Once upon a time, there is this young man Steve Yancy Luck growing up in Findlay, Ohio. His father is a man of good standing in the community, owner of a hardware store, his mom a faithful volunteer at the family's Presbyterian church. He's got a younger sister, and an adopted cousin whose parents (from his mom's side) died in a tragic incident involving three cars full of nuns, a runaway train carrying needed medical supplies to Canada, and an innocent free-range giraffe.
Steve does well at sports, lettering in shot put and discus - where he sets the county record at discus his senior year - serves as President of the school's French Club, and graduates in the top ten percent of his class. He considers going to his mom's alma mater of Wittenberg U., but accepts a scholarship for the Naval Academy in Annapolis MD.
He's 24 when September 11, 2001 happens. Steve immediately switches from a promising Navy Surface track to train as a Marine officer, knowing that is where the nation is going to need battlefield leaders. It's another year before he's a lieutenant, but doesn't get deployed until 2004 into the thick of the Iraqi occupation.
By April 2005, Steve's patrolling with his rifle platoon near a good-sized village in the Kurdish hills when insurgents attack with 160 men. He loses two men during the first minute of the firefight but leads the surviving forty men and women into the village - mothers and children, as most of the men are already dead or missing - for a concerted defense. Lacking communications, they can't call for air support or rescue. For nearly 12 hours into the night Steve leads his Marines with an effective defense using trapping engagements to pull the more reckless insurgents into kill zones. But he does lose half his troops to wounds by the break of next day. Luckily, a Kurdish-led unit patrolling those hills find out about the battle and join in, creating a flanking attack that catches the insurgents off-guard. They also help call in an A-10 strike that buzzes the area and spooks the bad guys into fleeing back into the desert, leaving behind 74 of their own dead or dying.
Angered up by the situation, Steve decides on a reckless pursuit of the fleeing insurgents. Taking only volunteers - two Kurdish brothers, a rifle squad sergeant name of Lafayette Washington (no relation), a female Marine Amy Wolfe who's half-Plains Apache and the platoon's best sniper, a third-generation Japanese-American Naval Medical Corpsman Joey Yagachuchi who promised his girlfriend he'd make it home okay, and a young Black kid name of Lionel (nobody can remember his last name) from the Chicago slums who lied about his age when he signed up six months ago for the Corps and is really fifteen years old - they chase after the bad guys.
Turns out the Marines recovered a cell phone from one of the dead insurgents that they could use to track the surviving evildoers back to their hideout. Steve leads his team of seven into an improvised yet cunning assault, taking out not only the rest of the attackers but also 80 more insurgents including the region's warlord, which reduces the level of violence to almost nothing in that part of Iraq for the rest of the year. However, during the battle one of the Kurdish brothers dies heroically throwing himself on a grenade meant for Lionel, and Steve himself takes a bullet from the warlord while protecting Joey who was busy tending to a half-blinded Amy. (Amy kills the warlord with a headshot without hesitation using her keen sense of hearing)
Steve's wound isn't severe - Joey gets him back on his feet soon enough - and by crushing a key insurgency force and saving that village the entire platoon earns praise across the U.S. and the world. Joey makes it home to Newport Beach like he promised by 2006 and finds out his girlfriend ran off with an Air Force Academy grad to live in Alaska. Amy regains most of her eyesight (she can never serve as a sniper again) and stays on with the Marines, performing other heroic deeds - including stealing a ISIL warlord's motorcycle in 2011 - that earns her enough Coup points to become War Chief of her tribe (she and Joey hook up in 2012 and have a daughter by 2014). Washington gets wounded in a later firefight but survives to return home to Chesapeake VA by 2009 to open a French bakery. Lionel stays in with the Marines another six months but disappears into the Kurdish countryside, joining the surviving Kurdish brother's family as an act of atonement and marrying one of the brothers' youngest sisters (who looks surprisingly like Rihanna). By 2016 Lionel (now known as the Lion of the Great Lake among the tribes) is a major leader of Kurdish forces fighting Da'esh in northern Iraq.
Wait, where was I going with this? Oh, right, setting up the main character...
Steve Luck gets promoted to Captain and moves up the chain of command within the Marine Corps until 2007, when he is falsely accused of insubordination by a Marine Colonel trying to cover up his own crimes of raping a female Naval officer: Steve had found out and was following the procedures to report it. The Corps keeps the entire situation under wraps during the conflicting investigations, which exonerates Steve and implicates the Colonel in other bad acts (involving military contract kickbacks). However, the Colonel is an older brother to a Republican Congressman from California who happens to serve on the Armed Services committee and who makes it clear that he will make the Marines suffer if any of this gets out. So both the Colonel and Steve are issued honorable discharges, and Steve is told to keep his mouth shut.
However, Steve is pissed at the injustice of it all. His family had been apolitical - his mom is a registered voter but considers herself No-Party-Affiliate - but when he makes it back to Ohio in 2007 he registers as a Democrat and signs up to run for Congress in 2008. With his war record, and the overall Republican failures weakening the GOP incumbent that election cycle, Steve Luck wins his hometown's district. As revenge, he makes sure he gets placed on the Armed Services committee to fill the spot of the Republican Congressman responsible for driving him out of the service, who by the by "retired" that election year rather than lose to an openly lesbian Latina (who wins that CA district by 20 points).
Steve goes on to serve the committee with distinction, uncovering various kickbacks scandals from the Iraqi occupation that leads to several key arrests and reforms in the Pentagon procurement process. Steve wins re-election in 2010 despite a heavy-handed attempt by the "Tea Party" faction to drive him out, but gets removed from the Armed Services committee when the GOP wins control of the House. He is able to secure a minority leadership spot on the Veterans Affairs committee and does what he can to keep their funding going during Republican obstructionism, and stays there well into 2016.
In 2012 he returns to Iraq as part of a fact-finding tour, reunites with Lionel in the Kurdish regions, and helps clear up Lionel's "desertion" through the legal channels (pointing out the U.S. needs him now as a liaison within the Kurdish community fighting the bad guys ISIL/Da'esh). Steve also meets the Kurdish brothers' sister Aida - a few years younger than he is - who had fled Iraq in 1999 for France in order to avoid getting raped by Uday Hussein. She had studied to become a doctor while in exile and had returned in 2010 to help set up hospitals across the region to improve the pediatric care. Aida and Steve hit it off - he speaks French from high school, remember? - and she travels three weeks later to the United States to continue the relationship, getting a visa through the proper channels. They marry in a joint Presbyterian-Zoroastrian marriage (they agree to an interfaith family) by 2013 at the National Cathedral with the Obama family in attendance.
He's 38 years old in 2015, now an established Congressman with a strong center-left voting record. He has no financial ties to Wall Street, no scandalous history (even his dating life before marriage was civil with few hard feelings from the exes), and his war record makes him a popular national hero (there are constant calls to award him the Medal of Honor although Steve keeps advising against it since he's now a member of the Congress that would award it). Aida gave birth to a healthy boy named Nebez for his heroic dead uncle, and she's hoping for a girl next. He's got a perfect family life and a perfect political career. Oh, and he looks like Chris Hemsworth (except for the insane muscle tone Hemsworth has to work on to play Thor in the Marvel series).
The Presidential field is made up of Hillary, Bernie, and Martin O'Malley, but some of the party leadership visit with Steve often to suggest he could do well with the deep-pocket supporters. Aida knows it could be hard on her and their newborn son, but she agrees to a campaign as long as Steve promises her he'll push for better child health care services and better wages for poor families.
Steve Luck throws his hat into the ring by April 2015, and picks up enough support to where he's got 20 percent of the polling to Hillary's 38 and Bernie's 19 (O'Malley's still at zero). Suddenly, Hillary drops out in August when a leaked e-mail from a Russian hacker reveals she had received illegal campaign contributions from Martin Shkreli. Support for both Steve and Bernie jumps up into the 40s, and it becomes a spirited campaign into Philadelphia where Steve wins over enough superdelegates to clinch the nomination on the first ballot. In order to appease Bernie's factions, Steve backs a fully progressive platform (except for universal healthcare, supporting the Public Option instead), and selects a fervently progressive Latina Congresswoman Unity Seguin-Roberts (descended from THIS guy) from Texas (and who looks suspiciously like Salma Hayek) as Vice President.
Steve Luck gets out of the gate with 55 percent of the general electorate polling. He's hugely popular among all key Democratic demographics and the ability to speak well to the interests of the Independent voters. He's got no secrets, no dark history, no corrupt habits (well, okay, he plays way too much Star Trek Online), nothing that would scare away voters in any circumstance.
Now, here's the question: How will the Republicans handle Steve Luck as the Democratic opponent?
Do you think the GOP will treat Luck with any respect? As a Marine war hero? As a good husband and father to a wife and son? Coming from the mythical Midwest of Ohio and home of MOM APPLE PIE AND TRUE AMERICAN VALUES? Someone with not one legit scandal in his closet?
There's no way. Not these Republicans.
From Day One they will mock Steve's military service the same way they've mocked so many other Democrats who served our armed forces. They'll break out those Purple Heart band-aids they made during Kerry's 2004 campaign. That Marine Colonel who got drummed out to avoid getting charged with rape and fraud will pop up from the fringes, accuse Steve again of that false insubordination charge, and get invited to camp out at Fox Not-News sound stages 24 hours a day 7 days a week (the show hosts will start promoting the ex-Colonel as the best possible Secretary of Homeland Security the Republicans should pick when Trump "wins"). The Far Right Noise Machine will even drop "hints" that Steve was the one who raped that Navy officer, forcing the poor woman to go public with her horror story about the real culprit (and then that woman will get attacked by the Far Right of conspiring with Steve to falsely accuse the former Colonel).
The Far Right media will go after Steve for being too young and inexperienced, as they'd do to anyone who's under the age of
Trump and the more Islamophobic GOP will insult Steve's wife Aida for being "a raghead," a subversive secret Muslim (that her true faith Zoroastrianism is older than Islam, and is a key influence of Judaism and Christianity, will be lost on them) whispering Sharia law into Steve's ear, that she married Steve to sneak into the country "to steal our jobz," that she was really Uday's mistress, that she set up terror camps and not hospitals, that she's part of the dreaded Islamic takeover of the United States ZOMG. They'll accuse Steve of "working with a terrorist," mistaking Lionel for a hardened mountain warlord fighting WITH Da'esh instead of against them. They'll even mock Steve's son Nebez for having a "weird" name, and claim he's not really Steve's son ("he doesn't have his father's fingerprint patterns! Oh noes! Who could Knee-bees' real father be?").
Rush Limbaugh will attack Steve for failing to protect all of his rifle platoon during that big battle ("He just let those two men die on his watch!"), and will invite onto his show one of the dead men's parents who will be told off-mic that Steve intentionally shot their boy because he was "drunk" when the patrol was ambushed, and tricking them into repeating that false tale on-air.
At Trump's rallies, they will wave signs that read "Fuck Luck" and scream that they should "hang the traitor" for failing to secure victory in Iraq (even as a lowly Lieutenant/Captain).
Stories about Steve's adopted cousin will accuse the poor man of having caused that giraffe-train-nun incident even though he was three at the time. He'll try to file a libel suit against the whisperers but the lawyers tell him it's an impossible fight to win. He'll lose his job at a financial firm in Chicago and suffer a nervous breakdown, fleeing his pregnant wife to hide in the mountains of Oregon, refusing to answer to his real name and claiming he's Fox Mulder hunting more UFOs.
The more fringe Far Right "news" sources will drum up some woman who's never even been to Ohio to claim she's an ex-girlfriend telling stories about Steve being a pothead alcoholic meth user who would beat her and send her out onto the streets like he was a pimp. Her timeline will be so out-of-touch with actual facts (she'll have him hanging out in a trailer park in north Florida during the time he's stationed in Iraq) that it should provoke ridicule by every legit news agency on the planet... and yet CNN will invite her on "to discuss the controversy." It gets bad enough that two of Steve's real ex-girlfriends have to sue the fake ex for defamation.
Trump will make unsubtle hints about how pretty the Veep candidate Unity is and how he'd "do her" even though she's "an illegal Mexican" (ignoring the fact she can trace her bloodline all the way back to when Texas beat Santa Anna to become a Republic, and that her ancestors have more history as Americans than Trump's). Trump at one rally will claim Steve only picked Unity as Veep because - as she's as young and pretty as Steve is - he's hoping to have a threesome with Unity and Aida in the Oval Office. He will later claim this is "a joke." And yet he will keep talking about how Unity "just needs to get laid by a guy who knows how. Maybe Princess Jasmine does too. I'm just saying."
I may be making this up as a thought exercise, but for a moment take a good long look at the Real World. We're watching the Republicans do exactly this sort of bullshit to a real candidate in a real election for the Presidency in a real-life situation that has dire consequences for the entire world.
Here's the Red Pill, America.
The Republicans are going to campaign with the Politics of Personal Destruction on ANYONE the Democrats would put up as a candidate. We've seen them attack Bill Clinton in 1992 with "bimbo eruptions", they went after Al Gore for being a tree-hugger in 2000, they went after John Kerry's military service and wealthy wife in 2004, they went after Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 for exactly who he is (an intelligent Black man) as though that were a crime.
That Hillary isn't the perfect candidate should not condemn her. Try to remember nearly every accusation against her has been investigated again and again for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, and the most the Far Right can find on her is a questionable email server when she was Secretary of State, her firing of a travel agency in the White House back in 1993, and questionable billing practices at her Arkansas law firm back in the 1980s. That's it. Even Benghazi can't be placed at her feet because that had more to do with Congressional failure to fund embassy security.
Even so, Republicans are going to attack her: not so much with any facts, but with half-lies and outright bullshit, innuendo and rumor, unproven accusation placed atop sneering disdain.
They are not going to play nice campaigning against Hillary (they wouldn't have played nice against Bernie either). Trump bringing in Breitbart people to run his campaign now is just a sign of moving up the attacks to Defcon Level 2 instead of being at Defcon 3.
Democrats could run the cleanest, best possible person - educated, civil, experienced, married, well-spoken, sociable, a leader of others - and the Republicans would STILL call for his/her impeachment and execution.
Just never be surprised by this, America. This is all the Republicans have left to campaign on.