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.

Update -

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.


Northern PoV said...

Much scarier than a lunatic. The orange bloat is perhaps the first of the 'four horsemen'.

rumleyfips said...

It's a game of chicken to see who can get the most without blowing the whole thing up.

Ryan and Trump both want low taxes on milionaires. No brainer, no problem it will be done. Ryan also wants to get rid of social security ( paid in ... sucker ) medicare, medicaide, ACA and veterans health care. He will shut up about global trade and open border to get his wishes. The trick for him will be to get as much as he can and get Trump impeached at just the right time. See Robert Reicht.

Bannon wants borders closed to trade and travel. His trick is to consolidate power in himself until he is powerful enough to ditch the Republican party.

It's a race to the bottom. The rest of the world will have to
learn to stand back, cooperate with each other and let the decline happen in its own little bubble.

The Mound of Sound said...

NPoV. Yes, it is easy to see something ominous and unparalleled in this bastard. He senses an ability to strip America of what decency and restraint remains and, from what I've heard, those who voted for him think he's doing a great job.

The Mound of Sound said...

Unfortunately, Rumley, the rest of the world isn't "sitting back." Trump has brought to America the disease that is already flourishing in parts of Europe, in Turkey and elsewhere.

Canadians need to realize that we are quite vulnerable to this contagion which makes Trudeau's retreat on electoral reform far more worrisome than just another broken promise. You can say that Trudeau is facilitating, I assume inadvertently, the advancement of democratic decline in our country. He's demoralizing the progressive vote which will make it much easier for a Tory to topple him in the next election. Instead of building a consensus, Trudeau is dividing progressives. I'm not sure there'll be a safe Liberal seat in British Columbia, not after the pipelines, the supertankers, LNG, the Site C dam and now this refusal to honour another solemn promise.

Critics of the neoliberalism embraced by every prime minister since Mulroney warned anyone who would listen that it was an ideological road that led to a continual sapping of democratic power, the ascendancy of corporate influence, first political and then regulatory capture. The final chapter that they foretold was what we're seeing in Washington today - business owning government and directly wielding the levers of power. We're well behind the Americans but we're on the same road and we're also learning nothing from the US experience.

rumleyfips said...

My point is , there are lots of countries for Canada to cooperate with. In the past few months, Canada has signed new trade deals with the EU, Mexico and China. After yesterdays phone call, Australia may need a new economic partner.

Everytime Trump insults, belittles,attacks or disadvantages a country is an opportunity for Canada.

I know that Detroit is close, but Toyota and Honda make good cars right here. If Trump taxes Fords 35 % , Canadians have a duty free choice that isn't American.

The Mound of Sound said...

You must have more confidence in Trudeau that I, Rumley. He's never stood up to power before and I'm damned sure he won't defy Trump either. This "post-American" coalition you envision seems to be more than a longshot.