When the time comes to write the history of the second American revolution – or perhaps the second civil war – no one will be able to say that they didn’t see it coming. It has been building day after day on our television screens: A big, sexually active, square-jawed billionaire decides a weekly tv show isn’t enough to feed his ego, so he runs for the presidency, getting 24 hour coverage.
Like every media star, he plays to his strengths, leading with a stream-of-consciousness filled with the same dirty words we hear on television, encouraging his followers to attack those who disagree with his plan to ‘make America great again’. Almost a century after the rest of the Western World, it is finally possible for a socialist to appear on national television, and the Sanders candidacy has allowed the American left to come out in favor of social democracy. But it has only taken a few months for Trump to push back, calling Bernie Sanders protesters ‘Communists’ and blaming them for the violence of his own followers, when socialists are by definition against violence, at home and abroad.
Most Americans have long believed that our country would continue its middle-of-the-road course, avoiding both fascism and communism. But they allowed money – always an ally of the right – unprecedented freedom to create never-before-seen disparities of wealth. With our comparative international quality of life scores embarrassingly low, reasoned condemnation of that policy sooner or later had to break through the pretense of exceptionalism.
Powerful economic interests want the country to continue its foreign wars, making it impossible to close the quality of life chasm. We may eventually discover that bankers and weapons manufacturers actually called on Trump. As US workers began to discover that every other developed nation has better schools, free health care, free universities and a host of other benefits that flow from the conviction that the community must stand in solidarity with its individual members, just as do families, the 1% may have decided that it will not suffice to have brought the European welfare state to its knees to prevent them from demanding equal treatment. Even if the Islamist threat ensures continuing ‘patriotism’, the 1% may need to feel certain that the thousands of militiamen and other Second Amendment fanatics at home will turn their guns on a resuscitated left rather than on them.
Trump may sincerely believe he can will the country back to ‘greatness’, just as Hitler believed his ‘master race’ would rule Europe. But as information about how the rest of the developed world lives finally reaches a critical mass of Americans, the many demanding equity will be met by the few defending power.
Meanwhile, America’s role in the world is also in play. Islamic fanatics reject our ‘city upon a hill’ that has descended into a gutter of commercialism in which everything has a price, embodied by female forms. As shown by attacks on European women by Muslim immigrants, our culture does not encourage Muslim men to accept women as equals.
Most liberal Americans still believe that Sanders doesn’t stand a chance of getting the Democratic nomination, and those who support him see him as primarily a domestic reformer, but Bernie is the only candidate who could heal the rift with the Muslim world. Aside from the fact for it was Christians who undertook the crusades that destroyed Islam’s rule over half a continent (a rule that accepted Jews), Bernie welcomed a hijab-clad student of political science to his microphone saying: “I am a Jew. Members of my family perished in the holocaust,” implying that he would not tolerate anti-Muslim behavior.
Journalists finally started to play back to us Trump’s encouragement of violence after he was seen condoning an attack on a black protester at one of his rallies, offering to pay the attacker’s legal fees. The next day he denied encouraging violence, but the day after that, when Republican party leaders finally hinted they would deny him the nomination even though he is likely to bring the required number of delegates to the convention, Trump warned this would provoke riots.
It may be too late to review 1930’s German history, when democratic socialists failed to divert a popular tide in favor of Hitler. But no one should forget for a moment that Trump’s blue collar supports include militiamen, Second Amendment fanatics and the vast array of American Nazis, all well-armed.
As we learn from a rule of physics, once a process reaches a certain momentum, it can only continue in a forward direction: the rule is that the arrow of time is irreversible.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.”