An American Horror Story: Vignettes from Hillary’s First Hundred Days
What follows is a cautionary tale of a president empowered by non-voting conservatives.
On Friday, January 20, 2017, a woman with time-worn features raises her right hand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. She places her left hand flat on a book of law as she stands in front of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and takes the oath of the Presidency. Roberts’ presence chafes her. She’d voted against his nomination, considering him too conservative to fit her radical views on judicial interpretation. Today, though, she’ll overlook it. Vindication proves curative enough for past ills.
The years as First Lady, her time as the Democratic Senator from New York, and later, as Secretary of State — they have all culminated here, in the office of which she’d been in steely-eyed pursuit of for so long. She had survived the Benghazi debacle, and the classified email leaks. The puerile public had even overlooked those phones smashed with hammers. She’d finally crushed the noxious right-wing conspiracy that had hounded her every move. She would gut the system from the inside out just as she’d promised Saul Alinsky she would.
In rural Ohio a few weeks later on a day of waning winter, Susan Frazier and her husband Tom sit anxiously in front of a family counselor at the faith-based Agape Adoption agency. Unable to conceive, they have waited three years to adopt an infant. But with a heavy sigh, the counselor explains that the baby promised to them will instead go to a lesbian couple in Columbus. When asked why, she says that a recent law prohibits the agency from exhibiting a preference for married couples over LGBTQ individuals seeking adoption. Seeing the pain on both of their faces, she reveals that threatened with impossible fines and so many children needing homes, they felt pressured to comply despite their religious beliefs. Religion, the counselor reminds them, is no longer good for anything but church.
The next day, Susan and Tom flip on the news. An image of Chicago O’Hare flickers on the screen. The airport’s glass wall gapes like a wound, smoke spiraling heavenward. Bodies draped with white sheets lay in rows on the concrete. Susan grabs Tom’s hand. Two Syrian refugees with ties to ISIS have driven a construction vehicle through a barrier, into the main terminal and opened fire with AK 47s. In a display of force, the President quickly announces she has temporarily suspended the Second Amendment right to keep and carry a firearm. Not only will all gun sales be immediately suspended, the Democratic Congress has also approved her order for a federal weapon registry. Failure to register any and all firearms with the federal government will result in confiscation and forfeiture of the firearm(s) and any property or assets related to the transporting or housing of those firearm(s).
Susan and Tom look at each other, unsettled by the idea of “suspending” a constitutional right. Tom’s hunting rifle is used only to put venison on the table in winter. But this was a special circumstance, right? Susan reaches for a stack of mail during the commercial break, and an envelope catches her eye. It’s a tax liability statement from the Internal Revenue Service. They haven’t paid enough. Her confusion bleeds to anger as she shoves the statement toward her husband. Didn’t this President promise them lower taxes?
On the television, the President is now shaking hands with Xi Jinping, the Communist leader of the People’s Republic of China. With practiced ease, she promises the press corps that under her administration, trivialities like human rights won’t interfere with more important issues like global warming. She says nothing of the imprisonments and executions ordered by the smiling Chinese dictator standing to her left. But she is keen to apologize for America’s previous hostility toward communism.
Tom Frazier is deployed the next week. An Army air defense artillery officer, he is on his way to Aleppo to fight a war he does not understand and never seems to end. His command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has been subjected to hours of training on transgender sensitivity and “white privilege,” but no instruction on code of conduct or law of land warfare. When he finally boards the plane for the 14-hour flight to Syria he feels acutely unprepared to fight a hidden enemy. His seat mate remarks with acid in his voice that this President doesn’t know when to quit. She is, he reminds Tom, the one who sends people in but doesn’t bring them home.
Within a few months of the President’s taking the oath, Paul Watford — an appellate judge from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and former clerk to far-left Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — is confirmed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Within a matter of weeks, he essentially codifies the president’s gun grab by ruling with the majority in nullifying the Second Amendment right to carry a fire arm. Shortly thereafter, he denies a church’s Equal Protection claim.
The President calls a press conference, praising both decisions as the none-too-soon death knell of conservatism. She explains that in particular, religion has been given “special treatment” for too long. In matters of Equal Protection and Free Exercise, churches have used religious freedom as code for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and Christian supremacy for too long. The President promises that religious freedom will no longer be used to deny others equality.
Susan flips off the radio in her car. She touches the cross around her neck and ignores the rising knot in her throat.
The Ohio leaves return to green. Susan is still without her husband, and she’s received no promise of his return. Today, she flips the towel she’s using for the dishes over her shoulder, and clicks on the television, where the President sits at her desk in the Oval Office, pen mid-signature, flanked by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. This is a common sight, Susan thinks, this President and her many bills. The trio of well-dressed women exchange beaming smiles and congratulatory hugs. The President has signed the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that legalizes abortion-on-demand, while simultaneously repealing the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding for abortion. All taxpayers will now be forced into partnership with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. The towel falls from Susan’s shoulder. She realizes that the baby for which she so desperately longs is now simply another woman’s temporary mistake. A mistake she is being forced to pay for.
Susan is gnawed by a growing regret as she remembers the snaking lines at the polling place last year. She remembers driving by, muttering that some people were just too consumed with politics. She recalls the campaign signs and the heated rhetoric and the televised debates. She remembers trying to ignore it all, trusting it would work out. That she was just one person, and even without her vote, it would all work out.