Wednesday, August 1, 2018

AMERICA : THE UNDESIRABLE ALTERNATIVE

In 1946 Winston Churchill made one of the ultimate speeches in modern history, saying that "an iron curtain has descended across the continent". His prophecy endured until the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, 1989.

It looks now as if another iron curtain is being built in America, splitting the country in halves and causing it at the same time to severe former ties with allies, who begin to consider the United States as an acquaintance turned rogue.

In two years the lies and the vitriol coming out of Trump have created a toxic atmosphere in the US. That a minority president was able to create a rock-solid base which supports his alternative facts, his overt war against the press and a suicidal deconstruction of the world order (American made) leaves observers dumbfounded. Now that Brett Kavanaugh might become the newest judge on the Supreme Court, the coup d'├ętat is almost complete. The warfare against the press, the judiciary, the welfare state is accelerating. The Republicans have no longer shame or beliefs, while the Democrats are just cry babies.  40% of the country has become Trump's private Stormtroopers.

America's two halves (more or less) are no longer on speaking or hearing terms. For the first time in a Western democracy, a major cable news network, Fox News, has become the official preferred filter/organ/outlet of one party. Sean Hannity, Fox's star apparatchik is this administration's guru. His unsophisticated commentary is becoming the Bayeux tapestry of the Trump saga. Fox devours the competition and has become the most watched cable program. CNN is the arch enemy by now and its reporters figure high on Trump's "most wanted" list, together with minorities, science, culture, the EU (Germany mostly), and the "play foe" of the week (China, Mexico, Germany....etc.).

The world is divided. There is one silent winner: China and the BRI - Belt and Road Initiative -. There is one cynical voyeur: Russia. Many don't know anymore where this unhinged American president stands. Europe, shell-shocked after Brexit, does not know what to make of a situation in some form of permanent flux. It hesitates to verbalize too loud its total disdain for this new rude political stone-age but is nevertleless tempted to take an alternative route as long as the undesirable alternative lasts. There are risks, strategic and political. In this advanced stage of nausea, Putin starts to look more polite, shrewd or statesmanlike. Already his fans in central Europe and Italy have awakened to the sound of the populist chorus. The United Kingdom seems to have no future other than getting, at regular intervals, pomp and parades out of the mothballs. The old continent looks forlorn, with a political deficit at its Eastern and Western borders. It wants to distance itself from a pathological partner but cannot risk jeopardizing it all, throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Actually, the situation is more alarming in the United States itself. An incident at a Trump rally can quickly degenerate, since the arsonist-in-chief strives on fury. The "Black Lives Matter" movement is becoming  an ever larger rainbow and is a force to be reckoned with. Many college educated men and women start to see the more non-benign DNA of this power grab. The Trump plutocrats cynically manipulate an often clueless mass of drifters stuck in social stagnation and religious glue.

The future looks bleak. Even if Trump were impeached, a Pence presidency could be even worse,. The vice-president has the look of a man ready for Kristallnacht. He may have the uniform in his closet. He and his wife should be made honorary citizens of Salem. This ultimate bigot, who fetishists the Bible but gives the "president sinner" a free-pass, is a Yago without the verse.

The mid-term elections in November are a big question mark. The Democrats should make considerable gains, but...Trump will campaign non-stop and experience shows that he is a formidable contender, the more so when he smells blood or fear. His repetitive lies (No collusion, fake news, witch hunt, hoax...) and use of "ear worms" (Crooked Hillary, Little Marco...) create a narrative which sticks. The Democrats will have a uphill battle and might be catnip for this predator. Something is rotten in the United States.

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