All You Can Bleat

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

-Jonathan Swift

One of the books that I’ve been suggesting (once a bookseller, I guess, always…) to help understand the political comeuppance of 2016 is

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

by Kurt Andersen

So, what is this Haywire? From the Online Etymology Dictionary :

“soft wire for binding bales of hay,” by 1891, from hay + wire (n.). Adjective meaning “poorly equipped, makeshift” is 1905, American English, from the sense of something held together only with haywire, particularly said to be from use of the stuff in New England lumber camps for jury-rigging and makeshift purposes, so that hay wire outfit became the “contemptuous term for loggers with poor logging equipment” [Bryant, “Logging,” 1913]. Its springy, uncontrollable quality led to the sense in go haywire (by 1915).

Mr. Andersen, longtime satirical stalwart, was one of the wise-ass founders of Spy magazine, first published in 1988. So he knows The Unpresidented One all too well. Well enough, I feel sure, that he would gladly have traded a last-minute  democratus ex machina for the extra book sales enabled by what seemed like ultimate proof  of a woeful thesis:

We are a country ripe for the plucking by the con man or quack, grifter or gangster-preacher, Music Man or spoon-bending magician.

The road from the Reformation to the Great Revulsion of 2016 is long, and tortuous, and torturous. Fantasyland, it turns out, had as much predictive power as  Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire  by Chalmers Johnson. Check that one out and see if you can believe that it came out a year before 9/11. Both of these books remind us of the need for a single democratic commandment:

Thou shalt not be a sheep. Lest ye be shorn.