The Trump presidency has cast a disorienting pall over America and the world. His daily dishing of stupefactions—each seemingly more stunning than the last—manage to exceed the most brazen expectations of presidential misbehavior while his Republican cohorts in Washington, who have yet to realize he is sinking their ship with the ham-fisted skills of the captain of the Titanic, stand grinning like toddlers who have just filled their diapers. Meanwhile, foreign leaders look on with growing dismay, as the world’s lone superpower appears hell-bent on self-destruction like a heroin-addict with a full spoon and a loaded .45. As Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone political writer tasked with explaining this clown show to rocker Millennials and graying Boomers wrote:
Welcome to the Trump era, the flushing-toilet-bowl stage of America’s history, where every move any of us makes is part of a great swirling synergy sucking us with ever-greater alacrity down the hole of failure and destruction. Good news, bad news, it all heads in the same direction soon enough, after a spin or two around the bowl.
Taibbi’s fecal flushing metaphor aside, America is nowhere near the collapse so many citizens and allies fear, or that fertilizes the flowerbeds of President Putin’s fantasies. Collapse is no more certain than Trump growing a conscience, or a pair of manly stones suddenly appearing nestled in the Worsted groins of Congressman Ryan and Senator McConnell.
To be clear, there does exist an epic arm-wrestle over the future identity of America and, as president, Trump does occupy the best seat to affect the outcome, but with each forthcoming blunder—each boisterously larger than the last—Americans are awakening to the reality first suggested in 1811 by French philosopher, Joseph de Maistre, that we “get the government we deserve.” Trump’s “America First” theme that aims to codify his “taking America back” to highly romanticized bygone days of greatness—when bobby-socks, Brylcreem, and Budweiser were markers of a much whiter and more Christian portrait of power—will (hopefully) be characterized by historians someday as the last gasp of a Waspy and clumsy America that fell victim to the intoxicating arrogance that plagues all aging empires. This crisis, which follows in a timely eighty-year cadence after the first three crises: the American Revolution, Civil War & Reconstruction, Great Depression & World War II, will be labeled, in Trump’s (dis)honor: the Great Regression.
The accomplishments the Trump administration claims in its first one-hundred days will likely be re-classified by historians under the more appropriate header of “damage report.” There is virtually no corner of American progress that Trump has left unscathed, to the glee of those who feel 1968 was a better year than 2018 could ever be. The cornerstones of his regressive movement attempt to kickstart dirty industries, dumb-down American education, embolden white-male supremacy, and hoodwink Americans into thinking the world is flat and profoundly dangerous, all while his family shoves millions of dollars in their pockets. He will definitely leave his mark, which will either fix the beginning of the end of the American empire, or demarcate the call to action that propelled America forward to rid itself of Trump’s dystopic dimwittedness and re-claim its destiny as a steward of global progress.
This alternative American identity—the narrative of global stewardship—contemplates an America whose power is gained not coercively, but referentially by empowering people throughout both America and the world. This is not a fearful America, nor is it bounded by bigger walls and bigger guns. It is an America that believes in itself and its traditions of inclusion and empathy, and of its passion for education, innovation, and leadership. It views dynamism and creative destruction as prerequisites to continued greatness, rather than a “great” that can only be found in a Rockwellian past.
Purging and healing this boil on the back of American history will not be easy, nor will it be painless. Everyone who wants a better tommorrow for their children and grandchildren must join up, stand up, speak up, and act up. It means those who sit on the sidelines hoping that their fellow Americans will defeat Trump’s regressive fantasies—who don’t do their part—are contributing to the risk that Trump will succeed in relegating the United States of America to the ash heap of failed world powers. As painfully amusing as Trump can be, he and his sycophant congressional n’er-do-wells must be thrown out before their damage report metastasizes from sea to shining sea. The threat is clear. Do not sit this one out; Trump and his cadre of truthbenders, slurping from their cups of magical thinking, will fight hard to prevail. The question is: is it their America, or ours?