In the movie “Thelma and Louise,” a bullied Arkansas housewife and a harried waitress ditch their mundane lives for a road trip in their 1966 Thunderbird convertible. It doesn’t end well.
In fact, it doesn’t even start well. Thelma, played by Gina Davis, gets drunk and is sexually assaulted. Louise, played by Susan Sarandon, rescues her. But then the assaulter insults them, so Louise shoots and kills him.
Their road trip turns into a getaway. They figure they’ll escape to Mexico, but Louise won’t travel through Texas because she’d once been raped there. They loop north to Arizona by way of the Grand Canyon.
Along the way, they meet a thief, played by Brad Pitt, who teaches them his trade. They blow up a fuel tanker, knock over a convenience store, outrun the FBI and steal a hat.
But the cops eventually catch up, and they’re cornered in front of the Grand Canyon where they’re forced to surrender.
Except they don’t. Instead, they hop in the old Thunderbird, kiss one another goodbye and floor it. They and the Thunderbird fly over the cliff and into the Grand Canyon.
That’s the end of the movie, and the end of them.
In another story — call it “The Dems” — the junior political party in America launches an extended road trip for their soon-to-be-elected president. But as in “Thelma and Louise”, things go south quickly.
Their candidate gets insulted by a provocateur and five-time bankrupt real estate developer with orange hair who fails to grab her and so she fails to shoot him. But she does have fainting fits, gets drunk and (allegedly) goes on a crime spree that draws the attention of the FBI.
The candidate stays one step ahead of the cops, who aren’t actually chasing very hard, but eventually the voters catch up with her. She and the other Dems lose the election.
Along the way, they also lose most of the governorships, lose the state legislatures, lose Congress, lose the Supreme Court, lose 30,000 emails, lose influence and lose a bunch of influence-peddling speaking engagements.
Then they lose their cool. They take time out from their nonstop moral preening in the rearview mirror for a temper tantrum.
For years, these losers have been proclaiming that their opponents are on the “wrong side of history” in politics, which is like being on the wrong side of the road on a road trip. But now they’ve learned that both in history and on road trips, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the part in front of you. And that makes them so mad.
That, and losing.
They demand a recount. They ask the Electoral College to go rogue. They blame it all on the Russians — after giving them a pass on their Crimean conquest and Syrian slaughter.
Some refuse to attend the inauguration. Some call on the newly elected president to resign and, if he doesn’t, imply that he should be impeached or worse.
Their ideas are like Thelma’s 1966 Thunderbird convertible: fun and eye-catching, but unsafe at any speed.
And they can’t find anyone to drive. They can’t find someone to chair the Democratic National Committee after the past two were caught cheating. The recent possibilities include a Louis Farrakhan follower whom even fellow Dems have labelled anti-Semitic, a Socialist from the last administration (and the last century) and the head of the biggest abortion operation in the country.
While Middle America celebrates their soaring 401(k) plans, the Dems boycott hearings to confirm the new president’s cabinet. They protest in the streets. They name-call everyone who disagrees with them.
They hang and burn the new president in effigy, call his immigrant wife a prostitute and mock their young son as autistic.
And they make good on their threats to leave the country. Oops, I got that part wrong. But one Dem state does fantasize about resurrecting the Confederacy by seceding from the Union.
They threaten to filibuster the new president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, thereby egging the Republicans into abolishing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees (as the Dems themselves abolished it for district court and appellate court nominees) so that they forfeit the leverage they would have down the road in the next nomination.
Because their much-ballyhooed “arc of history” took an unexpected detour, they shout, cry and riot. And with a comic touch, they do so in the name of tolerance, maturity and intellectualism.
But as it sometimes does in the movies, and always does in the real world, reality eventually catches up to them.
Now the Dems are cornered at the edge of the cliff. They’re nearly out of gas — their ideas, power and lives are almost exhausted — but they still have just enough left to write an end to this story.
Depending on the ending they choose, they may also end themselves.
(Published Feb. 19, 2016 in The Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/beaton-thelma-and-louise-and-the-democrats/ and elsewhere)