Trump and the 1% lead America back to its past, to its dark roots

Summary: Look to the past to see the future of the Trump revolution. That means seeing through the half-truths of both the doomsters and the panglossians. Here’s a brief look at the bad news and the good news. Draw your own conclusions.

Donald Trump's Revolution

The Trump “revolution” is a moment in the wave of history carrying the US to the right. Most Americans do not understand because of their amnesia about our history. Much of what we love about America was true only for a moment. Most of American history is dark. Slavery of Africans. Treaty-breaking, enslavement, and genocide of American Indians. Colonial wars. The long destruction of the craftsman and farming classes. The centralization of power and wealth in the 1%.

Our history is too dark; we do not want to see it. So we manufactured myths to replace facts. We cheer the triumph of “John Wayne in Chisum, the opposite of actual sad events in the Lincoln County War (the cavalry arrived to help the bad guys, as it so often did).

The post-WWII era was an anomaly in our history, a new beginning created by the fires of the Great Depression and WWII. The campaign rhetoric about American exceptionalism, our role as a force for good in the world, our love of social mobility and equality — all was true (in the incomplete fashion of the real world) for a few decades after WWII. Now we have the inevitable counter-revolution, a reversion to the mean of America driven by the immeasurable power and wealth of the 1%. Beginning in the 1970’s they laid plans, which they have lavishly funded and skillfully executed.

I have written warnings about this since 2003. Commenters overwhelmingly said I was exaggerating our danger. Now my predictions appear on the front pages as generations of progress are erased. The 1% has built its political power for four decades; now they have begun to use it. Mother Nature does not care about right and wrong; the 1% deserve to win by her cold logic. Slow and stupid are sins she always punishes.

The old America is resurgent: rule by the exploitative plutocracy backed by domestic force, with an unprincipled and extractive foreign policy. They have just begun to reshape America.

Sigmoid curve

Is this the end of America?

How many predictions of certain doom have the Boomers heard?  I remember earnest discussions about the odds that Nixon would hold the next election. Both Left and Right were convinced Reagan would end Cold War — the Left expected the nukes to fly, the Right believed his arms control treaties would give the USSR victory.  Population growth was certain doom; now falling populations mean certain economic catastrophe.  Exhaustion of natural resources will destroy us all by …now. Steven Spielberg’s first big break was making “L.A. 2017” (aired in 1971) — a film about LA in 2017, driven underground by pollution that destroyed the surface.

“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

— Paul R. Ehrlich at and after a speech in London at the Institute of Biology in Autumn 1969. Paul R. Ehrlich speaking in London at the Institute of Biology in Autumn 1969. From “In Praise of Prophets”, Bernard Dixon in the New Scientist, 16 September 1971.

In 1990, for his having promoted “greater public understanding of environmental problems,” Ehrlich received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. It was as well deserved as Obama’s Peace Prize.

“The more immediate danger is runaway climate change. A rise in ocean temperatures will melt the ice caps and cause the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor. Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees.”

— Nobel laureate physicist Stephen Hawking on “Good morning Britain on NBC News’ U.K. news partner, ITV News in May 2016. NASA disagrees (i.e., it is not physically possible).

Second on my list of favorite doomster stories are those about climate change based (which they seldom mention) on the worst case scenario in the IPCC’s AR5 (RCP8.5). This assumes world population growth at the high end of UN’s probabilistic forecast (Africa becomes as densely populated as China), tech progress slows to a crawl, and at the end of the 21st century we are back to the 19thC — relying on coal for most of our energy. This is not a scenario I worry much about.

My favorite doomster story are the lists of reasons America is doomed (here’s a rebuttal to one of them). But there are so many threats (Bush, Obama, and Trump were all Hitler), and we wallow in them. It has become doomster porn, entertainment which distracts us from working to make America better. Our fears are a gift to the 1%.

America has weathered worse periods. We have a long history of labor riots , draft riots (in the Civil War and the Vietnam War), race riots (with troops maintaining order in our inner cities), third world-level corruption, grossly rigged elections, Depressions (the Long Depression made the Great Depression look like a cake walk), and a Civil War. We have out-lived two centuries of people predicting America’s fall. We will out-live the present generation of doomsters.

But we were great for a few decades after WWII (awesome but not perfect). We have been sliding for a long time, accelerating down to an ugly place. We can stop at any time. We can become what we were. It’s all about choice. Time will tell if Trump is a step to reform or a large step further into decay.

America is choice

Understanding the results of Campaign 2016

For More Information

Things will not improve in the 2018 elections: “Are You Dreaming of Democrats Taking the Senate in 2018? Time to Wake Up” by Suzanne Monyak at Slate. “The math is simple: If the electoral map stays the same colors between now and 2018, the Democrats could stand to gain just one Republican seat while losing 10 of their own, leaving them with an even smaller minority than they held when they lost their majority in the 2014 midterms.”

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