Next time you decide to "stick it to the man," try to remember who "the man" is.

I never thought Odell Beckham Jr. was presidential material, but for the past week I’ve been re-evaluating. It does seem, after all, that he possesses many of the attributes that won the presidency for Donald Trump: he does and says stupid things, and does and says them where he can be witnessed and recorded doing and saying these selfsame stupid things.


For those of you who missed Beckham’s performance last Monday night at the conclusion of the National Championship game, he strode onto the field at the Superdome and passed out money (play money? real money? does it matter?) to some of the players from LSU, the winning team. Beckham is a 2014 graduate of that school, and enjoyed a creditable career there; nevertheless, to be celebrating like a national champion was depressing to watch. This was not his hour to shine—it was his hour to celebrate in the stands like the other alumni who attended the game. Instead, as he often does, Beckham cavorted about calling attention to himself because, in his diminished and narrow world, he’s the only who counts.


Like the president.


Later Beckham—whom writers have taken to calling OBJ—arrived in the locker room. (Don’t they screen visitors?) The LSU players had childishly lit cigars—hijinks from some athletes who probably deserved to let off steam. Mr. Beckham then took it upon himself to slap the butt of a Superdome security guard who was entreating the players to put out the cigars. The guard was merely enforcing a statute that disallows smoking anywhere in the building, regardless of the situation. That’s his job. Beckham was ultimately charged with simple battery. For Beckham and his admirers, it was another case of “sticking it to the man” which is why people with persecution complexes—the ones who are envious of those who work hard to get ahead—make really bad choices.


Like choosing the president.


Beckham is only a big deal to himself, and in light of what has happened to sports with the Astros and RedSox, and with the Super Bowl looming, and with an actual impeachment trial a day away, no one is going to care much longer about OBJ. But can we all, just for a minute, come to a simple understanding?


We are “the man.”


Regardless of socio-economic level, race, age, occupation, religion, party, et al., in a non-gender-specific way, we are “the man” people like Beckham and Trump are sticking it to. We who obey the laws and pay our taxes, have picnics on the Fourth and exchange gifts at Hanukkah, worship at a mosque or shop at the mall, bear children and raise them, go to PTA meetings and town council meetings and board meetings and meeting meetings, vote in elections, park legally in handicap zones, and return lost wallets, lost dogs, lost phones, sometimes even lost children. That's us.


“The man” is not the top 1%, or the multi-billionaires—they could not possibly be adversely affected by a silly act like Beckham’s. And sticking it to the billionaires by electing Trump—how is that working out for you? (If you're a billionaire, don't answer.)


We have a stock market that appears to have no ceiling and middle-class wages that appear to have permanently flatlined. Everyone is working and no one is making money except those at the top, courtesy of the Trump tax plan. Our national debt—which took 35 years to go from $1 trillion to $18 trillion has risen $5 trillion in only three years (more than a 300% increase) and shows no indication of tailing back. The life expectancy in this rich and educated country is dropping as health care is gradually being withdrawn, and not unexpectedly, suicides are increasing. Farmers and manufacturers are suffering through trade wars. Foreign powers inhabit our election process. Gun violence continues unabated. An opioid crisis that “nobody saw coming” has decimated the population and destroyed families. Rollbacks in environmental laws have fouled our air and water—the air and water that “the man” consumes. (The top 1% will be consuming bottled water and filtered air, thank you very much.) And if you're repeating the "he stopped abortions and immigration" mantra, repeat it silently: abortions have been dropping since the 1990s, as are pregnancies. Immigration is more difficult to chart because ICE operates more like a posse from the saloon than a government agency, but the number of immigrants has been dropping consistently since the early 2000s. Trumpism has not altered it as much as it has weaponized it.


And what about us? Never have we been so isolated—not only on the world stage, but in our own families, our schools, our workplaces. Our friends exist only on our laptops and phones, and our enemies are tweeting our demise. Political discourse is impossible, and that fact has led us to discuss nothing at all. We retire to our holes and hope the country can steer itself—with Trump at the helm and both fingers on his phone. Donald Trump, crass, bigoted, and boorish, has eroded our most basic strength as a country—the fact that we’re all bound together by the idea of America. Trump’s desire to divide the country has worked better than he could have imagined, probably because he never expected so many to be so compliant with so little reluctance. (I’m looking at you, Republican Senate.)


So to shale things up—to stick it to the man— we elected an incompetent as president. Fine, we’ve made bad choices before, as a nation, as individuals. But since we now exist in a zero-sum political era—the logical offshoot of Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, and similar ideologues—the idiocy of any one man is automatically the strength of his followers. We can only undo this in November...if we can remember who "the man" really is the next time we decide to stick it to him.

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