Think of how small and besieged one’s life can feel under the minute by minute pressure of Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, texts, live-streaming events, and the news and culture feeds popping up by the second on our phone’s screens. Think about how the speed and volume of those feeds are growing — imagine high pressure hoses whose nozzles expand almost daily, whose dimensions of images and information have become an outpouring of Biblical proportions, all in all a torrent falling upon us and creating two fundamental effects: a geometric increase in impatience and a corresponding decrease in the time, and perhaps even the ability, to reflect. We want speed in being informed and speed in solutions, but we then live with the withering away of a rich inner life — the more of the torrent we consume, the less time we have for silence, thought, the complex reasoning necessary to make sense of a world-scape moving in such confusing patterns of commerce, biology, chemistry, power relationships and all the electric dimensions that now overlay those patterns. Add the exhausting nature of work and its demands for more time and results — its evolution into a Darwinian imperative. Thus, the retreat to a contemporary political tribalism, to the nesting architecture of contemporary homes (big houses on small lots, life lived wholly within, the neighbors an afterthought), to the entertainment complex of spectacle and fashion and foodie culture and reality shows, to a demand that the problems of public life be fixed now, this minute, without cost to me.
To this chaotic composition Trump enters on a pulse-storm of tweets, daily wild claims, furious score-settling, screeds, promises rolling off his tongue as fast as he can speak. Then comes the counter-reaction of analysis, predictions, effects; the sending forth of his repulsive seconds: Conway, Hannity, Ryan, McConnell (so many more). All this before he becomes President and enters an office that attracts pressure and criticism like a super-magnet picking up shards of metal from the earth itself. What will he do when he discovers that his intimidation and swaggering bluster and uninterrupted lies bring him nothing but a furious backlash of words and actions from his opponents and accountability from news organizations and the voters? (Rick Perlstein thinks he knows)
And all of this will take place in that present realm of speed and chaos. There will be no respite. The chaos will increase in measure and force. He will be part of the dynamic driving that expansion.
What will break? Who will suffer? What forms will the inevitable recoil take? Sixty-three million Americans voted for Trump. How will they react to the daily roar of lies and broken promises, to the loss of health care, to the burgeoning of an American aristocracy of billionaires, to the certified fact that Vladimir Putin, enemy of decency and democracy, helped elect him? How will they react to their own dispatch to the role of serfs in the Era of the Trump Imperium?