The Next American Civil War (2010) of which its author, the social philosopher Lou Harris speaks, is enfolding before our eyes, or so I infer from the presidential candidacy and enormous populist support Donald Trump is winning in the U.S. presidential campaign of 2016.
Donald J. Trump: Ornery American
The central theme or character of Harris’ The Next American Civil War is the “ornery man.” Harris identifies the “ornery man” with the typical American. Paradoxically, Donald Trump is a paragon of the ornery man. He violates every tenet of American politics.
Unlike his major competitors Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who boast of their humble origin to win the votes of the underclass, Trump boldly displays his great wealth by filming the Trump Towers, or via the televised arrival of his private 757 jetliner in one city after another, where he not only makes his political rivals appear as second class citizens, but also attracts tens of thousands of animated supporters.
Trump’s display of “greatness” exemplifies his appealing campaign slogan, “Making America Great Again,” which simultaneously makes his competitors appear as political pygmies.
In one city after another he down-stages Cruz and Rubio, attracts enormous numbers of people, and repeatedly boasts of the great size of his audience in one venue after another.
Clearly, Americans are fed up with mediocrity, especially with the Government in Washington, whose minions say much and do so little. What a remarkable contrast Trump makes with America’s teleprompter President Barack Obama, who apologizes to the nations for American greatness!
Barack Obama: arrogant post-American
But doesn’t the body language of America’s first black President stamp him as arrogant? Doesn’t the smugness conveyed by his facial expression border on the obscene? Yet, in contrast to Trump, don’t the consequences of his foreign policy manifest a desire to make America small again?
That’s what this post-American black president is all about. He is driven by a slave mentality, by envious resentment against the white supremacy manifested in Western colonialism in the Third World. This is why he returned a bust of Winston Churchill to London. This is why he scorns not only America’s theo-political foundational document, the Declaration of Independence, whose cardinal phrase , the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” is rooted in the Bible of Israel.
No wonder Obama, known as an “empty suit,” adorns himself with a philo-Muslim veneer, chokes on the term “Islamic terrorism,“ signs a pro-Iranian nuclear weapons agreement, and supports the barbaric Muslim-Arabs Palestinians over against the Jewish state of Israel.
Obama’s narcissism feeds on his arrogant rejection of Judeo-Christian civilization. This he displayed in his approval of same-sex marriage. The truth is, Obama is essentially a pagan who worships himself.
An anti-intellectual patriot
Trump may be an egoist, but he’s also an American patriot. His exaltation of “greatness” is as American as apple pie. However, like his rivals, Trump says nothing substantial about the great and memorable ideas and structural principles of America’s Founding Fathers, such as those embodied in the Declaration of Independence and manifested in American history.
Small wonder: Trump’s audience is not interested in history, and certainly not in ideas. Ideas have been relegated to the dust heap by higher American education, which is steeped in value-relativism. American higher education has dried up the intellectual and spiritual interests of one generation of students after another by denying the existence of any true ideas concerning what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, noble or base. What prevails In college campuses across the nation is the adage “I’m okay, you’re okay.” This is sheer nihilism, the prevailing diet of academia.
As a consequence, Americans are attracted not by ideas but by the glitter of “greatness,” qualified by the paltry desire for comfortable self-preservation. The tycoon’s message to the masses is nothing if not bourgeois. Hence Trump promises that he will be the greatest creator of jobs in American history.If he doesn’t commit too many mistakes, he can’t lose!
Trump has trumped the intellectuals who dominate the media and academia. The media hates Trump not for ideological reasons but because he, too, likes to be viewed as politically neutral or anti-ideological, a deal-maker. However, his glitz makes his superficiality more alluring than the mediacracy of a nation glued to the boob tube.
The tube inevitably precludes any serious presidential debate or any serious reference to memorable ideas. Trump’s political campaign is totally anti-intellectual, which makes it utterly anti-revolutionary.
Probing deeper, however, the 2016 presidential campaign is revolutionary in that It represents, via the media, the ascendancy of superficiality and the closing of the American mind.☼
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