|Bad hombre puppets, which do not actually appear in this fable|
The country was an absolute disaster and a lot of people were unhappy.
The Unhappy People felt like America was becoming unrecognizable. They thought it had lost its standing in the world. They saw that the economy wasn't working for them. They had lived through terrorist attacks and unnecessary wars. They saw more and more faces they didn't recognize and felt like they belonged to people who didn't share their values: real bad hombres. It wasn't great.
The Unhappy People saw a political Establishment that didn't work for them. It wasn't responsive to their needs -- only to those of big banks and corporate interests and itself. Its policies weren't effective at keeping them safe at home or abroad.
Worse, its leaders weren't doing what they were supposed to: they kept overstepping their bounds under the Constitution, increasing the government's power and reach. You couldn't even trust what you read in the papers because the mainstream media was so biased in favor of the Establishment. And now, it seemed like the country was about to get another Clinton for President (or else some wishy-washy, out of touch Republican elite-type). More of the same.
Then along came The Orange Man. He announced he was running for President. The Orange Man was good at business. He built amazing things. Huge things. Things you had heard of like hotels and casinos and steaks. He was a TV star! Not only that, but he spoke the Unhappy People's language! He shared their concerns. He talked about the same issues that they did. And boy could he talk! The Orange Man loved to talk. And not in the fake way that the Establishment guys did. He told it like it is! He got in your face and wasn't afraid to shake things up. Because that's what The Orange Man was here to do: shake things up. Finally!
And he did. He really did. He steamrolled those weak, low-energy Establishment Republicans in the primaries. He took over their party just like that. And they all fell in line, Establishment types and all. Because The Orange Man was tough. A real leader. And when the system is as broken as it is, that's what you need: a real leader. A man who's strong: a strongman, you might say. Someone who can repair the broken country by himself (because the Establishment sure isn't going to help). Someone who, alone, can fix it.
Sure The Orange Man said some things that seemed extreme and vaguely unamerican to some of the Unhappy People. But drastic times called for drastic measures. Sometimes you need to take the good with the bad.
The Establishment really didn't like any of this. They were afraid of The Orange Man. They said he was the dangerous one. They started using their pawns in the liberal media to try to discredit The Orange Man. Some of what they said about him was true, some of it was lies. But none of it mattered. It was just the Establishment trying to protect itself. Fortunately, The Unhappy People had their own media by now. And that media was the only one willing to tell the truth about things. They were the only ones who seemed to even care about what an awful, dangerous, corrupt, dishonest liar Hillary was. And they thought The Orange Man was great. In fact, The Orange Man even hired some folks who lead this special Unhappy People Media to run his campaign.
As the election got closer, things started to go badly for The Orange Man. Bigly badly. He wasn't doing well in the polls. Most people thought Hillary beat him in the debates: even some people who supported The Orange Man. A bunch of stuff came out that was embarrassing for The Orange Man: his returns showing he paid no taxes and maybe wasn't such a great businessman after all. A tape of him saying some very rude things about women (the liberal media claimed he was bragging about sexual assault but of course that was just them being all PC -- it was just words and Hillary's husband did much worse).
Still, all of this stuff seemed to have some effect, because The Orange Man looked like he was losing. But how could that be? The Orange Man might be a lot of things, but he was no loser.
Fortunately, The Orange Man himself explained it. He wasn't really losing: the fix was in. Voter fraud. The liberal media spinning things again. And of course Hillary shouldn't even be running: she should be in jail. The Unhappy People Media agreed.
To the Unhappy People, it made perfect sense. The establishment could never beat The Orange Man fair and square, so they had to cheat. They had to steal the election from him.
But what The Unhappy People didn't know was that The Orange Man actually was losing -- and The Orange Man knew it. Or at least the people running his campaign did. They had known all along that he couldn't possibly win. Because even though The Orange Man's supporters really wanted him to win, there just weren't enough of them who would actually go out and vote. That was a little sad for The Orange Man, the people running his campaign and the people who lead the special Unhappy People Media, but fortunately they had a plan. Because they were playing the long game. Team Orange Man had an agenda of it's own.
And what was that agenda? It was to get someone into power who would support all of the most extreme things The Orange Man and his nuttiest supporters wanted. Things like banning all people of a certain religion from entering the country. Jailing political opponents. Some pretty vile, racist stuff. Stuff that can only work if enough Americans were willing to ignore or reject the country's basic principles. Stuff that could only work with a strong, authoritarian figure in charge, rather than a functioning system of checks and balances.
The Extreme Orangists had learned that the country was almost ready for all this, but not quite, so they held a dress rehearsal. It gave them a chance to verify their techniques. See how people would respond. The Establishment did just what they expected: the Republican elite got in line because they were afraid to alienate The Orange Man's voters. Some people in the mainstream media had an inkling of what was going on, but for the most part they focused on the superficial stuff (like the nasty things The Orange Man said) and even helped The Orange Man when it served their interests (like in getting ratings). Whatever The Orange Man's original reasons for running were, the Extreme Orangists had taken over. To them, The Orange Man was a charismatic stooge with just enough of the important features to be useful for a trial run.
See, the Extreme Orangists had studied their history (though not the Orange Man himself: he doesn't read). They knew that to bring their agenda about, they had to get enough people who were willing to go along with it. Enough people who were willing to look the other way at the horrible stuff. There weren't quite enough of these people in 2016 to elect The Orange Man. But they knew the best way to get more of them next time: it was to manipulate the Unhappy People.
The Unhappy People were a perfect target. They sensed that things were going wrong in the country. They already felt like the system wasn't working for them. They hated and distrusted the Establishment. The got their news and information almost exclusively from their own Unhappy People Media (which the Extreme Orangists controlled) and were skeptical of any information that came from other sources.
There were just two problems. First, the Unhappy People weren't quite ready to abandon American principles and fully embrace the Extreme Orangist agenda just yet. And second, not all of them were motivated enough to go out and vote (even when it looked like The Orange Man might win).
The Extreme Orangists knew the best way to fix both of these problems: it was to get the Unhappy People to be angry and hopeless. Even more angry and hopeless than they already were. Since The Orange Man was going to lose the election anyway, the Extreme Orangists saw the perfect opportunity to do this: they'd keep telling the Unhappy People that the very system itself was rigged until enough of them really believed it. Knew it in their hearts. Felt it in their bones. Woke up every day of Hillary Clinton's administration, overflowing with rage and despair and feeling, with every fiber of their being, that their America was already lost.
Because if their America is already lost -- if the system is completely and irredeemably rigged against them -- what chance do the Unhappy People have? What hope is there other than to try something completely different, even if it flies in the face of the very values the Unhappy People once claimed to hold dear? Those values didn't work. The system itself has failed. Why not burn it down, either in the streets or, more likely, by electing The Orange Man 2.0 next time around (for the original Orange Man, having outlived his usefulness to the Extreme Orangists, will be long gone). The day will come, and this time, enough of the Unhappy People will finally be ready.
Most of the Unhappy People never realized any of this was going on, of course. But a few did. They remembered the Star Wars prequels and realized that while they thought they were trying to save the Galactic Republic from the Separatists, they were being tricked by the Emperor all along. Those who were fortunate enough never to have seen the prequels drew a little bit of smug satisfaction from that fact, but they too realized that while they thought they were fighting to save their country from the Establishment, they were actually being manipulated into working towards its destruction by people who were even worse.
Those that realized this felt like fools. They knew they had been played like a bunch of ninety-nine cent kazoos. They stood on the brink of oblivion, faces red with shame, and wondered is it too late to turn back?