by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 21st, 2018 at 11:22:35 AM EST
Ever since the election of Donald Trump (which like many others, I didn't see coming) I have kind of lost interest in US politics. It's not as if I condemn all Americans as dumb-ass stupid. I have been to the States a couple of times in the distant past and know it is a very varied country. It has it's very conservative backwards parts, and some very progressive forward looking districts. It has lots of very poorly educated people, but also many of the most brilliant minds and innovators in the world.
Since the end of World War II, the USA has gloried in the title of "Leader of the Free World", although allying with Stalin against Hitler is a distinction without much difference. It's subsequent alliance with every nasty dictator on the planet against "communism" didn't do it much credit either. But my dispute is not so much with what the USA was, as with what it has become under Trump. Basically a country without hope. Without almost any major saving graces.
Sure, if you are lucky or smart, with the right racial/linguistic profile, you can still make your fortune there. But don't get sick. Don't "drive while black". And it helps if you are a white supremacist racist bigot. Believing in Zionism, creationism and denying climate change also helps. In general, besides McDonald's, Microsoft and Google, what positive contribution does the USA make to the world now? Dylan and Springsteen belong to a prior age. Hollywood hasn't produced an original or inspirational movie in years. Since MLK, has any US political leader provided much inspiration to the world?
All crass generalisations, I accept. And I do admire the "can do" positivism and sunny optimism of so many Americans I have known. But even if the EU is a bureaucratic quagmire and Brexit a sore on the back-side of creation, what positive inspiration can one now draw from the US? The USA has always had it's crass materialistic side. I remember being shocked when asked "How much do you make" almost as an opening conversational gambit. It seemed that some people only defined you, and themselves, by their earning power.
But with Trump that strain seems to have become almost entirely dominant. There seems to be no moral, political, environmental or social concern which isn't Trumped by the bottom line. If "Driving while Black" almost amounts to a crime, then doing almost anything while rich is absolvable. Trump has even said he could shoot someone on Times Square and get away with it. The "Moral Majority" of "Christian Conservatives" will forgive anything if you are rich and white. The fast growing Mormon church even seems to equate material success with divine favour. Church of Mammon, more likely.
And in the meantime the world is consumed by war and deprivation often as a direct consequence of the depredations of US multinationals, military and contractors. A mass extinction event is under way as humans destroy ever more planetary resources beyond the planet's ability to regenerate and sustain. It is not that we in Europe are blameless, but that Trumpism seems to glory in leading us all in the wrong direction. The worst aspects of global corporate rule made flesh.
Please somebody tell me I have got it wrong. That there are widespread positive trends afoot in the USA which will soon overthrow Trumpism and all it represents. That UK Brexiteers will get their noses bloodied, and then some. That the nascent fascists in Europe will get their comeuppance. That political stability will be achieved in the Middle East... But somehow I don't see too many positive trends. Yes globalism has lifted many in Asia out of absolute and into relative poverty, but at a price the earth is unable to sustain. This has the look of an epoch that is nearing it's end. Please tell me it isn't true.