The genuinely terrifying specter of a President Donald Trump was about the land after the results of the New Hampshire primary were in Tuesday night, haunting the souls of millions of concerned and responsible Americans, and even more overseas.
Trump’s landslide victory in the Republican primary in New Hampshire, the first in the nation, should be causing electric shocks to bristle American citizens up one side and down the other. This is, people, our nation’s worst nightmare.
The relentless insistence of the major media that this is just a titillating form of “politics as usual,” an entertaining, and ratings-boosting, form of reality imitating art, is lulling the mainstream of this country into permitting, or encouraging, the descent of the nation into depths it may never have previously encountered.
Oh, that future history books and pundits will not observe of this time that the election of our first African-American president led to the unintended consequence of a backlash that sent the country careering into the embrace of a 21st century form of fascist thuggery!
Donald Trump is for real, and he is really bad. This is a matter that goes way beyond mere partisan politics.
In fact, some of the sharpest critiques of Trump are coming from the right, even the far right. A series of short essays in the current edition of the National Review by known entities on the right all assail the prospect of a Trump presidency.
The most thoughtful, in fact, was penned by John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, who is correct in locating the Trump phenomenon in the context of the national cultural shift that occurred in the 1980s.
Trump “is the apotheosis of a tendency that began to manifest itself in American culture in the 1980s,” he wrote, “most notably in the persons of the comic Andrew Dice Clay and the shock jock Howard Stern: the American id.”
This “American id,” Podhoretz observed, survived the waning influence of these figures, and other potty-mouthed cases like Morton Downey, Jr. and the daily guests on the Jerry Springer Show. It persisted in the manifestations it presented in the world of Trump, from his steak and casino businesses, his high-profile love life, involvement in professional wrestling and “his reality TV persona as the immensely rich guy who treats people like garbage but has no fancy airs.”
This id, he added, “found its truest voice in his repellent assertion that the first black president needed to prove to Trump’s satisfaction that he was actually an American.”
“In any integrated personality, the id is supposed to be balanced by an ego and a superego,” he wrote, but “Trump is an unbalanced force. He is the politicized American id…He would be, unquestionably, the worst thing to happen to the American common culture in my lifetime.”
These are insightful remarks. But the issue runs deeper, to the ideological and cultural underpinnings that the so-called “Reagan revolution” brought to the forefront of the national psyche. It is rooted the concerted and relentless multi-faceted effort since the blacklisted Hollywood 10 and McCarthy Era days to deploy the official tools of law enforcement (the FBI and CIA) to use the pretext of the “Cold War” to terrorize and re-shape the values and mores of the American population.
Trump is the perfect embodiment of the fact these efforts were aimed not solely at cowing the population into narrow, right wing “family values,” but more fundamentally to corral it into a mode of thinking and behavior which is anti-social and sociopathic.
This was the antidote that thuggish police enforcers and their overseers provided against the generosity of spirit that followed the “New Deal” social reforms of the Roosevelt administration and the prosecution of the Second World War against fascism and totalitarianism.
It was “New Dealers” who were the enemy, because following the war they were pro-labor and pro-civil rights, both identified as threats to the nation’s ruling class.
So-called ‘postmodern” and “new age” culture was unleashed to counter these influences, and in the person of Donald Trump they found their ideal model, the perfect threat to everything civil.