“The Making of a Dictatorship”
Yes, I get that the title of this piece is, by the end, going to be wildly inaccurate, but it needs to be stated anyway. The America we live in is no longer the America of the age of idealism. Long ago we, and much of the rest of the world, thought of the United States of America–the name itself an assertion of mutual cooperation–as the bastion and greatest place to explore the idea of freedom. But what has freedom become? Who even believes in the pure concept of being free any longer? I read and talk and (online and in person) debate these issues with an opposition, and find that the root cause of division is not political disagreement nor moral absolutism. No. The cause of all dispute today seems to be a cynical lack of faith in everything that came before.
America is not America anymore. We crave someone to think for us, to tell us what to believe. People might argue this point and proclaim themselves independent thinkers, and their own person, their own man or woman. But even this is an ideology stolen from someone else who said it before.
Politics is the newest religion, and we have all started to question and lose faith in the old mythologies, much like Emperor Constantine killed the reign of Zeus and his cousins and ushered in the era of Christ. We live in a transformative age where everything we thought we knew and everything we have ever believed in is challenged so hard that there is nothing left to care for. And so we sulk, and rage, and call out anything contrary to our very narrow and specific beliefs. We allow evangelists–for whatever cause, right or left, biblical or atheistic, moral or amoral, fighting the world or embracing death–to make the case for us because they have the public ear. And for those of us so lost in confusion that we no longer know what to think or do or believe, these preachers of ideologies come as a welcome relief to the torment of individuality and the cold, harsh world devouring us.
Enter a charlatan like Trump, a loud-mouthed blowhard with a lot of conflicting opinions who rallies a gang of true believers–call them the MS-13 of political disruption–and you suddenly have a new cause, a new faith, a religion that will certainly change the world.
We denounce our onetime allies and embrace the brutal reign of dictators. We yearn for such an ordered society, one where we no longer need to think because the authorities will tell us what to do, how to act and what to believe. We are tired, so tired of fighting and raging and battling the opposition in order to create our version of a better world that we forget the very idea of Democracy, of power to the people and all those other slogans, and sink back into the ordered life of monarchy, of a world where our decisions don’t mean anything.