A Rotten Political Culture

Published at 07:20 on 11 October 2021

Two days ago, I wrote:

Trump is a noxious individual with loathsome goals, but the one thing he understands in spades is the total rottenness to the core of the whole system [emphasis added], and how utterly and thoroughly ripe it is for authoritarian takeover.

I think I need to clarify that, since I chose some poor terminology when I wrote system. What is rotten is our entire political culture, across the board, whether in government or out of it: the system itself is antiquated and undemocratic, yes, but that wouldn’t matter so much if the actors within it were more virtuous.

Canada, for example, has a horribly antiquated Senate, of the sort the USA reformed and modernized way back in 1913. That Senate could easily help engineer some pretty awful and undemocratic outcomes, but it doesn’t, because the healthier political culture there causes the Canadian Senate to restrain itself.

Or wind the clock back about fifty years in the USA. Nixon, like Trump, was corrupt to the core, yet when Nixon’s corruption finally caught up with him, he was basically shamed out of office. His own party abandoned him, not because the law required it, but because of the political culture of the time. The system was far from perfect back in 1974, but it was capable of preserving a basically democratic order and open, free society.

In today’s USA, the Right is beyond shame, the Democrats have institutionalized Stockholm syndrome, and the radical left is an inward-looking political cult.

It is all made far worse by the disgusting tradition of there being no accountability for the wealthy or powerful. When Trump quipped “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” he was on to something. He’s not very smart; he’s not a political chessmaster. He’s barely able to play a mediocre game of checkers. The trouble is, his opponents have yet to master political tiddly-winks.

I really do not believe this is fixable in any immediate or incremental sense. I had hoped the Democrats might finally start taking things seriously after January 6th.

But, alas. The rot is simply too all-pervasive. It’s like a building whose framing is thoroughly infested with insects and fungi, a building with an overtaxed electrical system whose fuse box has pennies in the fuse sockets, a building whose owners adamantly refuse to consider maintaining. It is going to take a cleansing fire to purge the rot and vermin, and a fire is basically inevitable. Then, and only then, something new and better can be erected.

The “fire” in this case will take the form of an authoritarian takeover that liquidates the Democrats and the Left. It will then be a question of how long it takes for something better to evolve and challenge the fascist regime. In Spain and Portugal, it took fifty years or more.

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