So. A year later, let’s take stock.
Trump is still in office, though burnout within his cabinet is astonishing as people bail out or get fired left or tight.
There is a broad feeling in the US (if not the world) that we are now in a “post-truth” society, where facts don’t matter. We have a president who regularly assails the media (even calling it “the enemy of the American people,” a play straight out of the fascist dictator manual), the judiciary, the legislative branch, and even his own intelligence agencies.
Fox News is basically Pravda for the Trump administration. Sean Hannity went berserk when Obama wore a tan suit or put brown mustard on something; Trump invites Russia to hack the election and pays hush money to porn stars he slept with right after his son was born and calls neo-nazis and white supremacists “very fine people” and Hannity doesn’t bat an eye.
And nobody cares. Or, at least, there appear to be no consequences for anybody in power.
The midterms are coming up and there’s broad consensus that there will be a big wave of progressive pushback and Democrats will retake the house and possibly the Senate, which means they’d have a bit more power to at least throw sand in the gears for whatever time remains until this nightmare ends. Then again, we know how the election was supposed to turn out, and what actually happened.
American decline, internally and globally, is in full swing and irreversible. No country with any sense would ever trust the US on anything from now on; the simple reality shows that negotiated treaties mean nothing to America and it all depends on who’s in power every 4-year cycle. Internally, we continue to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and wipe out the social safety net and decimate public health and education and the environment. There is a category of powerful and entrenched people – the “swamp” that Trump has made even deeper – who don’t see any problem with this, or at least have confidence that they’ll be shielded from the repercussions and the shit will fall on future generations after they’re gone. They might be right about that.
In any event, it says right here that Trump does not stand for re-election in 2020, unless something happens between now and then that somehow make it 100% certain that he would win, or unless he can construct the narrative that the system is “fixed” unless he wins. Because he won’t win, and he won’t let himself be put in a position where he could legitimately lose. His ego is far too fragile. He has to have it taken away from him so he can spend the rest of his life screaming from the sidelines about the injustices he suffered, and that he totally would have won in a landslide if he’d run. Put that in the bank.
The US is almost ungovernable now. Imagine what it will look like when the 35% or whatever of American voters who will support Trump through anything lose their man because the system finally shut him down. Riots? Secessions? Civil war? Where is the “unthinkable” line at this point? Consider how far it’s moved in the last 2 years.
People like me who still believe in the principles of the Enlightenment are on the losing side, but the right side. Facts matter. Thinking matters. The willingness – the RESPONSIBILITY – to change your mind when the facts don’t align with your wishes and opinions and beliefs, MATTERS. Maybe Enlightenment has to rise out of the ashes of human suffering; maybe we stop deserving it when we’ve been too comfortable for too long, and maybe things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better. But never stop fighting. And never adopt the other side’s tactics. Stay on the high road, even when – ESPECIALLY when – they go low, and even if they win as a result.