There is one great truth that ties all revolutions in common and that is they never burst out in surprise. History, or at least when current events have been aged in the cask long enough to be classified as history, always has shown that there were warning signs, hints, foreshadowing adeptly revealed yet not immediately obvious. It is as though the story of humanity is being written by a truly cunning mystery novelist, thus casting God as the supreme meld of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie. A failed assassination attempt here, a farmers’ protest there, like a red sky at morning we sailors should take warning. Except we usually don’t. We’d rather ignore what in retrospect seems so obvious. If we notice the approaching thunderheads at all, we prefer to just wish them away, as though the winds respond to wishes. Good luck with that.
Donald J Trump and his ultra-nationalist, white supremacist, anti-democratic crew have been what Bob Dylan once called a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend, but we didn’t put our ears to the track in time. My personal regret is that I actually did quite literally read the signs but I couldn’t figure out the final stage. A story:
As a writer, it’s been my recreation disguised as work to indulge my passions. Plays, poetry, Human Rights, sports, border collies, I cover the waterfront and those are the docked freighters I unload. My bread and butter has been book reviewing and for a significant (slightly shameful) portion of my career I took contracts writing Sponsored Reviews for various websites. A Sponsored Review is something an indie author buys, essentially an ad thinly disguised as an objective opinion. God knows I never let my name appear as a by-line as the content would have to be approved by the author or else I wouldn’t get paid.
Most of those novels were excrementally awful; badly edited (if edited at all), with paper-thin characters that spoke not in dialogue but in slogans. There was some value in it – reading a ton of crap improved my own skills as an Editor and later as a Literary Agent, but I digress. For you see, there was a certain overlay of a common element that I began to find disturbing. Most, and I mean an actual majority, had a dystopian setting. Usually centred on America, traditional government had crumbled, some form of neo-fascism had taken hold, small groups of resistors hid in the hills or woods, struggling for survival. There were variations on the theme, but you get my point.
Generally speaking, none of these lousy novels ever put together a plausible case for how A got to B – why did democracy collapse? What was the method? It was all just a matter of, ‘Well here we are and doesn’t life suck?’
Still, these dozens of books crawled inside my consciousness like a subcutaneous parasite. You see, years earlier when I was studying Film at university I learned about the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. Oh I know, properly one should learn about such things in a course on Philosophy, comparing and contrasting Hegel with Thomas Caryle’s opposing Great Man theories. Instead I watched His Girl Friday and saw the dawning of the women’s movement. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell were much more fun than droning German philosophers. Regardless of the origin point of this academic sidebar I did come to the conclusion that the Zeitgeist is a tremendous predictor of future events. We emotionally or instinctively feel, as a group, what is coming even if our conscious selves choose to think instead of birthday parties and picnics, hot sex and the Premier League. We know there’s a slow, slow train coming, but we still don’t move in time.
When Trump emerged, I realized that all those terrible dystopian writers had got it right. I still do not know what those writers didn’t know either – How did we get from A to B? Why did over 60 million American voters go off their nut simultaneously and vote for a bog ignorant, racist, misogynistic blowhard? It wasn’t all Russia and stealing Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails, you know. That may have been the casus belli but there equally or more so an itch in the American mind-set that made it susceptible to that specific manipulation. In any event, Trump Watch is going to be here for awhile, so we can come back to that analysis another day.
On this day though, we have to be good generals and anticipate the enemy’s next move. There is a sense among those that resist Trump that once the Republicans in Congress get their collective shit together, likely after Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivers his final report with or even without criminal indictments, they will in turn begin Impeachment proceedings, remove Trump (and possibly Vice-President Pence, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) from Office and then all shall be sweetness and light again.
Not so fast.
Trump throughout his career has been a Vampire, rising again and again, even after five bankruptcies. This is why I wonder what his long game is. The man may be an idiot, but he is not entirely stupid and certainly the moneyed powers that put him in office in the first place will not give up quite so easily.
Thus, my nightmare scenario, one born of noticing how Trump has turned against his own Republican Party, mocking it as weak, indecisive, ignoring the yahoo base that elected him and them. You see, even if Trump is successfully impeached and ordered to pack his belongings including all those hideous gold curtains and get out of the White House immediately, there is nothing to stop him from running again in 2020. Nothing at all.
But wait! What if he is in prison for State crimes? Even a Presidential pardon, such as Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon, has no effect on State sentences. Well that’s true, but I invite you to look at Article Two, Section 1 of the US Constitution, which states the eligibility requirements for serving as President of the United States:
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Do you see anything in there about, ‘Must not be a convicted criminal’? No, neither do I. A Trump, seen by his followers as a victim, with all the squeezing of the electoral lists (over 500,00 have recently lost the right to vote just in the State of Georgia alone) and intimidation of mild-mannered others … could win again. He could run the US from prison like a convicted Mafia don.
Is any of this likely? Perhaps not, but I remind you of something. When Prince Yusopov saw Rasputin’s body sink into the river he thought the danger to Imperial Russia had been destroyed once and forever. He failed to account for all those nasty peasants foaming at the mouth. History never ends, it just starts a new chapter following from its previous.
Be seeing you.