Fear and loathing in Trump’s United States of America
Fear and loathing, the operative words in two of Hunter S. Thompson’s book-length essays, are unpleasant but increasingly present sensations among many observers of and participants in events south of the border.
Thompson had Richard Nixon’s political demagoguery figured out more than a decade before the rest of America caught on. But he was a voice in the journalistic wilderness, and his unorthodox lifestyle didn’t earn him much credibility. Hunter had a cult following, many of whom joined him in self-medicated psycholol-onggical relief.
The age of Trump is accompanied by a plague of drugs more likely to kill users than still anxiety, so we take him unfiltered. The primary mind-altering substance is the noxious, pernicious anemia dealt by Trump’s mouth and Twitter account, and pushed by his acolytes.
Fear comes with contemplation of where the Trump presidency could take us. Loathing from knowledge of its source.
Some see Trump as the result of a white-lash against America’s first African-American president. Or flowing from disillusion with the economic disruption required to salvage a liveable planet — a disruption halted and reversed by Trump.
He may be symptomatic of a declining mono-chromatic white-powered nation, longing for the unchallenged supremacy of its brutal past. Or the unavoidable culmination of the grassroots neo-con movement, typified by the Tea Party, that usurped the Republican Party, then combined wittingly or mindlessly with the American danger zone — the dormant but ever-present haters that Trump called forth, embraced and legitimized.
All the above are points on a single axis that charts the ugly underbelly of the world’s greatest power. They do not constitute a majority but, unleashed as they are now, they are a frightening and formidable political force. Or, as America’s cringing “mainstream” media has chosen to label them — too benignly — the Trump base.
Hunter Thompson wrote, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
Trump’s furtive hold on the disappearing sane wing of the GOP comes with occasional forays into shared reverence for the mythical Reagan revolution. He joins senators like Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley and John McCain in their belief that America was great back when the divide between rich and not became the Grand Canyon.
But the so-called base needs more than the mirage of a shining city on a hill.
They relish the trips Trump rhetorically takes them on, back to a simpler, paler time. When Americans stood for the anthem, swelled with pride as the redwhiteand-blue unfurled — or where the stars and bars shamelessly flew — and before anyone dared challenge a couple of centuries of oppression.
In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in America’s violent history, the Trump White House felt compelled to reaffirm its commitment to the second amendment, the guarantee that Americans can arm themselves to the teeth.
At the same time, President Trump’s top toady, the God-fearing vice-president, went to a professional football game for one purpose, to disrespect Americans who were exercising their first amendment right to free speech. Mike Pence walked out of Lucas Oil Stadium because African-Americans took a knee while he sang, “Oh say, can you see.”
Has America fully awakened to the reality that their leadership holds the right of citizens to openly carry assault rifles above the right of those most likely to be killed by one to freely express their opposition?
President Trump champions guns while drawing a bead on African-American athletes, not because he cares about either, but because the “base” loves it.
Donald Trump wouldn’t share a pilsner with most of his supporters, but he’ll use them to get what he wants, just as he did when he discriminated against non-white tenants when he was still in Queens. His motive then was less personal hatred of “the blacks” and more assurance of higher-end (white) renters in his apartments.
In America, a small man cries havoc and lets slip the hidden dogs of hate, to turn the highest office in the land to mere personal opportunity.
If that’s not reason for fear and loathing, Nixon was framed.