In his new book, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” Jon Meacham presents the historical context out of which arose Donald Trump. The book’s conclusion seems a myopic, “It’ll be OK.”
If only I could believe that.
The book is a wonderland of American history, presented by great writer. “The Soul of America” is a must read for history buffs and everyone wringing his or her hands over this moment in the Era of Trump.
For a more complete book review, please click HERE.
Meacham’s book is reminiscent of The Warren Report, a study of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Warren Commission was established by Lyndon B. Johnson and officially known as “The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy.”
The Warren Report is a like a study paid for by a drug company. First they decided what they wanted to prove, then they went about proving it, except that they didn’t.
The Warren Report concluded up front that JFK was killed by one man, Lee Harvey Oswald. All the evidence presented however, seems to suggest otherwise.
Like the House Intelligence Committee report on the investigation into the Trump-Russia thing, The Warren Report failed to call relevant witnesses or to follow up on significant leads.
Meacham catches us up on American history and minimizes the lasting effect of Donald Trump on the American republic. Recent Supreme Court decisions challenge Meacham’s optimism.
There’s a couple of things that Meacham fails to take into account and they are not just incidentals.
One notable development is that for the first time since the Vietnam War, political divisiveness has deepened to the point of ripping friends and families apart on a grand scale.
While not yet at the Civil War level of brother arming against brother, that scent is definitely in the air, like the coming of a summer rain storm.
While I use the term “political divisiveness,” it’s not really political.
Trump has no real political ideologies, only misconceptions about America’s place in the world and grievances he resolves through fear, lies, hatred and intimidation.
His followers cling to his words, not his ideas.
The only group that maintains their own ideology are the evangelicals, who are willing to turn their backs on common decency and basic Christianity in furtherance of their anti-abortion agenda.
The other thing that escapes Meacham’s microscope is the extent and intensity of the attacks on this country coming from within the very walls of the White House.
And that’s not even considering what is, at the very least a very blatant and eager association between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.
Trump has attacked judges who don’t agree with him, he’s attacked judges based on their national origin and he recently told a crowd in North Carolina that we don’t need judges.
Trump has used his Svengali-like hold on his base as a weapon to completely neuter Congress, thereby destroying the concept of checks and balances as provided for in Article I of the Constitution.
Trump has appointed department heads whose main task is dismantling their own departments. Their complete disdain of ethical norms, epitomized by Scott Pruitt flaunt lawlessness at the highest level.
Trump’s use of the presidency as the seat of his business empire, using the power of the presidency to promote Trump family values over national interests is a nail in the coffin wherein lies democracy.
Nothing stays the same and nature abhors a vacuum. It takes work to maintain the status quo of American values.
There comes a point where changes become permanent. Call it a tipping point, boiling point, point of no return, critical mass, etc., but it all means the same thing. It is a point beyond which there is no coming back.
Many pundits have opined that we are close to that point. I would argue that we are looking at that point in our rear view mirrors.
Jon Meacham says that our “better angels” will prevail. I say that our evil demons seem to be in control and there’s no evidence that they plan to let go anytime soon.
Jon Bon Jovi asks, “Who says you can’t go home?”
I do, Jon. I say we can’t go home.
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