About the Author – Long
OK, that’s my humorously clever standard short-form bio. Now I’ll continue with some serious extended first-person background.
My parents always were socially conscious and politically aware. But the year before getting my driver’s license and first car (a previously owned 1962 Corvair, primary gray 2-door sedan, for $50), my interest in politics and current affairs was jump-started by a fortuitous class enrollment.
My ninth grade social studies teacher, Gerry Eggen, was a fierce liberal in his late 20s. He had a strong passion for teaching and waking up junior high school minds. Even conservative classmates — among those few peers who hitherto had thought about politics enough to place themselves somewhere on the political spectrum — said that though they didn’t generally agree with him, he “made you think.” Per my first book dedication to his memory: “Mr. Eggen taught us the difference between The New Republic and the National Review, and why we should care.”
Eggen encouraged us to invite political and social issue activists from the Greater Detroit area into our classroom to speak. These speakers ranged in political temperament from far right to center to far left. Students were assigned to contact personalities, convince them to come, and handle all the scheduling and logistics. Not only were we learning about the important issues of the day, we were gaining valuable “adulting” experience like making business telephone calls and completing meeting arrangements.
Upon brainstorming and deciding on speakers and topics, students began setting up talks. We had visits from representatives of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Detroit Public Schools, NAACP, John Birch Society, New Detroit committee, George Wallace presidential campaign, Detroit Bar Association, Young Republicans, and CORE, aka Congress of Racial Equality.
Our ninth grade class under the leadership of Mr. Eggen became a bit of a legend at all-white Fuhrmann Junior High School, situated in a Macomb County second-tier Detroit suburb. Word got around. Teachers and students from other classes began attending many of our speaker presentations, sometimes resulting in an overflowing classroom.
From this school-year experience onward, my passion for social issues and current affairs deepened.
I started writing about American politics during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign. Mr. Obama is African American, which I mention only as important background to an explosive new era of political bigotry, ethnic epithets and ad hominems, and wildly fallacious conspiracy theories. Then-Sen. Obama won that election. But rather than shepherding in a post-racial era of equality and humankindness, the existence of his administration woke up a sleeping bear of Caucasian rage.
In preparation to tank Obama’s reelection campaign, loud race-baiting disinformational voices began to emerge.
“He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one but there is something on that birth certificate — maybe religion, maybe it says he’s a [Kenyan] Muslim, I don’t know.”
(Trump, Donald; Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor; 3/30/2011.) (referring to President Obama in classic Trump birtherism-speak, i.e., translated: “Obama is foreign-born,” “Obama is Muslim,” and oh by the way, “Don’t forget that Obama is Black”)
“[I don’t know] whether he needs large amounts of rest [or] whether he needs to go play basketball for a while.”
(Gingrich, Newt; Fox News’ On the Record; 9/25/2012.) (referring to President Obama in classic coded-racism-speak, i.e., translated: “Obama is lazy,” and oh by the way, “Don’t forget that Obama likes to play basketball — because he is Black”)
These quotes by anti-Obama leaders Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich were just the proverbial tip of the white nationalist iceberg. I wrote about it in my first book, Barack vs. the Anti-PC: Laying the Groundwork for a 2016 Donald Trump Presidential Run (2017, Big Table Publishing Co.):
“America’s  election of her first non-Caucasian president produced a political reality show not seen before, including a colorful cast of cartoon characters. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — famously referred to as a stupid person’s version of a smart person — honed his dog-whistled racial stereotypes about the president. Attention-starved billionaire Donald Trump appointed himself cheerleading team captain for the birthers, who disguised their racism behind the red herring belief that Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya and therefore not eligible to be president.
“And who can forget [ultraconservative talk radio host] Rush Limbaugh (‘Take that bone out of your nose and call me back’), [2008 GOP VP candidate] Sarah Palin (Obama’s ‘shuck and jive shtick must end’), [GOP Rep.] Michele Bachmann (Obama is running a ‘gangsta government’), and of course, [2012 GOP presidential candidate] Mitt Romney (‘No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know [where I was] born and raised.’). Together they coddled tea party rumormongers perpetuating outlandish myths about the president, attempting to convey that he was not one of us. But it was never because of his ethnicity (wink). …
“President Obama was called a socialist and a fascist — by the same people. He was called an atheist and a Muslim, again, by the same bipedal primates. These were oxymorons committed by morons. And I had to speak out.”
(Ersin, Tom; Barack vs. the Anti-PC: Laying the Groundwork for a 2016 Donald Trump Presidential Run; 2017.)
Barack vs. the Anti-PC covered the period of August 2008 through May 2012: the end of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign through the middle of his second. I also wrote a “Part 2” of this series, covering the period between May 2012 and President Obama’s second inauguration, Jan. 20, 2013, which has yet to be published.
The timing of the launch of my writing career corresponded with a major change in my day vocation. Until then I had been a full-time musician, songwriter, and aspiring recording artist. Except for a seven-year stint in the 1990s in the mental health field, I had played guitar and sung for a living my entire adult life. And as any guitarist’s girlfriend will tell you, working full-time in the music business is loosely defined.
JOKE 1 — What do you call a guitar player who just broke up with his girlfriend? Homeless.
JOKE 2 — [SON:] “Daddy, I want to be a guitar player when I grow up.” [DAD:] “Well you better decide. You can’t do both.”
Playing the hits at weddings and bars for a paycheck while trying to create your own art for no paycheck is a tough way to make a living.
But my girlfriend, Norma, became my wife and partner, and hung on. With her encouragement, in the late 2000s I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went back to college, got a degree in communications, and now I write for a health and wellness organization. That’s my day job. At “night” I create my own art: the articles and books displayed here.
During the Obama years, from 2009 through 2017, America was treated to a yuge dose of Donald Trump. The Apprentice television “reality” show brought him vacuous fame. Birtherism brought him into political commentary, though no less vacuous. And Twitter launched his political career by feeding his junk-food opinions and adolescent pronouncements to his mass of followers. Even opponents and detractors could not look away from the runaway train of thinly veiled white supremacism, outrageous conspiracy theories, and middle school ad hominem attacks.
Donald Trump thought he would run for president in 2016 as the biggest marketing gimmick of all time. He never expected to win. But he would build his brand by performing his so-called populist, Christian white nationalist, Keystone Cops act on the national stage, then say he lost because the other side cheated. He saves face while becoming the biggest name in American business. What’s not to like?
Then he won the election. Then he began a Trump administration.
Then I wrote about it. A lot.■