The Rebirth of a Nation

As I watch and listen to GOP politicians provide excuses and cover-up for Donald Trump and his conduct, the thought occurs to me that perhaps we are witnessing the labor pains of something to come. I don’t mean civil war or the fatal collapse of democracy, but something else. Something beautiful, something new, something the world very much needs and has long been waiting for.

Positioning Trump in the stage lights of our national attention is exposing his vices, ambitions, and aggressive self-interest like never before. I mean, we’ve known these things about him for some time, even as he was coming up the ladder of capitalism – or I should say, as he was stepping on the heads of taxpaying citizens, exploiting workers, and jilting investors, building a brand associated with excessive wealth and enormous debt. The American Dream.

In a way like nobody else, Donald Trump embodies and represents what can be called the demonic energies of capitalism – its greed, excess, exploitation, insatiable craving, zero-sum competition, glory-seeking, and conspicuous consumption.

By definition, and drawing on the deep heritage of cultural mythology, demonic energies are committed to breaking things down, pulling them apart, putting them at odds, taking possession and destroying them from within. They are “against the gods” to the degree that divine energies are intent on bringing things together, healing what is broken, making whole, and setting the captives free.

So here’s what I’m wondering. What if Donald Trump is functioning as an archetype of the “latent demonic” in our collective national psyche, of the aggressive and self-interested impulses that drive capitalism, alongside and intermixed with its creative dynamism of innovation, wealth generation, progress, and competitive excellence?

For a while, perhaps, these “godly” virtues (as they were acclaimed in the emerging Western European and New World “Protestant ethic”) kept the “demonic” vices in check – or at least enough in check to inspire a vision of individual prosperity and communal wellbeing (the American Dream).

Depending on whether you are White, Anglo-Saxon, or Protestant, this arrangement has worked fairly well. On the other hand, if you are Black or Brown, indigenous or immigrant, of some other religious affiliation or none, another species or the planetary ecosystem as a whole, the so-called American Dream has been more like a nightmare.

Capitalism runs amok as its demonic elements begin to rise and break apart the moral agreements, ethical priorities, and human empathy that unite body and soul, self and other, human and nature in healthy, life-affirming ways.

On this reading, all the weird antics and violence baiting of “Trumplicans” can be seen as the convulsions of a kind of national exorcism – or to put it more positively, as the laboring contractions of a new birth. Trump personifies in a blatant, overbearing, and offensive way energies in ourselves that we have accommodated for some time, with occasional guilt but generally without apology, believing they were necessary to the fulfillment of our material ambitions and national destiny. He is exposing what has been, and still is to some degree, inside each of us and all of us as a nation.

Now we’re waking up to a reality that is planetary, global, multicultural, and diverse in many more ways. It’s time for our divine energies to be ascendant, what Abraham Lincoln named our “better angels”: respect, compassion, kindness, accord, goodwill, and fidelity to what brings and binds us together in charity and service. We are realizing, finally, that our American Dream has been alienating and oppressive to so many outside our boundaries and under our boots. (And to be honest, its pursuit hasn’t done much to make us happier or healthier, either.)

A “prophesy” based on this reading of current events might anticipate the professional failure of Trumplican politicians who are falling over each other to marry their own ambitions to their fear of a base that is poised with guns in hand to “take back” the country they never really had, that never really was. Trump will be indicted, maybe imprisoned, or at least prevented from ever running for public office again. There is likely to be more violence – more squeezing pain as a new and brighter future is delivered into reality.

The insecure, angry, and disillusioned base will continue to nurse their grudges and throw occasional ‘tantrumps’, but the larger culture will no longer be afraid of them, just as adults are not (or shouldn’t be) intimidated by toddlers.

Now, just in case there are Republican readers who have taken offense at my words, I ask you to consider the extent in which you may have abandoned the political philosophy of your party for a charismatic personality, deep democratic principles for aggressive self-interest, a Christian ethic of universal and unconditional love for expedient measures of extortion, deception, and violence against those who don’t agree with you or are different from you. Especially if you claim to follow the “Jesus Way,” these are all profoundly contrary to a Christian ethic of compassion, full inclusion, and redemptive community.

Back in 2016, as Donald Trump was shaming and slamming his Republican rivals for the presidential nomination, I floated the idea that he wasn’t in fact representing the Republican party, but was instead an almost messianic (now as I see him, archetypal) figure of capitalism – with some xenophobia, misogyny, aporophobia (fear of poverty and the poor) and White Supremacy thrown into the mix.

As the Republican party began to tolerate, accept, endorse, embrace, and finally submit itself to his influence, I warned that it was (not so) slowly but surely losing its soul. When individual self-interest eclipses communal wellbeing, when personal wealth takes precedence to the commonwealth, and when ego ambition not only out-competes altruism in the short game but lambasts it as a weak and lazy form of socialism – that’s when capitalism wins over democracy.

True Republicans need to stand up and speak out against their Trumplican hijackers, professing the core values and high ideals of American democracy. Our two-party system needs sane, rational, grounded, and compassionate Republicans at the table, in the chambers, and on the streets.

So what am I saying, exactly? That we need to reject Donald Trump and punish his minions, get them off the political stage and into jail cells where they belong? Not quite. Or not only that. What needs to happen first – the necessary and critical threshold-crossing act that will help us move as a nation into the next stage in our transformation – is for each of us to choose a life together, for each other, and all together: a more perfect union.

Published by tractsofrevolution

Thanks for stopping by! My formal training and experience are in the fields of philosophy (B.A.), spirituality (M.Div.), and counseling (M.Ed.), but my passionate interest is in what Abraham Maslow called "the farther reaches of our human nature." Tracts of Revolution is an ongoing conversation about this adventure we are all on -- together: becoming more fully human, more fully alive. I'd love for you to join in!

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