I can almost see his face. It is White, chiseled, clean shaven, unmistakably the countenance of an old-stock Anglo-American who can trace his roots back to the original British colonies. One of his ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, and voted for his state to ratify the 1789 U.S. Constitution. Another ancestor was a New England pastor who was one of the earliest abolitionists. It goes without saying that he is a Christian, probably from a mainline Protestant denomination, but possibly Catholic or Evangelical; a faithful churchgoer, but not a fanatic.
His more recent forerunners have all been well-to-do, respectable businessmen, had distinguished military careers, or served as the more genial sort of Republican officeholder. He is proud that his grandfather was a senator who voted to censure Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy back in 1954. He himself may have served in the Army or the U.S. Marines in Iraq or Afghanistan, and while he takes obvious pride in that part of his life, he doesn’t see a need to shout about it, instead putting his energy into promoting veterans’ interests in Congress. A solid Republican, he served as an elector for George W. Bush in 2000 and reliably votes for low taxes and a smaller federal government. The best way to help the poor is to help them stand on their own two feet, he believes, and to that end, he devotes much of his limited free time to volunteering in a homeless shelter, where he provides job coaching to men and women alike. He supported civil unions rather than marriage equality for homosexuals, but came around to the latter position because he believes marriage helps support strong families and a healthy society.
He spoke out early and forcefully against Trump in 2016, throwing his support to Jeb Bush all the way to the convention. During the general election campaign that year, he was all but silent; when a local reporter from his district cornered him, he reluctantly said he was supporting his party’s nominee like always, a position he swiftly came to regret. In the four years that followed, he was a constant thorn in Trump’s side, earning his own derogatory nickname, something along the lines of “Stuffy Smith,” and a torrent of vicious presidential tweets after he voted for the first impeachment. He shrugged off the resulting death threats and beat the far-right “populist” challenger Trump sent to take him down, albeit only barely. The threats against him and his wife and children grew so specific and blood-curdling after he publicly denounced the Big Lie and the attack on the Capitol and voted for Trump’s second impeachment that he sold the house that had been in his family for over a century and moved the people he cared about to a secret location.
When he throws his hat in the ring in ’24 or ’28, he will make a speech that instantly electrifies the race on the Republican side, denouncing Trump and his wanna-be successors in ringing terms for their cruelty and their grotesque lies, which are “the opposite of everything we stand for as Republicans, as conservatives, as Americans. The hatred and violence they have deliberately sown, the racism and demagoguery with which they have flooded our Republic, have left an indelible stain on our great nation, and must be turned back if we are to survive as one people.” The MAGA candidate, whether Trump himself or one of his imitators, will vow to crush him, and go on to win the Iowa Republican caucus by an overwhelming margin, causing many in the media to declare the contest over before it has begun. But then he will win the New Hampshire Republican primary in an upset, and go on to fight the MAGA candidate state by state, almost precinct by precinct. In Mobile, Alabama, a Q-Anon inspired gunman will miss him by about an inch, provoking the MAGA candidate to sneer something about “Second Amendment people.” For his part, he will coolly paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt’s remark after the former president survived a 1912 assassination attempt about feeble minds being swayed by evil words. This will further enrage the MAGA mob, and one of the so-called “national conservative” intellectuals will refuse to apologize for a column praising the would-be assassin. But their fury will be in vain, as he goes on to accept the Republican nomination with an old-fashioned stemwinder of a speech denouncing the “farcical rerun of twentieth-century fascist movements” that had temporarily taken over his beloved Republican Party. He will ride the acclaim from this speech all the way to Election Day, when, following courteous but passionate debates with his Democratic rival, he will be chosen the next President of the United States, vanquishing the MAGA threat and beginning a new era of revived democracy for the country.
But there are no signs of him. Perhaps he was only ever a myth.