I am not that old, but I am old enough to remember with the Republican Party was the party not only of Lincoln, but of Ronald Reagan. I came of political adulthood in the mid-80s, the height of Ronald Reagan as a near demi-god in Republican circles. I’m no conservative Republican, but I do remember some of the basic tenants of Reagan Republicanism.
Reagan was pro-democracy around the world, no matter what the costs. He saw the Soviet Union (Russia) as our chief geo-political foe and he had, first and foremost, principles he was willing to stand and die for in an ideological, rhetorical way. Or put another way, Reagan had an actual ideology, a vision, of America as “a city on the hill” that was a beacon to people around the world no matter what type of “shithole” they came from.
Even the most ardent Trump supporter, I suspect, would have difficulty telling me what Trump’s ideology is other than “make America great again” and building that fucking wall. The idea of American exceptionalism, that we are a city on the hill that not only defends freedom around the world but is a place open to people from any “shithole” around the world seems to have been cast aside like so much unwanted trash by Trump people.
It all kind of boggles my mind. The whole thing is bizarre. If you have any the tiniest bit of historical perspective on things, Trump’s rise is such an aberration relative to the previous path of the modern Republican Party that it’s enough to leave you a bit stunned. Republicans as recently as 20 years ago, were a party that had, like, principals and stuff. The were the comfy home of “values” voters who supported a witch hunt against Bill Clinton because, well, they hated his guts on a personal level because they felt “character” counted enough to warrant looking for something, anything to impeach him for. They got their wish, of course, be he managed to escape conviction.
Now, I don’t know what the fuck is going on. Everything is turned upside down. Things are surreal. Republicans are soft on Russia. They scoff at the notion that America not only would defend freedom but that our doors would be open to outsiders who are the lifeblood of our continued prosperity. It’s all very surreal for someone like me who actually has enough personal memory to remember the Cold War.
The question, of course, is what the hell happened?
The only answer I can think of is, maybe, Trump is an example of the “Great Man” theory of history at work. I struggle to imagine this clusterfuck happening without someone like Trump being the unique vessel of the resentment of the common man against the evil liberal elites. But Trump is so unhinged, so erratic and so devoid of any type of specific ideology that even though I fear he will be a two-term president, there is a chance he may be the historical equivalent of a Chinese food. Soon enough, we’ll struggle to remember exactly what all the fuss was about.
That’s not to say that, in a way, Trump is already America’s political-historical herpes. All those insane, young judges he’s appointing aren’t going anywhere. They are going to do real harm to the American body politic for decades to come and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. I am still unconvinced that there will be a “Blue Wave” in 2018. I think Trump will attack the DPRK or do something equally nefarious and not only survive, but prosper for a full eight years.
The real question, of course, is what happens after Trump. Do things snap back into place, or are we fucked for good? Because of the coming of the Singularity and other long-term issues, I am more inclined to think we’re fucked. The question, of course, is, exactly how fucked are we?