Yes, it's time once again for our yearly frightfest, where we toss out a spine-tingling nightmare for folks on both sides of the political chasm. Right and left will be quaking in their boots after contemplating the following twisted tales! [Cue: shrieking and chains clanking]
Because we've already traveled this road once (last year's frightful horror stories already involved none other than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton), we decided to make it hard on ourselves today. This is because the horrorshow on both right and left is so easy to imagine for everyone, at this point, that they could fit on a couple of tweets: "For GOP -- President Hillary Rodham Clinton!" and "For Dems -- email scandal throws election to Trump!" So instead of taking things easy, we've instead decided that the Republican nightmare will begin with Trump winning and the Democratic nightmare will start with Clinton winning the election. This made coming up with these fearsome tales more challenging, we felt.
One apologetic note, before we begin. Each year, we take the time to carve pumpkins into Jack-o-lanterns, to accompany our nightmares. Sometimes they come out looking like what they're supposed to, sometimes not so much. So, just in case anyone can't interpret the first of these, that's supposed to be the White House with a giant "TRUMP" sign on the top of it. As we discovered, the White House is a lot harder to carve onto a pumpkin than we had initially thought. Just wanted to avoid confusion for everyone.
OK, enough apologizing for poor pumpkin art (Trumpkin art?), lets get right to our haunting tales of dread and woe for Republicans and Democrats alike. We tossed a coin, and it determined that the GOP frightful fable would be first. So buckle your seatbelts, here we go....
Republican Nightmare -- Jobs for all!
Donald Trump's campaign turns out to be right, and millions of "shy Trump voters" (who are too embarrassed to admit to pollsters that they're supporting Trump, thus skewing all the polls in Hillary's direction) actually exist -- and they turn out on Election Day, bigly. Trump sweeps Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, Arizona, and Nevada to squeak out a victory in the Electoral College.
Hillary Clinton turns out to be the one who refuses to concede on the night of the election, and demands recounts everywhere. Even after the recounts, however, it becomes apparent that she lost and Donald J. Trump will be our next president.
Republicans cautiously rejoice, as they all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Their House majority is saved, and they even retain the Senate, 51 to 49. This, they all tell themselves, will assure a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for decades to come.
Trump's transition team, however, begins to frighten Republicans to their core. Trump's first major announcement is that he will be appointing his daughter Ivanka as his new Chief of Staff. "She's going to run the White House beautifully," Trump assures America. His sons are appointed Special Counsels, and Trump shocks Washington by announcing that these are the only advisors he is ever going to listen to at all -- his Cabinet won't have any input to his decisions whatsoever. "I have a much better brain than anyone, so I'll be making all the big-league decisions," Trump helpfully explains.
Chris Christie is nominated for Attorney General, who immediately announces that he'll be appointing none other than Rudy Giuliani as "Special Clinton Prosecutor," who will have an unlimited budget to investigate every aspect of both Clintons' lives, back to when they were in grade school. This reassures nervous Republicans.
Trump has "the classiest inauguration ever," complete with scantily-clad dancing girls (who all come down with pneumonia, after performing outdoors in the 20-degree weather in January). Trump immediately begins construction of a giant, gold-plated "TRUMP" sign on the White House roof, to the horror of pretty much everyone.
After the Senate confirms Christie, he also announces several other measures that Trump has demanded. First, the I.R.S. will be directed to hound every name on Trump's new (and official) "Enemies Of The Trump State" list, which -- to their horror -- includes every single Republican officeholder who didn't fully endorse Trump, as well as every Republican alive who has ever said anything mean or nasty about Trump. The list also has a few Democrats on it (Rosie O'Donnell's name is actually the first on the list), but over three-fourths of the names are from the GOP. Trump promises them they're all going to get "the audit from Hell," just to make things worse.
Republicans are united in their outrage towards Trump, but they all know that if they say anything negative about him they'll be painting a giant target on their own backs, so none of them ever go on the record opposing Trump's enemies list.
Trump then shocks the country by naming his own sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, to the Supreme Court. Because he knows the Senate might refuse to confirm her, he sneakily appoints her while the Senate is in recess, meaning she'll serve at least until the end of his term without having to be confirmed at all. Trump insists she is qualified, since she's already a senior federal appellate court judge. But what really horrifies Republicans is that she's both pro-choice and downright liberal -- not exactly what they had expected to see on the high court from a Republican president.
Congressional Republicans try to take the reins of power, by hastily passing a budget with every single one of the items they've been dreaming about for years -- eliminating the E.P.A., declaring Planned Parenthood a criminal enterprise, slashing entitlement programs, and revising the tax code so that millionaires are absolutely exempt from all federal taxes. In other words, the basic Republican Party platform.
But President Trump surprises them all by vetoing it. Borrowing a tactic from Maine's Governor Paul LePage, Trump declares that from now on he himself will be introducing all the bills Congress will then be required to pass, and that he'll veto any and all legislation that his sons and daughter didn't actually draft. He unveils his first bill, which outlines how he's going to build his border wall and threaten Mexico with nuclear war if it doesn't pony up all the money to pay for it. "If you don't pass my bills," Trump warns Congress, "then you might as well just go home and not even bother coming in to work, because I won't be signing any of your stupid bills at all."
Russia announces it is annexing Ukraine. Trump praises Vladimir Putin for doing so, saying, "that's a bold bit of leadership, and Ukraine wasn't doing anybody any good as it was." Trump has Putin over for a barbeque on the White House lawn, and after the two leaders meet behind closed doors for three hours, they issue a joint statement on the Middle East. Russia is awarded full military control over Syria, and President Trump explains, "Putin has promised to wipe out everyone who doesn't support Assad, so that takes care of ISIS." Putin struggles to control his maniacal grin while Trump talks. Trump also announces that all high schools in America will now require students to be fluent in Russian before they can graduate. Putin tries to stifle his laughter behind his hand, unsuccessfully.
Trump then announces to the rest of the world that the United States will be pulling our military out of all foreign bases, effective in one month's time, unless they all start paying what Trump calls "protection money" to the U.S. Treasury. "Nice little country you got there," Trump sneers, "it'd be a shame if anything were to happen to it."
The world's economic system collapses within days. Every other country on the planet immediately dumps all holdings in America and liquidates all reserves of the U.S. dollar. As the dollar collapses in value in the currency markets, the smart money starts buying Russian rubles and Chinese yuan.
President Trump insists that everything is going to plan, and with the dollar virtually worthless outside America, "now all the jobs have to come back home." This is true -- American companies simply can't afford to operate the way they have been, and to compete in America they know they'll have to make all their products within the country's borders.
However, it being the twenty-first century and all, they actually have another option. The result is that 499 of the Fortune 500 corporations announce within the week that they will be moving their companies overseas permanently, and will still sell products in America -- but will only accept foreign currency to buy these products. The exodus of companies causes further collapse to the U.S. economy.
Congress belatedly acts, and begins impeachment proceedings against Trump, but they have waited too long. President Trump announces martial law (due to the rioting and looting which has broken out in all 50 states over the collapse of the economy), and federalizes not only the National Guard, but all police forces, everywhere. All members of Congress are rounded up and sent to "re-education camps."
In the end, Trump does make good on his promise of "jobs for all" as half of the country is arrested and sent to the labor camps, while the other half now enjoys job security as prison guards. The era of the American gulag begins, and Trump proclaims himself "President-For-Life."
Democratic Nightmare -- Queen Hillary The First
Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election with more Electoral College votes than Barack Obama managed to get in 2008. Democrats rejoice at a third consecutive term in the White House. Democrats also retake control of the Senate, but fail to win the 30 seats necessary to take the House. Donald Trump threatens "massive lawsuits," but by this time nobody is paying the slightest bit of attention to him. Like most threatened Trump lawsuits, they never actually happen. Trump crawls back to New York and starts up an alt-right media empire.
Once the dust from the election settles, Hillary Clinton reverts to form. In the transition period, she announces she's naming 23 former Wall Street banking executives to be her economic advisory team. A former Goldman Sachs executive is her pick for Secretary of the Treasury. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren hold a joint press conference to denounce Clinton's picks, and when Clinton is asked to respond, she just laughs loud and long. "What did they really expect?" she finally gasps, with tears running from her eyes from the laughter. In the midst of this, the announcement that Bill Clinton will be in charge of hiring all White House interns goes almost unnoticed. Hillary further announces that Rahm Emanuel will be her Chief of Staff, much to the progressives' horror. Hillary fills out her cabinet with former members of the "Democratic Leadership Council" from the 1990s, and announces her legacy will be a return to neo-liberalism, and her White House will be "as friendly as can be" to Big Business. As if this weren't bad enough, she decides to nominate Henry Kissinger as her Secretary of State.
Inauguration Day dawns cold and snowy. This time around, Chief Justice Roberts actually reads from an index card, so he gets the wording of the presidential oath correct. However, Hillary muffs her lines slightly, and has to hold a second swearing-in hours later as Republicans scream: "She's not the legitimate president!" to anyone who will listen. At the Inaugural Ball, Hillary Clinton appears with a suspiciously-large diamond tiara, and instructs everyone that officially meeting her now means people should either bow or curtsey before she will acknowledge their presence.
On her first day in office, President Clinton announces she is issuing a blanket pardon for any and all crimes either she or her husband may or may not have ever committed. "Republicans can just chew on that -- there is now no point in investigating anything which happened prior to today," Clinton proclaims. Congressional Republicans howl, but since there is no precedent and since pardoning yourself and your husband is not actually banned by the Constitution, she gets away with it.
Clinton's first 100 days absolutely horrify all progressive Democrats. She begins by pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership through the Senate, breaking the first of many campaign promises. When asked about this flip-flop, Clinton blithely responds: "You guys actually believed I was against the 'gold standard' of trade agreements? Wow -- you're stupider than you look!" Clinton also names a former corporate lawyer for Lehman Brothers as her Supreme Court nominee. It is quickly discovered that he has spoken and written extensively on how much he approves of the Citizens United decision, crushing progressives' hopes for a less corporate-friendly Supreme Court. When Bernie Sanders pushes a "free public college for all" bill through the Senate, Clinton responds with: "What have you guys been smoking? That ain't gonna happen." The bill dies in the House, of course. Clinton also announces that her Justice Department will be prosecuting any businesses and people involved in the recreational marijuana market in Colorado, Washington, "and all those other hippie states that think they can ignore federal law."
Clinton unveils her first budget, and Democrats recoil in shock. Hillary has rewritten the tax laws so that anyone in the banking industry pays a flat "one-percenter's one percent" in federal income tax. The bigger shock is that Clinton presents her first budget in a joint appearance with Speaker Paul Ryan. "I promised to be president for all Americans, and in that spirit I am reaching out to Republicans with this bipartisan budget." What this means is that Clinton and Ryan have reached the fabled "Grand Bargain" on taxes and entitlements. Social Security payments will be drastically reduced, in exchange for only lowering taxes on the wealthy by five percent, instead of the twenty percent Republicans wanted. "This is the best deal I could get," Hillary explains to aghast Democrats, "and I think we should all join together and pass it."
Clinton announces her foreign policy goals in her first weeks in office, which include immediately instituting a no-fly zone over Syria. Additional aircraft carriers are sent to the Mediterranean to enforce the new "Operation America Owns Syria's Skies." Two months later, a Russian fighter is shot down by an American pilot. Russia immediately begins targeting the aircraft carries with cruise missiles.
Hillary Clinton makes a fiery speech, quoting Maggie Thatcher at length. Clinton declares that "America will not be pushed around," and gives the Russian military 24 hours to vacate Syria. Putin laughs at this, and lobs a few more cruise missiles (so far, Putin has only been launching his older missiles with conventional explosives on them, which the carriers can easily shoot down). In retaliation, Clinton launches a massive carpet-bombing of all Russian bases within Syria.
Within hours, panic spreads in both countries. Millions flee coastal cities deemed to be military targets in the United States, and "flyover country" becomes the most attractive destination, deep within America's borders. Seeing such disruption, and at the very brink of nuclear war, both sides slowly back down. Clinton is forced to end her no-fly zone over Syria, while the Russians only agree to stop attacking American military units.
The panic lasts weeks, however, and takes a very heavy toll on the economy. Stock markets tank, tens of millions are fired (or don't show up to work, having fled to the interior), and the dollar collapses.
Hillary Clinton, at this point, seems to suffer a mental breakdown. In a bizarre ceremony, she announces that due to the emergency, America can no longer afford to have any divisions within its government, and she is thus seizing all power and naming herself "Queen of the United States." Her Inauguration Ball tiara is upgraded to a solid gold crown, encrusted with diamonds and other precious gems. Clinton announces that future elections simply won't be necessary, since she will be in full control of all the levers of power in an absolute monarchy.
Her last statement before ending the coronation ceremony is that Chelsea will henceforth be known as "Crown Princess Chelsea," and that the secession of power will continue only within "the House of Rodham." In the midst of these shocking developments, nobody pays much attention to the seventeen interns who get caught having an orgy with Bill and Donald Trump Jr. in the Rose Room of the White House.
Have a happy Hallowe'en everyone!
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