Trump’s victory came as a surprise to all, probably even to the Trump campaign itself. It was a textbook terrible campaign. Clinton did everything right. Trump did everything wrong. And yet he still won. Now he is probably one of the most unpopular people to hold the presidency. There are tremendous forces willing to oppose him (most dangerous to him of all being his own party). People in the White House are leaking information against him. The Republicans in Congress are privately fuming.
So for the many who hate Trump, they take comfort in the fact that he may eventually be impeached. A professor who has currently predicted every presidential election since 1984 (including Trump’s victory) has also predicted the man’s impeachment (CNN, 11-16-16).
But what is not being discussed is what this all sets the precedent for.
Many Americans have a cartoon idea of dictatorship and fascism. Ideas that someone like Hitler was a lunatic, ranting and raving all over Germany. This is not true. Hitler gained immense power in Germany because he was a very sophisticated politician for his time. He used the technology of his age to spread an ideological message. He rallied massive crowds and hypnotized the masses with his charisma.
Trump is not that man. He is incompetent with record low approval ratings. He did not gain power because skill or sophistication, but more as a symptom of America’s overwhelming levels of dysfunction. Trump is like the tumor that reveals the cancer within the political machine.
Trump is a bull raging through the China shop. But in all his destruction, he could be clearing the path for a more sophisticated politician to sweep in and gain absolute power.
Not that Obama and Bush didn’t help put in place the tools for an authoritarian state. After 9/11, America has been vaulted on the trajectory toward authoritarianism. With the passage of things like the Patriot Act and mass surveillance, the State has used the threat of terrorism to do things that the government didn’t even contemplate doing during the Cold War (under the threat of Nuclear War). So the insanity of America’s 21st century mad-dash toward Authoritarianism (in light of so small a threat) is truly breathtaking.
The thing that separates Trump however, from someone like Obama or Bush, is that Trump is very loud and obvious about his grab for power. Obama and Bush were discrete. Obama was the type of politician who made Americans believe that he was doing everything to protect peace and democracy, while being the only American president to spend two executive terms at war. So historically, this is like what separated Caligula from Augustus and Tiberius Caesar in Rome. Augustus and Tiberius were suave politicians who always swore up and down that they were going to restore the Republic, whereas Caligula was more like, “Yeah I’m the Emperor, get used to it.”
However, a more apt comparison here might be of that between Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar. Julius Caesar quite openly tried to make himself dictator of Rome and was quickly assassinated. But he paved the way for someone more sophisticated, like Augustus Caesar, to eventually claim absolute power. And then Augustus threw the idea of a Republic into the trash-bin of history for 2,000 years, while swearing up and down that he was going to support it.
So I suppose the point I’m making here is that Trump probably won’t be president for long. At most he’ll serve four years. But he could very likely get impeached, or even die under the stress of the presidency. After all, he is a seventy year old man who brags about getting three hours of sleep each night.
But here’s a question. Is the fix in for the American system? Is the invisible hand of fate at work here? Is Trump’s role in the grand scheme of things to be the bulldozer, tearing down the world that was built after 1945? Demolishing NATO. Breaking the hold America has on Europe. Pushing America along the path of decline, so that we’re no longer a world super power, and some other nation takes the mantle? Is his role to unleash the chaos that will lead to the birth of something new?
This role is probably unknown to Trump himself. There’s a part of me that wonders if he even wanted to win. In both his interviews with Obama and inauguration footage, he looked genuinely terrified and shocked that he actually made it to the presidency.
So now is the time for new ideologies to take foot. The world order built after 1945 has unleashed the greatest destruction of the environment ever seen and is unraveling at the seams. Trump himself could be an unwitting manifestation of this whole collapse, before something new takes hold.