With this week’s announcement of Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House and the anonymous op-ed piece by a senior White House official in the New York Times, it is becoming clear that President Trump’s presidency is not just in turmoil, but is seriously undermining the credibility of this county. My greatest fear is that the pressure that Trump is now feeling could lead to more irrationality and perhaps more unbridled, dangerous behavior. With a President who is overseeing thousands of nuclear warheads and the largest army on the face of this planet, humanity, in its entirety, now faces a crisis we have never seen before. Humanity is being run by an amoral madman. Hopefully, we will 1) live through this and 2) if we are able to survive Trump, never see it again.
The revelations that are being exposed about Mr. Trump this week should be the metaphorical death of a President. I do not need to list his behavioral shortcomings, because we are all aware of them. Or are we? The President has more lives than a cat. We hope we are not seeing the death of a nation, but I argue the inevitable is occurring: his removal from office or the death of the United States.
Let’s be clear. Not one American should be surprised by his bizarre behavior while in office. His behavior is his pattern of self-promotion that started in his childhood and has continued on unimpeded. Many people are trying to figure out why still 90% of Republicans support this madman. Are Republicans crazy?
To answer this, I will now extend a bit of Marxism to the enlightenment of us all. While Karl Marx is not correct on every level (the effect of class on American cultural values has always been in question), he certainly has forecast the Trump fiasco correctly. Republicans (i.e. corporate America) enjoy Trump because he is the class clown. He is the Ted Baxter of politics. He is the one who only cares about making himself “known” to others, not about the future of this country. He keeps the wealthiest from parting with their money by doing essentially “nothing but buffoonery.” For Carl Bernstein, Jeffrey Toobin, or Anderson Cooper to get on the television and point out his shortcomings (as embarrassing as they are) day after day, they seemingly have not altered the opinions of the “Republican base.”
Most in a position of corporate power would rather see Donald “Ted Baxter” Trump in his position of power, because he is their best chance at allowing them to maintain their power. Republicans mistakenly treat Trump’s antics as a zero sum game: “well as long as he is not taking my money and giving it to the poor, he is making things better for me.” It is not about the country anymore; it is about corporate greed. America is the land of greed and “greed is good.” Albeit, to a certain, mainly limited extent.
What shortcomings capitalism (as Marx saw it) has is that, in an isolated economic way, Donald Trump’s buffoonery is perfect for the delusional minds of capitalists. Remember, Marx believes class is, over any other identifier, the fundamental sense of self. Trump essentially proves this. Corporate America has never been so prosperous: tax cuts, stock market surges, and increasing net worth of our 1% of our wealthiest. Why is this not good for America, even the wealthiest 1%? As I have pointed out in my book, the future is not bright, even for the wealthiest, if we ignore our reality.
Should our war on Trump end successfully, where do we go from here? We now must anticipate our moves after the war on Trump and into the reconstruction period that will include the fundamental questions: 1) why did we vote for this madman? 2) who is at fault for this debacle? and 3) how do we prevent this from happening again?
As I have pointed out in my book The Supercivilization: Survival in the Era of Human Versus Human, the 21st century has three main factors which makes pure capitalism as we practiced it in the 20th century a fatally flawed socioeconomic system: a declining resource base, increased interconnectedness, and increasing disparities in wealth. Capitalism cannot turn itself off. It keeps running and running with no restraints on consumption. Only the state, independent of the system, can put on any breaks by acting as a referee to police ourselves from exploiting each other. With these three factors appearing in the 21st century for the first time in human history, we are subject to a far greater manipulation and more difficulty in turning ourselves off. As I also wrote in my book, science is about predicting the future and we have created so much human subjectivity (densified our population as it has increased in size) that we can no longer predict our world’s future. This lack of predictability of our future (the major role of science being one that predicts the future) will fundamentally curtail our advantages that we once possessed as a species: our ability to predict the future through scientific knowledge and experimentation, in order to advance our standard of living.
Regrettably, a good percentage of the American population has no use for science, scientific advancement, and its application to the real world. When do we get to the point that the “Republican view,” or what I call the “non-scientific party,” of our world is illlegitimate. Republicans speak as if they have a right to their views. I simply ask them, “When can we all graduate from the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and move on to reality?” Republicans have a world view that is immutable; they try to seek science to confirm their predisposed world views. Science is not about confirming world views; it is our guidebook for determining our reality.
We all should dismiss anyone (including independents and even Democrats) who ignores science. How many times does Fox have to present a supporter of this “nutjob,” as Trump would say about himself if he were looking in the mirror, and want us to all believe their view of obvious nontruths (climate change being the most obvious example). It comes down to this: either Donald Trump will destroy the Republican Party or he will destroy this country, whichever comes first.
All the above now brings me to my major question: why did a severely flawed demagogue like Trump get elected? Only so much blame can be placed on the Russians. Trump certainly didn’t rise in popularity to the point of becoming the Republican nominee with help from the Russians. This now gets into my final argument about our great country: the institution called the nation-state is in decline. It is no longer serving the purpose it once stood for in human history. Our allegiance is about corporate allegiance and not national allegiance. Wars were fought in the past and out of those wars came war heroes who I was taught were the real heroes as they put their lives on the line for their country: MacArthur, Eisenhower, Patton, and Nimitz. We named streets and stadiums after them. Now we have Jobs, Zuckerberg, Buffet, Musk, and Gates who are our heroes today. At first, this seems desirable: we now admire people who are building things and not tearing them down or killing others. However, the big difference is that the latter group is not filled with national heroes; they are wealthy individuals who owe no allegiance to the United States of America. These people are capitalists who have used the system to create wealth for themselves; their allegiance is to their stockholders, not to the people of the USA. These people also are heroes for all of humanity (which is a good thing) and no longer put their lives on the line for their country. The 20th century types of disagreements brought us together as country as our primary foe was another nation-state that did not prove to have the same cultural values that we share as a country. Today, because we do not view ourselves as Americans first, we denigrate the very institution that made our remarkable scientific advances even possible.
Getting back to Marx. It was his contention that the nation-state is controlled by the wealthiest classes and not vice versa. When I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s the American middle class was thriving and prosperous, because American exceptionalism also was thriving. We believed in our country and what we stood for, and World War II strongly reinforced that. We owed our allegiance to the US government and not to corporatocracy. As the 21st century has arrived, we no longer place our country ahead of personal wealth. Why? As I have pointed out in my book, the external natural environment that has for so long threatened us, along with distant nation-states, is being tamed and is no longer a threat to us as a species. The functional nature and the very need for an institution such as the nation-state is now being called into question by Republicans themselves. The days of the “strong military” Republican, like Goldwater or Reagan, are over. Marx was ultimately correct: capitalism and even our nation-state is threatening to collapse. It may be slow and may not result in revolution, but its strength has never been weaker than today.
Our interconnectedness is making national self-defense irrelevant. Our nation is coming apart at the seams due to our lack of self-identity as Americans first. Can we teach this in our schools and provide more civics courses? Can we indoctrinate this value in our young people today? Unfortunately, the institution of government as we know it is dying. Trump is merely a canary in the coal mine and not our actual problem. Our problem is that we should now identify as humans, not Americans first. Trump is that type of demagogue who will exploit our necrotic state (even a nation that is as seemingly healthy as the US—this is the utterly most shocking part) and thrive on it like bacteria feeding on a diabetic foot. The bacteria aren’t the problem; the health of the nation-state that supplies the needed blood to sufficiently oxygenate the tissues is our problem. Another Trump is right around the corner until global humanism thrives and we support leadership that acknowledges the birth of the Supercivilization. Once we move toward global and not national solutions, the last question will go unresolved.