America has wallowed long enough in the post-modern era. After modernism, which dispensed with classic ideas, came post-modernism, defined on good old Wikipedia as “typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as notions of rationality, human nature, and progress.“
Well, that modernism stuff is simply old hat isn’t it? And in the land of politics similar transitions have been occurring. We are witnesses to a process in which traditional conservatism gave way to neo-liberalism, defined on Wikipedia as “the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.:7 These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.”
Back to the Future, in other words.
Neo-liberalism got its first political pelvic thrust from the likes of Ronald Reagan, who among other things, forcibly raped the unions and warned them it was only a first date. Thus the stage was set for a future that would turn out quite ugly forty years later.
The Reagan Revolution was indeed a pact of aggressively regressive ideas that in reverberation through generations of equally zealous anti-government, anti-union and anti-liberal types, led to the collapse of the America economy after the forced romance started by Mr. Trickle Down Economics himself.
In other words: Neoliberalism backfired and the economy wound up face down and mortified.
But that just meant neoliberals needed something else to which they could cling to for honor in the face of a collapsing worldview. That’s when Post-Patriotism was born.
Post-Patriotism reared its head in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. It was formed by the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who opportunistically turned a national crisis into a flag-waving excuse for imperial dreams.
Sensing or even anticipating the mood of the nation after such a massive terrorist attack, the Bush administration leveraged the political climate as an excuse to invade the Middle East. Bush and company invented an aggressive pretense linking Saddam Hussein to the events of 9/11. Hapless patriots bought the lie, and Post-Patriotism was born. Even some Democrats were cowed by the fearmongering used to convert anger over 9/11 into an excuse to attack Iraq and invade Afghanistan.
There was just one problem with the Post-Patriotic plan to take over the Middle East. The Post-Patriotic verve blew away with the smoke after a massive series of bombings did little to change things in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Without a succession plan in the wake of the overthrow of Hussein, Iraq dissolved into a mess and the focused rage of Americans after the 9/11 tragedy was tossed into a hornet’s nest of even more terrorism directed and aimed at American interests.
Then came news that American soldiers were torturing Iraqi citizens in the very same jails used by Saddam Hussein. That meant America quickly squandered the high ground of 9/11 because we behaved no better than the people we’d identified as the Bad Guys. Even die-hard patriots were left defending these egregious behaviors while jails like Guantanamo based in Cuba illustrated American hypocrisy and fear over hosting terrorists on its own soil. Under the leadership of Bush and Cheney, Post-Patriotism became a “loser take all” proposition. And America was losing face badly, and quickly.
Post-Patriotism has now gone all the way through an abstract phase in which it became the foundation for an entire ideology in which contradiction of terms is the prime modus operandi. That’s how the slogan “Fair and Balanced” became the calling card of Fox News, which clearly touts conservatism as its main foundation while characterizing contradictory facts as an expression of liberal bias. Yet this hypocrisy has proven highly popular in the era of Post-Patriotism, in which fear is the main selling point in politics and opinion.
Post-Patriotism has sold well in a media climate where real journalists are so easily shoved to the background or worse, openly mocked for any sort of intellectual confession that can be maligned as a product of the liberal elite and higher education.
Thus we arrive at the Low Brow conclusion of the Post-Patriotic era, where no intelligent person can defend rational ideas using basic tools like facts. The strategy for Post-Patriots going forward is simple: If none of your beliefs align with the moral or patriotic high ground, then you must aggressively occupy the low ground, and set about cutting people off at the knees, and at all costs.
Thus we have moved into an era that is not just Post-Patriotic. It is Trumpiotic. That is the battlefield where truth itself is the enemy. Truth is the unmentionable obstacle to aggressive opinions served up as fact. That is exactly why fact-checkers have little or no effect on this new age of Trumpiots, who could not care less about what other people think.
In that vein, Trumpiots aggressively respond to accusations of racism by doubling down with even more racism, or even making the claim that racism did not exist before the likes of President Obama.
Trumpiots consider themselves the enlightened lot. It’s an easy claim to make in some respects. Their leader Donald Trump elucidates no common sense and outlines no firm positions. His notion of implementing political and social change is to radically change his opinion and expect people to follow along. His followers imitate this ruse, all the while claiming it is the responsibility of less enlightened citizens to “keep up.” As if ignoring accountability were an indication of true leadership.
And so, we’re faced with a mass movement in America that is no longer tethered to any sort of values at all. This is the rally cry of Trumpiots, whose apparent devotion to their Orange Leader remains spookily familiar because history around the world has burped up others of his kin. Indeed, Great Britain has its own Donald Trump in the likes of Boris Johnson.
This is always what you get when conservatism runs amok, a brand of patriotism that eats its own kind. It is cannibalistic and shunts real patriotism to the side in favor of party loyalty. This is the age of the Trumpiots in America. May it not be long-lived.