By Nicole Morgan, CACOR Board of Directors.
The following article –The Political Thrill of Having an Enemy– is interesting in the questions it raises.
Indeed Trump by touching on everyone raw nerve is a thrill but he is not a dictator although he would love to have all powers and acts as if. But he does not. He is the caricature-clown of the nation who cannot send to jail and kill his opponents (I repeat: so far. Bannon is waiting to be able to do it).
Being under the rule of a full fledged dictator is something else. One does not feel an irritation under the skin but a fear (if not terror) in their bellies.
That said and if one insist on a silver lining : Trump by obsessing everyone, does create a climate where we have to discuss in depth what is a civil society, what is democracy (from elections to gerrymandering through the legal loopholes in the American Constitution which have allowed a demented man to stay in place for too long).
It is a thin lay of silver though. The discussion is global for the issue of governance and the fate of liberal democracy is not just American. We are no longer in a (Leo) Straussian vaguely hegelian dialectic.
And since I mention Strauss I add an interesting link from the University of Chicago which should remind us of his influence and certainly on Bannon. According to one of his commentator one should not underestimate it for “the hallmark of Strauss’s approach to philosophy” is “his hatred of the modern world, his belief in a totalitarian system, run by ‘philosophers,’ who rejected all universal principles of natural law, but saw their mission as absolute rulers, who lied and deceived a foolish ‘populist’ mass, and used both religion and politics as a means of disseminating myths that kept the general population in clueless servitude.” In that frame of mind, nation-states have to be revived, stronger than ever, built around the necessity to have an enemy …. on outside… or inside. There is no doubt that some Trump followers dream of a civil war with its martial law.
So let’s start first with Shadi Hamin’s article on the Political Thrill of Having an Enemy (inside)
To have an authoritarian personality as your president, he argues, is to live a different kind of life. As Andrew Sullivan writes, the dictator “begins to permeate your psyche and soul; he dominates every news cycle and issues pronouncements—each one shocking and destabilizing—round the clock. He delights in constantly provoking and surprising you, so that his monstrous ego can be perennially fed.” This applies to Dear Leaders, but it also applies to people like Trump. This sounds unappealing, but, on an either conscious or subconscious level, many Americans, even vociferous Trump opponents, seem to like it. Whether it’s Washington residents going to bars at 10 o’clock in the morning to watch former FBI director James Comey testify to Congress, or the somewhat unlikely phenomenon of “Comey yoga” in Los Angeles, this was politics at its most combustible and exciting. And in a time of unprecedented polarization, the political became personal. It became part of who you were.
And let’s refresh our memory on what it is all about by reading the review of the book by Catherine and Michael Zuckert (the Truth about Leo Strauss)