Thursday, October 3, 2019

Trump: The Aftermath

Trump: The Aftermath
Peter Schultz

            In light of recent and now unfolding events, it seems worthwhile to ask what life in the United States will be like after Trump is gone, either done in by a coup (impeachment) or by an election. And to speculate about this, it is useful to ask: What is the greatest harm Trump has done?

            For me, Trump’s greatest harm is his ability – unintentional of course – to revitalize the legitimacy, the bona fides of the oligarchy that has governed the United States since at least 1980, that is, the Reagan oligarchy. Like 9/11, Trump has reinforced, fortified, re-legitimized what had become a suspect oligarchy after Iran-Contra, the Clinton presidency and impeachment, the election of 2000, 9/11, the botched occupation of Iraq, the economic meltdown of 2008, and the rather flaccid although drone infested presidency of Barack Obama. Trump has done what the killing of bin Laden, the overthrow of the Taliban, or even the election of the first black as president could not do, resuscitate what was a nearly dead political regime.

            And when Trump is gone, either by coup or by election, the damage he has done will continue because a reinvigorated, reinforced, and stifling consensus will arise, one that will enforce the exceedingly narrow political discourse that is animating those opposed to Trump and was so apparent in the Kavanaugh hearings. In this consensus, Bush/Cheney and their torturing, their war in Iraq, their war on terror, will like look “statesmen,” achieving a rehabilitation only rivaled by Richard Nixon once Clinton invited him to the White House so he, Nixon, could be eulogized as a statesman. And in the face of this consensus, only the bravest or the most contrary will dare question the value of patriotism, the worth of the CIA, the prosecution of Julien Assange, or U.S. alliances with the likes of Saudi Arabia or Israel and the continuing decimation of the Middle East in the name of “freedom.” Of course, those questions and questioners will be marginalized, even “psychologized” as misfits who are “anti-America.”

            Thanks to Trump, the nation will have achieved the kind of stifling conformism many conservatives and even liberals have wished for since the presidency of Jimmy Carter ended after one term. Flags will wave, bands will play, drones will obliterate, space will be weaponized, and the wealthy will continue to reap more wealth while the others will struggle from month to month to make ends meet. Oh, it will be a glorious time, at least for America’s wealthy and its military once Trump is banished and thoroughly discredited. In a way, the U.S. will look like it did in the 1950s, that is, once McCarthy and McCarthyism was banished, all awash with the mind-numbing conformism that accompanies a “consumer’s paradise,” with even perhaps another old, verbally challenged white man as president.

            I can hardly wait!

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