photo above: Fine Art/Corbis via Getty Images
WN: The article linked below is one of despair. There is no doubt this is a sentiment joined in by untold millions around the world, not least in America.
However, Andrew Sullivan’s painting of the American Republic as an ideal to emulate was only ever that: an ideal with a hollowed-out centre. From its inception bathed in blood, and throughout the 19th century with its original sin of slavery and its massive genocide against indigenous peoples, into the 20th and 21st centuries of embrace of Empire in all its predictable ways of unchecked greed and power-grabbing, all the very antithesis of human rights and democracy, the United States Republic to the world has been the supreme converse of freedom: except in one way: since its foundation it has embraced for itself freedom to eradicate mercilessly any and all who would oppose it on the world stage – in pursuit of two things supremely: wealth and power.
And now: a product of that very culture of centuries-long American exceptionalism formation has arisen to haunt the world and the country in a Trumpist apotheosis of brute power and greed. It is the long history of American will to power and amassing of wealth, no holds barred, where American might is always and only right, that has arisen to haunt.
Blame Hillary? Blame the Democratic Party? Blame the elites? It is rather the sheer logic of, and over time, almost the universal cultural embrace of, the perniciousness of American exceptionalism come home to roost.
In the end, sadly, too many Americans of all generations, must confess: Trump”R”Us.
“To see what is in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle,” George Orwell famously observed. So what is it that we have just seen?
We are witnessing the power of a massive populist movement that has now upended the two most stable democracies in the world — and thrown both countries into a completely unknown future. In Britain, where the polls did not pick up the latent support for withdrawal from the European Union, a new prime minister is now navigating a new social contract with the indigenous middle and working classes forged by fear of immigration and globalization. In the U.S., the movement — built on anti-political politics, economic disruption, and anti-immigration fears — had something else, far more lethal, in its bag of tricks: a supremely talented demagogue who created an authoritarian cult with unapologetically neo-fascist rhetoric. Britain is reeling toward a slow economic slide. America has now jumped off a constitutional cliff. It will never be the same country again. Like Brexit, this changes the core nature of this country permanently.
This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image. He has humiliated the elites and the elite media. He has embarrassed every pollster and naysayer. He has avenged Obama. And in the coming weeks, Trump will not likely be content to bask in vindication. He will seek unforgiving revenge on those who dared to oppose him. The party apparatus will be remade in his image. The House and Senate will fail to resist anything he proposes — and those who speak up will be primaried into oblivion. The Supreme Court may well be shifted to the far right for more than a generation to come — with this massive victory, he can pick a new Supreme Court justice who will make Antonin Scalia seem like a milquetoast. He will have a docile, fawning Congress for at least four years. We will not have an administration so much as a court.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
That was George Washington’s Farewell Address.
A country designed to resist tyranny has now embraced it. A constitution designed to prevent democracy taking over everything has now succumbed to it. A country once defined by self-government has openly, clearly, enthusiastically delivered its fate into the hands of one man to do as he sees fit. After 240 years, an idea that once inspired the world has finally repealed itself. We the people did it.
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