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Image: Architect of the Capitol

Trump Change: Is it the New Deal Born-Again?

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Is it really all that difficult to find a rubric for analyzing what to expect from Donald Trump’s administration of government?  People on all sides are so caught up in the present moment that they miss the obvious. That’s especially true because most are taken in by the twin-party sham. But once you see that sham for what it is, you also hold the key to understanding the present situation.

Several years ago, I wrote a column that may be of help. In it I compared the people of the United States to the patrons of a rigged casino.

Promise people that you will do whatever your pollsters tell you they want. Once in power, do whatever it takes to stay there. This is the sly principle of the politics of elite domination that characterizes the present so-called “two-party” system.

Elitist peddlers of socialism often deploy the rhetoric of unity and/or solidarity in their efforts to beguile the multitude. But when it comes to action, they implement an understanding of politics that actually requires (and therefore aims to perpetuate) the fragmentation of the body politic. This is particularly true of the coalition building political model that has been typical of the Democratic Party since the New Deal era. With promises of patronage and special favors, the party induces differing groups to work toward the common goal of winning government power.

The elite manipulators of the party system select (or co-opt) leaders for these groups, then play them off against one another. Much like the owners of a rigged casino, they allow each group to see itself as the victor just often enough to sustain the false hope that keeps them on the premises. But they never allow any group or combination of groups to score wins that give them sufficient chips to challenge or interfere with the elite’s exclusive control of the house.

The supposed unity of these groups is a tinsel town façade. Moved by the same lust for power, they end up playing on the same premises – but they are not intrinsically bound together in any way. They have a common interest in the same external commodities (money and power), but otherwise they retain their radically different purposes and identities. Like the gamblers in a casino, they keenly hunger for victory. But beyond this they have in common no sense of the good to be achieved by it. Though they form a community of sorts, it exists as an incidental consequence of the opportunity for abstract gain fabricated by the gambling enterprise.

In terms of this analysis, who is Donald Trump?  He’s a new gaming and Casino supervisor, sent in by the crooked patrons of the gambling house because an ever-increasing number of its patrons have been challenging the honesty of its operation. Tense scuffles have taken place as a result. Disturbed by them, some patrons are shaking off the stupor induced by the garishly monotonous environment fabricated to monopolize the consciousness of its patrons. Half-awake, but not yet fully aware, such patrons, fumbling about for clarification, begin by nervously checking their cellphones or digital watches for the time. It’s clear that others are feeling the urge to take a break, moving toward the restrooms or even make the exit signs.

In an episode of “Gunsmoke” Dodge City’s Miss Kitty would order her bartender to serve a round of drinks, on the House. In Deadwood’s more lawless environment, it would be time to crack some heads; or shuffle some too accurately obstreperous patron into a back room, and from thence “off this mortal coil”, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet put it. But the greater technological sophistication of our times brings to mind the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that featured a virtual reality casino in outer space. Even if you managed to reach and walk through the exit, you found yourself recycled back into the casino.

The storyboard inspired by our recent Presidential election would then have you bumping into the convivial drunk who had been perched on the stool next to you at the Blackjack table. He would be headed back to try his luck after hearing that the Casino was under new management, who promised looser slots and better chances in every game. On cue, you would hear satisfied shouts of victory here and there, as luck turned for patrons in one game after another.

Also on cue, you catch sight of a Nathalie Emmanuel lookalike who walking in as you tried walking out.  She’s teasing the ear of her companion with a whisper as she tells him about the new ownership’s promising slogan, “Everybody Wins Again”.  All these hopeful distractions conspire to drive the thought of leaving the establishment clean out of your mind. To your reawakened cupidity, the shrewd promise of change already feels like money in the bank.

Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan.  Nor is he simply a deceptively remapped version of Barack Obama, hiding behind an “obnoxious white guy” version of the high-tech VR mask Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character wears in the ‘90’s version of “Total Recall”.  He’s just what the casino metaphor implies—a New Dealer, brought in to reinvent the failed experiment in socialist so-called “democracy” that began in earnest under FDR.

FDR’s original New Deal Administration came to power at a time when America’s elites still felt it necessary to maintain a credible pretense of respect for the Christian Biblical understanding of God and His creation.  The elitist faction presently in control of the nation’s political process maintains the pretense, but not the credibility.  For some time, it has been a key aim of that faction’s agenda is to make sure the people at large are never exposed to anything like an authentically respectful presentation of the Christian understanding.  With Donald Trump’s seduction of many self-professed Christian conservatives, they may be poised fully to achieve this aim.    

The tragic irony of Mr. Trump’s Born Again New Deal is that its margin of victory came from voters who profess their fervent belief in New Testament Biblical Christianity, and the understanding of liberty it represents.  But it is no mere coincidence that the Scriptural passage that highlights the source and substance of true liberty points to the disturbing significance of the mutual incivility and political degradation that marred the 2016 Clinton/Trump Presidential contest:

For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass.  For he beheld himself and went his way and presently forgot what manner of man he was.  But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work:  this man shall be blessed in his deed.  And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (James 2: 23-26)

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