We’ve all heard of the sneaky, lethal practices of the common cuckoo bird, that poster child for brood parasitism, in which the behavior of the host is “manipulated so that the host raises the young of the parasite instead of the host’s own young.” In other words, the cuckoo tricks other species of birds into raising its chick, while the bird’s own babies are sacrificed.
First of all, the cuckoo mother will trick a bird, often a warbler, into leaving its nest full of eggs unattended so that she may swoop in and lay her egg amongst the others. She often achieves this by mimicking the call of a predatory bird, like a hawk, so that the nesting warbler will flee for safety.
Once the warbler has vacated the premises for a few seconds, mother cuckoo flies in and speedily lays her egg or eggs. Her work completed, she then flies off before the host bird notices. How does she not arouse the suspicions of the returning parent bird, you may ask? When mother warbler comes back to find an extra egg in her clutch? The cuckoo has devoured, in an instant, one or more of the warbler’s eggs, so that the number remains the same as before.
Birds can count, apparently.
The cuckoo egg will then hatch first. This has been the plan all along. Once it hatches, it will destroy all the remaining eggs in the nest. If, by chance, the cuckoo baby has not been the first to emerge, it will hurl any other fledglings in the nest to their deaths.
The unsuspecting foster parents will then raise the cuckoo as their own, feeding its relentless hunger and soon it will grow to a size much larger than any normal warbler child. The warbler parents run themselves ragged trying to keep their big, fat baby fed, never realizing that they have no real children of their own, just a greedy, deceitful interloper.
If this reminds you of today’s Republican party, it’s with good reason.
The current President, leader of the Republican Party, is for all practical means, a cuckoo chick. A chick being coddled and fattened by a GOP who thinks he’s one of their own. He’s not. He’s a brood parasite by any measure.
This was obvious from the start, but the conservative warblers, hearing the fearmongering cries, left their nest unattended and a big golden egg emblazoned with a capital T was laid. The real eggs: The Jebs and the Christies and the Rubios were all swallowed by the gold-plated gullet.
And the warblers stared blankly at their new baby.
He grew and grew, fed constantly by his hosts. They fed him so well, that there was nothing left for them. They fed him the things they had always believed in, the things they had always treasured as bedrock tenets of their identity.
They fed him national security; the belief that the American intelligence agencies have our best interests in mind. They fed him NATO, and the peace of post-war Europe.
They fed him the respect of our nation’s military; they fed him gold-star families and the sacrifices of John McCain. They fed him their belief in free trade and open markets; they fed him their knowledge of the economic dangers of tariffs and trade wars.
They fed him and fed him. Whatever they owned. All their most valuable possessions going to feed their big, fat baby, whose hunger was insatiable.
They fed him the balanced budget; no longer seeming to care how big the deficit grew, as long as their chick was happy. They fed him their long-held moral stance against the appeasing and stroking of dictators; they fed him the victims of Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, Kim Jong Un, of Big Daddy Xi. They fed him the still warm body of Otto Warmbier.
They fed him their family values – fidelity, civility, moderation – their oft-mentioned, most beautiful plumage. They plucked them right out of their tails and fed them to the gaping maw.
And what will they receive in return? When they have nothing left to feed it with? The cuckoo will raise up on its haunches, spread its wings, and take flight, leaving nothing but broken shells and twigs covered in white excreta. The warblers will be left alone, their tails plucked bare, and with no real children of their own, wondering what just happened.
Christopher Fairchild is the editor of Panacea magazine and Welcome to Fayette magazine, and works as a photographer and graphic designer for Fayette Newspapers.