The Trump era: How wildly doomed are we?

January 9, 2017 Originally published on SFGate

More than a third of all the trees in California – more than 100 million of them, covering roughly 7.7 million acres – are dead.

But it’s OK, because the forests are largely empty anyway, given how we as a glorious human species have thoughtfully killed off half of all animals on planet Earth, all in just the past 45 years or so, because people.

It’s a statistic almost too staggering to fathom in scope and heartbreaking desolation, yet it seems to match up shockingly well with the current emotional timbre; there are hundreds of millions fewer birds than ever before in human history, desolated fish stocks, obliterated rainforests, dwindling numbers of elephants, lions, butterflies, rhinos and iguanas and leopards, on and on, everywhere and forever, all gone and most never to return. Sorry, kids.

Kids? Oh, we have plenty of those. There are, of course, many, many more babies swarming over the planet than we have healthy capacity to feed and water and sustain, on ongoing and sort of disastrous procreative commandment driven largely by the efforts of heavily Catholic and/or violently patriarchal cultural posturing, because of course babies are God’s little angels and the Lord will provide and birth control is for heathens, and who cares about all the starvation and water shortages and poverty and vicious wars over dwindling resources?

But really, why worry? The incoming Trump administration is already working hard to assure a quick and bilious doom for all. The scowling orange monster has assembled the most laughably grotesque team of the most cold-blooded demolition experts in American political history – nearly all of them rich white males with the moral compass of flesh-eating bacteria and each hell bent on undoing Obama’s legacy and/or annihilating some indispensable hunk of the U.S. government, like the Department of Energy, or NASA, or the Department of the Interior, or Treasury, or nature, science, fundamental empathy.

Let it be hereby repeated until every Trump voter hangs his head in shame, which they never will: The Trump era is going to be a shameless, leering rape of the American dream unlike few we have ever witnessed in our short history. Odds are tremendously good we will not ever fully recover. You know, just like Jesus intended.

Even comedians are getting nervous. Hecklers are turning pro. No longer just loutish, drunken rednecks who don’t get the joke, they’re newly empowered defenders of ignorance, an army of mal-educated trolls who feel it’s their Trump-given right to stand up and grunt their illiteracy, their sexism and their racism at the screen, the stage, the performer, this hamburger, that Starbucks cup, whatever and whomever they like, to the point of violence.

All that tact and grace, intelligence and kindness that so distinguished the Obama era? Drowned like dogs in favor of the howler monkeys of panic and white male fear. Hate is oozing into American thought-stream like acid from a rusting car battery. Noam Chomsky has it exactly right; the GOP really is the most dangerous organization in the world.

Behold this misshapen snapshot, one of a thousand forthcoming: It’s Trump, surrounded by all the leaders of modern technology, the lords of Google and Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, Facebook and Tesla, et al (and of course, three members of Trump’s own insufferable family).

And there was Trump, trying his damndest to hang, to pretend he’s smart and lucid enough to actually belong in their educated, savvy, largely liberal clique, when each of them – with the exception of insufferable Trump ring-licker Peter Thiel – think the man is a tyrannical ignoramus with the mind of a frog.

Does all this ring a bit too bleak? Possibly. Surely some good news is afoot. Surely it’s mildly heartening that, say, Facebook just decided to take the epidemic of fake news seriously. Though you might also agree that it’s sort of tragic they didn’t choose to do so, oh, about two years ago, back when armies of trolls, neo-Nazis, Russian hackers and misogynistic thugs dredged up from the sewers of GamerGate started swarming social media and dumbing down the (older, whiter) electorate?

Perhaps you’re heartened by Michael Moore’s prediction that Trump will never actually make it to the Big Chair, or that some secret legal or constitutional mechanism buried somewhere in the fractured American Dream will suddenly kick in and block the Trump administration from gutting the nation like a hog?

We can certainly hope. Then again, if North Carolina just taught us anything, it’s that the GOP is the biggest and most shamelessly corrupt middle finger to democracy and fundamental decency we have ever witnessed. There is, quite literally, nothing they will not do to derail progress and maintain grunting white male power.

One thing is certain: It is perilously easy to become dismayed. It is wildly tempting to say all is lost and to hell with our once-semiproud country because it turns out Obama really was our last and finest hope to stave off the demons of ignorance, of climate destruction, of moral incivility and desperation. Which is to say: History will show that Obama was extraordinary for an entirely different set of reasons than we first imagined.

Is it true? Are we running out of road, far more quickly than we can calculate? Or does hope survive in strange nooks and corners and unexpectedly successful Dakota pipeline protests? Will the backlash to Trump’s intended rape of America’s moral center whiplash us into a radical new awakening? Right now, anything is possible and all bets are off and it sure as hell would be nice if that felt far less terrifying than it is. Hang on if you dare.

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Mark Morford

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