January 20, 2017. President Trump takes his place behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office at 1:45 p.m. and opens a note from Barack Obama. “Good luck. Have a yuuuuuge day today, because the next four years are going to suck. —Barack”
Propelled to office on a campaign of “making America great again” without ever explaining how he will do it, Trump rides high on a wave of gnosticism: The belief in secret knowledge. One of my favorite writers, Jonah Goldberg, posited that both Sanders and Trump’s campaigns are based on a political version of a religious heresy (Gnosticism, with a capital “G”).
In an era when everything was suffused with religious meaning and orthodoxy, the heretical Gnostics argued that the official story of Christianity was a ruse. They claimed special insight and secret wisdom. They knew the real deal. If the Gnostics were alive today, they might send you e-mail spam saying, “Click here to learn the five things the Church doesn’t want you to know about your eternal soul.”
President Trump’s effort to right every wrong must start with knowing every answer to what’s right. Everybody who voted for him believes he knows. As Tevya sung in Fiddler on the Roof: “And it doesn’t matter if I answer wrong or right, when you’re rich they think you really know.”
But grave questions remain on whether Trump really knows. An answer to “can someone give me actual reasons why people think Donald Trump would be a bad president?” on the expert-answer Internet site Quora was written by UC Berkeley professor of physics Richard Muller.
When Trump was asked how he knew Mexico was purposely sending criminals across our border, he said a border guard told him so.
What worries me about this answer is Trump’s gullibility, his complete naivety in knowing how to establish truth. It never occurred to him that the border guard was giving an opinion and not a fact. It didn’t occur to him that a border guard might not be an expert on the hidden actions of the Mexican president. Yet the ability to evaluate truths is essential to good decisions.
Trump said he gets his news from the Sunday morning talk shows.
It’s informative that when posted to Facebook, the Trumpkins’ response is “who cares what a physicist thinks?” I shudder to think what kinds of “cuck” remarks would ripple through Twitter in response to this fairly light criticism.
Muller further buttressed his argument by noting Trump had no idea what the word “triad” referred to in reference to our nuclear deterrent. Every other candidate knew that it means the combination of air, missile, and submarine delivery of nuclear weapons. Trump relies on his gnostic abilities to simply “know” the right answer instead of studying. He also believes he can substitute picking terrific people for deep knowledge of complex issues.
German politician Ludwig vin Rochau gave us Realpolitik, which Henry Kissinger used to bring North Vietnam to the Paris negotiating table. To Kissinger, the loss of 16 B-52s, 12 tactical aircraft, 43 dead crewmembers and 49 taken prisoner somehow justified the 58,220 American dead, while the NVA and Viet Cong rolled into Saigon. This has to be the most immoral thing our government has done to its own people, prior to Benghazi.
Trump would give us Trumpolitik: The belief that “winning” will bring us happiness. If that were true, Hollywood would be the happiest place on earth. If Realpolitik recognizes that right can only be achieved through might, Trumpolitik is supposed to immanentize the eschaton—bring about the end of the world as we know it, ushering in the Messianic era of peace and prosperity.
Trumpolitik is firmly rooted in the belief that competence is the highest form of quality, and that the real story behind everything is known to only a few enlightened individuals, Donald Trump being the main one. Waking up to the truth that people in government do what they feel is right to them versus being puppets of this or that conspiracy is akin to the dead rising out of their tombs to Trumpolitik subscribers.
In the world of Trumpolitik believers, who cares what anyone thinks except Donald Trump, the Knower of All Things The Way They Really Are™?
Lois Lerner targeted Tea Party groups and 501(c) political organizations with links to the Koch brothers because she felt empowered to do so. The EPA pursued Brobdignagian regulatory authority because it felt empowered to do so. Every area of government, down to the individual employee in charge of a program, has felt more empowered under President Obama. This was not due to some vast conspiracy, but a deep-seated belief in the power of government.
The president’s role as chief executive is to limit government’s power, from the top adviser in the White House, to the district supervisor at a local IRS office. For citizens to realize their liberty, government must be aggressively restricted. But Trump does not believe that. He believes that single-payer health insurance works versus doctors and patients deciding what’s best (and insurance companies rating risk based on illness and treatment, not government regulations). He believes that eminent domain is just peachy for the government to decide economic winners and losers by taking people’s property.
Trump believes that candidates for office can sue because they don’t like an opponent’s advertising. He believes that candidates don’t have to answer questions of how they’ll keep their campaign promises, or why their history (except their birthplace) matters. Trump doesn’t believe in personal liberty, that America can be great because its citizens are great. Trump believes that He can make America great through the power of government and “great deals.”
If Obama kindled the flame of government hegemony over all aspects of our lives, President Trump would pour gasoline on the fire.
Far from overturning this empowerment, Trumpolitik will further entrench it and shield it with the benighted conspiratorial tones of political gnosticism. If Trump takes office in 2017, after one yuuuge party, we will all wake up the next day to a four year hangover, with repercussions felt for many more.