Living in the midst of a non-violent (as of today) national crisis is far different than viewing that crisis through the lens of historical scrutiny. If you strap on your blinders and turn off the parts of your brain responsible for critical thinking and common sense, the reality as it stands today is that Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote and that we should all simply accept that the system still works and move on with our lives. Trump supporters are more than eager to point this out in comment sections across the Internet, and there are even Democrats who are more interested in talking about 2020 than what is happening in the present moment. For them, it’s a done deal.
Yet republics rarely fall with an earth-shattering crash. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it certainly didn’t fall in 24-hours. The rise of Nazism in Germany didn’t happen overnight and was preceded by WWI and two decades of growth within the German political system. Trump’s quick ascendency to the most powerful office in the country isn’t the result of one crazy day when millions of Americans suffered a bout of temporary insanity and voted him into office. It has taken at least three decades of conservatives stirring up the anger of white Americans with a poor-oppressed “us” against the powerful, elitist “them” storyline to take us from the affable but dim-witted Ronald Reagan to the racist demagogue Donald Trump.
Talk of America being in a national crisis is even too much for a lot of middle-of-the-road Americans to accept, with many characterizing it as “the-sky-is-falling” hyperbole of left-wing losers. What is making me stand up and take notice is that it is not just the usually vocal lefties who are sounding the alarm, but many more liberals who would normally be considered anything but Chicken Little alarmists like former Clinton administration member Robert Reich and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. These guys are not prone to yelling “fire” unless there is ample solid evidence a fire is truly burning. According to columns and posts by these two and others over the past couple of months, there is genuine concern about the future survival of this country under Trump.
It’s important to understand that Reich and Krugman are not just worrying about this new administration and Congress enacting bad policies or passing faulty legislation, they are fearful of Trump’s threats to the very fabric of our democracy, such as free speech, a free press, and the rights of citizens to peacefully protest, not to mention this administration’s dangerously antagonistic and militaristic approach to foreign affairs.
To Reich, Krugman and myself, Donald Trump represents a real and present threat to American democracy and to this country’s physical safety. We know Trump is a dangerous loose cannon, an adolescent in an orange man’s body capable of making mistakes on a scale unimaginable in previous administrations. Not only is Trump a loose cannon, they warn, but he is surrounding himself with reactionary ideologues who have no business working at such high levels of government.
Trump is not business as usual. He is not merely Bush with a fake tan. His willful ignorance and childish, reactionary decisions are dangerous and will have very serious and potentially life-threatening consequences for Americans. If you don’t want to listen to me, okay, but how about a Nobel Prize winning economist?