Mark May 3, 2016 on your calendar of American history. That was the day, this Tuesday, when Donald Trump effectively wrapped up the nomination for president of the United States of the Republican Party. Never before in the storied history of this land has such an bigoted demagogue made it to the point where he could actually be elected president. For those who have not already taken pause about this, we think it is in order.
Blithely, we’ve all thought that somehow this could not, or would not, happen. But as Sinclair Lewis titled his 1934 book, It Can’t Happen Here, it indeed can and has happened. Lewis’ book was a cautionary novel about how the United States turns fascist, step by step, drip by drip. We’re seeing it happen right now, and as some of us were warning, every one of those steps and drips seems less than extraordinary when they happen. The only thing is, the process devolves to the point that the next logical action is akin to a police state. A domestic enemy, a nationality or an ethnicity, is targeted to alleviate the pain that a general economic devolution causes and the next thing you know, we’ve become fascist.
The biggest component of this is, of course, not the figure head, although he must be sufficiently thuggish and crude, but it is a population that has been whipped into a frenzy of hatred, finger-pointing and illusory hopes. This mood resembles a Salem in search of a witch, an insatiable hunt that thirsts for gory and fiery resolution.
Maybe this is the Donald Trump End Time for civilization as we know it. For those of us who’ve been around awhile, the Kennedy assassination marked a turning point in our culture. The optimism that was still dominant in the New York World’s Fair of 1964 and the moon walk in 1969 was gradually eroded by prophets of dystopia, the radical postmodernists who sneered and gestured obscenely against every civilizing and humanizing influence. Set loose in this were the greed-driven enemies of morality and ethics in the money world and the politics world. So now you can see what our national landscape has come to look like. Don’t dismiss a Trump victory in November.
Our national cultural bar has descended precipitously, as the dialogues on any TV sitcom or reality show, cage fighting or Mad Max-genre movie mega-hit will demonstrate. It’s the dialogue, the language we speak, that defines our civility, our commitment to the power of reason, to a genuinely better future. It is not the world interpreted like a fantasy football league.
The only remedy to where we, as a wider culture including on the street corners where we wait for our buses, have come is to work on striking a kinder, gentler, more considerate pose, to turn off the TV at night and open a good book, and, of course, to purge the nation of Donald Trump in November.