Legally, based on the conviction of Paul Manafort and guilty plea of Michael Cohen, the President and his whole clown-show is now toast. On Tuesday, August 21, 2018, a historic day, the best execution of the rule of law found that the current President of the United States is, in fact, the creepy, Mob-style crook that so many of us remain convinced he’s been all along.
For Republicans, especially those looney-tunes who rode into Washington on the garbage truck of the Tea Party the last eight years, Tuesday marked Day One of the modern cultural metaphor known as The Games of Thrones’ “Red Wedding,” shorthand for an episode-ending royal bloodbath (it will be followed by a Great Blue Tsunami in November).
Still, neither Trump, his Republican sycophants nor their poison permeating the fabric of American society are going away so soon.
Beyond the Blue Tsunami, Americans must rally to cleanse and inoculate our society from what has brought us to this point.
Last weekend, Rudy Giuliani added his own public statement, on “Meet the Press,” that “truth is not truth,” to the growing evidence that the whole Trump swamp is operating as a bizarre personality cult that eschews facts and reality in favor of the whims and assertions of a demented leader.
The Russians didn’t just throw the 2016 U.S. Presidential election in favor of their preferred candidate, Trump, with hateful and deceitful false-flag social media propaganda. Their overall M.O. of fomenting divisiveness, on the one hand, and corrupting core democratic institutions in the U.S., such as a respect for the truth itself, has created a situation that if America is to recover, will require an enormous rally of American people and institutions over many years to come.
We are faced now with the same crisis that confronted America with news of the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1958, when our Soviet Cold War adversaries beat us into space. Just as the enemies of democracy got a leg up on us then, so have they now once again with Trump.
It’s time to do again what we did then, when President Eisenhower spearheaded a U.S. national mobilization recruiting tens of thousands of young Americans to enter the fields of physics and space sciences to meet the menacing new Soviet “space race” challenge.
Now, we require a national U.S. mobilization, not to mimic the cynical, nihilistic Russian approaches to fomenting division and hate, but to reestablish the shared core values of our culture that are rooted in civics, reason, the study of our national governmental institutions and their origins and great ideas, of the Enlightenment, of the Constitution, of the Federalist Papers and the evolution of our civil, democratic government.
As with the Sputnik mobilization, it needs to start in every American high school and college campus. It’s that which the spectacular Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” speaks to. We will need the young to lead us. This is how best to defeat the lingering, unchallenged lies and revisionist nonsense of Postmodern critics of democracy.
Most, not all, of what passes as “Postmodernism” in the last 60 years is the philosophical poison that fascists spilled into our intellectual waterways, and it is rooted in notions that universal values like reason, love, respect, courtesy and civility are only tools of manipulation and control, that there is no such thing as love, for example, only power and pleasure. The French philosopher Michel Foucault, among others, spewed this all over the American cultural scene during the 1970s. It was that fallacious but nonetheless marginally-enticing anti-establishment nihilism that fueled the selfish self-interest counterrevolution of that era, doused with tons of hedonism, setting the stage for the proliferation of cults and radically-relativist thinking that spawned today’s Cult of Trump.
In one of the best books on the American Revolutionary era, “Democratic Enlightenment” by Princeton University’s Jonathan Israel (2012), argues at the very outset of the fascinating 1,066-page work that study of the Enlightenment “remains an ongoing, live and vital issue…except for those willing to yield to Postmodernism and concede the death of reason and moral universalism.”
Israel starts by combatting error. So should we.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected].