No One Will Ever Make America Great Again
Donald Trump Isn’t Your Daddy, And He Can’t Fix What’s Broken In America.
British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos frequently refers to Donald Trump as “daddy.”
Milo introduces himself as, “the most fabulous supervillain on the Internet,” so calling a Presidential candidate “daddy” is consistent with his own quirky brand of camp conservatism.
I don’t know of anyone else who calls Trump “daddy.” But when I see my peers caught up in stadium-style slave wave that is ready to crown a shifty, wheeling and dealing New York City businessman as America’s savior and “emperor god-king”…
…“daddy” does seem uncomfortably appropriate.
The incontinent progressive mainstream would have you imagine Donald the “daddy” as the paternal leader — or Führer, as they put it once upon a time in Deutschland. However, Donald Trump is no artist, and his vision for American Greatness seems to be far less grand, let alone “great.”
Trump, at best, may guide and preside over — as lucky Presidents do — a temporary upswing in the economy. He may be able to negotiate some modest changes to discourage outsourcing and encourage American production.
This will be denounced as isolationism — an arcane and taboo form of common sense that involves leaders prioritizing the interests of the people they were charged with leading above the interests of other people.
This novel isolationism may even extend to withdrawing from virtually one-sided military commitments all around the world. He may even, as he’s promised, build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out. It’s common sense that a nation cannot function as a nation without borders. Borders are what distinguish one nation and government from another. Open borders are a threat to national security — whether you’re worried about keeping out terrorists or cartels.
Building walls, reducing one-sided liabilities, setting things up so the country can be more self-sufficient…this is all good and necessary national housekeeping.
But what Trump can’t do is fix the systemic problems in America.
He can’t bring Americans together as a singular people who share a common culture and destiny.
That ship has sailed.
Or rather, it never sailed. The country wouldn’t be tearing itself apart internally over racial politics if Lincoln had managed to encourage emancipated slaves to colonize other less white countries — the strategy he had long favored. Over seven years into the administration of the America’s first black president, racial tension in America is higher than it was during the Bush presidency. As a majority of blacks are expected to vote for Hillary, campaigns like #blacklivesmatter will only gain momentum during a Trump presidency. There will be more riots, and, as the smart Gregory Hood once suggested to me in person, if Trump wins, the left may just “start the revolution for us.” (That’s probably the most interesting pro-Trump argument I’ve heard.)
If Trump builds a wall, it may keep new illegal immigrants out, but it’s far too late to turn the demographic tide. Mexican immigration to America didn’t start during the Obama presidency. It started generations ago. The majority of the growth in the hispanic population comes from births within the United States — not from the aquathoners of the Rio Grande. Hispanics are already the majority in New Mexico and California, and nationwide, non-hispanic white births are now officially a minority.
No matter what he does, Donald Trump is never going to make America white again.
Non-hispanic whites will be a minority in any future version of the United States.
What does that have to do with greatness?
Well, it depends what “greatness” means to you.
I asked a Mexican-American Trump supporter, born and raised here, what he thought a great America would look like in 2017, and he said, “Like the 1950s only with more technology. Like in Back to the Future.”
That’s probably not far from how a lot of the electorate imagines a great America, actually.
He went on to say that Trump wants a strong military, wants America to stop getting pushed around, wants to stop political correctness, and wants everything to be made here in America. That all sounds pretty good.
But what is the appeal of the 1950s? Why do people still see it as a kind of American golden age?
We have the technology, but how do we get Back to the Future?
The post-War era is remembered, picturesquely, as a time of national unity and great opportunity. The American people were far less diverse in racial background and religious belief. The sexes were still largely segregated, and sex roles were clearly defined. At least as it is told — since I was born in 1974 — the 1950s were a time when most people knew what was expected of them. The American Dream of buying a car and getting married and owning a home and having a family was easily accessible to any white guy who was willing to work hard. It probably wasn’t exactly like Leave it to Beaver, but it was far closer to that than American life has ever been sense.
If America was great in the 50s, it was great in part due to its homogeneity. There’s no need to make the argument that it was better because it was white. That would only seem true if you were white — though you could probably find some older black and hispanic men who would argue that it was just better all around. It’s enough to say that if you believe America was “greater” in the 50s, many of the reasons it was greater were the direct consequence of the fact that most of the people in the United States had a similar ethnic heritage and related religious and philosophical beliefs. Homogeneity creates a high-trust, comfortable, unified society.
In the 1950s, the heads of many American households had returned from fighting in World War II with a strong sense of national identity and solidarity. They’d just won a war together, and their sense of national pride was at a high that probably hadn’t been reached since the founding of the nation. A total war against another formidable nation like Russia or China is probably the only force strong enough to unify the bickering factions within America.
The threat posed by Islamic radicals is too ethereal, too distant, too easy to explain away as an aberration. The occasional nut-job blowing himself up or hijacking a plane or shooting a bunch of people isn’t an attack on a harbor by a foreign air force. It’s not an army conquering allied nations. It’s a problem that mass enlistment and mobilization probably couldn’t even solve — unless Trump is going to make America a great conquering Empire that slaughters, subjugates, seizes assets, appropriates resources, and colonizes acquired territories — like a properly great Empire. The other world governments would never tolerate this, even if Trump could somehow rally the American people together, clamoring for it.
Trump can never be Caesar or Hitler or Napoleon or even Mussolini, because the American people aren’t Romans or Germans or French or Italian. They are all and none of those things. They aren’t really anything. They don’t have a shared identity or culture, and their shared history has to do with a pioneering past and the establishment of a form of government that would be recognizable to its founders only as a grotesque perversion of abstract ideals that seemed like a good idea at the time, in a very different world. If some political necromancer resurrected them to do annotate a new edition of the Declaration of Independence, they’d be footnoting the hell out of groaners like “…all men are created equal.”
The only culture Americans truly share is a culture of commerce. They identify with each other across racial, ethnic and sexual boundaries through a common love of products, of musical performers, of movies and television shows and clothing brands and sports teams. This culture of commerce is only capable of inspiring a national unity as cheap and disposable as the products that characterize it. If you could get everyone to be as fanatically devoted to the country as Apple users are to Apple, you might have something approaching a national culture, but the nation is divided over Apple and PC in rather the same way it is divided between Republicans and Democrats or gun users and gun prohibitionists.
The people inhabiting the United States are so deeply and irreconcilably divided over so many issues that the national identity is fragmenting. As Sebastian Junger observed in his recent book, Tribe, people on the opposite sides of issues no longer consider themselves part of the same group trying to come to an agreement. They openly revile each other. He also noted, correctly, that, “People who speak with contempt for one another will probably not remain united very long.”
The United States have been united for too long. People who don’t belong together and who don’t want to work together — whorevile each other — remain stuck together because they can’t imagine a way out, because they don’t know what else to do. It’s like a bad marriage or an abusive relationship. Even more than that, commercial and legal interests between culturally and geographically divided states and regions are so deeply intertwined, and have been for so long, that separating them would be like separating conjoined twins.
Most of the states are larger than European countries, but the United States isn’t the European Union. European nations have individual cultures, histories, identities, social institutions and infrastructures that pre-date the relatively short experiment of the European Union by hundreds of years or more. American states grew and evolved together. I live in Oregon, which was a sparsely populated territory that included the entire State of Washington and Idaho until 1853, and it only entered the union as a state in 1859. It has very little history of its own that predates the American Civil War. There was no government to speak of in the territory before 1843 — when it was truly a “free country.” By comparison, when the Scots talk of seceding from the UK, it should be noted that the Scottish have a collective history that’s well over a thousand years old, and they’ve been in an on-again, off-again relationship with the Brits for about 400 years. France and Germany and Spain have been recognized as separate and distinct places since the Roman Empire. The Danes have been Danes since before they started raiding English churches.
If European countries exit the EU and the European people and their leaders are able to take greater control over the rule and the destinies of their nations, dramatic change is possible, and it can move quickly. European countries have a scale that’s far easier to manage, upgrade and administer.
The United States may be “too big to fail,” since it seems like it should have collapsed economically from debt long ago. But if so, it may also be too big to change. Progressives and Europeans have always seemed unable to grasp the difference between operating the government of a fun-size nation that’s smaller than West Virginia, and administering a continent-wide country of 300 million. Small governments are far nimbler.
American voters are universally disgusted by what they see as the inability of government to actually commit to and accomplish anything. That’s why they are attracted to big dreamers like Bernie and big talkers like Donald Trump. But just as Obama’s Obamacare healthcare reform became such a compromise of compromises that it can barely be described, and a president elected in part to end foreign wars ended up starting several wars, future leaders can be expected to be rendered essentially impotent by inside influences and the checks and balances that have become front and rear brakes.
No matter how regal their helmet of blonde hair, no matter how finely they swagger.
To the extent that America was ever great, it was great as a symbol of opportunity and freedom and a pioneering spirit.
But there is no more free land to settle — you just rent it from the bank and the state until you sell off your interest to fund your nursing home death watch.
Freedom’s just a feel-good buzzword. Americans are more closely watched and regulated than they ever were under British rule — and the system of regulations and surveillance will only increase no matter who is president.
Hey, old guys — do you remember that time in your life when the amount of laws and rules and regulations the government imposes on you actually decreased?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
In terms of opportunity, maybe Trump will facilitate an economic boost and a reinvigoration of American manufacturing. It could happen. But the generation that’s coming of age — the bright kids that Trump is going to need to help make an American business boom — well, they are tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to an educational and lending system that can only honestly be described as predatory. That system has spoiled their minds with unrealistic expectations while dumbing them down with highly politicized, low substance classes and administrations that encourage them to tantrum whenever they hear a contradictory viewpoint.
There are hundreds of reasons why America won’t be able to come together until it falls apart — until the union fractures into smaller, more manageable and less easily corruptible parts, and different groups people start the process of constructing distinct, exclusive cultures and positive identities.
In fact, I’ve had to edit this essay down twice now, because it’s a book-length topic. I’m never going to write that book. Even writing about American politics for a couple days in a row makes me feel the way I do after I’ve spent too long gossiping about someone who I think is a loser or an unredeemable asshole. Sure, I have the satisfaction of being right, but they still got another piece of my life.
However, I think it’s important, at this stage, to note that there are three kinds of Trump supporters that I see among my friends and readers.
Trump the Troll
Friends of mine who haven’t bothered to vote in years have actually considered registering to vote for Trump because they think a Trump presidency would be hilarious.
Most of them probably won’t actually take the time to register or vote for the lulz, but the fact that they’d even consider voting for someone, “just because it would be funny,” shows the extent to which they’ve abandoned faith in the possibility of a legitimate representative government. I don’t think the people who were blindsided by Trump’s popularity understand how big his, “everything is fucked, but this is going to be funny to watch” numbers are.
If Trump is elected, invest in popcorn.
Say what you want about Trump, but his ability to confound and disorient the media and the political establishment is astounding. He misdirects and redirects like a master magician.
Both true believers and dispossessed supporters of trolldom marvel together at Trump’s cavalier refusal to be cowed by politically correct cry-bullies, social justice warriors and progressive church ladies. He’s been equally dismissive of the humorless prudes and the pudgy neocon war pigs who have dominated the Republican party. Scorned and bitchy, they’re still trying to find a way to push him out and replace him with another guaranteed loser like Ted Cruz.
Trump says, or seems to say, the kinds of things that keyboard truth-tellers have been typing furiously through their painfully witty pseudonyms for years. He frustrates the establishment’s liars and hypocrites by paying them no mind. He breaks the rules. He controls and re-frames every discussion. He’s the ultimate player, and he’s playing everyone like a boss.
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