Donald Trump

Is there a whiff of revolution in the air? That blockade of cars on a freeway in Arizona certainly had a to-the-barricades look, but hyperbole is easy in our hyper-inflated times. Still, something is touching the olfactory sense in a way not felt since 1968, which was a genuine annus horriblis. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, race riots shook the country, campus buildings were occupied , and people marched against the war in Vietnam. It was even worse in France, where protests against capitalism nearly brought the system to a halt. More than 22 per cent of the population downed tools in wildcat strikes over a two-week period. Charles de Gaulle felt it prudent to leave the country for a period, retiring to a French base in Germany. Twenty years later came the fall of the Soviet Union and the Arab Spring that brought upheaval to a dozen country and regime change to four.
No one was more surprised than the leadership in those countries when governments toppled. The U.S. is the most stable democracy in the world but I think you have to go back to the Depression and the Civil War to find people as divided as they are today. FDR famously said that he saved capitalism for the capitalists, but Bernie Sanders doesn’t appear to care much for it and young people today don’t see anything wrong with socialism. This is because they don’t know very much history because it doesn’t appear to be taught anymore except in a manner at the grade school level that guarantees kids will be turned off on it for the rest of their lives. It is bled of all interest by the input of committees responsive to the sensitivities of anyone likely to take offense, which today is just about everyone. Late night comics who send roving reporters out on the streets to quiz people about history and even current events return with evidence of the hilarious public ignorance about anything but the activities of celebrities. Everyone seems to know about them in minute detail. Even I’m wondering why Madonna appears to be drunk and crazy whenever she appears in public. Is it only because her son doesn’t want to leave her dad and the British seem reluctant to agree to extradition?
His celebrity is reason for Donald Trump’s astounding success. That and using the vocabulary of a fourth grader so his message is spread even to the unlettered. “It’s gonna be great.” Who needs to know more than that? Where have all the decades of wonkery in Washington, D.C., and Wall Street predation got us? Manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries, leaving blue collar workers holding the bag and turning to meth and oxycontin for the pain and boredom of empty lives cushioned somewhat by food stamps and hundreds of cable channels. The economy feels like it’s knee-deep in molasses with historic levels of unemployment (if you count the people who stopped looking), record levels of part-time workers, college graduates with crushing levels of debt looking for jobs that aren’t there. And even if they were, those who majored in queer or one of the other grievance studies didn’t learn the skills prized in the private sector, one of which is the ability not to be perpetually offended and in need of trigger warnings. When will fainting couches and smelling salts make their comeback in the Ivy League schools?
The WSJ had an interesting article the other day comparing Trump to the sort of authoritarian figure who has always flourished in the banana republics, the caudillo. Hugo Chavez and Juan Peron were mentioned. If young people today want an idea of where socialism leads, it is more likely Venezuela and Cuba than the Scandinavian countries Bernie Sanders keeps touting. Speaking of them, do you ever watch films made in those countries? Everyone looks depressed. The long sunless winters can’t be the only explanation. My guess is another reason is the nanny state that looks after citizens from cradle to grave, putting a floor under the lows and a ceiling on the highs. Lifelong ennui is the result. The immigration of Muslims and their customs should break the monotony, particularly for the women. Venezuela the other day said it was necessary to do without power for a week. Has that ever happened before? Chavez and his successor and the Castro brothers managed to squeeze the middle class out of existence, which is what has been happening in this country regardless of which party is in power. Venezuela is often without such basics as toilet paper, but at least everyone apart from the elites suffers equally, fulfilling the practice if not the promise of socialism. Cuba shows signs of an economic pulse only because the hated Yanquis are beginning to return with their dollars. Otherwise, it looks pretty much like it did in the ‘Fifties as if was frozen in time by some evil sorcerer.
The Latin American caudillo is one thing, but Trump is also being compared with Hitler, which Jews rightly regard as indecent. Who has he killed? But then nobody today learns history, which explains the cheap shot. If you want a historical example Mussolini is more your man. He began as a socialist and became an authoritarian. Trump began as a New York liberal and has become a populist without dropping anchor in one school of political thought or another. This is why he is equally hated by the elites and chattering classes of both parties. It is also why he is free to drift according to which way the winds are blowing. Ross Perot was the last loose cannon in American politics, but he was stiff and uncomfortable in the limelight. Trump can’t get enough of it. It will be an interesting summer and fall. These are the times the radical left lives for, they never feel so alive. That was them blocking the cars on the freeway.

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