Well, the Peasants' Revolt will be a year old on Saturday – although it could also be dated from Election Day 2016, but we were by no means assured, at that point, that the will of the people was not to be thwarted by the forces arrayed against Trump, including, but not limited to, Obama, Hillary, the “Deep State” (i.e. the bureaucracy), the intel community, Hillary, the Democrats, progressives/liberals of all stripes, anti-Trump Republicans, Hillary, the mainstream media, the entertainment industry... and some other categories I'm probably forgetting to mention. (Throw in the E.U. if you like.) (And Hillary! Wow, almost forgot... ) And by the way, his election gave American Jews a splitting headache, because he is much more pro-Israel than his predecessor was, and yet when they look at him all they see is Hitler, and all they hear is the strains of the Horst Wessel Song and the sound of jackboots tromping on cobblestones. The cognitive dissonance is deafening! But they haven't fallen for the Resistance propaganda any harder than anyone else, particularly if we're talking about the “snowflakes” who infest pretty much every college and university (except, perhaps, those with a serious religious foundation).
(The “snowflakes”, BTW, are a good example of karma, or chickens coming home to roost, since many of them are the grandchildren of my generation, i.e. the restless pre-boomers and boomers, who tirelessly campaigned to make the world safe for neo-Stalinism and Maoism. So for all their efforts on the barricades, in picket lines and protest marches, my generation now has to survey the spectacle of their grandchildren turning into fragile, delicate flowers who are threatened, offended, and “triggered” by everything and nothing. We may regret having raised “sensitivity” up as the highest human value.) (Although now it turns out that many iconic liberal “sensitive men” are every bit as lecherous as anyone else. So perhaps the reports of the demise of testosterone have been greatly exaggerated.)
So what can be said at this point? Trump finally managed to get a major piece of legislation passed and signed, namely tax reform, just in time for the holiday he persists in referring to as “Christmas”, much to the offense and chagrin of the Resistance. And it will be interesting to see if said reform survives the 2018 election, and, if it does, the 2020 election. Anything that Congress can do, it can also undo; that's how it works. Today's “law of the land” can wind up on the trash heap tomorrow. But it will be interesting to see if the Democrats' tactics come back to haunt them in the following way: They knew that if they managed to get Obamacare passed and signed into law, it would create an instant entitlement for millions of people, and that would make it virtually impossible to repeal, reverse, or modify in any significant way. All Trump has been able to do is work around the margins by attacking some of the regulations that were not required by the law but that were ginned up in order to amplify its impact and further expand the bureaucracy. So a lot of the minor annoyances have been dealt with, either partially or in their entirety, but the core of Obamacare remains in place, and is alive and well (if that is the word) despite Trump's protestations to the contrary.
But now the tables have turned, and just wait until the Democrats, if they take back both houses of Congress later this year, try to repeal, reverse, or modify in any significant way the tax reform bill, when it has already (hopefully) demonstrated that it has great benefits not just for the “rich” but for the middle class, who constitute the majority of voters, after all. You want to play the entitlement game? Fine – how about the radical notion that people are entitled to keep more of their own money? How much of a reception are the Democrats going to get this fall when they start telling people, as Bill Clinton did, that they don't trust people to do the right thing with their money? It ought to be great fun to watch.
Frankly, though, there are so many intractable problems facing Trump, and anyone else in a position of political power, that it's hard to be optimistic. If Obamacare was an example of the “ratchet effect” whereby nearly every action taken by the three branches of government only serves to increase the size and scope of the bureaucracy, and said actions are rarely reversed because they include built-in non-reversibility features (being habit-forming for both the beneficiaries and the administrators)... what about the “dreamers”? Now there's the ratchet effect with a vengeance! Take a few million illegal immigrants, including minors who, through no fault of their own, are smuggled across the border by their parents or by people acting in loco parentis, let them grow up here, go to school here, work here, and then try telling them they have to go back to wherever they were born and start over. Impossible! Even if we had had the political will to guard our border more diligently in the first place, it takes a lot more political will to punish the innocent for our negligence. So one way or the other they will be allowed to stay, and, yes, they will pretty much all vote Democratic because, after all, the Democrats are their friends, and the Republicans are the party of hate, racism, etc. etc.
If you adopt a broad historical perspective on the whole immigration issue, you realize that this sort of thing (large-scale migration) has been going on all throughout human history, and probably long before “history” became a scholarly pursuit. What's different in this case is that immigrants no longer wash up on our shores with only the clothes on their backs, and have to work their way up from nothing. No, they are presented with a stunning package of entitlements – said entitlements having been originally intended for U.S. citizens of course, but the courts in their infinite wisdom have decided that that is grossly unfair – let's call it “citizenism”, which will put it in the same category as all of the other bad “isms” floating around – and that a person, simply by virtue of having both feet on U.S. soil, has all, if not more, of the same rights as anyone who was born on said soil. It is already clear that there are many laws that the newcomers are not expected to obey – and the list grows on a daily basis. This is, truly, something new under the sun – and I imagine the long-term effect will be to accelerate trends that are already well underway, by which I mean economic leveling (AKA the gradual merging of the middle and lower classes into one great lower middle, or upper lower, class), cultural dilution and diffusion (referring to the end of what, at one time, could at least be claimed to be the American cultural mainstream, including shared values, a shared sense of history, etc.), and of course the triumph of “diversity”, which, as I've said, is really gray uniformity and, ultimately, slavery disguised as something totally groovy and worthy of “celebration”. (I might also have added, “bankrupting the government”, but that's already the case. Heaven help us if the termites ever stop holding hands... )
Oh, and by the way, how are we supposed to maintain our status as the world's policeman under these conditions? How many of these newcomers are going to be interested in joining the armed forces, for example – with a good chance that they'll be sent back to their countries of origin, this time in uniform and heavily armed, to fight for those people's “freedom”? And heaven forbid the government is reduced to having to reinstate the draft; I can smell the Molotov cocktails and tear gas from here...
Moving right along, we have the Perpetual Warfare State, which Trump seems committed to maintaining, and preferably expanding. His first broken campaign promise – or campaign talking point at least – had to do with getting us out of unnecessary, pointless, and winless wars. Well, he obviously got “the talk” on that issue some time between taking the oath of office and showing up at the first inaugural ball. All that a certain someone had to do was to say “Fuhgeddaboutit!” and Trump, being a New Yorker and knowing full well all that that phrase implies, was quick to snap to. Unfortunate, but for what it's worth Hillary would have done the exact same thing. (Don't you think she dreamed of being the first female war president? Don't you think she still dreams of that?) There are powers as high above the presidency as the presidency is above the wage slave who trudges off to the polls every four years in order to show fealty to his masters. (Who was it who said that any political office that depends on the whims of the voters has no real power?)
And speaking of intractability, how about “climate change”, formerly known as “global warming”, and before that “global cooling”? This is intractable whether we “believe in it” or not. If we do, then we're faced with the fact that, thanks in great measure to our technologies and economic/business concepts which have been spread around the globe, the former “Third World” is now in the throes of building up their economies and their middle class, transportation systems, quality of life, etc., all of which depend to a great extent on, guess what, fossil fuels! See what happens when we set an example? Somehow we expected that the rest of the world could ease gently into the 21st Century while holding on to a 19th Century “carbon footprint”. Once again, “fuhgeddaboutit!”
And for whose who don't “believe in” climate change, the intractability comes in the form of a never-ending battle with those who do... and they aren't about to give up the fight, any more than the Resistance is about to give up the War on Trump. In both cases, the battle lines have hardened, and each side is showing the ability to endure, persist, and hold out. And both battles will continue to rage up to, and beyond, the 2018 election, and up to, and beyond, the 2020 election, if Trump should (1) manage to stay in office up to that point; (2) be nominated for a second term; and (3) win a second term. But even if Trump should, at some point, be kidnapped by aliens and whisked off to some other planet, it would only reduce the panoply of issues by one. Trump is, at present, a convenient symbol and scapegoat for everything that is wrong with... well, pretty much everything. If some “snowflake” stubs his toe while stepping into the shower, he blames it on Trump. Imagine the dismay if Trump should vanish but all the problems now attributed to his baleful influence turn out to be still with us.
And how about the ongoing, and accelerating, cyber wars, when any halfway intelligent high school kid in Russia, Romania, Israel, or Kazakhstan can hack into the Pentagon computer system (not to mention the DNC)?
And you can add to the Basket of Intractables things like pollution of the seas (against which the world community appears to be, basically, helpless), storage of nuclear waste (no, it hasn't gone away, and it's not going to), abortion, the predatory behavior of the international banking/financial cartel, food waste, the American diet, homelessness, obesity, the cost of medical care (which Obamacare seems to have done, basically, nothing to remedy and much to aggravate), racial strife (which, again, Obama seems only to have aggravated), and... well, fill in your favorite hopeless issue here. (And if you're the nostalgic type, you can always bring back that old chestnut, “If we can put a man on the Moon, why can't we... (fix the problem of your choice)?”)
And yet, as insurmountable as these problems are, we still cling to the fanciful notion that there is, indeed, one individual who has the power to fix it all, if only he would stop Tweeting and do something about it. Yes, he is the all-wise, the all-powerful, the omnipotent, the reigning deity of the secular world, namely The President of the United States. He is the one the world looks to to bail them out of any and all predicaments (mostly of their own making). He is the creator of employment, of jobs, of health, of prosperity, and especially of tolerance, understanding, niceness, and consideration for others. He will end war, disease, racism, hate, homophobia, sexism, transphobia... and if we're really lucky, he will end phobiphobia – i.e., fear of phobias.
OK – I admit it, I'm not talking about Donald Trump there (except for the Tweeting part). I'm talking about Barack Obama, and I think you could find, somewhere in his campaign speeches or in the adoring words of the lackeys in his administration and the media, references to pretty much all of the above qualities. His awesome powers were nowhere better demonstrated than his having been granted the Nobel Peace Prize on his first day in office. And what's even more amazing, his “legacy” is constantly touted as being the Best Ever, even with ample and growing evidence of apathy, mediocrity, incompetence, and corruption. Not to mention elitism! A radio talk show host recently commented that Obama considered the presidency beneath him; so true!
And yet, this set of expectations is pretty much standard fare when we're talking about the president, whoever he (or, in theory, she) might be – and it's always a grave disappointment when the holder of that office turns out to be, after all, simply another member of homo sapiens and has nowhere near the powers that people anticipated or that they feel ought, by rights, to come with the office. So we have moved on from the Obama Era, when a demigod inhabited the White House along with his demi-demigod wife and demi-demi-demigod children, to a situation where, according to the daily talking points of the Resistance, the Oval Office has been taken over and occupied by a fraud and usurper, who lied, cheated, and stole his way to the presidency with the help of a mere handful of ignoramuses in flyover country who would have voted for a yellow dog rather than for Hillary (and they would have been perfectly correct in making that choice).
You see, the problem with a democracy is that we still long for a king – and the problem with a secular society is that we still long for a deity. So we project these deep longings onto the president, no matter how hapless an individual that turns out to be. So the president becomes the sin eater for the rest of society, and, in fact, for the world. And he is, as a result, expected to spend most of his waking hours apologizing to the world for the great and many sins and offenses of America (past, present, and future) – and, in fact, this was the part of the job description that both Bill Clinton and Obama spent most of their time performing – and probably enjoyed more than any other duty, aside from bombing innocent civilians overseas.
Oh sure, a president may get credit, on occasion, for some real or alleged achievement, but his real value is as a scapegoat. What would the Great Depression be without Herbert Hoover to blame? It would just seem like a random event – a blind catastrophe. But thinking of it as, basically, the work of one man brings things into focus – it fulfills, again, a deep longing. The war in Vietnam was all the fault of Lyndon Johnson if you're a Republican, and of Richard Nixon if you're a Democrat. Once again, clarity and simplicity.
So, again, it must be a sure sign of insanity to even want to be president. The office doesn't drive men mad, it just takes the madness that is already there and amplifies it. And how many of them turn down the opportunity to run for a second term? (LBJ, to his credit, was one of the few who bailed.) So... the Resistance is right, in the sense that we have a madman in the White House. But we always have a madman in the White House; it just goes with the territory. It's how we've allowed things to evolve, morph, and mutate over the years. The longing for a “strongman” is hard-wired into the human race in the aggregate. The French killed their king and wound up with an emperor. The Russians killed the czar and wound up with a parade of dictators. And so on. Show me a society without a strongman and I'll show you a society of people who are truly capable of self-government and whom their neighbors are, at least for the time being, content to leave alone; examples of this are rare indeed. (We were an example up until the Civil War, at least.)
I guess a sign of the merits of the Constitution is that it is still, at least nominally, in effect after all this time. But that could also be taken as a sign of its weakness and ambiguity – that it's capable of being stretched, interpreted, and massaged to an extreme degree without having to be actually replaced. Or, as someone put it, the minute you start calling the Constitution a “living document” you've killed it. This may be; we may be running on pure inertia at this point, and yet things continue to tilt in the direction of bigger, more powerful, all-consuming government. It is a gravitational force like that coming from a death star, and is augmented by the percentage of the electorate who have, basically, given up on the American Experiment, and who now long for a return to a more ancient model. Call it political masochism if you like – and that was, without a doubt, a big part of Hillary's appeal.
The Trump Era may be seen by future historians as a temporary setback to this process along the same lines as the Reagan administration. Or – Trump may not even be able to stay in office long enough to constitute an “era”; we may be talking more about a Trump Episode, or a Trump Minute. This might actually be a collective nightmare, from which we will awaken to find Hillary comfortably ensconced in the Oval Office while Bill hangs around the White House swimming pool channeling the ghost of Hugh Hefner. This is certainly what the Resistance is hoping for. In fact, they are grievously offended that Trump has managed to hold on this long. But regardless of duration, this administration does represent something significant in our political history – possibly the last gesture of defiance by those who were “silent no more” before we are finally drawn into the black hole of totalitarianism.