Fear and loathing in Trump’s United States of Amer­ica

Truro Daily News - - NEWS - Jim Vib­ert Jim Vib­ert grew up in truro and is a nova Sco­tian jour­nal­ist, writer and for­mer po­lit­i­cal and com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant to gov­ern­ments of all stripes.

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.

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