America’s “Second Coming” Will Begin The Instant Donald Trump Is Gone

William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming” rings in my ears every day. He was describing the chaotic aftermath of WWI as it rippled through Europe. He also was thinking about the Spanish Flu epidemic that nearly killed his pregnant wife.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold”. That sounds exactly like now, doesn’t it? There is no centre. There hasn’t been for a while — we just didn’t realize it. The Democrats, to their detriment, have played to that centre more than they played toward their Progressive base. The Republicans on the other hand, have played to their base exclusively. The result — as Yeats put it —

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

Yeah — our world feels full of anarchy. Worse — it feels like

The best lack all conviction while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Boy, is that us. There are some whose gaze is fixed on what’s happening. There are journalists — citizen & otherwise — who’ve grasped the Truth and shouted it as loudly as they could. But, like Yeats wrote. “The best lack all conviction”. You can’t beat evil without conviction.

And we are absolutely fighting evil.

Here’s where I break ranks a little with Yeats. Well, I break ranks with the chronology. Yeats’ magnificent poem famously ends like this —

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

We aren’t heading towards that moment where the rough beast comes round at last, we’re already in it.

Donald Trump IS the rough beast.

Though he wrote the poem in 1919, Yeats has been credited with anticipating the rise of fascism that was already beginning to percolate in Europe. Whether or not Yeats actually anticipated it, the rough beast was definitely present — as he is now, here in America.

That’s the bad news. It’s also the good news.

Just as Yeats’ poem falls apart without a rough beast toward which the whole enterprise is pointed, the Republican coup d’etat that began on election day 2016 would collapse in on itself were Donald Trump to suddenly vanish from the stage.

Were Trump to, say, succumb to one of the myriad illnesses stalking him (you think if he were truly healthy he’d be hiding his health info from us?), there is no “Plan B” in place. Within Trump’s family, there’s no succession plan. Trump wouldn’t dare create one because he knows his “beloved” children would instantly begin plotting how to carry it out. Because that’s exactly what HE did.

As Mary Trump spelled out in her excellent memoir about her experience growing up the niece of this horrible man, Trump has plotted against everyone in his family to get his hands on as much of daddy’s money as he could. Even in a nest of Trumpian vipers, Donald is the viper-iest.

Ivanka thinks she’s the golden child — probably because daddy’s told her things when he “wanted” things. Don Junior apparently believes he’s the political successor to his dad’s political empire. Oy. Eric may not be quite as stupid as everyone things, but then, he might be.

If Donald Trump were to suddenly succumb to a stroke or heart attack — even if he were merely incapacitated — all hell would break loose. The centre would not hold.

Within Trump’s family, they’d all go rogue against each other — maybe not to their faces — but behind their backs?

What about the world outside the Trumps though? After all, that’s where all the compromise has gone down. Everyone gets that Trumps stay loyal to Trumps because they’re Trumps. And while everyone also gets that Republicans stay loyal to other Republicans because they’re Republicans, that doesn’t play quite the same way with Trump. Because Trump isn’t and never was a Republican.

Trump never was a Democrat either. He’s always been a Trump. That’s his party — and he turned the Republican Party into him.

The Republican Party may hate Trump but they saw a way to achieve their end through him. They want permanent minority rule. If Donald Trump & Russia are how they achieve it? So what.

The Republicans have no succession plan either. If Trump suddenly couldn’t serve as POTUS, Mike Pence would become president. But Mike Pence can’t hold this gang together like Trump can because Mike isn’t a boss, he’s a foot soldier. No one currently beholden to Trump (for whatever reason) is beholden to Pence which is why Trump disappearing from the stage would be a “get out of Trump jail free” card.

A political party based on the idea of “every man for himself” would suffer the fate it deserves as the rats all climb over each other to try and escape. Mike Pence is very definitely just such a rat.

Remember — Paul Manafort brought Mike to the dance. Paul needed a compliant vice president who absolutely would not balk when he learned certain ugly secrets about Trump’s campaign — like it’s deep association with Russia. Apparently Mike fit that bill.

Mike Pence is compromised. So is Mitch McConnell. So is every single Republican who’s known from the get-go what current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan knew as far back as the 2016 convention: that Russia owned Donald Trump lock, stock & two smoking, corrupt, treasonous barrels.

That’s what happened on election night 2016: Russia pushed Trump over the finish line, helping the Republicans seal their coup d’etat with a victory stolen from the American people. We will come to see Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan through a very different lens. Trump didn’t pull off a surprise victory to snatch the Electoral College from Hillary Clinton. Russia first softened the environment by pounding it with propaganda borne of the proprietary polling data Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort handed to Russian Intelligence Officer Konstantin Kilimnik. When enough targeted Black voters were polling their reluctance to vote for Hillary (now that they were thinking she might be a closet racist thanks to all those ads showing up on their Facebook pages), Russia knew it could hit the voting machines — flipping just enough to make a Trump win believable.

That’s 77,000 votes across three blue states.

We don’t know for certain yet that that happened because no one — despite everything we know — has ever done any forensics on all those machines. Those machines — we now know — are incredibly vulnerable. Hacking into them — via the internet — isn’t even challenging. That’s probably by design. The majority of machines are manufactured by companies owned by Republicans — who’ve made their allegiance to Republican politics known. Considering how corrupt & corruptible people are in general — and Republicans are in particular — bet the ranch on those voting machines being part of the corruption.

The past 4 years have opened our eyes kinda like Alex’s eyes were opened in “A Clockwork Orange” — they’ve been pried open, giving us no way to not see every bit of the Trump Shit Show. That show though includes a lot of harsh truths about America’s failings. Racism has always been our fatal flaw — not because we were or are racist (tribalism is hard wired into us) but because rather than resisting our inherent racism, we indulged it. We allowed it to tell us that though “All men are created equal”, if those men are Black or brown or anything other than white, they aren’t equal.

Donald Trump didn’t invent American racism of course, he merely gave it permission to speak its vileness out loud. He didn’t invent corruption, he merely excelled at it (like he’s excelled at nothing else). He didn’t invent treason, he merely used it to get elected.

Living in America has never felt so perilous — or so filled with a need for change. Yet, as terrifying and exhausting and frustrating and insane as it feels, there’s also some very real hopefulness in the mix. If we can accomplish the systemic change that needs to happen? We will make America a more fair place where more people have the very real possibility of living their dreams.

I look forward to proving F. Scott Fitzgerald wrong when he wrote “There are no second acts in American lives”. We Americans definitely have a second act in us and probably a third and a fourth. We can’t get there though until we send this bloated orange rough beast to prison for the rest of his life.

Damn Right There’s A “Rough Beast Slouching Towards Bethlehem To Be Born” — It’s Republicanism & Permanent Minority Rule!

Just like Trump’s election caused people to seek therapy in droves (that’s a fact — it really, really did!), it caused people trying to articulate what this experience is like to pick up William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming”. Bits and pieces of the poem are now part of the vernacular —

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

Or —

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And then there’s the “icon” —

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats was writing — in 1919 (when he published the poem) about Europe after World War I. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” — which was the context for the best lacking all conviction while the worst, full of passionate intensity, won the day. What Yeats doesn’t answer — though he seems to have an inkling — what exactly IS that “rough beast”, its “hour come round at last”, slouching toward its second coming in a metaphorical Bethlehem?

The seeds of World War II were firmly planted in the result of World War I. And World War I was, in most every way, the death knell of Old Europe. Power was shifting from the hands of the continent’s royal families (they’re all related by blood one way or another) to more democratically-run governments that relied more on the people for their right to govern than because they king said they could. Political ideas like communism were morphing from the abstract into the real with violent consequences. Anarchism seemed a viable alternative to the supposed “order” since that “order” had led everyone into the most catastrophic war ever.

Yeats was writing about a world totally in transition from one thing into another. The problem — what will that “another” become?

We’re in transition too — the whole world. The social democratic order we all took for granted is under assault by backward-thinking greed monsters who can’t bear sharing any of the power or any of the money. If asked directly, the majority of Americans have no desire whatsoever to live in a fascist state. Given a choice between that and a “socialist state” where — while they may not get to be quite as rugged an individual (if your rugged individualism screws with other peoples’ right to live their lives to the fullest, your rugged individualism needs to be curtailed — sorry), most Americans would opt for a country where everyone got to vote, everyone got health CARE (not health INSURANCE) so that going broke cos you got sick was an impossibility, and where everyone got educated or trained to the best of their ability — for “free” (meaning our tax dollars pay for it) because the smarter and better trained our work force and innovators are, the better we’ll solve our collective problems and continue to thrive collectively.

Kinda the opposite of what we’re doing now — while insisting our way must be better, the data be damned.

I don’t know that Yeats anticipated fascism’s rise. Extreme right wing nationalism was very much in the mix in Europe. It was in Ireland. And England. He could have been referring to the Bolshevik Revolution that blew through Russia in 1917, two years before Yeats published his poem.

If ever a man fit the bill “rough beast”, it’s Donald Trump. And the thing causing all those desert birds to flap around so indignantly is the thing that will “be born” when the rough beast finally slouches all the way to Bethlehem — authoritarianism. Permanent minority rule.

Make no mistake. We are living through a coup d’etat. The Republican Party — recognizing their eventual demographic irrelevance — made an actual power grab. They didn’t see themselves working with Trump at first. That part looks like an “improv” born of changing circumstances and tons of Russian Kompromat. We still don’t know what’s contained in all the stolen RNC emails — yes, the DNC’s emails weren’t the only ones Russia stole.

We don’t know, for instance, what caused Lindsey Graham to go from the ultimate Never Trumper to a man who could tell us in great detail what Donald Trump’s ejaculate tastes like. That’s metaphorical, of course. I think…

I wonder — if William Butler Yeats could experience a “second coming” — if Yeats could look around at our world in the context of his poem — what would he say? What would he think?

What would he write?

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I bet Yeats would write: “Didn’t any of you idiots read my damned poem?”