What we can learn about America from Nashvegas

The scene outside the main entrance of the Kid Rock establishment in downtown Nashville could serve as the poster scene for the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. People wandered the streets in various states of drunken cognizance, which is just another way of saying cognitive dissonance. Some clung to each other in human chains while acting like they were free of the burdens that bind us most. Mostly these were members of Bachelorette parties. Some wore sashes indicating their Bride-To-Be status and others debauched in sashes designating their subservient roles.

The Bachelor parties were best-identified by their Bro Behavior, stumbling along in groups of five-to-ten wide, passing through the crowds like the Dark Matter of human existence. Don’t bump into one of them or the world around you could explode. We all live on a vigilante street these days.

Outside the doors of the Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk and Steakhouse, a man stood holding a cardboard sign with the words “Let’s Go Brandon. Fuck Joe Biden. God Bless” in handwritten defiance as he faced the crowds, sucking on a cigarette as if it contained the elixir of life itself.

I pondered his mission and realized that he most resembled those doomsayers bearing signs about the end of the world. They’re forever warning us about the End Times, and they’re always wrong.

The Let’s Go Brandon folks think they’re clever disguising the phrase Fuck Joe Biden behind the banal cheer they bellow and brandish on tee shirts. Of all the modern-day attempts at conspiratorial political subterfuge, this one proves the fatal instincts of the terminally deceived. Following Trump has proven to be nothing but a dishonest and brutally dismissive brand of folly from the beginning of the ex-President’s campaign to his current tempestuous residency as a deposed despot clinging to the hope that he can return to office to dismiss the vast record of crime and corruptions left in his wake. That is Trump’s only hope for salvation in this world: he needs power to even feel like a human being.

Surely he’d have been one of the ringleaders in the days of Sodom, when men nearly beat down Lot’s door so that they could abuse the strangers inside. Trump loves the look of terror in people’s eyes and the fear he engenders by proclaiming slogans such as “You’re fired!” That was Trump’s form of verbal rape back in the days when he was given license to formally torture people on “reality” TV. But it was never about reality it all. Trump’s entire world is a crazily concocted contrivance of his appetites and insecurities. He wraps himself in the clothing of self-aggrandizement and prances down the avenue in a sash just like those Bachelorettes he’d love to grope and fondle, since that’s his ilk.

Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down.

And that’s what I learned during a venture into the heart of Nashvegas. America is obviously possessed by a self-consuming desire to abuse and be abused. To millions of Americans, the two are not even separable concepts. And when their self-indulgently abusive nature worships at the feet of men like Trump, the threat to all of us is real. Trump caters to the desire for abuse with his downtalking style and claims of victimhood that fuel the sense of entitlement this new-age confederacy of disenfranchisement finds so appealing, and so absorbs slogans like Make America Great Again that make their conflicted spirits feel whole again.

States where Trump is popular love that style of whining deprecation. Those trucks bearing flags abusively redesigned with black and blue stripes alongside those flabby Trump banners indicate a cult-like obsession with alt-authority that dominates the Trumpian mindset. It is significant that the same tactics used by the socialist-fascist tropes of old are so effective on the religio-fascists now vexing America. Trump has convinced millions of people they are the “free thinkers” in this world when every aspect of their behavior speaks to the exact opposite mindset.

The same depressing cultural gutspeak washes over cities like Nashville and Las Vegas every damned day of the year. These places are a grand excuse to lower the moral bar as far as one wants to go, and never feel the need to apologize for it. Nashville was the city of choice for a bachelor friend of mine, and we had a dose of fun without trashing ourselves or anyone else around us. I’ll admit. We had fun. We drank some. Listened to some good music. Chatted up some ladies to pass the time and got back home by 3:00 a.m. But that’s not what many people chose to believe about “reality” when it comes to visiting Nashville or any place like it. The phrase “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…” speaks to a brand of willing self-indulgence and truth denial that indicates a disturbing tendency lack of responsibility that can’t help spill into other aspects of life. Are we on the way to replacing the United States of America with the Untidy States of Vegas?

We all need to cut loose once in a while and lose our cares. I like a good glass of whiskey as much as the next person. We toured a distillery and learned the art of making fine spirits from grain to mash to swan-neck distillation. But there’s a lesson in how whiskey is made. The first vapors through the process are too toxic and dangerous to drink. They can make you go blind and half-crazy if you’re not careful, and kill not just brain cells, but the whole damned body associated with it. That’s what I really learned in Nashvegas, Tennessee. It seldom pays to consume the first of anything whether it comes out of a still or from the mouth of a man telling everyone else to keep still because he considers himself the biggest expert in the room.

But Trump and his people are drunk on the notion that their primary notions and instincts are good for us all. A trip through the streets of Nashvegas on a Saturday night exemplifies the madness afoot across so many sectors. This is hardly what America needs to become great again. While it’s not all about sobriety, there should always be room for sober consideration of what greatness actually, really means. And this is not it.

This isn’t so much about the core issues of morality as it is about recognizing that wherever morality is twisted into shapes of personalities eager to dismiss and abuse others, we’re facing a real danger to society. That means the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah needs to be studied more closely. The lesson never was that gay people or strangers far from home are the real threat in this world. The actual moral is that people with authoritarian domination on their minds are evidence of the breakdown of society. They are banging on the doors of civility in this nation, and around the world. It is our holy and moral duty to keep these fascist monsters at bay.

Trump is their leader here in America. We must never forget that.

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