From Smirking Chimp
On July 16, 1971 I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, after three long years of enlisted servitude, spent mostly in Germany. What I remember most of that day was the ride in a van full of other newly freed men to the Philadelphia airport. The scene on the freeway in the city of brotherly love was anything but brotherly. It looked like a road race of enraged men. I had come home to a madhouse.
I never got over that sense of alienation and revulsion, never "readjusted." By 1971 the "counterculture" had set-in, and that mass of alienated young people was attractive to me. I "joined," sort-of, letting my hair grow, growing a beard, indulging in the recreations of the day. It was kind of half-baked. I still drove a car, went to graduate school on the G.I. Bill, even campaigned with a group called "Veterans for McGovern" in the 1972 presidential election.
It worked for a while, but eventually the whole thing soured, for me and millions of others. The maddening system didn't change, and in fact gradually got worse. In politics we went from Nixon to Reagan to Bush I, then Clinton, then another Bush, a respite with Obama, and now Donald J. Trump (ancestrally Drumpf). The "hippies" didn't take over, and if they had it would have been worse. The trajectory from Woodstock to Altamont, spanning a mere four months' time, is the perfect metaphor for the illusion of the "revolution" that never was, except in a few songs.
I tried following a guru for a number of years, but that went sour too, turning into a dysfunctional morass of power abuse and sexual misbehavior. I haven't given up on spiritual pursuit, but shy away from groups, especially of Americans, which is mostly what I encounter these days.
It wasn't inevitable that we would end up with a deranged criminal sociopath like Trump as our national leader, but the downward trend certainly has led us to this. We have a near-completely criminal organization the "Republican" party, running 2 ½ branches of the Federal government. In Wisconsin, as well as other states, we have the criminal "Republicans" controlling the state legislature and the Supreme Court, 2/3 of the state government. They gained power through criminality, mainly in voter suppression and gerrymandering. Corporate money, though technically not criminal, is morally criminal, used by both "parties," but more cravenly and abundantly by the "Republicans." The criminal rich give more to "Republicans." The infamous Koch brothers have taken a peculiar interest in Wisconsin, donating many millions to former governor Scott Walker and to "conservatives" running for the state Supreme Court.
What results, one might wonder, accrue when a madhouse run by criminals deteriorates over time? We need look no farther than the effects of climate change floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, forest fires, drought, species extinction, reef collapse, ocean life reduction and heat waves to see the environmental consequences. The social consequences are equally severe mass shootings on an almost weekly basis, and a nationwide opioid (nee opiate) epidemic.
The mass immigration at our southern border is largely due to our longtime meddling in the region overthrowing democratically elected leaders and installing dictators. Our ongoing "racial" divide is a needless obscenity, exacerbated by over a century of legalized oppression, suppression and marginalization of various minorities. Politicians are the handmaidens, serving the interests of the bigoted ruling minority, identified by the erroneous proxy label of "white."
The "charter" school movement to publicly fund private schools is a "Republican" scheme. The effort to privatize the veterans health care system is also a "Republican" gimmick. They would prefer to shut down the VA system completely, but for political reasons they settle for the second-best solution of creeping privatization. A publicly funded and well-functioning health care system is anathema to the crony capitalist "Republicans."
Something should be clear. The name "Republican" is not the essence of this criminal organization. Abraham Lincoln was a member of the "Republican" Party, and ended slavery. The organization devolved over the years since then to being a conduit for the interests of corporations and the wealthy. They could have the name Tiddlywinks Party and still be criminal. The "Democratic" Party is not the repository of goodness and decency, either now or in the past. Its minions are in general less criminal, but the human condition in any mass system is for the seeking of power and wealth by any means for enough of us to make corruption the rule rather than the exception.
So now, with such an obvious criminal as Trump at the head of the most powerful country on the planet, we have both a crisis and an opportunity. The decline of our society is obvious, and Trump has made himself the symbol of that decline. His "base" is a collection of religious and political crackpots, and while it is a formidable segment of the population, real power rests with the moneyed elites. The mob is useful for manipulation and incitement, but not much else.
The question remaining is what next? I've been saying for years, to no avail, that our infinite-growth, planet-destroying economic system is unsustainable, meaning that it won't last. If we don't change the system it will collapse. That time, I believe, is near. The artificially sustained "boom" is just about over. Signs are already emerging that a downturn has begun. No fiscal, monetary, trade or industrial policy is going to make infinite growth continue as it has since really the beginning of human civilization. The Industrial Revolution kicked growth into high gear, but it also brought with it the seeds of its own ruin, as Karl Marx predicted in 1867 in his landmark book Capital.
In one of the strange ironies of the current age, "survivalists" people who retreat to remote locations to live sustainably and free of government intrusion are seen as "right wing." For sure there is a mix of crackpot religion and conspiracy theory among the survivalists, but they hardly fit in with what is normally seen as "right wingers" people actively involved in securing reactionary and bigoted political control over the entire country.
My view of survivalism, though, is good luck with that. There's no escape. Climate change will drastically affect every living creature on the planet. The collapse of the worldwide infinite-growth economic system will reach everyone but the most "primitive" tribal cultures in the most isolated regions of the world. Maybe. They will likely be affected too.
So, change is on the way. Donald Trump will be gone soon. In the grand scheme of things he is a momentary blip, a buffoon and criminal sociopath who symbolizes the trouble we are in. We can take him as a lesson, not just in how not to be, but how not to settle for crap, in what happens when you do. He can be a catalyst for change, an inspiration in reverse. We have to do better. Much better. Now. Forget the formality of impeachment. It plays into the corruption of the day. Let's just run him out of office. A mass uprising is what is needed. Non-violent, of course, and legal, but let us make no mistake. It is time for Trump to go.