We Are Now Beginning Our Descent
Posted by Dirck on 9 November, 2016
Because I am an optimistic socialist (of the non-thuggish sort that makes Scandinavia so appealing), I am seldom surprised when elections don’t turn out the way I had hoped they would. This does not prevent me from being appalled.
I’m appalled because there are people living in the US whom I like, and since the concept of a President Trump does few people who are not named Trump any good, I’m worried about their prospects.
I’m appalled because I am a citizen of a world that in many ways needs to pull up its collective socks (environment, economy, armed struggle), and giving some of the levers of control to someone whose sole guiding principle is “what’s in it for me, right at this second?” seems like a great way to screw every last one of us badly.
I’m appalled because I live not two hundred kilometers from the US border, in a part of Canada under which oil is found and on which lies fertile farmland, and there are ghostly whispers in my ear of lebensraum and manifest destiny which cause my flesh to creep, especially since my father lived in a nation adjacent to one which gave itself, through democratic processes, to a racist-supported demagogue. I need only remember stories of Dad’s childhood to grow fearful for my own nation’s future with this sort of president-elect next door.
I did all I could, not having a vote there. I yelled on Twitter and Facebook, where I am followed by no one to whom my yelling seemed anything other than common sense. That’s all anyone who lives outside the US could have done, and given how many people inside the US were shouting, it was apparently to no purpose. This article gives a pretty clear notion of how all this has come to pass– in essence, the people who feel that they have been abandoned by the powerful have been casting about for some means of smashing the system that no longer attends to them, and Trump appeared, a convenient molotov cocktail to through through the window of the nation. That he was the candidate of the party which has striven hardest to establish class boundaries in the US did not matter. That he is one of those powerful who benefit from the system– born to wealth, insulated from consequences, a true avatar of the notion of ‘entitled’– also did not matter. He used the low salesmanship which enabled him to shake people down for mail-order steaks and dubious university fees to get himself shoved into the pinnacle of political power, and to those who had become desperate enough to believe such a prodigious infant of the system will smash it, it hardly mattered how transparent the lies were.
“Drain the swamp,” we hear from his supporters. They have now got someone who may well toss some dynamite into the swamp to destroy what currently lives in it, but only to make way for stocking it with new and more horrifying monsters. He is, after all, a muck-encrusted swamp beast himself.
I have been engaging in idle prognostication this morning, based on the experience of ten years wriggling in the grip of one of the most villainous prime ministers Canada ever inflicted upon itself, and a whole adult life of pondering the lessons of history. I don’t claim real prescience, though, so I can only suggest a range of possible futures. None of them are particularly appealing.
The best, the absolute best that can be hoped for is that Trump, or those around him, make a good-faith effort to make good on what he’s promised. This will be blunderous, because they don’t actually know how to run a country (hint– it’s not really like a business at all) and also don’t actually comprehend what life is like for people whose income is less than several hundred thousand dollars a year, so that absolute best will be something like the Reagan years but starting from a worse place (which, one hastens to point out, is thanks to the efforts of Republicans to block anything Obama wanted, regardless of what good it might have done). The Trump supporters described in the article linked above won’t be any worse off, but they’re unlikely to be any better.
The worst… well, there’s a lot of possibility there: environmental collapse, wars foreign and domestic, and the devastation of international economies (I’m not a friend of the current crop of free trade deals, but protectionism is also problematic). I would not be at all surprised by an assassination attempt during the first term, but I can’t quite see its genesis. It might be someone who can’t stand the America that Trump makes, perhaps a Bernie supporter driven mad by the consequences of his protest write-in. It might be one of the poor oppressed buggers who voted for Trump, realizing that the attempt to smash the system which had kept him down just saw him pinned in that system’s wreckage. It might even be a put-up job by his own inner circle, because regardless of the source, an assassination attempt on President Trump would be a magnificent excuse to gut the constitution and usher in a true dictatorship. Remember how fast everyone in DC said “Yes!” to The PATRIOT Act? Well, imagine that with a mono-party legislative branch.
I also suspect that, in the latter case, a successful assassination would suit the planners right down to the ground, because he’s more tractable as a martyr than as a living, increasingly paranoid figurehead. It will hardly matter, though. Relations between Imperial Russia and the Plutocratic States of America will be so strained by then that the nuclear exchange will be a mere enraging tweet away.
Good luck, USA, and good luck to the rest of us. We’re all stuck with this situation now.