Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


A Republicrat Fairy Tale

By Rob Tenery, MD on August 21, 2017

Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, lies the kingdom of Middle Ground. It is a fertile land that had just been invaded by the army of Donald the Conqueror. The former ruler King Barackus and his successor-in-waiting, the Princess Hildegard had been banished to one of the distant provinces.

         The invasion by King Donald’s army had been a total surprise to King Barackus and his court as they languished in the plenty they had taken from the peasants living in the surrounding countryside.  In his feudal monarchy, the now disgraced king had kept his subjects working by forcing them to purchase secret potions that his wizards concocted from the lush lowlands in the province of Pharmacia, located by the sea. These potions fought off the ravages of the dreaded influenza that accompanied their impoverished lives.

But these life saving potions came with a price paid to the crown! The peasants were already being forced to pay taxes and share a portion of what they reaped with the few silver coins they earned eking out a living by laboring in the rocky fields scattered across King Barackus’ kingdom. In order to get the needed potions for them and their families, the King levied even more taxes for these secret remedies that he kept tightly locked away in his castle.

Although King Barack’s royalty prospered, to the peasants, it was a life of subsistence from one harvest to the next. So when scouts from Donald the Conqueror’s army infiltrated into Barackus’ kingdom, they found very little resistance, since the peasants were promised lower taxes and all the potions they needed by the soon-to-be King Donald.  

Not long after the new King’s invasion took place, the peasants were joyful, hoping their feudal existence would be better.  At first, it was! With lower taxes, the peasants were now able to keep more of their silver coins to buy livestock and valuable seeds for the next season’s planting.

         However, the unlimited supply of potions was another matter. You see, banished King Barackus had not forced the younger peasants to pay their fair share of the potion taxes, thinking that if they kept more of their silver coins they would become more productive and even bring additional tax money to the crown.  Tragically, when the younger peasants were infected by one of the many influenza epidemics that swept the land far too often, their crops failed because they had no resistance and were unable farm their land. Since they had no potions to help treat their malady, they turned to the older peasants who had paid their potion tax for help. If none was available, they turned to the King, who was deaf to their pleas.

         The third season King Donald the Conqueror was faced with an epidemic of influenza that put many of the peasants to bed, just when their crops needed harvesting. Fortunately, the older peasants were able to use the potions they had been forced to buy from the King earlier and most recovered in time to save their crops. Not so, for the younger peasants. Without the King’s remedies, many lost their crops and often their lives as well.

         King Donald called the trusted members of his court together, to see if they could bring him a solution. He knew another epidemic like this last one, and his newly acquired land would lie in ruins.

King Donald realized that he couldn’t just give the full amount of potions to all his subjects without cutting back on each peasant’s supply, as one member of his court had suggested. Planting more crops in the lush lowlands in the province of Pharmacia would take years for the wizards to produce enough of their precious potions. Another member of the King’s Court suggested taxing the older peasants more, hoping to generate more of the potions. Another even suggested paying the Wizards more. Since no answer seemed right to King Donald, and to the chagrin of the members of his court, he sent a courier out to the former King Barackus, who was away vacationing on the distant island of Martha’s Vineyard. Instead the disgraced King sent in his place Count Schumer, the former King’s almoner.

         The nervous Count appeared before Donald the Conqueror and his court of advisers, unsure why he had been summoned back to the castle. King Donald asked what advice the Count might offer, since he was considered an expert in financial affairs.

         Looking around, as the unfriendly glances stared him down, the Count chose his words carefully. “Your Highness! The silver coins that are necessary to produce more potions can only come from three sources: Your coffers here at the castle, the older peasants out in the countryside, who are barely scraping by, or the younger, more prosperous peasants, who spend their extra coins on frivolous pursuits. I tried to tell King Barackus the young, healthy peasants should pay their fair share, but he never listened.” There was a long pause before the Count continued. “Maybe that’s why you’re king now and Barackus’ successor, the Princess Hildegard is not!”





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