I spend way too much time on the computer. My worst habit is playing hearts online. That is my #1 worst time waster of all. If I had more discipline, I might be amazed at what I could accomplish if I wasn't being engaged in that mindless activity.
But Bill on Facebook is my second worst habit. I found him on my social network when I was busy doing homeless advocacy, and Bill distinguished himself by being a member of the Tea Party. You could say he's my best frenemy. We go back and forth. Mostly what happens is, he posts some right wing bullshit that someone pulled out of their ass, and then someone in the great right wing conspiracy has the chops to make it viral enough until Bill finds it and posts it on his feed. And I bite.
This has been going on for years it seems. I'd like to think that I have a hefty win and loss record in these dialogues. Most of the time Bill blindly defends whatever the Trump machine dredges up; I refute him with facts, not lies. And then Bill calls me names -- end of conversation. It's pretty easy for me to win because of my experience and education. Many times, Bill will dredge up the same identical trope several weeks or months later, in which case I will bitch slap him and resort to name calling as he does when he can't think of anything more creative to say.
There is a level of mutual respect hiding in there somewhere between Bill and myself. I think both of us at some time might have hoped to change their opponent's positions, but we've long since given that up. Instead, at least for me, Bill is a monitor of how Donald Trump's message is playing with Bill and his cohorts.
Some of the most impossible and stupid people in Bill's universe are the Trump Jesus people, who actually believe that Trump is the latest (and greatest manifestation) of Jesus Christ. With them, I just pretty much talk about Jesus, my fictional gardener, and how I've come to accept him. That line is always a good burn, I've found.
I've thought about taking Bill on the radio with me. We could just repackage the dialogues we engaged in over the last week and add some sound effects when talk on that subject ends. Besides being an ongoing game between cat and mouse, my ultimate reason for carrying on this dialogue has been an attempt to understand what actually makes for the Trump phenomenon. And here, I've learned quite a bit.
First, there is no doubt. There is a component of racism and hatred in Trump supporters -- particularly against Muslims (earlier) and now illegal aliens. That is a stain on Trumpism that will absolutely not go away. But let's put that aside for a bit.
As important as that component of Trumpism is -- more importantly, it's necessary for all of us when the TPers inevitably resort to the saying of "make America great again" or "MAGA" for shorthand. What does that ultimately mean, other than some super-nostalgic fever dream based on some drug overdose?
Well, one thing that is a component is total and unwavering support for the policies of Donald Trump, no matter how badly Bill or his ilk fail to understand what the implications of those policies are. Yes, the TPers are obviously an authoritarian bunch, so we can insert any analysis we want about the ultimate destruction of American democracy. But we'll get back to that later.
Looking under the hood, there are a couple of things that emerge besides the racism and love of the strong leader. One of the components is a clear bias on behalf of billionaires and against middle class, working class, and poor people. Business is always been taxed to death. Its very existence is being threatened by one stupid government regulation or another. Here we can insert the Marxist comment about working at odds with one's personal class interests.
Another trope that Bill likes to use is discovering some black or brown person who is a total Trump supporter. Bill is very fond of discovering someone from the so-called talented tenth in the black community who's declaiming about being no longer on the Democratic Party plantation. When brown people are highlighted on Bill's page, they're taking trash about illegal immigrants. When he highlights these anomalies, I say that the right wing attack machine has filled its affirmative action quote for the month. This is a recurring fantasy of his -- that somehow all the minority groups in America will somehow see the errors of their ways and become hard core Trumpies. Dream on, Bill.
From these shards, it's possible to pick up pieces and see what MAGA really means if it were implemented. From what I've found, America appears to have been great the last time not from the 1950s, but from the 1920s. The 50s have proven to be a bad fit, not only for the fervent anti-Russian sentiments, but because the top tax rate in the Eisenhower administration was 91%. No, I believe that a much better fit for Trumpism are the 1920s.
The implications of this are fairly large. Not only does this mean the entire destruction of the New Deal, but it means a reversal of any civil rights movement. Women? back in the abortion and birth control closet! Gays? Don't even talk about them, they should be buried so deep! Black, brown, yellow, and red minority groups? The only acceptable behavior is serious Uncle Tom-ism!
America is seen as somehow great when all environmental and financial regulations are taken off the table. The problem with this oxycontin dream of Trumpism is that the late 1920s quickly became the 1930s, and we are certainly in that current position, I'm afraid. No American who's younger than 90 actually remembers how wrenching and destructive the time period from 1929 to 1933 was.
As the aftermath of 2008 continues, everyone can see that the neoliberal approach of channeling trillions of dollars to the financial institutions for prosperity has not been a blazing success. In many respects, the world is still reeling from the Great Recession, and the prospects of a new 1929, which may come as early as next year, provide establishment economists with no solutions. Clearly, the next economic downturn cannot be handled the way it was in 2008. But what does that mean?
First, it would mean total economic and financial collapse. If banks and finance organs were left to wither, the full aspects of a depression would be revealed. To be sure, there are some economic proposals for Great Depression II that are on the table. But each of them represents a radical confiscation of great wealth. Somehow, the billionaire I think would not go peacefully into that long night. But let's put that aside for a moment.
Some of the fixes for Great Depression II would be a debt jubilee, where all debts are forgiven. Poor people would be universal winners, and the ultrarich whose fortunes are made on mega-debts would be the ultimate losers. Another fix would be giving every American anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000 in the face of a crash. You can see the great financial sources of political reaction screaming about that one! In any event, you can begin to get the idea of the societal chaos and disruption that will occur if and when the economic reality cycle catches up with the Trump fantasy cycle.
But there are additional problems if Trump succeeds in MAGAing. Number one is -- the societal disruption would promote various levels of authoritarian government no matter what country or political party was involved. Social unrest inevitably leads to government oppression. To quote Al Jolson on repression: You ain't seen nothing yet!
In addition, a couple of jokers have been inserted into the deck for America as we know it today. Number one is global warming. I don't think I need to go too much into the societal chaos that will happen in the near future as a result of our CO2 addiction. But a lesser known threat will be the end of the US dollar as a global currency. Combine these issues into the post-Trumpist environment, and there's absolutely no way to imagine how far down or deep American society will fall after the calamities happen.
The saddest thing of all is that the supporters of Trump may ultimately be right. Donald Trump will be remembered as perhaps the most influential POTUS in history. He will have succeeded in bringing the world down from American hegemony, and in the process, will have given all Americans 20 cents on the dollar to live on for the rest of our lives for generations.