Politics

A Modern-Day Political Christmas Carol

Politics is a thing of hope, enabling lawmakers to make positive changes to create a better world. But, without a doubt, it can also be a dark and dreary subject, capable of turning men and women into crusty curmudgeons who place blame on “vast, right-wing conspiracies.” This must be clearly understood, or nothing can come of the story I am going to tell.

STAVE ONE—Reagan’s Ghost

On a cold December’s eve, a bitter breeze swept over the district of Washington, DC It crept into the United States Capitol Building, where Congress had just adjourned. The door of Nancy Pelosi’s office was open,
and the scowl on her face indicated her extreme displeasure at Trump’s presence in office. As Nancy mulled over ideas for Trump’s impeachment, a young intern greeted her by saying, “A Merry Christmas to you!”

“Bah!” said Nancy. “Humbug! What reason do I have to be merry?”

“What reason do you have to be dismal?” asked the intern.

“What else can I be,” replied Nancy, “when I live in such a world of deplorables as this? Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding.”

The intern countered, “But Christmas is a kind, forgiving, charitable good time!”

“If only we could decrease the Republican surplus population!”

Darkness grew outside. The streetlights were barely visible through the fog. On the steps of the Capitol, carolers joined in harmony to sing.

“God bless you, merry gentleman

May nothing you dismay!”

Nancy double-locked herself in her room and took her melancholy dinner as usual. She watched CNN, put on her nightcap, and went to bed. Without warning, the basement door flew open with a booming sound. The noise came toward her door. Suddenly, there stood the ghost of President Ronald Reagan. Nancy looked at the phantom through and through and felt the chilling influence of his stare.

“How now!” said Nancy, caustic and cold as ever. “What do you want with me? I have no jellybeans. What is your business?”

The ghost of Reagan, truthfully disappointed at the lack of his favorite candy, sighed and replied, “My business is to save mankind. You will be haunted by three ghosts: the Ghost of Illegal Immigration, the Spirit of High Taxes, and the Phantom of Socialism. They will walk among their fellow men and women to show you what may be.”

Nancy examined the door through which the ghost had entered and exited. It remained double-locked. She went back to sleep, attributing the vision to the stress of watching fake news and the Hot Pockets she had eaten for dinner.

STAVE TWO – The First of Three Spirits

Reagan’s ghost had bothered her exceedingly. Nancy awoke in the darkness to the sounds of chimes from a neighboring church. Nancy lay in this state until the chime had gone three-quarters more and remembered that the ghost had warned her of a visitation when the bell tolled one. Ding Dong! “How is it possible that I slept through a whole day and far into another night?” she pondered.

The curtains of her bed were drawn aside. Before her stood a strange figure, like that a child. It was the face of Elizabeth Warren, diminished to a child’s proportions. “Are you the spirit, Elizabeth, whose coming was foretold to me?” asked Nancy.

“It is I, the one who misrepresented herself as a Native American for personal gain. I am the Ghost of Immigration. I want to decriminalize crossing the border without papers. I also want all undocumented immigrants to be covered under a government-run healthcare plan that everyone else pays for. By the way, I was once a Republican who voted for tougher immigration laws. Rise and walk with me.”

They passed through the wall and stopped. “Good Heavens!” said Nancy. “Where are we?”

“These are but shadows of the things that have been,” Ghost Elizabeth said, “and nothing else! The year is 2015. I really didn’t want you to see this, as it does not fit my narrative. We are at a German refugee camp, where migrants live in horrific conditions. Germany reported the largest influx of immigrants that year, totaling over 1.1 million, due to Angela Merkel’s open-border policy. The immigration system collapsed and caused a migration crisis. Germany faced serious economic, security, and integration issues as people rushed in unaccounted for.”

“Yikes. That sounds awful. Tell me more!” said Nancy.

Nancy listened attentively to Ghost Warren. “The people you see are being housed on government properties. They complain of filth, insufficient health care, isolation, and living in prison-like conditions in fear of random deportations. Despite evidence to the contrary, I want to convince the American public that my liberal immigration plan will not weaken our country, even though we have witnessed problems related to open borders. I’m still unclear about how to pay for it, but we can work out the silly details later after I win the Democratic nomination. Who needs the truth?”

“Remove me!” Nancy yelled to Ghost Warren. “I cannot bear it! Democratic Spirit, haunt me no longer.”

Nancy had barely time to reel to bed before she sank into a heavy sleep.

STAVE THREE – The Second of the Three Spirits

A ghostly light shone into the room. Nancy awoke and followed the source. She had shuffled in her slippers to the door and put her hand on the lock when a strange voice called her by name and bade her to enter.

“Come in!” said the ghost. “I am practicing my Brooklyn accent. You see, most people say ‘dollars,’ but I say ‘Dollahs.’”

“Is that really you, Bernie?” asked Nancy, “You look like a giant. And what’s up with the leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy that surround you?

“Never mind the ivy. It is I, Bernie Sanders. In life, I am a self-described democratic socialist and progressive. I am known for my opposition to economic inequality. I would love nothing more than to erode the fortunes of millionaires.”

Nancy gasped, “Spirit, say it is not true. My net worth is about 120 million US dollars! And you, Bernie, have amassed a $2.5 million fortune. Plus, you make a six-figure salary and own real estate, investments, and government pensions: Get the picture?”

Bernie spoke with a ghostly grin, “Americans can be lazy and jealous. They look at it as ‘free money,’ and it will get me some votes! So, I will go after rich people.”

“Please say there will be loopholes!” pleaded Nancy.

“Not only do I love the idea of a wealth tax, but I also want to apply the tax to many households and impose a higher top rate. I will go after McDonald’s, J.P. Morgan, and Walmart. I want to penalize companies that make money!” answered Ghost Bernie.

Nancy pondered his words and asked, “Might that be a bad idea since those companies are our job creators? And isn’t it a part of the American dream that people should become prosperous through the principles of hard work?”

It was a remarkable quality that Ghost Bernie could accommodate to any place with ease despite his gigantic size. They stood at the threshold of a door. It was the home of Bob Cratchit.

“Do tell me what’s happening here, Tax Spirit!” cried Nancy.

“Bob Cratchit and his wife are sitting at their small kitchen table, trying to sort out their bills. You see, he got a good pay raise from his company, but I’m taking it all away in taxes. He will struggle to move up the economic ladder because of me. But don’t worry, we can give him some limited public handouts instead.”

“Don’t they need the money for Tiny Tim’s health care?” asked Nancy.

“Don’t worry. I will create a single-payer universal healthcare system. The welfare program will be grossly underfunded, so I will place various new taxes on the wealthy and rich corporations. Ultimately, I will expand them to the struggling middle and lower classes. Now it’s dinnertime at the Cratchits’.”

Nancy gasped, “Look how small their goose is! I suppose it will not be enough!”

Despite the lack of food on the table, Tiny Tim and the family joined in, “A Merry Christmas to us all. God bless us, every one!”

A boy and a girl suddenly appeared, yellow, meager, ragged, and scowling. “Spirit! Are they yours?” asked Nancy.

“They are Man’s. The boy is Ignorance, and the girl is Want. They represent me. I want to win the Democratic nomination!” cried Bernie.

The bell struck twelve.

Nancy looked about for Bernie the Ghost and saw him not.

STAVE FOUR – The Last of the Spirits

The phantom slowly, gravely, and silently approached. When it came near her, Nancy bent down upon her knee, for the very air through which the Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.

Nancy felt the presence of a tall and hopeless spirit. “I am in the presence of the Ghost of Socialism,” Nancy posited. “Is that so, Spirit?”

The phantom answered not but pointed onward with its hand.

“You are about to show me shadows of the things that happened in Venezuela that can happen in time before us in the United States if we become socialist. Is that so, Spirit?”

Nancy feared the silent shape so much that her legs trembled beneath her, and she could hardly stand when she prepared to follow it.

“My name is Kamala Harris. I am a Democratic politician serving as a junior United States senator from California since 2017 and the last of the spirits to haunt you. In a recent poll, I came in among the top three Democratic primary candidates in favor of socialism. In California, I was a prosecutor, district attorney, and state attorney general before becoming a US senator, but people complain about my controversial record on criminal justice. I call myself a progressive Democrat and not a socialist, but that’s splitting hairs. I want wage regulations and lots of government intervention.”

“Ghost of Socialism, I fear you more than any specter I have seen.” Nancy continued, “You represent a dismal version of miserable things that could happen in America.”

The phantom of Kamala Harris moved away just as it had come toward her. Nancy followed in the shadow of its dress. They seemed to enter a dilapidated building. “Spirit, where is this dark and dreary place you have taken me?” asked Nancy.

“We are in a hospital in Venezuela. People are moaning because they have no medication. Others are turned away because there are too few doctors. There isn’t any food, so people are malnourished. There is poor hygiene because hospitals don’t even have soap!”

“Who is that little girl?” asked Nancy. She listened in horror.

“Citizens are told to bring their own scalpels for operations. In this case, the instrument was not sterilized. That child now has a deadly bacterial infection. There are many other children who are suffering, as many were not vaccinated for childhood diseases.”

Nancy recoiled in terror. “Spirit! I see, I see. The case of this poor child could happen here in America due to socialism. I now see the deadly toll. Americans should be very afraid.”

“That’s correct,” said the Ghost of Socialism. “Venezuela is in a complete humanitarian emergency. There is little hope.”

“Then, Spirit, tell me: Why should we follow that path?”

The Spirit did not answer. Instead, Ghost Harris stood among the graves and pointed down at one. Before drawing nearer to the stone, Nancy asked one more question. “Are these the shadows of things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be, only?”

Wordlessly, the ghost pointed downward to the tombstone by which it stood. Etched on the craggy stone was the word “America.”

Nancy suddenly understood that the path of socialism would mean grave things for the country. “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with which you show me!” Nancy cried.

“Spirit! Hear me! I am not the politician I once was! Assure me that I may yet change these shadows you have shown me through an altered life,” Nancy paused. “I will honor America and keep it in my heart. I will think about immigration, taxes, and socialism and make better choices. All three shall strive within me so I may sponge away the writing on this stone.”

Holding up her hands in a last prayer to have America’s fate reversed, Nancy saw an alteration in the phantom’s hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.

 

STAVE FIVE – The End of It

Yes! The bedpost was her own. Best and happiest of all, the time before her was her own, to make amends in!

“I don’t know what to do!” shouted Nancy, laughing and crying in the same breath. She was as delighted as could be.

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, I am as giddy as a drunken senator! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the world!”

Nancy frisked into the White House and pranced into the Oval Office.

“It’s Christmas Day!” said Nancy to President Trump. “I haven’t missed it. The spirits have done it all in one night, my fine president.”

“I should hope they did,” replied the president. “Now let’s put this whole impeachment inquiry behind us.”

“What a delightful president!” said Nancy. “It’s a pleasure to work with him!”

It’s to be seen whether Nancy will be better than her word. Will people smile to see the alteration in her? Will her own heart be filled with good principles? Nancy had no further visits from spirits, but it is with hope that she gained knowledge from the encounters. Let us keep America and the essence of Christmas in our hearts. As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one!”

By – D.J. Wilson
An adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Illustrations by Paul Partlow


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