One of the few things people here in America talk about these days is President Donald Trump. Both loved and hated, venerated or appalled by, the man seems to find no middle ground–exactly the way he likes it. Those in the middle seem soft to him, indecisive. He would call them ‘weak.’ But truly those in the center come across as the only sane people in this divisive, edge-of-Civil-War society we are currently suffering through. It is not that the middle hasn’t made up their minds (and their minds manage to take notions in various directions, unlike faithful partisans), but that they try to study each side before deciding what they believe. It is far less emotional, no true interference of good versus evil (except when it is obvious). The middle is what makes this nation and, frankly, the whole world livable. If everyone were a fanatic, is there a single person who would not be terrified every day of their lives?
Which brings me to my titular question. Despite how negative I have personally been towards Donald Trump and his attempts at governing, I need to let it be known that I have been very critical of nearly every President I have lived through (for Nixon and Carter I was too young and can only judge with historical hindsight–see the eventually published [and eventually completed] Recording Editorial History–a history book collecting opinions about every US President, the the society surrounding them, since the founding). Recently I found Obama a disappointment, Bush a decent enough guy utterly incompetent and directed by shadowy right-wing gangsters. Clinton was fortunate in his timing as President, able to get so much done, but anyone would have thrived under that internet boom; he was otherwise a scumbag. And et cetera. With George H. W. Bush’s recent passing I suppose I am being reminded of a far more civil age (despite the nastiness of political advertising on display in 1988), although from what I remember Bush 1 finished his one term considered a failure. Reagan was supported by my parents and I was pretty young when he was elected, but I grew into your standard temporarily liberal teenager with little comprehension of the realities of the world.
But with Donald Trump I have taken a more public stand then I ever have in my life. I am clearly on the side of his detractors, and have transformed him in my mind into the sort of monster who projects his own deepest fears and darkest desires onto others, declaring conspiracies against him while conspiring against everyone. He does not know what to think, which is why he changes directions so often, and his thin-skinned rage at anyone who criticizes him really does seem to take him back to his childhood, where nothing was ever good enough for his father. All he does is run around trying to prove himself, and then being confused by so many people telling him what he did was wrong. I do not wish to sympathize with the man, for this chaos is of his own making, not understanding, I suppose, that to be president you have to have an incredibly thick skin. Let us be honest: can any of you remember a President who has not been wildly and viciously attacked by their opposition? Can you recall an administration where conspiracy theories have not been wide-spread about what is truly going on, and whose interests are really being fulfilled?
So Donald Trump’s Presidency is nothing like what he and most of his radical supporters thought it was going to be, no matter how much they drown out negativity with chanting and slogans and an endless repetition of their gripes. Regardless of Trump’s bold declarations of “winning,” and the curious claims of success over issues that are far from resolved, one needs to look past the bald egotism and wonder just how these empty words are really impacting the United States and the larger world.
And how will it all end?
I have a few theories about what will become of the Trump administration, as scandals keep rocking it, as new conspiracy theories keep churning out, cabinet members continue to leave in disgrace, more and more allegations are made, and new corruption is exposed. Basically while things keep continuing as they are, what will be the breaking point? I offer four examples:
- The one most debated is impeachment. One side rallies and demands the President be stripped of his authority and tried as a criminal, removing all executive privileges to keep him from illegally saving himself and his companions in crime. Another side threatens armed insurrection should this step even be undertaken. The partisan divide is nearly as bad as in 1857, after the Dred Scott decision, as the fear of abolitionist and slave rebellions continued being stoked, and as race, specifically–which has always been a hyper-sensitive issue, riling people instantly to presumptuous extremes–took center stage of the debate and the growing frustration. In 1857 Congressional battles were getting violent, leading statesmen were being ignored in the chambers, and the whole system of Democratic government devised by the founders was teetering on the edge of the world, with flames and dragons waiting to devour us. Of course the nation split apart and went to war with itself, re-imagining the idea of America as two sides were so opposed to one another that they tried to destroy everything our ancestors fought for. This is what is meant by ‘New World Order.’
If Donald Trump is somehow impeached (unlikely, and the attempts will make our nation even more divided), the most likely outcome, I believe, is a second civil war.
2. Donald Trump wins a second term and continues to justify his actions, assuming that the affirmation he received (because one of the demonized Democrats, already well known, becomes his chief rival during the election where both of them get about 43% of the vote, a close race that lasts beyond the regular inauguration time) expresses approval not just for his deeds, but for his attitudes and words as well.
This outcome will simply continue more of the same rage on both extreme sides of the political spectrum, blind adoration and hatred. It was expand the range of the deepest prejudices most of us suppress and, if not break out openly into war, it will continue to debase our Democracy as we watch election season continue to expand the blood-letting until the world becomes A Clockwork Orange fantasy, beautiful music in our minds while we dream of genocide.
3. What happens if Donald Trump loses in 2020? This is something that is certainly possible. Plenty of people have discussed this potentiality, many stating how he might refuse to leave, also possible, with a demand for a new election, endless proclamations of voter fraud and intentional miscounts, people voting twice, and every other mostly fiction taken from TV political thrillers. There would be a call for martial law and claims that we are under attack by the most convenient scapegoat (Russia? China? Antifah? The Nazis? Islam? MS-13? The Jews?) The election might go on forever, a subtle dictatorship overtaking America with a paranoid Big Brother watching.
If Trump does presume to leave upon losing, he could become an even larger influence on national politics, founding an overt propaganda network that will promote, exclusively, his new political party that emerges from the ashes. Perhaps I will be able to sue Trump over this, his ‘editorial history’ station trashing everything, being an similar replication of this site, except without my occasionally judicious leanings.
4. The only other possibility that I wish to discuss is Trump quitting in a huff, arrogantly proclaiming that he accomplished everything he set out to do, and that he hopes whoever replaces him doesn’t fuck up the the brilliance he believes he set into motion. This is the temper tantrum method of a stubborn child, and he would not even think that he’s embarrassing himself when that is the only thing he would be doing. He would rant and blame and condemn and still think that he is the only one who knows how to run America. He might have a book ghost- written called Even Greater Than Lincoln, or something trashing George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and, even Lincoln himself. He would still found a new political party, and use it as a weapon, continuing his quest (now openly acknowledged) of destroying American Democracy and replacing it with whatever top three ideas his advisers give to him.
Donald Trump, love him or hate him, has been a disaster for the idea of American Democracy. The anger he has inspired may, on the surface, be against ridiculous things like political correctness (shut up, you pussies!) or ‘reverse racism’ (Huh?), or even variant perceptions about what liberalism or conservatism has come to mean in this modern age. But deeper, more deeply, Donald Trump has helped to truly inspire an earth-shattering doubt in all systems of government, everywhere in the world, probably without intention. He has shown the world a way to succeed at a dirty game, and only those with enough talent, or malice, or profound indifference to everything other than their own way, will one day be our rulers.
This is not only Donald Trump’s fault, although he must share some of the blame. It is also Obama’s fault. The Bush family’s fault, Clinton, Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, LBJ, JFK, Ike, Truman, FDR, Herbert Hoover, Silent Calvin Coolidge, Warren G Harding, Woodrow Wilson, Taft, TR, McKinley, Grover Cleveland (twice!), Benjamin Harrison, Chester A Arthur, James Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, Grant, Andrew Johnson, certainly Lincoln, Buchanan, Pierce, Fillmore, Zachary Taylor, James Polk, Tyler too. William Henry Harrison, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, JQA, Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, even John Adams. George Washington almost gets a pass because he truly believed in the free nation he helped to found. He still had his horrors, but the first guy has to try harder than everyone else.
And so it is all of these people’s fault, and every Congress person and Senator and local council man and woman, and judges, governors, and any other worker of federal, state and local government since the colonial days of native slaughter.
But most of all . . . most of all? We have only ourselves to blame.