Dusk in America


A photograph of the Statue of Liberty in New York circa 1905 by the Detroit Publishing Company. (Courtesy/Library of Congress)

With the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States of America, the sun is dipping below the horizon on this once proud Republic. The stunned and stupefied faces of pundits, commentators, pollsters and journalists speak of surprise, while the visceral, gut-churning fear of Americans of color radiates in the place of a once bright spot of hope and freedom. From the election of hope in 2008, to the election of fear in 2016, we are now left with all that will remain after the new President in sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017.

Though America has often sought to turn tragedy into triumph, this election—this greatest upset in American history—has no clear silver-lining. If Trump turns out to be more benevolent than his words would suggest; if we get the alternate side of his duplicitous being, there can still be no ignoring the authority with which his supporters will now spew pure hatred. Americans of color, immigrants will be yelled at on the streets far more than yesterday, their attackers emboldened by an election legitimizing their worldview.

You, the Trump voter, have broken the country you claim to love, trampling on the Constitution with unrivaled furor. You have emulated the God of the Old Testament—a wrathful, jealous, unsavory character, demanding death and love and war and peace.

Humanity’s penchant for violent anger and hatred is unmistakable, making all social progress inherently fragile. As the nominee of hate is passed the torch from a nominee of optimism for humanity, this nation will, for years to come, cease to resemble the bastion of liberty it once was.

America’s bard, Bob Dylan once sang “Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer/It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.” Such is America, with the Northeastern heart of progress fittingly dreary and gray, intermittent rain making it ever more dark and cold.

The study of decline teaches us the essential truth that demagoguery, the exacerbation of internal division and strife signal transition at best, the end of empire at worst. Regardless of how we proceed, if progress survives this shock, history will mark this as the beginning or end of a new epoch.

It is not yet clear if we can heal a divide so great that groups are willing to destroy their nation to simply gain a brief respite from a perceived threat to dominance.

The electoral college existed to protect Americans from their own ignorance and stupidity. That system has failed catastrophically. As the America known under President Obama—a nostalgic bright spot—slowly fades and this great depression sets in, it will be the duty of all that remain hopeful to regain all that has been swept aside in a single night, burned indelibly into the national soul.

If this man reneges on the promises of his disturbing campaign, his supporters will react with an even more violent, hate-filled wave of division. A self-sufficient tumor, Trumpism no longer relies on Donald Trump. In that reality is the cause of the most fear. One can only hope that the Empire on decline was that birthed of a false-ideology of racial supremacy, and this final surge marks the output of last drops of lifeblood from this wretched cause.

Van Jones spoke early in the morning, wrought with emotion: “People have talked about a miracle. I’m hearing about a nightmare.” The long national nightmare has surged with unfathomable vigor. Senator Mitch McConnell and other members of the former Republican Party famously stated their aim with President Obama was to make him a one-term president, and to limit his ability to serve as the executive.

It is time to return to the favor.

Christopher Sacco is opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.sacco@uconn.edu. He tweets@ChrisPSacco.

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