When the leader of the free world is a badly coiffed vulgarian who lies about the size of his inauguration crowd and his administration simply dismisses this clash with reality as "alternative facts," one can't help but despair.
After all, its not too far removed from George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 where the ruling class insist that 2+2 is in actual fact 5.
And, it's hard to know which is more worrying: the man in charge of America's nuclear arsenal is so deluded that he believes his own lies, or whether he is in fact a pathological liar.
So worrying are his actions, 37 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers broke their code of silence on Monday by publishing a joint letter in the New York Times, branding the tycoon tweeter as unfit to be president.
How on earth did we arrive here?
According to Plato, we only have the excessive freedoms of democracy to blame. Writing in the Republic some two thousand years ago, he said that "tyranny is established out of no other regime than democracy."
He believed that the longer a democracy lasted, the more democratic it would become and eventually its richly textured multiculturalism would create a country like "a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues." Inconceivable only a few decades earlier, the rise of Barack Obama, the first black president, marked the pinnacle of this era.
But, the flip side of such liberalism is that as everyone becomes equal, there is no kowtowing to authority anymore and establishment values cede to popular ones. In this climate, the super wealthy are demonized as inequality becomes increasingly despised. And, it is in this moment that a disruptor lying in wait can seize power.
No doubt, the financial crisis of 2008 certainly bolstered Trump's case as loose monetary policy only elevated the Ivory tower class to even loftier heights. As Andrew Sullivan writes in New York Magazine
"He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time. He makes his move by "taking over a particularly obedient mob" and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. He is a traitor to his class and rides a backlash to excess, offering himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself."
Sound familiar? Trump rose to power with pledges to drain the swamp and make America Great Again. According to Sullivan, "in terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event."
And, to make matters worse, what if Donald Trump is the Manchurian Candidate, an unwitting Russian agent, taking orders from Moscow? These are the explosive allegations made by a dossier penned by a highly respected former British intelligence officer.
According to the report, Vladimir Putin not only helped the property tycoon to win last year's presidential race, but he "has been actively cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least 5 years." His aim: to "disrupt, divide and discredit" the entire western democratic world order in favor of Moscow.
And, interestingly, the president has already championed the disintegration of the EU, descibed Nato, the centrepiece of Transatlantic security, as "obsolete" whilst saying that he is open to lifting sanctions on Moscow. Moreover, as Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times:
"Trump's willingness to attack allies like Australia, bluster at rivals like China, threaten enemies like Iran and North Korea and bully neighbors like Mexico -- while consistently blowing kisses to Russian President Vladimir Putin -- cannot be explained away by his mere desire to improve relations with Moscow to defeat the Islamic State. Putin was vetted by the F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A., and they concluded that he attacked our country's most important institution -- and Trump has acted as if he could not care less. We need to know whom Trump owes and who might own him, and we need to know it now."
Citing US intelligence officials, earlier this week CNN says that senior Trump campaign advisors were in constant communication with the Russians during Trump's run for the White House.
Regardless of whether the dossier is true or not, imagine if you will that Trump continues his America first isolationist stance, and an emboldened Putin widens his aggressions beyond the Ukraine, into Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in a bid to distract the public from Russia's continued economic woes. What happens next? Writing in Medium, Tobias Stone muses:
"The Baltic States declare war on Russia and start to retaliate, as they have now been invaded so have no choice. Half of Europe sides with them, a few countries remain neutral, and a few side with Russia. Where does Turkey stand on this? How does ISIS respond to a new war in Europe? Who uses a nuclear weapon first?"
Trump himself has said that there's no point in the US having nuclear weapons if it's not willing to use them. It's easy to see how things could spiral out of control. And, whilst this may all sound ridiculously far fetched, at the start of last year, few would have predicted Brexit, and even fewer Trump winning the White House. After all, as Stone points out:
"A nuclear explosion is not caused by one atom splitting, but by the impact of the first atom that splits causing multiple other atoms near it to split, and they in turn causing multiple atoms to split. The exponential increase in atoms splitting, and their combined energy is the bomb. That is how World War One started and ironically how World War Two ended."
In these highly extraordinary times, but can but hope that recent events prove to be an aberration as opposed to a wildly escalating norm.
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