David Brooks has figured out what's really happening with Trump and others like him in Europe. He defines the Enlightenment, and he describes the expanding thread of Enlightenment over time and through political eras. It has never been easy because there are always forces that oppose it. Today the Enlightenment is under attack by a Steve Bannon and his instrument for "deconstructing" the "establishment" in the form of Donald Trump who has the power of the presidency at his disposal. The "establishment" consists of elites who espouse liberal and progressive ideas that need to be defeated so that ordinary people can have their day in the sun. Bannon does not view the thread of enlightenment thinking as a constant. He views history as a series of cycles. Our current cycle must be blown up so that the next cycle can emerge. It will take political power to destroy liberal and progressive ideologies that underlie the Enlightenment thread described by David Brooks.
Donald Trump loves the role that he has been assigned in this drama. Bannon describes Trump as the gladiator that was the hero in the movie Ben Hur. Trump will be the hero in this drama. The force of his will, and his use of power to defeat the enemies of the people, will catapult into a commanding position at the top. The people will give him the gift of love and admiration that his ego requires.
Trump, the gladiator, will have enlightenment obstacles to overcome so that he can play his role successfully. Our political system was inspired by enlightenment thinkers who developed a Constitution that was designed to thwart gladiators who seek power for its own sake. The other branches of government must be willing to give him the power that he needs win his war. The people that he leads must be fed a diet of information that praises his actions and other sources of information must be suppressed. Reason and logical thinking must give way to passion and admiration for the gladiator and his power.
We don't know how this movie will work out for its director or its hero. We will get another glimpse of the battle today when Trump addresses Congress. He will describe the war that he will fight to insure their safety and he will increase military spending to accomplish that goal. He will cut government spending on agencies that are unrelated to his role as the gladiator. He will inspire confidence in the business community so that they will create jobs for those who have been left behind by globalization and by foreign forces that threaten our culture. The gladiator must be given his chariot so that he can deliver the goods that he has promised. The Republicans who control Congress will cheer the gladiator in the hope that they can use his power to attain their goal of sharing power with him and removing obstacles put in his way by opposing forces. If they decide to play a large role in the movie, and they pave the way for the gladiator, the Enlightenment will be put on hold so that movie play itself out. We will have to forgive his allies because "they know not what they are doing".
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