The SUV Metaphor
There was a tragic fatal accident on the Merritt Parkway here in southeastern Connecticut on Sunday night.
According to State Police, (name withheld) was driving southbound in the left lane when her 2004 Ford Explorer came into contact with a 2008 Mercedes E350 traveling in the right lane. Her vehicle lost control, struck the wooden beam guardrail on the right shoulder where it then proceeded across the right and left lanes. Her vehicle then rolled over and “ejected the operator over the median where she came to a final rest on the northbound side of Rt. 15,” the accident report stated. (Connecticut Post, 11/11/19)
There are tragic accidents wherever we live every day, of course, but this one caught my attention because it reinforces an observation I’ve made recently: too many people are driving vehicles that are too big for them to handle! In the last few years we have seen that “The Big Three” automakers in the U.S. have almost stopped making sedans and small (formerly “compact”) cars. According to a story in the January 2019 Detroit News:
It's all trucks and SUVs, as General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler increasingly abandon the sedan and small-car markets for what they see as more profitable, in-demand vehicles. The market for sedans is shrinking.
If you drive around, as I do (I live in a suburb --- do we have any choice?), you see, more and more, the road populated by bigger and bigger SVU’s. The GMC Yukon, the Chevy Suburban, the Ford Excursion, the Cadillac Escalade, the Lincoln Navigator, the Infiniti QX80, the Land Rover/Range Rover Evoque and so on, are not only unapologetic gas guzzlers, they are also HUGE vehicles, requiring skill and strength to safely handle on our roads. It is no wonder, then, we are seeing accidents like the one I started this BLAST with ---- people cannot gauge just how large their vehicles are, particularly on the old narrow parkways that were built in the 1930’s for cars that were not only smaller but also slower. As I reflected on this situation (having been put in jeopardy on a regular basis because of these omnipresent vehicles in southeastern CT) I realized they are an appropriate metaphor for where we find ourselves politically as 2019 winds to a close.
Donald Trump was gifted a (metaphoric) huge SUV by Vladimir Putin in November of 2016. Put in the driver’s seat of our great nation, Trump, like many who get behind the wheel of their SUV’s here in Connecticut, is not capable of handling the vehicle. Frighteningly, we are seat-belted in a careening SUV, watching a driver who not only hasn’t taken time to read the Owner’s Manual (the Constitution) and not only has no experience driving but no idea of how to drive such a large and complex vehicle. As we move into the initial phases of Impeachment we find ourselves in a situation where our “Driver” sees flashing lights in the rearview mirror and, despite the whine of the sirens, refuses to pull over. The danger, for all of us, is that he has no idea of how big and fast the vehicle is, his judgment is clearly impaired, and he thinks he can simply outrun the Law! Worse, there are some people in the vehicle cheering him on, telling him to drive faster and more recklessly (read: Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gomer, et al).
We know that we will probably not crash and burn (air bags?) but the vehicle will undoubtedly be banged up pretty badly and some of the passengers will need serious medical attention. Unlike the crash in Connecticut Sunday night, in which the driver was thrown from the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries, our Driver may well step away relatively unscathed, believing he can simply trade in his 2016 (banged up) model and ask Santa (read: Putin) for a new one in 2020.
I’m hoping, somehow, the police manage to pull him over, remove him from the vehicle, strip him of his license (if he even has one, or if it’s valid), and throw him in the clink for a variety of crimes. Despite his road rage, he’ll no longer be a danger to the rest of us, who are just trying to get from here to there on our local roads.