Notes on Stench
We do not have the olfactory acuity of dogs, but as a species, our noses take care of themselves. We know when something smells. We know when something stinks. And, in extreme cases, we know when something has a stench.
Which is an interesting twist of construction. Bathrooms smell. Shit stinks. But shit doesn’t have a stench. What has the stench is something other than what gives it the stench. Stench is an invasive species.
We know from stench. Certain streets in certain cities at a certain time of the morning have a very certain stench from the night before. If you’ve ever lived in a moist part of the country — say, Oregon — you know the stench of mildew, and you can see it spreading across your walls like a dark presence from the deep.
Stench creeps. Stench gets into something, and it’s almost impossible to get it out. Stench lasts. Stench is forever.
And if not forever, well, long enough. Stench doesn’t go away overnight.
We are enduring the second year of one of the most acrid stenches in Our Exceptional Nation’s history. It’s not just the fish rotting from the head, but how deep it’s seeped into our civic fabric. An idiot President we could survive. A thorough, ongoing, craven, cynical corruption of what we profess to be our values is another matter. That stench lasts.
Early on, before the stench got into the cushions, folks talked about not “normalizing” the atrocity of an algorithmic bug that placed a soulless black hole in the White House. We’ll just stick an asterisk by this one, a scarequote “president” who wasn’t really. And to a fair degree, that has been successful. One of these Presidents is not like the others, and it’s not the black one.
But that success has only revealed the futility of the endeavor. It’s not about Trump. It was never about Trump. It’s about his enablers, in Congress and throughout the land, who will happily sell out the nation, and cheap, for a pittance of power. It’s their stench that permeates the air we breathe, that stains the landscape we sing about. That stench ain’t going away any time soon.
We write this at the dawn of spring, with fall elections but two seasons away. Predictions of a wave abound, and evidence of discontent has been piling up with each special election. A House victory remains uncertain — a Senate switch almost a fantasy — but our last, best hope of survival remains in enough people overcoming the substantial deliberate obstacles placed in their path, and expressing their collective will, as God and the Founders intended.
Because the alternative is two more years of this goddamn stench, and it’s fucking suffocating enough as it is.