The Imprudent Serpent

A Short Fable on the Amnesic Hypocrisy of the Republican Party

Once upon a time, there was a boorish rattlesnake named Donald. He was notorious for flashing his fangs at the other desert creatures. But some were slightly demented; in fact, they were charmed by the toxicity of Donald’s hypodermic fangs. Others slowly gravitated toward Donald with the passage of time. The lore surrounding his dangerous potential drew them ever near—even to the point of mental constriction, or paralysis.

Donald hadn’t any compunction. He was highly inegalitarian by nature, and he frequently hissed about the “vermin” he viewed as lesser amongst the desert fauna. Donald was especially mercurial about lashing out at the critters he considered powerless. And the frequency of his obnoxious rattling only grew as droves of critters congregated to witness the spectacle he had so meteorically become.

His slithery narcissism abounded as his worshippers lent credence to his inborn, anti-vermin animosity. However, like most rattlesnakes, Donald wasn’t particularly intelligent. And much like the species to which he belonged, Donald said whatever came to mind, punctuating his sibilance with a specious air of authority. His forked tongue was awfully mesmerizing.

In time, Donald learned what his audience liked to hear; he was at least clever enough to use this information to manipulate the other animals. For the most part, these were creatures of his ilk: irascible scorpions; poisonous desert toads; dreadful gila monsters; and so on. But one night – rattlesnakes prefer to scheme in the dark – when Donald was in the middle of his usual anti-vermin tirade, a toxic toad was heard squeaking no more than a decibel above all the hissing.

“What can we do to stop them?” frenzied the squat little toad.

Donald was dumbfounded. These creatures wanted more than simply to hear him hiss? They wanted him to act? Yes, he thought. They wanted him to dictate! But what could he do? He couldn’t possible kill and eat all the vermin by himself, though the thought had crossed his pea-sized brain once or twice before…

Then, off in the distance, an industrious little desert mouse struggled to surmount a pile of rocks at the mouth of the arroyo not far from where Donald lay coiled and brooding.

“I know!” exclaimed Donald viperously, “Let’s build a wall so the vermin can’t bother us anymore!”

The crowd could only cheer, each one hurrahing in its own animalistic way.

So, they struggled to build a wall in accordance with Donald’s wisdom. Admittedly, it was quite a feat. But although they celebrated their attempt to exclude what they thought were undesirable creatures, it would end up costing them dearly.

Donald’s followers had failed to realize just how valuable some of the walled-off creatures had been. The so-called vermin, of course, performed many functions that were vital to the general well-being of the local habitat. They did things other creatures were no good at, and they even sustained some of the larger, more consumptive predators. They did all this despite the persecution that had assailed them well before Donald shed his skin about it.

But neither Donald nor his emotionally charged disciples understood the importance, nay, the necessity, of diversity in biological capital. Ultimately, Donald and his followers were too busy feeding on their pedestrian emotions and uneducated fears to realize that they were doing nothing more than positioning themselves to starve. And when some of the formerly uninterested creatures – like the hawks, jackrabbits and coyotes – happened upon the little walled-off arroyo, they didn’t feel much remorse for Donald or his filigree.

Only one coyote howled about it. He reminded some of the animals surrounding the unfortunate scene that there was once an appealing leader much like Donald, but who called himself Ronald. Coyote recounted how Ronald was a bit of a contentious figure, just as many old forest elephants are wont to be. How interesting, mused coyote, that one bald little snake could vex so many toxic critters and command them with the silly prospect of walling-off an arroyo while, on the other hand, a lumbering and clumsy elephant had garnered so much acclaim for wanting to tear a wall in the forest down.