When the time comes to write the history of the second American revolution - or perhaps the second civil war - no one will be able to say that they didn’t see it coming. We have seen it build day after day on our television screens: A big, sexually active, square-jawed billionaire decides a weekly tv show isn’t enough to feed his ego, so he runs for the presidency, getting 24 hour coverage.
Like every media star, he plays to his strengths, led by a stream of consciousness filled with the same dirty words we hear on television, encouraging his followers to attack those who disagree with his plan to ‘make America great again’. It has only taken a few months for violence to appear, but Trump gets away with calling Bernie Sanders protesters ‘Communists’, blaming them for the incidents, when they are constitutionally against violence, whether at home or abroad.
The Sanders candidacy allowed the American left to come out in favor of social democracy. Almost a century behind the rest of the Western World, it is finally possible for a socialist to appear on national television. Last August I wrote that we could be faced with a Trump/Sanders election, and nobody believed me because Sanders is facing a presumptive front runner. Today it’s clear that his uphill battle for the nomination is helped not only by Hillary’s foibles, but by Trump’s embrace of violence.
Most Americans have long believed that our country would continue its middle-of-the-road course, avoiding both fascism and communism. But they allowed money - always an ally of the right - unprecedented freedom to create never-before-seen disparities of wealth. With our comparative international quality of life scores embarrassingly low, reasoned condemnation of that policy sooner or later had to break through the pretense of exceptionalism.
Powerful economic interests want the country to continue its foreign wars, making it impossible to close the quality of life chasm. We may eventually discover that bankers and weapons manufacturers actually called on Trump. As US workers began to discover that every other developed nation has better schools, free health care, free universities and a host of other benefits that flow from the conviction that the community must stand in solidarity with its individual members, just as do families, the 1% may have decided that it will not suffice to have brought the European welfare state to its knees to prevent them from demanding equal treatment. Even if the Islamist threat ensures continuing ‘patriotism’, they may need to feel certain that the thousands of militiamen and other Second Amendment fanatics at home will turn their guns on a resuscitated left rather than on them.
Trump may sincerely believe he can will the country back to ‘greatness’, just as Hitler believed his ‘master race’ would rule Europe. But as the almost imperceptible drip drip of information about how the rest of the developed world lives reaches a critical mass of Americans, the many demanding equity will be met by the few defending power.
America’s role in the world is also at play, as religious fanatics reject a ‘city upon a hill’ that has descended into a gutter of commercialism in which everything has a price, embodied by female forms. As shown by attacks on European women by Muslim immigrants, it doesn’t help Muslim men accept women as equals.
Most liberal Americans still believe that Sanders doesn’t stand a chance of getting the Democratic nomination, and those who support him see him as primarily a domestic reformer. But Bernie’s attitude is also what is needed to heal a rift with the Muslim world, for it was Christians who undertook the crusades that destroyed its rule over half a continent, (a rule that accepted Jews).
If Bernie can build on the stance he took the other day when he welcomed a hijab-clad student of political science to his microphone, telling her: “I am a Jew. Members of my family perished in the holocaust,” he could be seen as the right president for the United States, both domestically and internationally.
Journalists are finally daring to play back to us Trump’s encouragement of violence when he denies it, but they are only slightly more inclined to condemn him outright than are his challengers for the Republican nomination. All should review 1930’s German history, when democratic socialists failed to meet a similar challenge, before it is too late.
The rule of physics called ‘the arrow of time’ tells us that once a process reaches a certain momentum, it can only continue in a forward direction: the arrow of time is irreversible.