Why Democracy Will NOT Survive

Here is why American democracy will NEVER recover from the election of Donald J. Trump.  When Trump hired Reince Priebus to be his chief of staff, he sent a clear message about how future presidential campaigns will be conducted.  From here on out, the presidency will become iconic and, at best, cynical.  Behind the scenes, the party apparatchiks will run the government and, as the Bannon hiring shows, the campaign to rally the deplorables will be unending; Bannon is the new minister of propaganda.

Some may quibble that Ronald Reagan long ago changed the presidency to image over substance, surface over depth.  But Reagan had retooled himself into a political career before he ran for president.  Unlike Reagan, who was governor of California and served (albeit domestically) during WWII, Trump has never held elected office or served in the military, firsts for an American president.  This is a meaningful distinction.  Reagan was an actor AND a politician.  We have, to paraphrase Poe, assumed that all actors are politicians and all politicians are actors.  Surely, there is some truth to this.  But the rise of Trump is the elevation of the ACTOR–theater to curry the favor of fools and distract them from the politics hidden from everyday view.  I don’t see how we break this structure.  Why won’t all elections go similarly?  It worked.  It will be copied.

Reince Priebus and Mike Pence are now the most powerful people in the country.  Neither would have survived the Republican Primaries.  Those who believe that Trump didn’t actually intend to do the horrible things he promised during the campaign…these are the real cynics.  They may be right to recognize that the establishment will remain the establishment; but they have played with fire.  What will Trump’s believers do?  The racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic assaults of the past week scare me.

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