We have bid a permanent farewell to many of the good, the loving, the beautiful, the creative and The Purple this year, but none more notable and significant than the Republican Party.
I imagine the people I know who are lifelong conservatives, either fiscal or social—call them what you will—those who claim the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan… or even Bill Clinton, are still around, somewhere. But where to find them now?
There are a handful still in office, John McCain on his good days, Lindsey Graham just about every day, who have the backbone to stand up to the perversion and quick-demise doctrine of the incoming regime, the regime of a power-hungry dictator-in-waiting. But the rest, the careful columnists, the compassionate crusaders for family values and the bootstrapping combatants of the Great Society, where are they now? Where is that shining city on a hill?
I get it. On either side of the political spectrum, most Americans are simply just tired. The presidential campaign trail was an 18-month slog through the mud that revealed the worst of who we are and spat out a pair of candidates that would have been ill-suited to square off for a seat on the local school board. Imagine your Tinder broke and you were left with only a pair of options, both exes that you dumped decades ago, one during the ‘80s for being too obnoxious (even though it was the ‘80s) and the other you bid farewell to in the ‘90s because, even though you’d had a great run, it was time to move on. Plus you just couldn’t unsee them doing the Macarana.
But there they were, and we were forced to make a choice. And though the vast majority (almost 3 million and counting) chose the pantsuit-wearing career politician over the demagogue, our funky, antiquated and reproachable selection system, for the second time this century, appointed the loser as commander-in-chief. Only this time it has left us with the darkest and most vile spew that is as complete a reflection of our bizarre me-first society—all turning our camera lenses towards ourselves, our friends and our food, fuck everything and everyone else—as dystopian as any picture that has been painted for us in the last century of science fiction.
Trump’s greed—his late-in-life attempt to solidify a legacy that is one part gold-plated fantasy and one part fiction—is now about to infect the entire vulnerable population of a 240-year-old country and, because we live in a global society, endanger and possibly extinguish the planet, or at least remove this species from it. His thirst for immortality, his crippling insecurity, his lack of concern or intelligence, his absurd narcissism and valuelessness, suddenly feted with the power of the largest economy and military might the world has ever known, is truly the scariest weapon of mass destruction that has ever existed on this earth.
As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges recently pointed out, demagogues, “foolishly see the elaborately staged public events held for them as proof that a populace loves and respects them. And in the final, decrepit stages of their rule they became grotesque parodies of themselves. The sycophants around them, profiting from the orgy of corruption, feed their gargantuan self-delusion. The demagogues, believing they are divinely inspired geniuses and omnipotent, make decisions based on hallucinations. When a demagogue reaches that stage, society can be obliterated.”
Hedges would know, during his nearly five-decade career he has covered Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. He has also written extensively about former head of East Germany Erich Honecker, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia.
University of Colorado personality psychologists F.L. Coolidge and D.L. Segal in a 2007 reported combined results from several studies of demagogues and dictators to come up with a “big six” list of personality disorders that may commonly reflect the personalities of dictators more generally. They are: sadism, antisocial, paranoid, narcissistic, schizoid, and schizotypal which also happen to be the top six endorsed skills on Trump’s LinkedIn.
A dictator/demagogue has no interest in the national interest and no care or concern for his (it is ALWAYS a he btw) people, unless he has to pretend he does in order to stay in power.
How anyone of voting age in this country is able to rationalize that this is a normal transfer of power—when the man who won did so by such unconventional means: lying, slandering, degrading, using spectacle over substance, fanning the flames of racism and misogyny, covering the truth (about his own finances and health for starters) on top of a 40-plus-year history of philandering, swindling, conning and lawyering up his way to a fortune which, if it exists at all, may be so compromised that one of several foreign bodies (be it China or Russia or even some place in the Middle East) may literally own him, we don’t know, so we can only assume it is so—is perhaps history’s single best example of magical thinking.
The size and scope of America makes Trump’s rise to power almost as unfathomable as it is unreasonable to try to predict the future. The flame out could be so big and so bright these words will merely be ones and zeros floating in space within the span of years. For his part, Trump will use every arrow in his quiver to do away with public dissent. He will lock out the free press and attempt a state-run institution that only puts him in the most favorable light. He will lavish his sycophants (Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell come to mind, fake news mouthpieces like Breitbart secondarily) with riches and irresistible titles and public praise. He will give token exceptions to people he sees as leaders who he can lure to his side (Tesla’s Elon Musk and Uber’s Travis Kalanick come to mind—men who have a ton at stake who are similarly sociopathic and myopic in their leadership tendencies). And those he cannot seduce with power or buy outright will be crushed, bankrupted and silenced.
And the best part is, we have 5,000 years of history, we have math and science and literature and philosophy and reason to show us the truth is on our side. And yet, people are still acting like…people: fallible, gullible, not wanting to hear the truth (because, admittedly, the truth is awful) and are all too willing to turn on one another in favor of some false idol who does not exist beyond simple trickery.
America, for all of its flaws and false promises, is a pretty easy place to live once you master a few small rules. And we don’t want to see that go away. Not only that, but we are having a really tough time admitting that it is. All the safeguards we have in place, our Bill of Rights, our Constitution, Habeas corpus, The Federalist Papers, are being ignored, washed away, burned in effigy right in front of us.
To me, the funniest part is we have just freely elected the one man on this earth who has NEVER worked for anyone and only knows how to be the boss—to begin a new career in this, his seventh decade…working for us.
Not going to happen.
I don’t mind that the GOP perished. Political parties come and go. As do boundaries, borders, societies and social norms. I do mind them taking this beautiful nation and the planet it sits upon with it. Yeah, I’m not ready to see it all go. I’m a son and a brother and an uncle and a father. I’d like there to be something left for those I’ve been lucky enough to meet and to love.
I fear our nation’s unofficial credo, “Everything will work out, promise” ain’t gonna work out this time.
It will start slowly, but gain momentum fast: uninsured and grossly underpaid worker-bee slaves left to rot—starving and in debt, a gigantic financial sector crash where only the select few will not be wiped out, the rolling back of any protections or policy to help out the Earth we have so badly already damaged, great floods, great storms, great droughts, people with nothing to lose blaming those who look/act/think/feel differently than them, the alienation of our allies, attacks from abroad, pockets of sectarian violence breaking out in the most marginalized portions of the country and the spread of it to the coasts, no government protections—the absolute reliance on self, the rape and beating of women, harm to those who are most vulnerable, including children, blaming everyone but the one who is in power and an unavoidable distraction, like an endless war with an unseen enemy or the alarming and quick end to it all, to cap it all of.
The opportunity for this, the decapitation of modern, progressive society, is what every single Trump voter voted for. When blood comes, and it will, and when history is written—if any of us are left to write it—the record will show, there is one party that grew ever-evil, ever-greedy, ever-insatiable over the last two decades enough to give rise to this despot. Its hateful, morose fringe faction killed it from within.
The sad eulogy is we are now all at risk because of your demise.