Will January 11, 2018 go down in history as a day when the outrageously unacceptable, remarkably disgusting sensibility that passes for leadership in America persist unabated or will sufficient numbers of conscientious individuals draw a line in the sand and say — Enough of this unenlightened, ideological absurdity? Will President Trump’s pronouncement that the U.S. doesn’t want immigrants from "shithole countries" shock people into passionately responding in a concerted effort to restore a sense of rationality and decency? Or has America itself become a shithole, which has descended into a shameless mob that will collectively accept abject bigotry, mercurial and consistently irrational behavior from the White House, and the kinds of thoughtlessness unimaginable only three years ago, not to mention 220 years ago, for approximately (for the sake of argument) a tax abatement on average of $666? Are we that desperate?
A day later here in the land of ludicrous fantasies, political bubbles, and comic book movies, robust bigotry, and outlandish follies it’s not so clear. Apologists make this point: Life moves quickly, the times are confusing, and it’s extraordinarily tough to fathom what’s truly happening. Why, just last week Goldman Sachs insisted Bitcoin was not a viable investment. This week, the firm says it’s virtually as good as gold and will offer it. And they’re the ones with legions of number-crunching MBAs and high speed access. If they don’t know what’s happening at any given time, who could? Two days ago Trump in a unusual televised event claimed he wanted a bill of love to sign regarding immigrants, and that he would sign whatever bill the legislators agreed to. Yesterday he made the racial slur and insisted that any bill must include the infamous Wall. Bullets are flying. Road rage spreads like a contagion. Terrorists are probably entering the country everyday, or at least that’s what Trump’s base believes. Last week Steve Bannon was revolutionizing the Right. This week he’s Sloppy Steve, the has been. Last week the media issued a story indicating Trump was prepared for a first strike on N. Korea. Yesterday he said he has a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.
Acrimony and schoolyard rhetoric is routinely tweeted by the Chief, including Leaker Comey, Little Corker, Crooked Hillary. Somehow, his majesty toils in the laboratory of his crooked imagination, perpetually conjuring up new, unexpected juvenile accusations. No wonder he doesn’t have time to read, or peruse. He needs to put every one of his enemies in place until they squirm like worms in utter humiliation. And oddly, it’s working. With few exceptions, the majority’s silent, or at least frighteningly compliant. When’s it going to stop?
The Bill of Whites
When Alexis deTouqueville visited America in 1835 as an aristocrat stripped of his once illustrious past, he was highly skeptical of democracy, fearing the Tyranny of the Majority. Over the years many right leaning thinkers have expressed a similar fear. Perhaps one of the most significant but obscure examples was the book, The Crisis of Democracy, by Michael Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, and Joji Watanuki published in 1975 by the Trilateral Commission. The crisis was the "excess of democracy." This premise — that the common individual was not fully equipped to decide the fate of the world — has echoed from Davos to Wall Street for decades, mostly among privileged men capable of keeping it quiet. Strains of it were part of the Project for a New American Century — the behind-the-curtains Neocon plan for revolutionizing the Mideast.
Trump ran counter to that proposition, which was, arguably his boldest, and politically most successful move, aided and abetted by his Karl Rove, namely Steve Bannon. Trump specifically cited the Neocons and enumerated their grievous blunders. He turned his back on the intellectual core, especially William Kristol, who had guided Reagan, both Bush presidents, and Romney. Instead, following Bannon’s lead, he tapped into the fringe elements — called the Alt Right — who were disenfranchised by politics in general, D.C. in particular and the media at large. And they were ripe for the pickin’. The Great Recession, the corporate exodus for Cheap Labor, and the corrupt, deregulated banking practices they were stung by, and left leaning leadership that didn’t offer ethical guidance for their children and everyday life left them deeply bitter. And in need of a scapegoat, or two.
Had they unraveled the complicated layers of latter day Capitalism and truly understood how decades of deregulation and greedy corporate practices that rewarded illegal immigration, summarily shuttered factories, and, moreover, how politicians were bought and paid for by organizations like ALEC, then they could’ve systematically addressed the problems that had screwed them so badly. But they didn’t. To be fair, the mainstream media had been seized to a great extent by monopolistic entities, taking advantage of deregulated FCC rules. And shows like Bill Moyers were basically overlooked in favor of the hot media of talk radio and FOX news. So rather than citing those forces largely responsible for the new Pro-Privileged agenda, they relied on their amygdalas — the rear part of the brain designed for fight-or-flight behavior — as a source of understanding. Accordingly, they looked for a binary, dialectical formula. During the 1920s in Austria and Germany, such processing produced the arch enemy — the Jew. In the U.S., and other parts of the word, it’s been — the immigrant, and people of color. Those from "the shitholes" of the world.
That’s what the base figures, and Trump figures he owes the base. The irony, and what turns the Tyranny of the Majority premise on its head, is that the base represents a rather small minority, repeatedly showing up in polls at about 25-35%. Political scientists, pay attention. Trump is exploiting a new, relatively unprecedented avenue in modern politics — the Tyranny of the Minority — and getting away with it.
It turns out that the crisis of democracy isn’t too much democracy, but too little rationality. Consequently, by pandering to the lowest common denominator, bigotry, fear mongering, faux patriotism, and rank idiocy comprise the coin of the realm. For the rest of America, especially people of color, and the world, it’s been a maddening proposition. Strangely, if I were to spell out the N-word in a racist fashion, I would probably, technically, be fomenting a hate crime. Yet the Chief of Geniuses can say and write explicitly racist thoughts, and, so far, without a significant penalty. Indeed, Trump’s Bill of Whites is a hate-filled policy demeaning hundreds of millions of people, including whites who have rigorously fought for and defended civil rights. And these transgressions should constitute the need for a Congressional hearing, if not impeachment hearings. This is simply unacceptable. And everyone from Ivanka to southern legislators in racially charged states should say so, or relinquish their right to lead. It’s been said before, but hopefully not much longer: Enough’s enough.