I predicted well before the 2016 presidential election that Donald Trump would be elected. I had felt that way ever since he rode down that golden escalator with his rapist invective. Ever since he was elected, I’ve also believed that he’ll be re-elected, more easily this time.
An illustrative personal anecdote, one of many over the last three years: A creative writing PhD I know with tons of debt, whose wife happens to be an undocumented Filipina, became mightily angered by the promise of student debt cancelation. What about those who have paid their dues by taking out debt, he asked? No doubt he would refuse a blanket amnesty for “illegals” too. His DACA wife, as he sees it, paid her dues.
Columnists at the New York Times are all angry at the possibility of decriminalizing of border crossings, health care for the undocumented and the abolition of private insurance. In fact, they don’t want to do away with Trumpian inhumanity. They want the oppression to continue, but without the transparent rhetoric.
Minus the Trumpian rhetorical overlash, war, empire, violence, hollowness, junk goods and a junk life are all the people have ever known and all they want.
Historical movement in long cycles can’t be short-circuited, as we can see in the resistance of the liberal elite toward Bernie Sanders, the only candidate who could beat Trump, versus the stampede toward Elizabeth Warren, who provides a “safe” alternative and will surely lose.
But what kind of a fascist doesn’t start a war in three years? Trump doesn’t need war: He has brought the war home by making us confront our emptiness directly. He is the catalyst we needed at this time, and he is fulfilling his purpose beautifully. America is exhausted, which the liberal elites don’t get.
Trump keeps making noises about Iran, but he hasn’t actually done it yet. His pullback at the last moment, when the bombers were supposedly already on their way, is a trope that makes sense to a lot of people. We could have, in a science-fiction world, the repetition of this particular action — pulling back from the brink, the antithesis to Strangelove-style irrevocability — day after day, and it would be the right psychotropic drug to rouse us.
And what kind of a huckster is he? He constantly keeps changing his mind, which is not a character flaw, but the essence of his “deal-making.” America can’t find a better deal — from the New Deal to the Fair Deal to the imaginary Green New Deal, a landscape of lost opportunities and blighted dreams — so contingent honor, betrayed promises and infinite self-cancellation constitute the only kind of deal-making possible. And unlike on “The Apprentice,” there can be no winner at the end, while the rest get fired, because the endless prevarication — saying two things at the same time, often diametrically opposite — is what constitutes deal-making. We’d better get used to it: It is the end point to a century of liberal social planning.
To be totally adrift, Trump is saying, is to have total freedom. The empire embraces its most recent eruption of vulgarity, barbarism and eco-destruction as a welcome development — or at least the dispossessed do, if not the meritocrats. To move beyond the dead language of liberal political correctness, which all the Democratic candidates suffer from, is a great service. Trump is preparing us for the imminent turmoil of the coming decades — concluding in secession and fragmentation by mid-century — with the kind of language the empire needs now. He’s reading history well, only too well, far better than his ideological opponents, the neoliberal globalizers or the democratic socialists.
Not one of his opponents is prepared to say that power is America — brute, unforgiving, no-second-chances power. This kind of power requires a base removed from liberal education. He reforms language every day, in his tweets, which emanate from our deepest unconscious, such as when liberal stand-up comedians turn out to be racists and misogynists in their revealing moments.
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