Happy cultures are all alike. But this is not a happy culture. Sullen and sour, America seems like a country whose nerves are shot. And, after 16 straight years of war, why wouldn’t the political neurons be frayed? Each day the fear factor is being ratcheted up. New threats are being targeted. New wars being planned. A paralytic dread hangs over the Republic.
To watch the news these days is to be seated at a dark table in a casino for games of death. Or fantasies of death. At a certain point, it doesn’t really matter. At a certain point, one will lead to the other. Eventually, the fantasy must become reality. Those are the house rules. The thrill of the fantasy will ultimately be paid out in real blood.
Listening to Donald Trump speak is to be privy to a weird kind of political séance. He has become a fuming animation of the primordial grudges and resentments of white America, people who feel their invisibility made flesh in the figure of Trump, people who thrill at every low-minded slur and threat. He conjures up phantasms of what the elites and the minorities have done to them. He feeds them their fears in raw chunks. He offers sacrificial killing on their behalf. Mass arrests. Torture. Deportation of the sick and helpless. He vows to turn entire nations into glowing morgues. All for them. And they eat it up, savoring the bitterness. How long can this last, how long before the fever breaks?
I am listening to Trump’s incendiary…