One of my many uncles posted a long comment in support of Trump on facebook lately that I felt I needed to reply to. After writing the reply, I realized that it might make a good blog post. I have avoided post political material as I didn’t want to confuse the “brand” as the marketing folks say. But maybe that should be part of my brand — since I do have a whole book examining spirituality, globalization, politics, and religion.
His post reminded me of the essential difference in the ways that Traditionals, Moderns, and Postmoderns view reality. They often see a what they want to see, each successive worldview seeing a little more, but all with a tinted view of reality. Traditionals lists of Trump “accomplishments” is a perfect example of this. They see Trump as responsible for the good economy — ignoring the trend established in Obama’s terms and the ballooning of the deficit from a tax cut mainly for the wealthy. They talk about his new trade deals with Canada and Mexico — possibly unaware that this deal is basically the same as we had already negotiated under TTP, which we are now not part of, helping China rather than US businesses. They mention boarder enforcement without mentioning the trend showing decreased illegal immigration of the past decade.
I wonder, when they think of making America great again, exactly what time period they are thinking of. When do they feel America stopped being great? I think of America as on a slow upward arc of greatness, slowly divesting itself of the chains that weigh it down — slavery, Jim Crow, disenfranchisement, oppression of women, oppression of minorities, oppression of gays and lesbians, economic inequality, etc.. I see Trump attempting to bend that arc in the opposite direction. This is why I easily see many of his actions as those of a would-be fascist — declaring the press as the enemy of the people, praising dictators while attacking our allies, refusing to acknowledge Russia’s meddling in our elections, declaring he can pardon himself, openly lying with unprecedented regularity, demanding military parades, declaring himself a nationalist (ignoring but not ignorant of that word’s connection to white nationalists — the real terrorists in this country — and actual historical fascists abroad), railing against a minority (Muslims, illegal immigrants) as an existential threat the nation, calling for people seeking refuge at our boarders to be shot by our military, and undermining social norms and moral values. The list is painfully long.
Clearly Traditionals see no correlation between the drastic rise of hate crimes and anti-Semitism over the past two years and Trump’s thinly veiled racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric and demagoguery. I do. I see a direct correlation — between Trump railing against “globalists” (that handy codeword for Jews), George Soros (the conspiracy minded far right’s modern Rothschild), declaring there are “many fine people on both sides” when one side is brandishing torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us!” I see a correlation between this atmosphere Trump creates and the deaths of the 11 Jews in their Pittsburg synagogue. For me this is an historical and intellectual correlation. For my wife is it not. Her parents fled their home country to escape the Nazis, leaving everything behind. She grew up with people who survived Auschwitz and the other death camps. For her, and them, this does elicit an emotional reaction — because they have seen this all before and they know where it leads. Trump is not yet a full-fledged fascist — but he surely wants to be, and we are blind to his true nature at our own peril.
I’m sure Traditionals all this as well, but they either disregard it, wave it away with justifications (“he didn’t mean it”, “you can’t take what he says seriously.” etc.). Fortunately other conservatives do not. Never have so many republican elites spoken so loudly against a president of their own party. They know he does not represent Republican ideals and only works for their interests incidentally, as those interests coincide with his own self-interest. They believe that tax cuts and supreme court nominees cannot outweigh actual Republican and American values.
History, if the arc of American greatness continues, will not look favorably on this time or Trump and those who supported him. And if the arc bends toward Trump’s will, and we fall back to some less great time, then it will be a battle field for the soul of this nation and its people.