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Cling to the butter while our politics remain bitter

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So I’ve read there’s a chance of sweet corn by the Fourth of July. Not a good chance, but a chance. I’ll take it. We could use it.

The sweet corn is coming, it’s just a matter of when. So are ice cream trucks, fireflies and towering thunderheads lighting up the western sky. There’s still baseball on the radio, although it’s a mixed blessing if you’re a Twins fan. Hats off to the suddenly invincible Cubs.

I can still lounge on my deck, puff a cigar, sip a Manhattan and grill steaks. Sure, a nice carrot, an organic kale smoothie and a veggie patty would be more Blue Zone-ish, but what fun would that be?

This is the sort of stuff we need to cling to in troubled times. With both buttery hands. Religion and guns may be fine for some. I’m sticking with my lighter, tongs and bar tools. Just try and take ‘em.

We need diversions from our leader-picking process, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is an absolute mess.

The Republican presidential nominee-in waiting, for all of his bluster, taunts and big, bold talk about making us great again, actually seems hellbent to make us a very small, frightened republic, hiding behind massive walls, lashing out at outsiders, recoiling from our alliances, duties and obligations. Close the borders, pull in the welcome mat, turn out Lady Liberty’s porch light. Someone might know we’re home.

But most of all, cancel the newspaper. Revoke its credentials.

It’s very confusing. Is he a financial whiz, or a guy with a presidential campaign running on loose pocket change? Is America really going to be “smarter” if it elects a man whose message is basically a 52-part conspiracy theory? Can a true strongman have such remarkably thin skin? Can he really care about us if it’s always, endlessly, all about him?

Are we really going to become great if we recoil from the world and become an exclusive gated community? The United States of America, please forward all mail to The Platinum Palms at Sunset Cove.

Apply for membership today. Promo code: “Radical Islam.”

But, you people, don’t bother. You know who you are.

Fortunately, we still can pick the second-most unpopular presidential candidate of all time. This is a democracy. We’ve got choices, people.

But it’s little wonder no well-adjusted, well-liked person wants to run this joint.

This past week, a deadlocked U.S. Supreme Court down one justice, thanks to politically motivated Senate inaction, couldn’t rule on President Barack Obama’s sweeping executive order shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The order was a direct result of politically motivated congressional inaction on immigration reform. A lower-court ruling blocking the order stands.

Maybe you thought the order was an overreach, as I did. And maybe you thought it was the right thing to do. But there’s one thing we can all agree on. We now have zero functional branches of government.

Apologies to millions of people now hanging in limbo for lack of a definitive, precedent-setting ruling. Please hold, your request for a working system of justice is very important to us.

Here’s to making my next Manhattan a double.

Congressional effectiveness now largely is defined by how many times a member’s tweets are retweeted and how much attention they get. That makes U.S. Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, one of the Legislative Branch’s most effective members.

King stoked more digital drama in the last week or so than most bland, camera-shy, work-focused lawmakers generate in a career.

He lashed out at an imaginary plot to impose “meatless Monday” on the U.S. military. He authored an amendment seeking to halt the process of putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, calling the move to honor a black woman who helped escaped slaves “racist” and “sexist.” By week’s end, he used Twitter to dub Democrats’ sit-in protest on the House floor over gun control a “jihad.”

King is the Usain Bolt of instant, Olympic-class trolling. Of course, he’s a shoo-in for another term. Heck, why not make him speaker?

Surely, eventually, we’ll come together to reject all this divisiveness. Nah.

According to polling data released by the Pew Research Center, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views of one another are more sharply negative than they have been in 25 years of surveys. Large numbers of partisans say the other party makes then “afraid,” “angry” or “frustrated.” Those numbers spike among a subset of “high political engagement” party members. See your Facebook feed.

Fifty-two percent of Republicans think Democrats are “close-minded,” with “lazy” and “immoral” polling in the high 40s. Seventy percent of Democrats say Republicans are “close-minded,” with “dishonest” coming in second at 42 percent. Clear majorities in both parties have a “very unfavorable” view of those folks fighting in the other trench.

Sixty-eight percent of Republicans identify with the GOP because they think Democratic policies would be bad for the country. The flip-side Democratic total is 62 percent. So vast numbers of partisans are mainly motivated to be partisans because of their disdain for the other side.

So. to recap, red and blue voters with very low opinions of one another are going to elect, either way, a very unpopular president whose success depends on working with an even less popular, totally ineffective Congress.

But first, we get a four-month insult festival where the best thing partisans can say about their nominee is, “Hey, look how utterly terrible the other candidate is!”

Iowa Democrats recently added a plank to their state party platform calling for the legalization of all drugs. It was widely criticized, but it may make a lot more sense as the campaign rolls on.

Or you could always turn away. Pay attention to other news. Zika, gorillas, alligators, condemned geese, charging Elk. Take your pick. It’s the “see something, say something” summer, although we’d rather close our eyes and remain silent.

But at least we all can agree on the sweet corn. So long as you’re not one of those low-energy losers who cooks it all wrong. You people know who you are.

l Comments: (319) 398-8452; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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