by Travis Gruber

il·lu·sion - Show Spelled Pronunciation[i-loo-zhuhn]


1. something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.

If P.T. Barnum created the illusion of Government and put it on display for the world to gawk at; this would be it. He’d place it behind the half open flap of a marvelous tent, toying with the possibility of what really exists once you pass through.

"Come one, come all,” He’d bark, waiving his top hat and cane in the air to garner the attention of those beyond the reach of his voice. “Come see the inscrutable seat of power, the throne of the new world. The rest of the globe is darkness but this…this is the light at the center of the lurid muck that we have become.” He’d point to the tent flap, teasing the reveal, “Two bucks a head and you too can witness all of its grandeur

But away from the crowds the world’s greatest showman tells a different tale. Feet propped up, ice jingling in a glass of cheap whiskey; he’s lost his showbiz glitz. He’s spent a lifetime churning up headline worthy one-liners and buzzwords in order to attract the almighty dollar. And it’s taken its toll.

"I admonish you,” he’d state in a grandfatherly tone, “to see it for what it is…not what it isn’t. It’s all a matter of perception.It’s the selling of the thing that matters. Take the Mermaid Boy, for example. Everyone wants to see it as a boy from an undersea world and believe that it is real. They don’t want to see that it isn’t, in reality, a mythological proof but rather a mummified child with a preserved fish tail sewn onto it.”

"Look at all I have given you,” he’d say waving his hand over the vast landscape, “it is, in scope and scale, Roman and decadent while being humble, in its own way.

Don’t look and see that, just beyond the gossamer veil, that it isn’t pure and righteous but rather a collection of boarded windows and chain-linked fences."

"I have given you a means of Government never seen before. It is a government for the people and by the people in which everyone has the opportunity to succeed. From this small place this government can protect, enforce, and inspire around the world.

Never mind the fact that it isn't a government that must follow its own rules. It isn't a government that is actually out for the best interests of its citizens but rather for the interests of those in power. They can scrutinize and lord over lands afar but they can't keep the city they live in safe."

He'd stare off into the distance, unsure of how to continue. From the look in his eyes you can tell that his lifelong goal of parading the is and hiding the isn't has worn down parts of him that can never be replaced or repaired. "It is our future and it is our past. It is beautiful and it is ugly. It is everything I ever hoped it would be and at the same isn't. It is the cause celeb while, at the same time, it isn't concerned with its own environment."

He'd look at you searching your eyes for understanding. You'd ask, "This great city, this mighty seat power and throne of the free world, the beating heart of the center of the greatest country ever seen....what IS it?"

He'd place his arm around your shoulders and lead you out of his trailer and into the streets. He'd lead you through the glory of the city center and into the gutter of the surrounding landscape. You would see everything that he has told you about. He would stop on a street corner and point at an oft passed piece of grafiti. You'd take a picture and touch it up so that you could read the spraypaint scrawl later.

"I love my country and have pledged to kill for and if neccessary, lay down my life for it. This country has given me everything I have ever had and everything I could ever want. It has given me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams and each time I think it can't fulfill those dreams, it does, and I can dream bigger. It has given me the ability to live in freedom that is so unending that I can't fathom how those without this freedom exist without its warming blanket. Truly, this country is great. I am free to do anything I wish with, or without, its consent."

He'd keep talking, without pause, all the while making sure your eyes don't stray from that street art.

"I love my flag. That flag represents everything that is good, right and strong about this great country and I pledge that, if need be, I would shed my blood upon it in order to make sure that the stripes stayed red."

"But I despise my government. It has lost sight of what this country stands for. My government fights amongst itself without thought as to what that fighting does to those outside of its mighty halls. My government has attempted to take control of the lives of everyone so much that it has all but taken away the freedom of choice that I am willing to die for. My government seem to, day after day, care less about those it governs and more about its monetary quid pro quo. But regardless of the flaws of my government, I love and cherish my country."

"That grafiti, at it basest level, is everything that this great place is.


The great dichotomy of is and isn't."


it's someones voice



Certainly well done. Politicians only care about politicians.

However, I still wonder what freedom of choice I don't have that I had at some mythical point in the past.


excellent piece, Travis


I can't remember if it was Twain or Rodgers who said, "The Presidency...there ought to be a law...anyone who wants the job is obviously too crazy to have it."


Man, this is such an excellent piece and magic/tragic really does sum it up.


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