Across America, historical reenactors gazed baffled at footage of the latest Trump rally on their vintage television sets, stunned by what appears to be a sudden decision to reenact history on a pretty grand scale.
“Don’t get me wrong,” commented Dingle Gruble, pausing a moment from her butter churning. “I love it any time people get together and decide to repeat history. That is why I spend my weekends in this uncomfortable bodice and stiff bonnet, tramping around a historic farm and rooting out cabbages with a wooden trowel. There is so much about the past that is exciting and fun. Do you want to make a doll out of a corncob?”
Her colleague, Morton Sault, tipped his tricorn hat as he leaned his blunderbuss up against the side of the house. “I guess -- I would -- just personally, for myself, have picked something like this to reenact! Something that revolved more around barn dances or fiddle playing. I would not have leaped straight to some of the more disturbing events of the 20th century! All the creepy rallies, xenophobic and racist shouting ... “
“I do appreciate the authenticity they’re bringing to this,” Gruble added. “The chants, the faces, the signs. The finger pointing and hand wringing and non-disavowals from people who should be speaking up. The level of detail -- people being shocked, but then not shocked, and then sort of ... overwhelmed, but inured, but in a kind of denial -- all very realistic, all quite compelling. But I just wish they’d asked us about what periods of the past we found fun and rewarding to occupy. Because I sure would not have said any of the ones they appear to be going for! It seems like they’re drawing elements from several, but none of them are good!”
“Exactly!” said a man dressed as Comely Young William Howard Taft who refused to give his name. “I know that one of the fun things about really digging into the past is that there are no small parts! Everyone, in their own way, gets to be involved -- whether you are simply buying a wooden hoop for your child’s amusement, or keeping an authentic tavern, or one of three guys dressed as Patrick Henry. Similarly, I understand that this current reenactment has lots of little parts, even for people who don’t think they’re playing any part at all -- like people who are changing the channel or people who are pretending not to notice, not just people shouting hateful rally things. It’s really immersive, with lots of opportunities to participate.”
“But what do they see in it?” Dingle asked. “Is it the aesthetic? Because that gets old fast, let me tell you.”
“Yes!” Taft shouted. “There’s so much better history to pick! How about the part of history where Edison was really bothering Nikola Tesla? We could all gather around a glowing doughnut-shaped thing! We could reenact the part of history where they increased voting rights! Or when they impeached Andrew Johnson! That could be cool to attempt!”
“One upside to this,” added Lydia Bingley, breezing in dressed in an enormous hoop skirt, “is that -- you know, one worry is people don’t want to maybe get into Civil War reenacting because we know who won there, and, well, who wants to be on the losing side?”
“But we haven’t had that problem lately!” Sault added. “If anything, we have had the opposite problem.”
“They don’t even bother with the period gear!” Bingley said. “I guess they’ve put so much work into really perfecting the attitudes? But for me, half the fun is the period gear.”
“And that afterward, you get to stop and have some root beer.”
For a moment, there was silence.
“And, look, the best part of reenacting a great historical triumph over injustice is seeing someone do the right thing in the face of the motionless bystanders and shouting mobs, so it is, again, great that so many folks want to be bystanders or shouting mobs. We just need more sign-ups on both sides of that equation.”
Reenactors also said they were confused by the decision to bring back measles.