The U.S. president is the embodiment of a revolutionary project aimed at advancing a Caesarism devoid of institutional mediation that mistakes America for its leader.
Populism continues its progress unabated. The United States is proof of this, as it undergoes the world’s first populist revolution. It is being carried out under Donald Trump’s Caesarism, with the momentum of that white, evangelical Midwest devastated by anti-liberal resentment which resembles some kind of political black hole threatening to swallow the democratic culture that remains deeply rooted in the country’s East and West Coasts.
Trump’s revolution is an outcome. It is the consummation of a process that dates back to Ronald Reagan and was continued by neoconservatives and libertarians from the anti-Obama tea party. This is a postmodern revolution ideologically running a reactionary and sentimental drive, seeking to redirect the country toward supremacist nationalism. We are talking about a crosscutting current of discontent that has radicalized into an anti-establishment majority. An anti-political tale written on the basis of an alphabet of emotions — many of them rooted in religion — mistaken for moral principles, and which Trump elevated to presidential status in his inauguration, when he coined the motto: “America First and only America First.”
The revolutionary aim is to advance a Caesarism devoid of institutional mediation that mistakes America for its leader. A kind of Caesarism upheld by a new popular legitimacy that reshapes the alternate dichotomy of Republicans and Democrats and replaces it with a crosscutting vector based on a white majority anointed by a vast accumulation of emotional unrest, economic frustrations and cultural resentment. The most prominent fear is that of losing the cultural hegemony of the American way of life. This model has been the backbone of the American melting pot, starting with the imposition of English and White Anglo-Saxon Protestant standards as the basic structure of coexistence.
The end of that hegemony — which is the unconscious menace weighing over the white majority — is precisely a key asset in Trump’s demagogic capital. This is facilitated by the demographic and social breakthrough of Hispanics in American society; the Latin migratory pressure on the southern border; the overwhelming growth of Spanish as a second language, and the moral relativization loosening up the coexistence of a society which, as it becomes increasingly complex, will only find the civic oxygen needed in order to maintain the unity of a culturally pixelated society in the sum of tolerance and plurality.
And thus, since taking office, Trump has developed a confrontational strategy with the liberal Democrat establishment, following two courses of action subservient to that vector of change that revives the exclusionary and puritanical fundamentals of the white pioneers who settled in New England. These are two actions meant to demolish the U.S. Constitution and its amendments. The first is a bottom-up approach from the middle classes of European origin, and it undermines the cultural foundations of the democratic institutional framework, as is the case with Trump’s threats against the caravan of Central Americans waiting on the Mexican border, with his proposal of depriving children of citizenship status if their parents are in the U.S. illegally, and before that, with his project of building a heinous wall along the border with Mexico. The second action is from the top down, because the liberal architecture that has managed power since the Declaration of Independence is being systematically filed down from inside the White House – they are discrediting it by injecting it with a populist toxicity that justifies combating press freedom or nominating a candidate for the Supreme Court accused of committing sexual abuse.
The driving energy of this populist revolution is found in the desire to erect a New Jerusalem which, as in Calvinist Geneva, will differentiate between those who are saints and those who are not. It is a supremacist nightmare that, through its predestination doctrine, will use digital post-truth as a tool for the emotional evangelization of the new saints, and which will transform the homogenized technology of the Silicon Valley oligopoly into a paradigm to facilitate a neo-Hobbesian pact, from which the first global cyber-leviathan will arise. Trump rehearses this daily from his Twitter pulpit with his cyberpopulist evangelization project, which is reminiscent of “Atlas Shrugged,” that disturbing novel by Ayn Rand. In it, the proposal was to erect an America led by supermen which, in Trump’s case, has been updated with his contempt for Hispanics and the other minorities who still think that America is a land of opportunity for those who believe that the utopia is possible.
It is not surprising that Trump invokes security as the greater good, nor is it surprising that he coats it in technology. His defense of cybersecurity and the subordination of artificial intelligence plans are indications that the Caesarism he promotes is rooted in the algorithm-based structure of power of the 21st century. It is an almost religious structure, where the last magical stronghold of the world resides in faith in a technology whose massive adoption aggravates the crisis of the decision that comes with the digital mutation undergone by American society, and which encourages the outbreak of that cyber leviathan anticipated and desired by so many.
Guessing the outcome of Trump’s revolutionary attempt is difficult, an attempt which others in Europe are trying to make their own under different parameters, but within more or less similar vectors. Thus far, the institutional framework resulting from the Declaration of Independence has proved its liberal virtues through the strength of the Constitution of 1791. For the time being, it withstands the onslaught, as confirmed recently by the midterm elections. The mobilization of the East and West Coasts paid off with Democratic control of the House of Representatives, but one must not forget that legislative power actually resides in the Senate, where Trump has made progress. In any case, it remains to be seen whether Democrats will be able to spin a narrative of impeachment in order to behead the populist revolution and halt the supremacist toxicity that is infecting the social foundations of a country whose majority lets itself be carried away by the virtual desire to resemble Midwest America.
The future of freedom across the world will depend on what happens in the United States from now until 2020. The liberal legacy — in such jeopardy today, while awaiting to be critically revisited — will either be viable or not based on the outcome of the cultural and political conflict that American society is undergoing. However, while waiting for that, it might be good for us liberals to analyze why and how we got here. Moreover, we should ask ourselves what we have lost along the way that allowed the enemies of freedom to return, legitimized by the ballot box. We will certainly learn to find solutions critically if we think about our mistakes.