all but three countries. America’s life expectancy steadily fell which saved billions of dollars in Medicare costs. Storms were more frequent and violent.
All of this was known to the people of the shadow, who included most women, most minority men, women and children, many intellectuals, scientists – the latter two driven into the shadows through denial of the value of their work – former reporters, and many men married to women they love and whose safety was jeopardized.
It wasn’t that the people of the shadow were hidden, just silent. Most spent the first year in disbelief and shock. How could the democratic foundation of their country fall so quickly? Seemingly overnight, foundations built on the Constitution throughout the nation crumbled.
Yet, hindsight told them cracks began to appear before Grumpet was elected. They saw how little time it takes to break down what takes decades to build.
They began looking at it as a Category 5 political hurricane. Perhaps they could rebuild but first they had to stop the destruction.
See Part II of “Halloween Story, series finale” in the Oct. 31 edition of the Sequim Gazette.
Bertha Cooper spent her career years as a health care organization and program administrator and consultant and is a featured columnist in Sequim Gazette. Cooper has lived in Sequim with her husband for nearly 20 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.