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Trump the ‘divine Teacher?’ Depends on the lesson

Trump is our avatar. In the Hindu sense of “a manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth; an incarnate divine teacher.”

Divine teacher?

It may yet turn out to be. Donald Trump has unleashed the worst, most base demons in the American soul — those begat from the union of freedom and oppression which birthed this country in blood and bold ideals.

Are we invaders? Colonizers? Slavers and mad-eyed white supremacists? Yes! Or, are we the children of the tired, poor huddled masses who yearned to breathe free and so abandoned the curses of the Old World for the vague promises of the New? Also, Yes!

That is the Yin and Yang of America — the mad dash for land, slaves and wealth, on the one hand; and the need for bloody self-liberation in the midst of all that land grabbing and enslaving. That is the gory contradiction of our history: those that made a nation based on the highest ideals in the Declaration of Independence, betrayed those ideals as the ink was drying. But the brilliance of those Declarationists was that the dream of freedom they dreamed was larger than ever they could have imagined.

Our history was made by those very actors who were excluded from the dream of freedom, but forced their way in anyways, and compelled power, as Malcolm X once said, to admit these excluded diners to the banquet table of liberty.

So there has always been a schizophrenia at the heart of America, that “feeling … of firmly held beliefs not supported by objective facts.” Such as the feeling we are the greatest nation on earth, but not supported by objective facts like our history, or the economic, health and educational measurements that make us a middling nation at best.

And now we have a president who has forced on us our greatest psychotic episodes, maybe ever.

We have never had a president that actually sought the destruction of the nation — that is the destruction of functioning government and the open call to overthrow an election and all the crises that will snowball in its aftermath: violence and years of recriminations as Americans dig their foxholes and wait, never realizing we have actually dug our own graves.

To be clear Trump is not running for reelection, he knows that is impossible. Instead, like all dictators, he seeks the destruction of the society he held captive. This is true even if Trump never actually became the dictator he so longed to be. The dynamics are the same: America failed him, and he will see it destroyed for doing so.

Napoleon, Franco, Mussolini, Baby Doc, a dictator’s ultimate destination, if not goal, is the destruction of the society that failed to stop him. It might make no sense but that is the logic of dictators.

Trump is the same. We have failed to anoint him our savior, and he is now doing his damnedest to see we pay for it. As others have noted, he is not even running for reelection, rather he is trolling Dems, liberals and pretty much anyone else who is even remotely concerned about the longevity of our democracy.

The end result will be to leave in a bedlam of political paranoia and racial rancor the nation of “suckers and losers” that failed to anoint him king. This is his mic drop moment — unleashing his minions of chaos and violence to confront that (second) oldest force in America: the demand for freedom! And he will sit on the sidelines and warm his deformed heart over the fire of civil discord he has unleashed.

How then does this banality of evil become our “divine teacher?”

We will one day write that the juggernaut of bigotry and ignorance who descended deus ex machina like in Trump Tower to Make America Great Again, has actually Unmade America Entirely.

Teacher Trump has taught us that our apathy, our smugness, our pride in electing our first black president and almost but no quite electing our first woman president was not much of an accomplishment at all.

Trump has taught us that after milestones are passed, and glass ceilings shattered, we are still only at square one, in terms of our social contract, in terms of our national soul. Barack Obama was the man of the moment, for example, when a white supremacist slaughtered nine black churchgoers in South Carolina. He comforted us. Trump has not. And now we know we’d rather have real police reform at the national, state and local level, than to continue to be comforted after the endless killings.

That is a divine lesson, for us, but even more for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris: We do not want to be comforted, we want the killings to stop! And that is how we will judge you: not how you comfort us, but how you make real political change. And if you don’t we will gut you in the midterms.

An old sage once said: Life is simple if you try hard.

Our Divine Teacher has taught us that life in America is so complicated right now because we the people have not tried hard enough over the past 40 years. We let our individual duty as citizens slip, we patted ourselves on the back for Barack, we let the Dems be shellacked by the increasingly far, far right. We the citizens set our nation on cruise control, and the Divine Teacher has driven us right over the edge.

And that is the most divine lesson we can (re)learn: Democracy is simple if we try hard. We have in the past: in 1776, 1861, the 1930s, and the 1960s.

So hold on to that Democracy Shovel: We’ll be using them for years to come!

Joe Gannon, novelist and teacher, lives in Easthampton he can be reached at opinion@gazette.net

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