RURAL ROUTES/Margot Ford McMillen

12 Steps for Democracy

On the morning of July 1, the Great Clown tweeted a little video photoshopped to look like he was beating up CNN. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It is a truly stupid and stupefying salute to the World Wrestling Entertainment group, a group the Clown’s flirted with since 2007 when he arranged to drop money from the rafters of a WWE arena. This event was filmed, the wonder of money coming from the sky, the scramble to catch $10, $20, $50. Just exactly the kind of stunt an uber-rich egomaniac would pull to see the masses at their lowest.

We know, don’t we, that this crazy behavior is addictive. If it wasn’t addictive, the addicted would see how foolish they look and they’d swear to never do THAT again! If the Great Clown had a lick of sense, he’d see that every time he acts like an idiot, the national news has a blast re-living all his stupid antics. For a normal person, seeing himself embarrassed over and over would be enough to make an end of the foolishness.

But, once they get a little taste of it, the megalomaniacs can’t stop. And, it looks like politicians have the DNA for this addiction. Case in point: Anthony Weiner. His inability to stop sexting cost him his career and his family. That’s the definition of addiction.

But how do we the people fix this? What’s the 12-step program?

For family-type emergencies, you might be able to get your loved one into therapy. But there’s only one way to handle the hubris-ridden in high places. Only one way. Pay no attention to them. P.N.A. Attention is what they’re craving, and it’s what we have. Let’s turn away.

Since it’s almost impossible to pick up any national media without mention of the Clown and his antics, or mention of the incessant use of social media to accomplish his goals, we need to use this time wisely and build up the alternatives. Un-subscribe from Twitter. Go on a Facebook detox diet. Limit yourself to an hour of e-mail per day, then, one hour per week.

Instead, with the time you’ve saved, read your local paper, listen to your local radio station and if you are lucky enough to have local TV, watch it!

In my midwestern community, people drop their newspaper subscriptions over any political thing. Some of my friends haven’t read the local yokels in years. They read the New York media, but they never know what’s going on around them. So, local newspapers hang by a thread, but if you want to know what’s happening, it’s the thread you need to hang on to. Subscribe, even if you don’t agree with their politics. It’s the one media that you can participate in ... and they’ll even publish your opinions, once in a while, in the form of letters to editor or op-eds. And if you work hard enough to get some power in your community, you can play the same game the Tea Party played a few years ago and create some noise.

Because, no doubt about it, the antics of the Great Clown are hiding some heinous crimes against humanity and your community is where you’ll feel it. He can dismantle the health system in your community, for sure, put your hospital out of business, and you’ll need your neighbors to re-build it. Ignoring his own addictions, he can ignore the addicted—the abusers, gamblers, opioid-users, meth-heads that are taking a toll on law enforcement.

Community is what we have, to insure ourselves against disaster. Use this summer to get in touch. Throw a block party. Knock on doors. Get to know your neighbors. If you’re a churchy type, try going to the most-local church rather than the comfortable one across town. Go out to lunch at the local eatery after church and see who’s there.

Plan to spend an extra five minutes at the gas station when you’re filling up. Talk to people who are standing in line. Form a carpool.

Shop at the farmers’ market, for sure. Some markets have grown to the place that they’re really becoming powerful, and if nothing else you’ll see your neighbors and get some great stuff to take home.

Next time you need to buy a gift, find something local...a nice piece of art, pottery, a quilt, a hand-made apron.

Wave at your friends. If you have a garden, share some zucchinis.

You can think of all these things as ways of preparing for the future, of buying insurance. Every now and then, you need a ride somewhere, a quick babysitter, a friendly word, someone to eat lunch with.

Despite the clown and his antics, we can have friendships, trust. It’s always gotten insecure communities through hard times and it will work again and make us stronger.

Margot Ford McMillen farms near Fulton, Mo., and co-hosts Farm and Fiddle on sustainable ag issues on KOPN 89.5 FM in Columbia, Mo. Email:

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2017

Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2017 The Progressive Populist

PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652