By Shelton Bumgarner
One of the more crazy aspects of Trumplandia is how it’s completely stirred the pot when it comes to the traditional Left-Right divide, at least online. You have people like me, a center-Left moderate liberal agreeing with people like David Frum when it comes to one subject: Trumplandia.
The United States probably has the strongest civil society of any nation on earth, and so it’s interesting how the rise of Trumplandia has played out. The first shockwave of reaction against Trumplandia has come from comics, specifically late night comics. Stephen Colbert’s monologue has become appointment viewing since Trump became president in large part because there’s not really any other outlet right now for our society to process Trumplandia.
Our first reaction as a civil society to Trumplandia, then, is to laugh. We laugh at all these crazy things happening because they’re happening so fast and it’s all so surreal relative to the eight years of “No Drama Obama” that we enjoyed, that we simply don’t know what else to do.
I have suggested that there needs to be a site devoted specifically to picking apart Trumplandia in a snarky manner, like Spy Magazine, Late Night With David Letterman or Gawker.com, but it could be that the energy that the creative energy that would otherwise be put into that is being done on Twitter. At least, that’s one explanation for what’s going on.
Or it could be that I’m just too impatient. Maybe the media ecosystem that would otherwise on a Darwinian level bring rise to an site devoted to Resistance news and commentary takes a little bit more time to develop than I am giving it credit for.
So, it could be that the instability caused by the rise of Trumplandia is summoning the mythical Kraken, it’s just taking a lot longer than I expect. Maybe a year from now, American civil society will be so upset with Trumplandia that any number of different creative forms will be attacking it. That’s my hope.
If you were a bit more dystopian in your inclinations, you might say that we’re totally fucked. By that I mean, we may be on course for a Russian style “managed democracy.” And, yet, I would like to think that goes against the very nature of the American experience. I would like to think that maybe America is better than that. Americans are really docile by nature.
It takes a whole lot to rile Americans up. Once they get angry, though, watch out. Real change happens in America when the populace gets riled up. It happened in the late 60s and early 70s and it could potentially happen again. People talk about how we’re in a Constitutional crisis, and I am apt to agree. We’re in kind of a chronic Constitutional crisis that flares up occasionally without warning.
At the core of this is the Vichy nature of the Republican Party. As I mentioned, Trumplandia has completely ripped up the traditional Left-Right spectrum. We need to keep an eye on that. That is significant in the context of American civil society. When you have people in the intelligence community agreeing with people on the other end of the political spectrum, something significant is afoot.
The prime question, of course, is where does this all end. How will we look back upon this era of Trumplandia. Is this a blip in the overall history of the United States, or something significantly more important and dire. Is Trumplandia more of a Prohibition mistake or is it the death rattle of the traditional American Republic.
Much of what will determine which one of those it is will be what happens next. If Trump manages to right the ship of state and not only survive but thrive, then we may be in a new epoch in our nations history. All the ingredients are there, at least. We have the supine Vichy Republicans giving Trump all the power he likes and we have Trump himself who has a unique ability to connect to the “common man” while at the same time screwing over that very base by destroying the nation’s safety net.
And, yet, at the same time, a fish rots from its head. So, it’s possible that we’re in for an extended period of instability whereby Trump isn’t able to fully consolidate his power for no other reason than his own gaping character flaws.
Should that happen, the thing we will be able to credit is civil society. The political system has failed us dramatically and now the the we have left is comedy, art, drama, music, what have you. That’s pretty much the only thing protecting us from not a dystopian future, but a very real dystopian present.
Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.