Donald Trump didn’t come out of nowhere

During the election campaign, I wrote that Donald Trump is intellectually, temperamentally and morally unfit to be President of the United States.  Nothing since then has changed my mind.

But it is not as if Trump overturned a well-functioning system.   The United States was already committed to perpetual war and rule by Wall Street.

My friend Bill Elwell called my attention to an article by Tom Engelhardt, who wrote in part:

Odd as it may seem under the circumstances, Trump’s presidency came from somewhere, developed out of something. To think of it (as many of those resisting Trump now seem inclined to do) as uniquely new, the presidential version of a virgin birth, is to defy both history and reality.

Donald Trump, whatever else he may be, is most distinctly a creature of history. He’s unimaginable without it.  This, in turn, means that the radical nature of his new presidency should serve as a reminder of just how radical the 15 years after 9/11 actually were in shaping American life, politics and governance. 

In that sense, to generalize (if you’ll excuse the pun), his presidency already offers a strikingly vivid and accurate portrait of the America we’ve been living in for some years now, even if we’d prefer to pretend otherwise.

After all, it’s clearly a government of, by and evidently for the billionaires and the generals, which pretty much sums up where we’ve been heading for the last decade and a half anyway. 

Let’s start with those generals.  In the 15 years before Trump entered the Oval Office, Washington became a permanent war capital; war, a permanent feature of our American world; and the military, the most admired institution of American life, the one in which we have the most confidence among an otherwise fading crew, including the presidency, the Supreme Court, public schools, banks, television news, newspapers, big business and Congress (in that descending order).  […]

This country has, in other words, been militarized in all sorts of ways, both obvious and less so, in a fashion that Americans once might not have imagined possible. In the process, declaring and making war has increasingly become — the Constitution be damned — the sole preoccupation of the White House without significant reference to Congress. 

Meanwhile, thanks to the drone assassination program run directly out of the Oval Office, the president, in these years, has become an assassin-in-chief as well as commander-in-chief.  […]

So much of what’s now happening may seem startlingly new and overwhelming. In truth, however, it’s been in development for years, even if the specifics of a Trump presidency were not so long ago unimaginable. […]

We’re now living in Donald Trump’s America [… ]; we’re living, that is, in an ever more chaotic and aberrant land run (to the extent it’s run at all) by billionaires and retired generals, and overseen by a distinctly aberrant president at war with aberrant parts of the national security state.  That, in a nutshell, is the America created in the post-9/11 years.

Put another way, the United States may have failed dismally in its efforts to invade, occupy and remake Iraq in its own image, but it seems to have invaded, occupied and remade itself with remarkable success.  

And don’t blame this one on the Russians.

Source: Tom Engelhardt – Salon.com

Donald Trump is unfit to be President, but getting rid of Donald Trump would not, in and of itself, make the United States more safe, prosperous or free.   Vice President Mike Pence is just as committed to militarism, oligarchy and authoritarianism as Trump is.

There is no great chasm separating Trump from Mike Pence, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.   And, on questions of war and peace, Wall Street rule and basic civil liberties, there is no great chasm between those Republican leaders and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

LINKS

Angst in the Church of America the Redeemer by Andrew J. Bacevich for TomDispatch.

The art of the Trumpaclysm: How the United States invaded, occupied and remade itself by Tom Engelhardt for TomDispatch.  [Hat tip to Bill Elwell]

Freedom Rider: Trump is the less effective evil by Margaret Kimberly for Black Agenda Report.

 

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