Thursday, February 02, 2017
Just Where Is the Bottom of America's Barrel?
Can the United States survive Donald Trump or will he leave it irreparably divided, a people so riven they're incapable of healing? How far can Trump go before America becomes a pariah state, a contagion that former allies view from a distance with distrust?
America First. What is the difference between that and Deutschland Uber Alles other than the measure of a madman's appetites and perversions?
There's talk of war and plenty of it. War with China. War with Iran. There's talk of ordering the American army into Mexico. In standard fashion Trump officials first denied the threat but Trump now says it was only lighthearted banter.
Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald reports of a resistance movement spreading through the American bureaucracy. Could Trump resort to wholesale purges at troublesome departments such as the Environmental Protection Agency? What about the nuclear option, a general strike?
David Frum has an interesting analysis in The Atlantic of how Donald Trump could consolidate something that's been evolving in the United States for some time, an autocracy. In effect, Trump may drive the last nail in the coffin of American democracy and pave the way for strongman rule.
Trump has also vowed to dismember the separation of church and state by abolishing the Johnson amendment that prohibits religious officials from endorsing candidates from the pulpit. This reminds me of Andrew Bacevich's "The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War," in which he explores how evangelical Christianity became insinuated within the military to become its quasi-official religion:
"Conservative Christians have conferred a presumptive moral palatability on any occasion on which the United States resorts to force. They have fostered among the legions of believing Americans a predisposition to see U.S. military power as inherently good, perhaps even a necessary adjunct to the accomplishment of Christ's saving mission. In doing so they have nurtured the preconditions have have enabled the American infatuation with military power to flourish.
Put another way, were it not for the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals, militarism in this deeply and genuinely religious country becomes inconceivable."
It's a powerful quid-pro-quo. The evangelicals back the military. The military backs the evangelicals. It's a constant battle, especially at the US Air Force academy where measures had to be taken to prevent senior officers from proselytizing cadets. That's another wall that will come tumbling down while Washington looks the other way.