Will democratic government perish…

….when the people lack the will or the wit with which to make intelligent decisions concerning representation and leadership? In an age of unprecedented bias in corporate-owned media, in which the underlying premises of accepted, proven facts can be utterly questioned and even altered in a constant drumbeat of propaganda, can the electorate be so fooled that they begin to believe every packaged lie that is given them?

The election of Trump and his subsequent and unbelievably bad behavior in office challenges the basic assumptions of our Constitution. What happens when… even after this behavior proves consistent and troubling… the public refuses to remove him from office in an election that may or may not be as reliably honest and secure from subversion as we have come to expect? After all, it appears that the constitutional remedies provided in the Articles of impeachment and the 25th amendment are not being seriously considered by the President’s cabinet or the leadersahip of the House and the Senate. What will happen if the “peaceful transfer of power” we have come to expect following our elections is finally challenged?

These are questions that seldom if ever came to mind before the Trump administration began to display an inherent and troubling disregard for both the moral constraints his predecessors respected and the mandates defined by our Constitution. The men who designed our government carefully structured its elements to ensure its lasting applicabilty, with every regard to providing constraints against the possibility of institutional corruption and the danger of autocracy, but they put down a rather large bet upon the idea of a democratic republic. That gamble hinged upon a participating and intellgent electorate.

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to William C. Jarvis, “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

I believe this is the priority in response to our present dilemma, but like good wine, an educated electorate able to respond to the dangerous and anti-intellectual trends of authoritarian populists takes time.

If we start today……………

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker –

What is Trumpism?

Is there really such a thing as Trumpism? Or is the man, the administration, and the thrust of his presidency purposely and aggressively indefinable, an ambiguous, amorphous fog, made up of mere visceral reactions to both impulse and the momentary influence of stray voices passing through his mind?  Lacking disciplined approaches or the need to develop constructs of vision, the man who neither reads nor even trusts that which has been proven by consensus and subsequently recorded as fact, much prefers hypotheses to conclusions, and possibly represents the very pinnacle of reactive thinking.

Agog with affection in the presence of authoritarian leaders, he lacks the stone and substance with which to emulate their brand, coming off, instead, as little more than the reflection of a spoiled and petulant adolescent.  Seated, his posture is oddly defensive, arms crossed so tightly about him at times, he looks to be romancing himself… while his facial expression betrays the possibility that the affection can never be returned, much like a man who possesses a powerful, even passionate love/hate relationship with himself, but one in which the component of disdain has utterly and irreversibly overcome the struggle.  Having no confidence and no rigid core of character within him, perhaps he is a liquid human tide subject to the influence of superior suggestive forces within his orbit.

If indeed there is such a thing as Trumpism, perhaps it does not emanate from this one man…



….but from an amalgam of individuals, a collective perhaps, a coalition of names… like Jared and Stephen and Vladimir and Kim. A pastiche of somewhat unusual men… like Bolton and Bannon, Pompeo and Flynn. Cohen and Cohn, Mussolini and then… Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh and such… Don Junior and Eric, Ivanka, of course… Pence and Mnuchin and Betsy DeVos. The list goes on and on and on and must also include every angry voice in the crowds of adoring, MAGA-hatted fans… and passing thoughts from Twitter feeds… indeed, every passing voice that somehow strikes a serendipitous chord within the molten, mercurial mass of what passes for thought in the primordial presidential soup behind that often vacant stare from the man who is ultimately in charge of the future of our nation. This man who somehow… and perhaps quite by some fluke, some paradigm shift in the fabric of the universe, a glitch in the foundational laws of probability… now finds himself at the very helm of global history.

What is Trumpism? I believe we’ll only get the answer when we finally understand the question or when his epoch has ended… and if that sounds like I’m at a loss to describe Trumpism definitevely and with confidence? You get an “A” for the course.

Class dismissed.

When a new Chautauqua is launched for the present millenium…

…..this op ed/essay should be required reading for its participants. The last century brought us war, genocide, and quite to the brink of nuclear annhilition. Curiously, almost as though we have forgotten the cost and the horror of it all, right-wing authoritarianism is once again on the rise… with progressive opposition seemingly powerless to contain it and establishment forces unwilling to try.

You should read this thoughtful essay from Robert Kagan in yesterday’s Washington Post, titled The strongmen strike backhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2019/03/14/feature/the-strongmen-strike-back/?utm_term=.6bc0a296ec7f&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1