Life in the fairy tale election lane

You have to hand it to the Democrats for having Guinness Book of Records–sized chutzpah.  Who but the left could create a Potemkin village out of a seriously troubled economy, rampant crime, and an out-of-control southern border and pretend that it is we on the right (and maybe everybody in the middle) who are suffering from a terminal case of dystopia?  From a White House press secretary who spins like a Sufi whirling dervish on inflation to the president himself, who looks America straight in the eye and claims that the economy is sound, the conjuring and political sleight of hand is reaching new heights in the run up to the election.

The state of the country is abysmal.  We all know it in our hearts and heads, but we are being told that we shouldn't believe our own lying eyes.  It's as if the administration has channeled fabled Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen as their adviser and chosen two of his best yarns to regale us with: "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Feather that Became Five Hens."

In case you forgot, the emperor was convinced that his tailor had made him a superb set of new clothes and was determined to parade in front of his subjects decked out in his new finery (the Inflation Reduction Act?).  There was only one problem.  The clothes were nonexistent, and he was naked.  The tailor had duped him.  No matter.  The emperor was the emperor and in charge of what people thought (with help from a complicit media), but his stroll was interrupted by a small child who saw the emperor buck naked and exclaimed, "He has no clothes" (in our case, no facts or credibility about the economy, the border, crime, etc.).  Such is the principal tale being pushed at the American public in the remaining days of the campaigns.

Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen for the first edition of The Emperor's New Clothes.  (Public domain.)

Having nothing to cover their political frame except a massive cloak of bad news, bad polling numbers, and equally bad candidates, the Democrats are intent on convincing us that the country is on a solid path to prosperity despite the fact — they  say — that the Republicans had run it into the ground when Joe Biden took over.  Then there was the Fetterman/Oz debate, which proved that the Democrat elites hadn't a scintilla of human compassion and would run a severely ailing and mentally compromised candidate just to retain their hold over the Senate.  But the worst was yet to come.

Wanting some insurance against little boys who might actually discover their naked power play and call them out, the Dems doubled down on their fairy tale strategy and unfolded the next whopper: the "feather that became five hens" — which expanded the lie and rewarded a miserable debate performance by John Fetterman with a reserved parking spot at the Pantheon of historical political heroes like FDR and Winston Churchill (see Lawrence O'Donnell's comments on MSNBC).

Not to go full literary or biblical, but Fetterman became the new David who slew the giant of infirmities and the poster boy for the new victim class...the unqualified political candidate.  Fetterman had no choice.  Even if he had wanted to back out, he couldn't.  He was now an icon — a victim in the fight against "ableism" (def: discrimination that favors the able-bodied and able-minded). 

The fairy tale has become the "new normal," and the left was working feverishly to recruit the media and social media to rail in unison against this new form of "election racism."  The Democrats had now created an eleventh-hour election strategy that would become the new dumbed down job description for any future candidate of theirs that could hold draw breath and sign his name to the party platform.

Soon the newly emboldened anti-ableist villagers, aided by the fact-challenged and apologist left-wing media, will be beating the drum for more Fettermans, not fewer.  Their chant on the streets will be "Down with the White supremacist, extremist, homophobe, misogynist, one-percenters...and now ableist conservatives!  Give us back the power of mediocrity, and let us have the leaders we demand."  If that's not a perverted fairy tale in the making, I don't know what is.

Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat who lived and worked in 30 countries for 25 years during the Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush administrations.  He is the author of twelve books, six of which are on American politics, and has written over 1,300 articles on politics, economics, and social trends.  He operates a political news story aggregator website:  He can be reached at

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