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Slugs and Snails 

Taking a Gander: Decimating America's garden

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Right now it may be hard to remember, but Utah has had recent periods of record snowfall and healthy aquifers. The average rainfall for our high-desert state is a mere 12.26 inches and yet, 2019 was the tenth wettest year on record since 1874—Salt Lake received over 21.65 inches of precipitation. (So much for statistics!)

But there's a flip-side to the wet years—our vegetable garden has predictably been devastated by silent-but-voracious pests. Everything might have looked healthy the day before, but the damage done during the nocturnal hours was often devastating. It's called the curse of the snail.

Plants were often stripped of leaves, and the persistent nighttime escargot-gluttons left our vegetables with canker-like sores and ugly recesses. Some days, we would wake to dozens of mostly-consumed tomatoes and strawberries.

In an effort to keep the sneaky snails from entirely having their way, we faithfully added granular killer-bait to the garden. The attempts to murder the snails were only marginally successful. The numbers were diminished, but each time conditions were wet and favorable, the little monsters predictably resurrected in even greater numbers. Whenever I saw one, stealthily climbing a wall or pausing on our fence, I'd pluck it off and toss it into the roadway to become another pedestrian statistic. Sayonara.

There were times when the vegetable garden appeared totally untouched, but, even then, we knew the night visitors had been there. Dozens of shiny, slimy trails criss-crossed our sidewalks, porch steps and driveway. The snails' trails were proof our prayers hadn't been answered.

If the snails were left, unimpeded, to their own devices, our garden would have looked like Sherman's "March to the Sea," entirely laid to waste by the insatiable appetite of one of the gardener's worst enemies. We've learned something about snails: Just because they move slowly doesn't mean it's OK to leave them to their mischief.

Much like the insidious, stealthy snails in our garden, a giant, orange slug did immeasurable damage to America's democracy during the Trump presidency. And like his engorged, shelled cousins, he continues to do damage—mostly under the cover of darkness—to our country's most sacred institutions. It doesn't seem to matter that he's not our president anymore and that he lost the last election, fair and square. He is still very much committed to sucking out the democratic heart of our country.

More than a year after voters made their voices heard, there are still daily signs of the slug's nefarious activities. The attempted coup at our nation's capitol may have failed to bring down the pillars of our country, but there's no sign that Trump is less committed today than he was on January 6. He vigorously opposes voting rights, promotes corrupt candidates across the nation, smirks smugly at his politicization of the nation's courts and the minority hijacking of personal freedoms, and continues his offensive smears of those who oppose his treason. His presidency's slime trails still criss-cross our nation, and his squads of ignorant enablers cannot be denied.

He is a clear and present danger to the survival of our democratic system.

Still supported by a bunch of idiot-wannabees and what's-in-it-for-me opportunists, the clandestine slow-moving Trump coup is still very much alive. Bad leadership is nothing new to our country, but Trump was America's first experience with something that was pure evil. Only time will tell if Trump has done irreparable damage to America's most-sacred institutions.

While president, the orange Slug created potentially fatal flaws in the historical separations between the branches of government—making the Department of Justice his personal legal counsel and defense, turning Congress into a pathetic party-over-integrity clown-show, single-handedly sucking all patriotism out of the Republican Party, creating distrust in one of the world's fairest election systems, brutalizing America's legitimate news media and its societal watchdog function in ensuring honest disclosures to the public, transforming the Supreme Court to a panel of highly-partisan minority zealots, and emboldening similarly-low-class would-be-dictators to follow his destructive lead. Understanding that if America's president could flaunt the laws and avoid the consequences of a majority vote, those despots' natural response has been, "If Trump can do it, so can I."

The January 6 assault on the Capitol may have been the most defining moment of Trump's treason, but the reality was that his entire presidency was a shit-storm of attacks on American democracy's defining institutions. And let's face it, Americans should have known it was coming, since the Slug had already disclosed his dishonesty, immorality, and sheer nastiness long before election day.

It's actually hard to say who was more stupid—the voters, for disregarding the man's malicious character, or Trump, the ignorant stooge, for becoming the flag-bearing pawn for a few minority, right-wing extremists. DJT was, mostly, just a feed for those who believed that it was OK to trample the rights of the majority and toss America's freedoms to the wind.

Today, our country is in a quandary. Talk is not sufficient—it's going to take strong action to dismantle and neutralize the Trump corruption machine. If we love our U.S.A, the nonsense and delays of lip-service-only patriotism must not continue. It's time to make sure that the orange Slug and his buddies get what they deserve, and, if treason is a crime, it's high-time to be custom-fitting those orange jumpsuits for America's traitors. Our country can still be saved.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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