Wednesday, November 9, 2016

 
 
DESCENT INTO DARKNESS
 
 
 
 
To quote Sir Winston Churchill about Nazi Germany, We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude. The United States of America has reached a new low; and we did it to ourselves. We have no one else to blame. We have betrayed our democratic-republican values. We have entrusted our precious government to an egomaniacal and valueless strong-man who now has no check, let alone bounds. He won by dividing people against each other and bringing out their worst instincts. He has no understanding of American history or democratic values. If he carries out his campaign promises he will discard the Constitution of the United States. After 240 years, we have met the enemy and he is us.
 
How did we get here? That will be a question thrown around for years to come. I offer my take:
 
Yesterday's election was the revenge of the Angry White Man. Trump channeled the AWM brilliantly. The AWM got back at everyone and everything he blames for his troubles: foreigners, women, blacks, corporations, the media, the Washington government, and the traditional political parties. The AWM now expects Trump to restore the world as it was in the 1950's when there were plenty of good paying factory jobs and blacks, women, Hispanics, and homosexuals knew their "place" and stayed there. This is in fact an illusion but the AWM does not know this. He will learn it when the dictator he has put in power fails to produce this return to the AWM Eden. Reality will eventually set in, but God only knows what will happen between now and then. I was wrong about my pre-election predictions about the AWM. He was angrier and more numerous than I had imagined.
 
To put this in the bigger picture of history, the AWM is a large part of a counter-revolution going on in the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries. The revolution occurred in the Twentieth Century when the democratic-republican system won WWI and discarded monarchism, pulled the world out of the Great Depression, crushed Fascism-Nazism-Militarism in WWII, and witnessed the disintegration of Soviet Communism in the 1980's. In the second half of the Twentieth Century, this democratic revolution carried out a vast reform movement in America to bring liberty, equality, and justice to social groups long marginalized and maligned: African Americans, women, the disabled, the impoverished, the elderly, Hispanics, homosexuals. The great democratic revolution of the Twentieth Century was one of the most dramatic transformative events of world history. However, every great revolution of history has an inevitable backlash, a counter-revolution led by people who felt threatened and displaced by the revolution. In America, that counter-revolution came from the AWM. Donald Trump simply tapped into this and did so spectacularly.
 
America has decided to move to an authoritarian government. The question now is how far this anti-democratic counter-revolution will go before it too runs its course and is overcome by the overall tide of history. Trump will have no limit on his power. He has a one-party government in a Congress that is completely controlled by a cowed Republican Party. The Democratic Party has been shut out of power. There will be no limit on what the dictator can do. If he follows his campaign promises, he will deport millions of people, throw his opponent in prison, and shut down the free press. The Bill of Rights will be assigned to the rubbish pile. An economic depression will devolve.
 
There is no way to sugar-coat this disaster. This is the darkest day in American history in my lifetime. However, we should not get carried away by the numbing shock of it all. This is a disaster but not a catastrophe, at least not yet. We Americans have survived a great deal in 240 years. We can weather this too if we wish. We survived the Civil War. 
 
We are now moving into a great unknown. The people have made a decision to hand over power to an unpredictable and loose cannon. God only knows where we go from here. Even though my faith in the wisdom of the common man and woman has been shaken, it has not been destroyed. We as a nation are better than this. In time, I believe we will listen to the better angels of our nature and right the wrong we have done. The disturbing thing now is that we do not know the terrible events that will occur between now and then. 
 
I have faith that democratic republicanism will survive. The values and principles on which this country was founded and has thrived for these two centuries are too deeply embedded in our national psyche to be discarded now. The great democratic revolution of modern history will go on. History is progress, but not one in a straight line. It moves in fits and starts. This is a setback but not an end.

What does Trump's election mean for the schism in South Carolina? Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate will get to make a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. There is already one vacancy to fill that will break the present 4-4 conservative-liberal split on the Court; and there will probably be several other vacancies in the next few years. A solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court could mean that the Court will reject the claims of the Episcopal Church over the dioceses. It may well be that the long delay in a written decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court comes from the fact that the justices know their decision is likely to be appealed to SCOTUS and their arguments will be scrutinized carefully by the high court. Thus, Trump's victory could very possibly mean the defeat of the Episcopal Church before the U.S. Supreme Court and the ultimate failure of its legal claims of sovereignty over the dioceses. 

Sometimes one pays a heavy price for doing the morally and ethically right thing. Our nation will now pay a price for righting the wrongs of our society just as the Episcopal Church is paying a price by losing five dioceses. But would we have wanted it otherwise? Would we have wanted to do the wrong thing just to keep short-term peace and unity? I think not. In the end, the right will prevail because it is right. That is the most fundamental of all values of American democracy and Christianity. This is just as true now as it was yesterday.