Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Democrats versus Trumplicans

February 15, 2017

I’ve been writing a lot about politics because we’re in a seminal crisis.

1024x1024There’s been much discussion on how to respond. The post-inaugural women’s marches and other protests were great; I cheered them on; I joined an airport protest myself.

But the kinds of issues most such protests have emphasized (refugees, reproductive rights, gay rights, equality, climate change, etc.) do not resonate with Middle America. As David Brooks has written, “The crucial problems today concern the way technology and globalization are decimating jobs and tearing the social fabric; the way migration is redefining nation states; the way the post-World War II order is increasingly being rejected as a means to keep the peace.” You’re not relevant if you’re not engaging with these critical issues.

unknownDonald Trump does, with a full-throated brutalist economic (and barely veiled ethnic) nationalism. “America first” is a crude hammer blow. Pink hats aren’t much of an answer.

That’s why Democrats lost the last election. The stereotype used to be that they were the party of working people; Republicans the party of the rich. Demographically at least that was somewhat true. But no longer. Today Democrats are the party of effete urban intellectuals and minorities. Yet they still feel an entitlement to working class votes. They’re forever whining about folks voting against their economic interests. Democrats don’t understand people voting their values rather than interests. (And often don’t understand economics besides.)

images-1True, Clinton did win the popular vote – by dint of huge majorities in California, New York and Massachusetts. But the electoral college was specifically designed so that big states don’t rule and, unfair or not, we’re stuck with it.

Democrats know they must reconnect with the wayward rustbelt blue collar types. But no real strategy has emerged. They remain flummoxed. They take heart that millions who voted for Trump had actually previously voted for Obama. However, since then something has changed.

The Trump campaign was not just a symptom of that change, but a catalyst. It opened a Pandora’s box. It gutted what had been a generally accepted civic compact about the basis on which our politics is conducted. The conditions that induced a lot of those past Obama votes ceased to exist. imagesWhy eat your vegetables when cake and candy are now on offer? Trump gave many people a type of voting opportunity they’d never had before.

And though some of us are horrified by Trump’s doings, his voters are mostly ecstatic. They feel they’re getting – at long last – exactly what they voted for, and what they want. It’s a Grand Folly, immensely harmful, to them most of all, but trying to convince them is futile. unknown-1They tune out hectoring voices. Virtually every newspaper in the country condemned Trump. That was unprecedented. And had no effect.

Democrats live not just in different locales, but on a different planet. The country is so polarized that the two camps won’t listen to each other. That’s how Trump gets away with monumental contempt for truth, ethics, and decency.

unknown-2Republicans, having drunk the Trump Kool-Aid, are now drunk on power, giving vent to every nasty tendency that lurked in their darker recesses. As witness their idiotic vote to silence Elizabeth Warren, which any reasonable person must abhor.

Meantime a Democratic party that continues moving left and nominates a Sanders or Warren (or, God forbid, Cuomo) type, and talks about gender and climate and complicated government programs, and whines about the rich, will not win against a Trump who grabs his voters by their pussy and they like it.

Yet his core support is still a minority, and some voters at least are persuadable. Brooks again: “If the anti-Trump forces are to have a chance, they have to offer a better nationalism, with diversity cohering around a mission, building a nation that balances the dynamism of capitalism with morality.”

It’s not an easy sound-bite case to make, it takes vision and courage, but it’s the right path. It’s centered upon the fundamental principles of freedom, openness, and global engagement that I have enunciated, that have in fact given us a more peaceful and more prosperous world, with more people thriving, than ever before. Today all that’s endangered as never before.

Republicans have abandoned those principles, that they used to stand for (and America used to stand for) – leaving vacant a vast territory of what ought to be the country’s natural and sensible political center. Democrats should move smartly to occupy that territory.

unknown-3But they still don’t seem to get it. I cannot yet join them. I’ll give up arguing for a third party; if we didn’t get one in 2016, we never will. However, I still have hope that America will ultimately weary of, and prove itself better than, the Trump horrorshow.

The shitstorm continues

February 7, 2017

images-1In Shirley Jackson’s story “Charles,” a child returns from kindergarten each day with a new tale of outrageous misbehavior by “Charles,” the class bad boy. So I sometimes ask my wife, “Did you hear what Charles did today?” Referring, of course, to you-know-who.

On Saturday, after hearing a news report, I ran to tell her the latest: saying the injunction against his Muslim travel ban was issued by a “so-called” judge!

Meantime (trying to defend the indefensible) the administration denies it is a Muslim travel ban. Seriously? After so memorably announcing in the campaign, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States . . . .”

Then he said the U.S. is no better than Russia with regard to political killings. Well — at least here, unlike in Russia, presidential critics suffer only childish insulting tweets. So far.

And he continues calling the press dishonest — him, the biggest liar and fraudster in political history.

And then there’s his attack on the Johnson amendment, supposedly in the name of freedom of speech and religion.

unknownNamed for Lyndon Johnson who sponsored it as a senator, the law denies tax exemption to religious outfits that endorse political candidates. This actually just clarified longstanding policy. The tax exemption for charitable, educational, and religious organizations has never applied to ones engaging in partisan politics.

This restricts no one’s freedom. Anyone is free to back any political candidate. But if you do, you’re not entitled to tax exemption. And political donations have never been tax deductible. The Johnson amendment prevents getting around that by routing a donation through a “church” which then passes it on to a candidate.

Trump’s vow to “destroy” the Johnson amendment, if successful, would open the floodgates for churches to not only engage in partisan politics, but also to launder political money to make it tax deductible.* A very bad idea.

unknown-1From a very bad man. America is full of wonderful people — how did we get this creep as president?

* I actually favor a (limited) tax credit for political contributions, as a form of public campaign finance, to combat pay-to-play culture. But that’s a very different matter.

America’s Shame

January 28, 2017

President Trump’s Muslim travel restrictions are a sickening betrayal of what America stands for. Or used to stand for.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

unknownMy mother came through that golden door in 1938 as a refugee from persecution and violence. But most German Jews were not so lucky. America’s WWII refusal to do more for them remains a stain on our national honor. Today we add a new stain by slamming the golden door against victims of the monstrous horror in Syria, and other Muslim victims.

Another thing this nation used to stand for was religious openness. images-1George Washington wrote that Jews are not merely tolerated in America, they are Americans. Non-discrimination among religions was a bedrock principle on which this nation was built. Yet Trump’s order exempts Christians from the travel ban.

His action caters to the basest, dumbest prejudices of his followers. Make us safe from terrorism? While these people have an insane love affair with guns, that kill hundreds of times more Americans than terrorism? Where is the common sense? The San Bernardino and Orlando shooters killed far fewer people than die every week through gun accidents. But anyhow they were U.S. citizens who would not have been affected by Trump’s stupid action.

Meantime, he has singled out seven Muslim nations for his travel ban. None of the 9/11 terrorists came from those seven. They all came from four nations not on Trump’s list. But those four (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and UAE) are all countries for which a ban would be politically problematic. So instead Trump picks other ones.

But even if the countries were the right ones, this would still be an exceptionally silly action. As if would-be terrorists would go through the vetting process. As if people willing to massacre others, even to blow themselves up, could not find ways to sneak in. images-2Trump’s despicable action will hurt tens of thousands of desperate, suffering people, while inconveniencing bad guys not at all. (How hard is it to masquerade as “Christian?”)

George W. Bush, in launching the war on terror, took great pains to make clear that it was not a war on Muslims. He understood how catastrophic it would be to antagonize all of Islam. Trump does not; he is doing exactly what Bush took pains to avoid. This will only increase conflict and terrorism.

The action is ostensibly temporary, a “pause.” But when, pray tell, do you suppose Trump will feel able to lift the travel ban without enraging the assholes who love it?

images-3The raw truth is that some people just don’t like people who are different from themselves. That’s what this is really all about, at rock bottom.

Well, some Americans at least are still working to uphold true American values. My daughter is employed in Iraq, with the Danish Refugee Council. After I drafted this, I saw that she had written something on her own blog more eloquent. Please read it here.

But let me quote her: Trump’s “America First” actually “puts America last — last in humanity, last in compassion, last in lifting up the tired, the poor, the huddled masses — which is what made America first, in so many ways, to begin with.”

UPDATE: Today two Syrian families arrived in Philadelphia, with valid visas and green cards, having worked for years to get them. They were sent back.

The Voter Fraud Fraud

January 26, 2017

images-1So now a federal investigation of voter fraud. Which every credible, reliable source has found nonexistent. Trump is not a sore loser but a sore winner — he just cannot stand it that even though he’s now president, Clinton got 3 million more popular votes. He wants that fact to somehow go away; replaced with “alternate facts.”

During the campaign, one of the fake news tropes was that President Obama had encouraged non-citizens to vote. He didn’t, and they don’t. Non-citizens cannot vote, period, and there is no evidence any of them ever try. Yet supposed non-citizen voting, we’re told, gave Clinton her margin. As if millions of non-citizens somehow managed to register and vote and somehow nobody noticed before.

True, voter rolls are filled with people who have died or moved away. But how many try to vote? Or vote using their names? The answer, again well documented, is just about zero.

unknownYet Republicans have for years used lies about non-existent voter fraud as a pretext for restrictions making it harder to vote. To deny ballots to poor, elderly, and minority voters — who tend to vote Democrat. But for these shameful restrictions, Clinton’s margin would have been even larger.

In the last election, the single documented case of attempted voter fraud was someone who tried to vote twice . . . for Trump.

But truth and reality are a different country from Trumpland. This voter fraud investigation nonsense is just one more Trump con to bedazzle those still foolish enough support him. images-2No doubt comments on this blog will back him on this issue. Like Pavlov, he rings a bell, and his dogs duly salivate.

Meantime, of course, there was chicanery in the last election. By the Russians. It seems likely Russian meddling harmed Clinton just enough to produce razor-thin Trump margins in three crucial states. But that’s a reality he doesn’t want to hear about.

Another of his false tropes is the autism/vaccination garbage. Every serious scientific authority says it’s absolute bunk, and very harmful, in reducing vaccination rates, causing resurgences of nasty diseases that had almost been wiped out. Now Trump appears ready to establish a federal commission on this issue, to be headed by Robert Kennedy Junior — a non-scientist and notorious promoter of the fraud that vaccination causes autism.

We’ve elected a stinking piece of crap. Never mind voter fraud. How about voter malpractice?

President versus press

January 23, 2017

Let me start by saying my own experience with the press has not been great. I was an administrative law judge, presiding over a politically explosive case (Shoreham nuclear power plant), when a reporter insisted on publishing an injudicious comment I’d begged him to treat as off-the-record.* The subsequent repercussions made newspaper headlines. I survived, but this was not fun.

images-1President Trump made war on the press throughout his campaign. It continues. On Saturday, his press spokesman, Sean Spicer, in the White House press room, launched an angry tirade against the media for reporting (correctly) that inaugural attendance was lower than Obama’s; and Trump himself marred an event honoring fallen CIA officers by declaring journalists “are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”

This from the man who falsely insisted New Jerseyites cheered 9/11; that he couldn’t release his tax returns because they’re under audit; that he’d discussed his wall idea while meeting Mexico’s president; that his election was “the greatest single victory in the history of politics;” that he never committed any of the sexual assaults against women that he’d bragged about; that all the women were lying; who spearheaded false “birtherism” and then lied that he was the one who ended it; and so on, and on, and on, and sickeningly on.

unknownThe administration has now even coined a neologism: “alternative facts.” So when Spicer falsely stated “this was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration — period,”** that was just an “alternative fact.” In an alternative universe. Where everybody is a liar — except Trump and his stooges, of course.

unknownIn the Trump universe, the media is out to get him. Well, you know what? They are. And why? Because they see the truth — that he’s a scumbag con man, the most brazen liar ever to pollute American public life. They tried to tell us before the election, but voters — enough of them, anyway — refused to hear it. So now we have a disgraceful administration for which falsification is actually policy, and exposure of it is vilified.

People in news media have their human foibles and political biases. They are imperfect. But by and large they work hard to fulfill their basic mission, to report true facts and inform us about what is actually happening. Which is absolutely indispensable to a democracy’s functioning, with government accountable to voters. This contrasts with countries like Russia with no free media, it’s all government controlled, and the public is told only what the regime pleases, true or not (and often not). Unlike Russia, we still have a free news media that ferrets out the truth and holds politicians to account. But it’s threatened by Trump’s press-bashing and promotion of fake news.

Lying about lying

Lying about lying

In my own Shoreham case, I didn’t like what that reporter did. But he was right. The press did its job, and that was a good thing.

The choice between trusting America’s news media, or the serial compulsive liar in the White House, should be a no-brainer.

*I said I thought one party’s proposal was wrong.

**Today a contrite Spicer walked it back.

The inaugural address: us against them

January 20, 2017

images-1The President had much to say to “forgotten Americans,” who feel full of resentments. Fair enough. But what about the rest of us?

Trump talked of a Washington political elite that prospers at the expense of everyone else. That’s his division between bad and good, victims and victimizers. (A bit strange to cast Washington politicians as the Enemies of the People – when over 90% get re-elected every time.) Perhaps surprisingly Trump did not mention banks, Wall Street, or corporations. No – it’s just the Washington pols against the entire rest of the country, and the entire rest of the country is suffering.

It’s a country mired in “carnage.” Yes, “carnage!” I thought I was transported in a time machine back to 1933, judging from the grim picture of American society and its economy that he portrayed.

As if Washington predation is actually the cause of our economic challenges. It’s absurd. And meantime, in fact, most Americans are doing quite fine, and do not harbor grievances against some malevolent elite that we imagine is screwing us. But we seem invisible to Trump.

imagesSo his theme was us-against-them. His “us” is the 40% who voted for him and still back him. His words about national unity were cynically empty. This was an atrociously divisive speech, setting part of the population against another. I felt like I’m one of the “them.”

Us-against-them is likewise his global stance. For the better part of a century, America has seen its role as being bound into a world community, wherein promotion of our interests is served by promotion of our values. Those values have included democracy, openness, nations solving their problems peaceably, and trading with each other for mutual benefit. America has shouldered the lead and responsibility in building and sustaining this global order. The logic is that we are better off in a world where other countries are democratic and hence do not create causes of war and turmoil, and in which other countries grow more prosperous, and hence more secure, and better able to buy what we produce.

images-2Forget all that, Trump says. His global vision is very different: it’s us against them. Our policy now will simply be America First; and other countries should likewise mind their own self-interest. Nothing about having any interests in common. (He’s even cheered on the unraveling of the European Union.) And we won’t try to “impose” our values on anyone. Values are irrelevant in this dark vision. Trump sees other countries only as “ravaging” us; the world as a zero-sum game where one nation’s gain is another’s loss.

This insanity is the whole world’s loss. Our own most of all.

 

My credo

January 18, 2017

 

unknownAs our political transition unfolds, I find myself caught between the Scylla of a Democratic party increasingly romanticizing socialist economics hostile to enterprise and trade, and a Republican Charybdis fallen into a dark hole of nativism romanticizing a past that won’t return and shouldn’t. Today’s real divide is between mindsets of openness and closedness. With irresponsible foolishness of every sort running rampant, trampling sound classically liberal principles, I will not give up on them, but will continue to defend them in the years ahead. Here I recap those core principles.

 

  • Democracy and rule of law, so government is accountable to citizens, its powers over them restricted.

 

  • Freedom of speech, expression, and argument. images-1No idea immune from critical examination – even if that offends or discomfits some. This is not only integral to personal freedom, it is also crucial for society to evaluate ideas and progress thereby.

 

  • Limited government, filling only roles that individuals cannot. People able to choose for themselves how to live and act, with society dictating only when its reasons are compelling; basically, only to protect others from harm.

 

  • Free market economics is the best way to grow the pie so all can prosper. images-2Profit-seeking business is how people’s needs and desires get satisfied. That is best promoted when businesses are forced to compete openly and fairly with each other, none gaining advantage through government intervention. Instead government should function to remove barriers to competition and business enterprise.

 

  • This does not mean businesses unregulated. They too are subject to laws to protect others from harm.

 

  • Inequality is the inevitable result of people striving to better themselves, and is not unjust or an evil. Successful people are not the enemy, nor the cause of want. But a market economy generates enough wealth that we can afford to give everyone a decent living standard, out of simple humanity.

 

  • When another country can sell us something cheaper than we can produce it ourselves, we benefit as well as they. images-3Impeding such trade only impoverishes both nations. The gains from freer global trade, through lower consumer prices, vastly exceed the costs in any jobs lost.

 

  • America prospers best in a world wherein democracy, free trade, and peaceful development prevail among other countries, making them too more prosperous; so promoting those values must be the core of our foreign policy. Forces in the world threatening those values must be actively combated.

 

  • Government spending and taxation must be brought into a sustainable balance. Heedlessly piling up excessive debt will not end well.

 

  • Truth and facts should be sought objectively, and should shape our beliefs, rather than our beliefs shaping what we think are facts. unknown-1Confirmation bias is the enemy of reason. We acquire truth through science, a method of rational inquiry which progresses by self-correction as more facts become known and understood.

 

  • No religion is better or truer than any other. All are equally false; and that false consciousness can only impede people in grappling with challenges all too real.

 

  • Human beings are natural animals, resulting from Darwinian evolution. Ultimately the only thing that matters in the Universe is the well being of creatures capable of feeling. All people have equal dignity and worth (except for those who imagine their kind is superior, thereby proving they are inferior).

 

  • Over the centuries, the increasing application of all these principles has made for enormous global progress, with ever more people able to live ever better lives. unknown-2Abandoning these principles endangers that progress.

Pussy Grabber’s John Lewis tweet

January 15, 2017

“All talk, no action.”

That was Pussy Grabber’s typical tweet, about John Lewis. Then he adds a word like, “Sad.” He thinks he’s being clever, when in fact it’s him and his fetid tweeting that’s sad.

images-1John Lewis is a Georgia congressman. In the early 1960s he participated in the “Freedom Rides” aiming to integrate bus travel. He knew the danger. His bus was attacked and burned by a raging mob; Lewis and other Freedom Riders were dragged off the bus and beaten. Lucky to have survived, he often saw the inside of southern jails. In 1964, he was an organizer of the “Mississippi Freedom Summer,” to restore black voting rights. Some of those workers were murdered. In 1965, Lewis was a leader of the marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Again the danger was clear.  The marchers met with extreme violence. Once again John Lewis was beaten within an inch of his life.

“All talk, no action?”

John Lewis is a hero. We can be proud such a man is in Congress.

You may disagree with John Lewis, even criticize him. But you do not insult him. You do not belittle him.

“All talk, no action?” That’s exactly what Pussy Grabber claimed about his own pussy-grabbing comments caught on tape. (Even after a dozen grabbees came forward to say otherwise.)

unknownJohn Lewis is a hero. Donald Trump is a stinking piece of crap.

 

The Russian virus

January 12, 2017

images-1During the Cold War it was perfectly clear the Russians were the bad guys. Only twisted-brain lefties like Noam Chomsky thought we were. When the USSR fell in 1991, there was a window when it looked like Russia would come in from the cold. But then ex-KGB agent Putin took over.

He has mounted a gigantic propaganda offensive. Unlike Soviet Communists, Putin has no pretensions of leading a worldwide ideological movement. Instead, it’s all about strengthening and expanding his raw power. Thus the cynical effort to delegitimize democracy and liberal Western culture as decadent and corrupt in contrast to a Russia that’s strong and moral. Putin knows the USSR fell partly because its inhabitants realized its system stank compared to ours. That’s what he’s trying to combat.

unknownAnd not only are Russians falling for it – many in the West also buy the notion that there’s something more admirable in Putinism than in our own societies. Trump compares the Russian tyrant favorably against Obama. Reportedly, 37% of Republicans now admire Putin. They see him as a “strong leader.” America’s alt-right in particular embraces Putin as a kind of cult hero, the antithesis of our own culture going squishy soft.

This is deeply sick. Putin is a thug who rules by theft, lies, repression, silencing and jailing critics, and, in a lot of cases, murdering them. Russia is not admirable or moral. Putin runs it like Al Capone ran Chicago.

unknown-1His invasion of Ukraine and Crimea – propelled by a huge propaganda blitz of disinformation and lies – was aimed mainly at stoking Russian nationalism, to distract his people from his regime’s criminality and the economic dysfunction resulting therefrom. (Aggravated by Western sanctions.) Putin gambled that guns would trump butter in Russians’ eyes, and seems to be right. But he’d like impunity for his military aggressions, and to that end has been meddling in European and U.S. politics.

Trump has made noises about removing sanctions, and getting along better with Russia, which really means going along with Russia. And more broadly, the Kremlin would prefer a blundering ignoramus leading its chief adversary nation. Plenty of reasons why Putin sought a Trump victory.

Now we see yet another one. While the Kremlin tried to smear Hillary Clinton, it was never credible to imagine they had no dirt on Trump who is, after all, orders of magnitude filthier. That they were holding it back makes perfect sense – not only because they wanted him to win, but also to blackmail him afterwards. Trump’s denials are about as credible as his denial that he was ever a pussy grabber. His bashing intelligence agencies for leaking this new information is also phony, because in fact it was leaked by private organizations, not any intelligence services. Meanwhile, some authoritative analysts are saying the details are totally consistent with the way the Russians operate.

images-2Putin’s meddling to help Trump may actually have been the most successful such covert scheme in history. For all his ludicrous talk of an “historic landslide,” Trump won only thanks to razor-thin margins in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s hardly far-fetched to think the Russians harmed Clinton’s campaign at least enough to flip those three. The most serious attack upon our democracy ever.

The Russians have used disinformation for a long time. Our healthy body politic had an immune system that resisted the virus. images-4This time that immune system didn’t kick in – our immune system against not only Kremlin foul play but against every other bad thing Pussy Grabber embodies. That we elected such a vile creep, exactly as Russia wanted – and most Americans just shrug their shoulders – shows that America today is one sick puppy.

The tide of history

December 30, 2016

               “There is a tide in the affairs of men . . . “  – William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)

unknownThe Enlightenment began in the early 1700s, aiming to free us from shackles both mental and political. In 1776, Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, and America, the Declaration of Independence. Both were seminal Enlightenment manifestos. The latter lit a slow-burning fuse that finally set off a worldwide democratic explosion in the late Twentieth Century.

That century first passed through a Götterdämmerung as powerful totalitarian and militaristic forces rose up and were, amid vast slaughter, beaten down. unknown-1Not until the late ‘80s did Communism succumb. In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and, viewing the New Year’s Eve fireworks, I saluted aloud that “blessed, golden year.” Then the Soviet Union itself fell, and soon after I was thrilled to visit a Russia that was now a free country.

In 1992 Francis Fukuyama captured the zeitgeist with The End of History, proclaiming the global triumph of humanistic values centered upon peaceful democratic politics and open economies – ascendant because this gives human beings the opportunities for self-realization they most deeply crave.

unknown-2All that, in hindsight now, was a high-water mark. There is a tide in the affairs of men. And future historians will deem 2016 another seminal year – when the tide of history turned.

It was America that had shouldered the lead, in defeating the militarist totalitarians, and then through the Cold War, continuing its leadership and rallying the forces of light against darkness. Great steadfast America (most of the time) standing up for the best human values. But now America has tired of it; or perhaps has simply lost the thread, ceasing to understand what it’s about.

The Fukuyama paradigm was already wobbling, as Russia resumed being bad old Russia, China’s repression intensified, the “Arab Spring” largely backfired, horrors went largely unpunished, the European Union began to unravel, and democracy was in retreat in Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Thailand, Malaysia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Nicaragua . . . .

And then America elected Trump.

unknown-3It’s what this represents that makes 2016 a hinge of history. It’s America throwing its moral leadership down the toilet. Trump, unique among modern U.S. presidents, shows no interest whatsoever in that mission. To the contrary, he sucks up to Putin, and seems to actually align us on the dark side. And electing a man of his flagrantly obvious vile character signals a collapse of our civic culture. This, combined with the triumph of his appeal to his voters’ worst instincts, shows that America has indeed turned its back on the high ideals that made it great in the first place. (True, those voters were a minority. But 63 million of them have given him the presidency.)

This is not something we’ll recover from in four years, or eight. Our body politic used to punish lies and gaffes. Now it rewards them. Jeb Bush was proven wrong in telling Trump, “You can’t insult your way to the presidency.” Now our politics is deeply polluted with vulgarity, lies, bogus news, and conspiracy theories; while partisan divisions harden, the two sides inhabiting separate universes and hating each other ever more passionately. We’ll be lucky if it doesn’t end in literal civil war. But we sure won’t be coming together to tackle the challenging issues that cloud America’s future.

Some are already speculating about when his followers will turn on Trump. Of course he won’t fulfill his impossible promises. But this assumes Trump support is rational (despite his promises having been absurd). images-1Nobody wants to admit they made a mistake, and that will likely apply to most Trump voters. Their refusal so far to see the truth about him is like a religious faith. And if they do find their faith betrayed, will they then return to sanity, decency and civic responsibility, to a conventional mainstream politician and platform? I don’t think so. If anger and resentments drove many voters in 2016, a perceived Trump betrayal will enflame them even more. And with the door opened to monsters, the next could well be even worse.

America’s decline might not be the end of the world – if the rest could go merrily along building the Fukuyama Jerusalem without us. But that’s not what’s happening. As explained, America has been the “indispensable nation,” the linchpin, the keystone. images-3Subtract U.S. moral leadership, and what happens to a humanistic global order, of openness and democracy, already under assault by hordes of howling demons?

This is why 2016 is such a tragedy.