Trumpelstiltzgen is NOT a fairy tale
by Len Bahr, Ph.D.
During the enlightenment period of the 19th century a brilliant Prussian geologist and explorer named Alexander von Humboldt began to elevate the qualitative field of natural history into a rigorous quantitative scientific discipline that eventually became known as ecology. Meanwhile in neighboring Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, known as the Brothers Grimm, were creating mythological stories designed to instill lessons in children about the fearsome consequences of common human frailties, such as avarice.
The Grimm Bros’ allegories, which became known as fairy tales, included one that featured three players: a strange little title character named Rumpelstiltzgen; a gold-obsessed king seeking a young spouse to bear his heir; and a golden-tressed miller’s daughter. Sadly, the themes of greed, prevarication, misogyny and wishful thinking in this fantasy tale are reminiscent of the players and prevailing philosophy in the American political theater now directed by DJT.
The unprecedented presidency of a braggadocious political novice and science doubter named Donald J. Trump has transformed our nation almost overnight into a Trumpocracy, a fairy tale kingdom in which facts are forged from fiction and the bizarre becomes believable. Thus I present the following preface to a modern non-fiction tale that I call Trumpelstiltzgen, for which I hereby claim authorship and all applicable accoutrements, in the unlikely circumstance that I live long enough to see the final act.
Once upon a time there was a deeply disingenuous despot named Donald, a cunning con artist with a slick but effective style of patter that could both scare the bejeezus from, and charm the socks off of an audience of frustrated folks, not all of them foolish, as pointed out in an essay in Slate Magazine. The semantic tools in Donald’s rhetorical trick bag include slick and simplistic ‘solutions’ to universal fears and prejudices. These are snake oil remedies that don’t stand up to scrutiny but that sufficed to persuade about one third of American voters to pull the Trump lever on November 8.
Now President Donald has a peculiar predilection for power, prestige and popularity. Among his other idiosyncrasies that relate to the king in the fairy tale, he loves gold in every form imaginable, from watches to wallpaper, from teapots to toilet seats, from curtains to culottes. His Midas obsession extends even to Mickey Dees’ golden arches, for which he appeared in commercials during 2002.
Among his other appetites, and in parallel with the Grimm Bros’ tale, Donald has a predilection for comely young blondes, legions of whom have succumbed to the seductive spell of his image as a wealthy and powerful man whom they trusted to transform their lives from travail to tranquility. The original tale gives the title role, not to the greedy and salacious king, but to a churlish character called a ‘manikin.’ Coincidentally, this term is homophonic with the term ‘mannequin,’ an apropos descriptor for the predictably robotic behavior of King Donald, as well as for his serial spouses, all fashion models.
Unfortunately, my Trumpelstiltsgen tale is only in its opening act – and it’s non-fictional. Nevertheless, the plot is already unfolding with a menacing menu of misguided policies poised to take effect, some of which could achieve legendary status. These include climate changes too grim and grisly for us non-Trumpians to fully comprehend.
By pulling the rug from under the significant progress made on climate change during the Obama years, including EPA’s new Clean Air Act coal plant restrictions, Trumpocracy could very well render moot even the most promising coastal projects in Louisiana. This would amount to poetic justice for the GOP members of our delegation who live south of I-10 but heart wrenchingly sad for us minority voters who understand the implications of the ominous accelerating increase in sea level rise. On that subject, it’s very gratifying to see journalists such as Keith Magill and Dan Boudreaux with Houma Today acknowledge the extreme vulnerability of coastal hot spots to unabated climate change, including the location of their place of business.
Even if Trumpocracy is abandoned as a failed experiment by 2020, a four year vacuum in American leadership on reducing global carbon emissions could be the proverbial straw that broke the coastal camel’s back.