The pace is increasing. Faster and faster we seem to roll forward from one day to the next overwhelmed by President Trump’s decisions, tweet-reactions to criticisms and reversals, leaks, weird phone calls to foreign leaders and overall wild behavior. In a few weeks he already seems to be approaching the kind of velocity that will only produce catastrophes. Political physics is every bit as unforgiving as the laws that govern the natural world. Speed produces wear, friction, a reduction in reaction time, overheating. Eventually, sooner rather than later I suspect, things will begin to break — alliances, loyalties, processes of governance, methods of communication … and probably far worse will occur — a loosening of Constitutional restraints on power, a fracturing of civil rights, reputations ruined, lives broken and lost, landscapes ravaged … and oh please no, a careening, machismo-driven lurch into war.
He has cowardly enablers in most of the Senate and virtually all of the House Republican Party, a group who have no code except self-preservation and the desire to exercise power — among them, the ideals of an honorable conservatism are dead. They fear President Trump’s vengeful attention and of receiving a primary challenge from the right. They will not stop him. They will only line up to genuflect and put their lips to his ring.
Empathy will not stop him. He has shown himself incapable of envisioning himself into the lives of those who have suffered, whether they are CIA members who died on missions or refugees fleeing for their lives or the poor or women, or frankly, anyone else. His moral imagination is a barren zone.
I suspect that only personal disasters caused by his policies and laws will set any good percentage of his supporters against him — economic disasters, loss of health care, a terrible destruction of American lives in some military adventure. No person with a conscience wants those to occur.
Meanwhile something very like an infection spreads, a state whereby some dismiss the humanity of those whom they fear or with whom they disagree. The deep meanness in the bloodstream of the body politic — long seething, troll-driven, madness driven, fed by lies and fear — is beginning to “trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which may lead to death.”*
Heraclitus wrote that “character is fate,” that who we are reveals itself in our actions, that we can no more escape our nature and temperament than we can gravity. President Trump’s nature and temperament daily unfurls itself in the crucible of that Office where the pressure never relents. That is why, only three weeks into his term, that body-politic, this America, feels close to a kind of threshold, the fever rising, the body thrashing about, no promise of relief forthcoming, most of us gathered round the sick-bed, deep apprehension writ in our hunched figures.