With Trump, we're quickly approaching what a cosmologist and an ethicist (after a few drinks at the proverbial bar) might jointly describe as an inverted reality.
Metaphysicians talk about omega points, and A.I. and information theory geeks talk about singularities, but the place to which Trump is luring us is more like a negative space. Imagine taking Einstein’s curved spacetime and pulling it inside-out like a sock.
And we’re inside the sock, where it’s very, very dark.
I’ve never seen, or read, of anything quite like it in history—other than maybe fiddling Nero and the fall of Rome. Not even Hitler is comparable, because Hitler, for all his madness, was arguably a competent military strategist and certainly knew how to put words together. Trump is a fiddler on a burning roof, inviting us inside the house for its collapse, after which—having hopped off just in time— he’ll purchase the empty lot at a bargain price and build a hotel. Whether anyone will be around to stay there is the question.
The point we’re nearing is one where you can’t be a sane, responsible person—i.e., the sort of person we’d all presumably want as a mate, a friend, a parent to our child, a co-worker, or a boss— and defend supporting Trump’s candidacy. Because if you do support it, it can be for no reason other than a desire to blow everything up in hopes that when the pieces finally fall back together, you’ll be in a better place. And because that’s, at best, a long shot, your support of Trump can only be driven by incoherent rage and what Freud called Thanatos: the death drive. Or what a chaos theorist might call a mortal attractor.
When your advocacy of a cause is fueled solely by resentment, and the sole beneficiary of your advocacy is the person feeding the resentment, you are in a loop from which there is no escape.
When Trump says, hiding behind the sardonic humor of a shock jock, “…although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is, I don’t know,” he’s inviting his followers into that loop. He has no true education, but he knows his dog whistles. His words contain what semiologists (people who study the meaning of signs) call an “intertextual reference,” and the reference is to what failed Nevada senate candidate Sharron Angle meant when she said, “And you know…I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies.” There’s no other way to look at it. He's talking about that "well-regulated militia" exercising its sovereign rights.
And the truly remarkable thing is that he's sending out that dog-whistle and at the same time making a joke at the expense of the people he's whistling to--those "crazy Second Amendment people." Why? Because he doesn't believe any of it, and he doesn't think they're smart enough to figure that out, or that the smart people are brave enough to call him on his utter recklessness. He also knows that his political opposition won't point to his insincerity, because it's more in their interest for people to believe he means what he says.
Is Donald Trump dangerously unhinged? Possibly, but not like Dr. Strangelove. More like Elmer Gantry. Is he a narcissist? Is the Pope Catholic? But what he is above all else is the blackest cynic to stride the American political stage in a long time. Even Richard Nixon was more earnest. It's his cynicism that threatens to draw us into that negative space.
I’m thinking we should discard I’M WITH HER and NEVER TRUMP and all the other slogans, and replace them simply with AMERICA: DON’T GO THERE.