On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. It will be dark day for our nation, and a portent of even more dire days ahead, because the highest office in our land is being assumed by a fundamentally lawless man.
Like Erebus and Nyx, Trump is born of Chaos. His campaign, indeed his broader public career and persona, have been characterized by the absence of any recognized constraints on his conduct and by the cavalier violation of established norms across all domains. His life has been a mad spectacle of vanity, excess, and grasping self-aggrandizement. Deceit, depravity, and wickedness are the hallmarks of his personal, professional, and political dealings with others- from his divorces, to his bankruptcies and his shoddy Trump University scam, to his promotion of the racist birther canard against President Obama. He is a moral midget, a cruel and craven con artist with a propensity for aggressive adolescent-like posturing and bullying, a blustering braggart, a sexist, a racist, and a xenophobe. He has limited knowledge and no intellectual curiosity- in the memorable words of The Atlantic, he “appears not to read.”
Under Trump, the looting and despoliation of our country by the powerful and the privileged will only intensify. Far from draining the proverbial swamp, Trump’s regime will exacerbate the, to quote Noam Chomsky, “massive ascendancy of corporate power over [the] democratic process,” and the weakening of democratic institutions and norms. It will be characterized by cronyism and corruption, with both public policy and the presidential bully pulpit being manipulated to leverage personal gains and to confer rewards on the obsequious toadies that surround him. Indeed, he has already gathered around him a cabinet consisting of wealthy jackals- a veritable bandit clique of the very sort have who driven our nation to the precipice. Even worse, Congressional Republicans are poised to seize their moment of ascendency to pursue a sinister policy agenda that will cruelly punish the poor, immiserate the working and middle classes, exacerbate inequality, and thereby further stoke the divisive fires of resentment that are already threatening to burn our nation to the ground.
The timing of Trump’s political rise is particularly inauspicious for humanity. We are beset by dangerous crises- both political, economic, and environmental- and the social tensions they are engendering. We also now have the technical capacity to end human civilization, and perhaps life itself on this planet, either intentionally, through the use of nuclear weapons, or negligently, through the cumulative impacts of the environmental disasters brought on by the calamity of climate change. Safely navigating through these threats requires leadership capable of exercising foresight and prudential judgment.
Instead, we have Trump. History holds few examples of a man less fit for the hour. Indeed, it is as if, in the midst of the great storm that is raging, we have turned the ship of state’s wheel over to the whirlwind. Again, in the words of The Atlantic’s editors: Trump is both “erratic” and “easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal.”
And on Friday, January 20th, as Trump takes his oath of office, catastrophe will draw nearer.
The language of apocalyptic is the only vocabulary suitable to the dangers confronting us. An alarm must be sounded. Trump isn’t normal. His regime will not be business as usual. His rise represents a rupture with our political tradition. His lawless and ignorant nature, including his apparent propensity to credit conspiracy theories and his proclivity towards “authoritarian tendencies,” put the very future of our nation in jeopardy.
We face the secular political equivalent of Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s “Jonah Paradox.” We must “foretell an impending catastrophe” in order to have any hope of avoiding it. Put another way, an apocalypse discussed is an apocalypse deferred. Such enlightened doomsaying will be urgently needed in the days of The Donald if we are to avoid a bad and ignominious end.