Once upon a time, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, there came a great famine. Many families went hungry, many lost their homes, and even the rich put out the begging bowl.
Feed us, said the fat to the thin, for without us the land shall surely die. And the frightened people did feed the fat, even unto obesity, but no succor came to the starving.
Among the people were the strong and the weak. The strong placed their hopes upon hope, and they cling to that thread to this very day.
But the weak were wroth with anger. The wanted to destroy the Dark One whom they blamed for their misery.
The high priests of the Grand Old Party took pity on the people. “Your plight is not of your own doing,” they said, “nor ours, nor the fat. It is the Dark Man who seeks to destroy you; he will raise your taxes and abort your firstborn, he is everything evil. The Dark One comes from a foreign land and he is not one of us.”
“Oh, how do we rid ourselves of such a plague?” the people cried.
“You must curse him, fear him, and shake the stick of anger. But you are weak and cannot do it alone. You must find your messiah. You shall know him when you see him, for he will fill your ears with imprecations against the Dark One and all his minions. He or she will prepare for you a Poisoned Chalice of hatred and lies against which the Dark One has no defense. The taste of the potion is bitter as ashes, but it will be balm to your souls.”
And so word spread throughout the realm. Whosoever shall spill the foulest falsehoods and filth into the ears of the frightened shall be acclaimed a messiah among them, and shall rule the land.
In the white fastness of the north there dwelt a beautiful princess. She had been acclaimed a great beauty since she was a child. She won accolades wherever she went, and, in the fullness of time, she claimed her Prince Charming and together they raised many children.
She taught them to fish the salmon and hunt the moose; she was beloved by all she met. The citizens of her vast northern state rose her up, even unto the highest place in the land, and she reigned fairly and all was well.
But one day she was lured from her icy throne and went south to the land of the elephants.
The wise councilors of the Grand Old Party told her she was to become queen of the realm, but not without great sacrifice.
Drink of this, my dear, they said, and they presented her the Poisoned Chalice, a brew of bile and birthers, spleens and socialists, rat entrails and racists. Drink deeply and you shall grow strong.
And the princess drank deeply from the Poisoned Chalice and verily it was true; the people cheered and her fame grew like moss on the tundra, covering the land.
But soon the poison lost its power and she had to drink more and more. Her opponents became her enemies, her face grew twisted with anger; she could no longer speak, only ridicule.
And it came to pass that the poison made her ugly in the sight of the people, so that they could not stand to look upon her, and they cast her out.
Then was the Chalice passed to a very rich man, a favored son of wealth whose life had been charmed from the cradle. His counting houses overflowed with gold and many beautiful maidens graced his chambers. His very visage was fascinating to the people, from his golden thatch to his pretty pout, and they could not get enough of the man and his peccadilloes.
But the lust for power became too much for his simple soul. He took of the Poisoned Chalice. Instantly he rose to radiant heights and the people sang his praises, yea, to the very heavens.
But the rich man was a weak man, who drained the poison cup again and again, like a glutton. His words dripped venom, he spoke hateful nonsense, and the people ceased to cheer. All too soon his image became befouled with the warts and wounds of ugliness and the people could not suffer to look upon him.
And it came to pass that the contenders in the grand contest to supplant the Dark One arose in an endless sequence. One candidate after another spoke the words he believed the people wanted to hear and leapt to the top of the lists. Those words had power beyond all imagining. They made stars of the obscure, the foolish and the unqualified, and puffed them up with pride and vanity. And those words destroyed them all, even to the last. The Poisoned Chalice did its deadly work.
And still the twisted ones cry, drink! Drink from the Poisoned Chalice that we may hear thee screech above all the others and anoint you our champion.
And there was no one among them sufficiently wise to say: “Enough! Spill the venom and shatter the Chalice.” To this very day the priests of the Grand Old Party are under its spell.
The Poisoned Chalice waits yet, and its sickly sweet lure captures all who come near. They drink, and the men become demons and the women become banshees They drink, and they retch lies and anger until they become hideous in the sight of the nation. And they are cast out and heard from no more.
And the people say, Amen.