As a student of history, it’s natural, I suppose, to cling to that oft-repeated maxim that ‘history repeats itself’ even though we know it simply is not true. Still, it’s comforting, in times of severe upheaval, to think that what you are witnessing is merely another cycle in man’s eternal quest to confound himself.
And so it is with Donald Trump’s ascendancy. We want to think he’s just another obstacle for America to face as it tries to evolve as a democratic nation. The country went through turmoil with Lincoln, with Nixon, Reagan and Bush. We made it through with the state intact and we will do so again.
This IS different. We ALL know it is different. This isn’t George Bush and a bunch of lightweight hawks sallying out to save America’s oil supply. This isn’t FDR twisting America’s arm and forcing them to become their brother’s keeper. This IS different.
It begins with an unbelievable longshot winning the election despite losing the popular vote by 3 million Americans. How the hell did we elect a man who doesn’t read, can’t talk coherently, never strays too far from a mirror, talks about women as if he was still in a Junior High School locker room, lies about virtually everything he does, chisels everyone who does business with him, has no obvious friends, has no political opinion other than a terse “I Like It” or “I Don’t Like It”, and has no obvious sense of where America has been or should be going beyond closing its borders and building walls? His slogan “Make America Great Again” has no basis in history and no substance to suggest what it might mean., It’s an empty slogan – make of it what you will.
So now we have this appallingly unqualified egomaniac sitting in the oval office. The first thing he did was appoint a gaggle of similarly unqualified rich white people whose general claim to notoriety is the ability to milk the system and who share Trump’s lack of vision or appreciation of any history save, perhaps, Lenin’s trip to the Finland Station or Hitler’s beerhall putsch, two famous events that effectively killed democracy in Russia and Germany.
With Trump, we have experienced a blizzard of executive orders, a convenient tool for anyone leery of working with a democratically elected government. These orders did nothing to encourage the hopes of any American, save the rich and the greedy and the xenophobic. Finally, he issued an EO that closed the country’s borders to Muslims.
So what we know at this point is that we are now in the grip of a dangerous megalomaniac whose support has, by and large, been grounded in an ignorant minority of the American public and the help of a disinformation program that is absolutely awesome in its size and reach. He is surrounded by people who have no regard for truth or discussion. They are on their way to do something but what that is, is speculative.
Should the country be worried? Is this but another snag in the evolution of a country? Does history suggest anything?
Yes. No. No.
I have no idea what mechanisms can be brought to bear to muzzle Trump and his henchmen. But it is impossible to overstate the threat to the future of the country and, to some extent, the world. We are in the thrall of a bunch of thugs who got there by thuggish means. The neighborhood has been lost to a gang of bullies. There is nothing democratically or decently redeeming about anything they have done or are likely to do.
Pissing and moaning about the individual acts of insanity won’t solve the problem. The body politic of the United States has to convene to deal with an ominous threat to its existence. Gilding our responses in a knee-jerk respect to the highest office in the land is a luxury we cannot afford. Respect is earned and none of the people in the Trump administration qualify. Let’s get to work to clean out that office and start over.
Just remember, once it is done, the country still needs to face the frustration that gave rise to Trump’s popularity and do something about the entrenched politics in Washington. But first things first.
Robert Alan Davidson