What Donald Trump has done, both during the campaign and in the year and a half since, is tapped into the backlash against both political correctness and what’s correct politically.
The backlash against political correctness was long overdue. In saying what was on his mind he’s given permission to millions of Americans to say what’s on theirs. None of what’s on either of their minds is all that pretty. But kudos for their saying it, even if not for what they’re saying. Now that we know what these millions of Americans are thinking, we can start working on ways to disabuse them of it.
The backlash against what’s correct politically is a harder nut to crack. It turns out that millions of Americans don’t want cradle to grave health care. Nor, it seems, do they want America to be burdened by the mantle of leadership in creating a better world. What they want, and all they want, is to be free to put their own interests not just first but pretty much full-stop. Trump isn’t looking to be respected abroad, because neither are the people he represents.
This is a world removed from the lofty rhetoric of the Kennedys or Obamas. We’ve entered the age of a littler America. And maybe we’ll all be the better off for it. After all, it was the Kennedys who got Americans into a war they then couldn’t get out of. It was Obama who pledged to close Guantanamo Bay and eight years later never got around to it. So let America shrink back into its isolationism. Power abhors a vacuum. Someone will step in. It should be clear from Vietnam and Afghanistan and now Iraq that America has struck out. Can the next batter up, be it Europe or China, do much worse?
People from the south are invading the north. Walls and naval blockades won’t stop it. Nothing can. Europeans and Americans are going to become a mutt race. What of it? Maybe when the ugly places empty themselves into the beautiful places, they can be recolonized. They’ll have to be. And then maybe they won’t be so ugly anymore.
As that schlocky poem Desiderata says, “The universe is unfolding as it should.” In the meantime tend your garden and be patient with what you perceive as, and in large measure is, idiocy. The Thousand Year Reich lasted less than twelve. Trump has at most another six and half to go. How much damage could he do? More than his predecessors but less than the National Socialists. Germany recovered to become a nation among nations instead of uber them. And so will America.
In the meantime, “you are a child of the universe. You have a right to be here.” There’s no need to shout it from the rooftops. Nor even to quietly proclaim it. Just calmly stand your ground.