In a recent New York Times column, Maureen Dowd describes Donald Trump as an “American monster”. This is an entirely reasonable view, but American society is mired in such a state of evil normalcy that this monster has tens of millions of followers, who worship its greed, criminality, and cruelty.
Dowd contrasts Trump with the monster in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” which begins with “elegance of spirit and sweetness of temper, reading Goethe’s ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ and gathering firewood for a poor family.” But then his creator, Victor Frankenstein, abandons and rejects him, refusing to make him a companion:
The creature finds no one who doesn’t recoil in fear and disgust at its stitched appearance, its yellow skin and eyes, and black lips. Embittered, he seeks revenge against his creator and the world.
“Everywhere I see happiness, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded,” he laments. “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a devil.”
Before disappearing into the Arctic at the end of the book, he reflects that he once had “high thoughts of honor”, until his “scary catalog” of evil deeds piled up.
Shelley’s monster, unlike ours, has self-awareness and a reason to wreak havoc. He knows how to feel guilty and when to leave the stage. Our monster’s malignity stems from sheer narcissistic psychopathy – and he refuses to leave the stage or cease his vile falsehood.
Dowd supposes it never occurred to Donald Trump that a president openly plotting a seditious coup “would be a debilitating and corrosive thing to the country. It was just another way for the Emperor of Chaos to burnish his title.” The House committee’s first prime-time hearing on January 6, she writes, was “a horror story with predatory Proud Boys and a monster at its center that even Mary Shelley could have enjoyed”:
In his dystopian inaugural address, Trump vowed to end “American carnage”. Instead, he handed it over. Now he needs to be held accountable for his coup attempt – and not just in the court of public opinion.
But who created this American monster? Donald Trump was not built by a mad scientist in a secret lab. He’s not an orphan and he didn’t come out of nowhere. It was the almost inevitable result of a decades-long onslaught by the “conservative” movement that aimed to end American democracy (especially multiracial democracy) and replace it with a pseudo-democratic authoritarian state, perhaps organized under the system that political theorist Sheldon Wolin described as “inverted totalitarianism”.
RELATED: Cult Expert Steven Hassan Sees 95% Chance of Worsening Pro-Trump Violence
As part of this long-term attack, most or all of the historic victories of the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the gay rights movement, the labor and environmental movements, and other struggles for human dignity and a more are just being back. If this project succeeds, America’s already tattered social safety net will be virtually eliminated. White Christian fascists and corporate plutocrats will forge a ruling coalition with near-total dominance over American life and society. The separation of Church and State, along with the guarantee of freedom of expression and most of the Bill of Rights, will disappear.
There is no longer a “normal” or “traditional” version of the GOP for so-called conservatives to return to. Even those conservatives who have repudiated or denounced the Trump movement are implicated in its rise. They are like Dr. Political Frankensteins, horrified by what they created but unable to kill it. Over decades, they painstakingly built the monster and created the blueprint for American fascism.
Want a daily summary of all the news and commentary the Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.
As Wajahat Ali wrote this week in the Daily Beast, some of Trump’s “most prominent enablers” are now trying to distance themselves from the “continued and concentrated effort of the right to topple the 2020 election”:
Even though most of these ex-Trumpers fail in their careers – as is often the case in Washington, DC – it’s important for the rest of us to recognize them as fully complicit actors who deserve to wear that MAGA hat on their heads until The End of Days. times….
If you believe there is a “normal team” in the modern Republican Party, you probably also believe that fewer doors and armed teachers will reduce mass shootings, a book ban will save your child from being transgender, and climate change is a hoax created by China. .
Either way, you’re not acknowledging that the GOP is now an armed cult that no longer produces “rational” Republicans, but instead caters to the feverish, paranoid quagmire of dangerous conspiracy theories and white supremacist ideologies. This persistent disinformation from the right has now radicalized its base, in which many members believe that violence is necessary to “take back” their country. The reality is that Team Normal and Team Crazy play for the GOP, wear the same uniforms and, for now, worship the golden calf known as Trump.
Ultimately, Donald Trump is not some kind of monstrous or weird Other. He was not conjured into some other dimension ruled by Lovecraftian demons, only to descend into America from the ether to sow destruction, chaos, misery and death.
Donald Trump and everything he embodies is a product of our society, with its extreme inequality, consumerism and greed, racism, anti-intellectualism and fetish for violence.
In reality, Donald Trump – as a man, symbol and political leader – and everything he embodies is the product of our society, driven by extreme social inequality, consumerism and greed, unfulfilled dreams, alienation and widespread loneliness, anti-intellectualism, racism and white supremacy, the cult of spectacle, our fetish for violence, and a host of related anti-social and anti-human values and tendencies.
In a recent essay for ScheerPost republished in Salon, Chris Hedges offers a powerful diagnosis of our corrupt and bankrupt American political system, arguing that the Jan.
The two established wings of the oligarchy, the former Republican Party represented by politicians such as Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the committee, and the Bush family, are now united with the Democratic Party’s elite in a ruling political entity. The ruling parties had been attuned to major issues for decades, including: war, trade deals, austerity, militarization of the police, prisons, government surveillance and attacks on civil liberties. They worked together to pervert and destroy democratic institutions on behalf of the rich and corporations. They work desperately together now to prevent the revolt of angry and betrayed white working men and women who support Donald Trump and the far right.
There are other systemic flaws as well. The US mainstream media, both out of habit and laziness, have approached Donald Trump and American politics in general as an ongoing narrative of “great men” (and, more recently, “great women”), singular figures who are the main characters in a drama that plays out largely independent of history, culture or economic reality.
This partly explains the media’s obsession with polls and public opinion, the addiction to horse racing coverage, and the effort to identify “winners” and “losers” on a daily basis. Of course, the mainstream media are also profit-driven and compelled to shape the news so as not to offend advertisers or alienate the political establishment and other social and cultural elites.
Media professionals are also trained to avoid moral language when describing domestic politics, although they routinely use such language when discussing foreign affairs and especially the official enemies of Americans. The result is that most American political journalism remains an exercise in shorthand and superficial commentary, often bowing to totems like “moderation,” “normal politics,” “justice,” and “balance,” concepts that probably never were. Useful. or transparent and are now totally inadequate for the task of facing the crisis of democracy in the United States.
Many in the media still refuse to see the Trump movement and the modern Republican Party as destructive revolutionary forces rather than traditional political movements investing in the existing system. At this point, the media’s intentional or compulsive refusal to understand the nature of the threat has become a pathology. Journalists from major outlets would benefit greatly from reading “The Authoritarian Playbook: A Media Guide”, a new report by the non-profit group Protect Democracy. Offers the following advice:
Insofar as the authoritarian booklet has a central theme, it is that democratic erosion is a process of concentration and consolidation of power. While all political actors seek to accumulate power, authoritarians exclusively seek to consolidate that power and protect it from external controls. Experts generally agree that democracies don’t tend to just die at the hands of individuals. Instead, contemporary attacks on democracy are only successful when they are coordinated, systemic, and carried out by broad parties or movements.
If Donald Trump, the American monster, is somehow banished from American political life – through criminal prosecution, old age, or some other force – another monster will quickly appear. In fact, Ron DeSantis and other fascist-republican leaders are eagerly waiting for Trump to leave the stage, and they may become more competent and more effective than he is. Trumpism is a hydra-headed movement, no longer dependent on Trump as an individual: cut off one of his heads and another will grow. The only long-term solution is to drain the swamp that gave rise to the monster.
Read more about our 45th president and our national hangover: