How to Prevent Another Trump

We didn’t learn from George W. Bush. We didn’t learn from Nixon. We didn’t learn from Harding/Coolidge/Hoover. We didn’t learn from Andrew Johnson. We didn’t learn from Andrew Jackson. Will we finally learn from Trump?

Or, enough of the general population learned from Nixon, but the archaic institution of the electoral college still inflicted George W. Bush and Donald Trump on an unwilling nation.

Human culture is fascinating. We know that humans will believe just about anything if they hear it stated enough, especially if they start to hear it as children.

Persistence is perhaps the best explanation. Otherwise, it looks really quite peculiar. It wasn’t organizational superiority. The Chinese built the first human bureaucracies, but they did not take over the world — not yet, anyway. It wasn’t the most ancient civilization. The oldest evidence of human civilization we’ve yet found comes from southern Africa, which only makes sense, given that the first humans lived in Africa.

The more one thinks about it, the more puzzling it is that European Christians would be the population who ended up exploring and colonizing the planet, forcing their absurd religious beliefs on indigenous populations, at gunpoint where necessary, as they went.

Extrapolating backwards, sheer arrogance might be the best explanation, although why European Christians should exceed all other populations in their arrogance is still odd. Certainly the avid defenders of “western civilization” in the modern world have little to recommend their arguments except for sheer arrogance.

In one of history’s greatest ironies, at roughly the same time that European Christians began their nefarious taskl of demanding that everyone else on the planet convert or die, they also articulated a practice and theory that would be their own undoing. The scientific revolution, with empiricism as its theory of knowledge has, over the long run, badly eroded the willingness of growing numbers of people to accept Christianity as a sensible explanation of how the world works, largely because it isn’t. David Hume, a prominent 18th century Scottish empiricist, was the first person to go on record as saying that he would always prefer claims and explanations that were consistent with his own, direct experience of how the world works, which makes the Christ myth wildly implausible. We don’t see humans coming back to life three days after they die now. Why should we believe that any such ever happened at all?

Conservatives, both the real kind and the faux, degraded U.S. kind, opposing change on principle and usually having some more or less direct personal investment in maintaining existing power structures, like to insist that we all have to continue to adhere to Christianity, no matter how absurd it is, and no matter how much reason any given individual might have to discard it. So it was only candidates from the notionally “conservative” Party who lately told the public that god had instructed them to run for President.

This is the modern equivalent of slave owners preaching Christianity to their slaves. Because Christianity posits an omnipotent daddy god as the origin of all things, and “white” Christians unsurprisingly figure their omnipotent daddy god as a white man, Christianity has long served well the purposes of European Christians in oppressing people who have darker skin, and all women.

To some extent, women and darker brown people have always been able to understand and articulate their own oppression. One does not need a theory of human knowledge to know that getting whipped by the overseer hurts like hell. But the triumph of empiricism as the prevailing theory of knowledge, especially among the descendants of the original European, Christian colonizers, has contributed significantly to the erosion of the control European, Christian men have exercised over our civilization for the last several hundred years. The study of human genetics has demonstrated QED to any thinking person that the phenotypic accident of skin color is not terribly important, except insofar as humans choose to make it so.

Conservatives, unsurprisingly, hate having their authority evaluated by any standard they cannot control, which lets empiricism right out because no one can fully control how anyone else perceives the world, and they certainly cannot control the natural laws that are at once what we discover from our empirical inquiries and govern what there is for us to find. So it is that our wacky, U.S. “conservatives” can never figure out that all hell broke loose during the 1960s, the decade they love to hate, because the U.S. in that decade finally hit a critical mass of people who were willing and able to abandon their automatic fealty to the authority figure who supposedly stands as the representative of god on earth and evaluate their conduct. Between Lyndon Johnson’s handling of the Vietnam War, and Richard Nixon’s only making Vietnam worse, then piling the Watergate scandal on top, empiricism struck a decisive blow against Christian absurdity.

But human culture changes only very slowly. Humans are loath to give up habits, even habits that are clearly harmful. It is hard to quit smoking. Then, of course, because their ultimate control over most humans and vast amounts of money is at stake, and because perhaps the greatest virtue of a religion with an omnipotent daddy god who looks just like you is that you can always exempt yourself from the rules, “conservatives” are ruthless in fighting back against any attempt by subalterns to improve their situation. Any slave who ran away, then got caught, would surely suffer severe whipping for her/his defiance. So the dramatic advances for African Americans in major civil rights legislation of the 1960s resulted in the backlash that was Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama led the charge to enact major reform in our system of healthcare delivery, which benefited everyone, but disproportionately African Americans, who still as a class fall at the bottom of every metric of well being, so the empire struck back with the Donald, who was especially popular with the subset of the population that is still happily in thrall to the absurdities of Christian belief.

One can find some good news in the train wreck that is U.S. politics in 2017. The percentage of the population who claim Christian belief is declining. Also, starting with Nixon, the profound incompetence and indifference to the well being of their fellow citizens only becomes more glaringly obvious with each of the backlash Presidents. It only makes sense that the election of the first black President would lead to the election of the backlash candidate who puts the horrors of the European Christian rule as vividly on display as does the Donald.

We can only hope that the Donald is the final, dying gasp of European Christian dominance that announces its disappearance from the earth, which will improve vastly the lives of everyone, even those who won’t want to admit it.

It is a peculiar paradox of human existence that cultural change is beyond the control of any individual, but is the accumulation of, and therefore depends critically on, changes in individual human choices. No single person can be responsible for ensuring we’ll never have another Donald, but abandoning Christianity, or at least Christian conservatism, would be a great help.


  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just
    wanted to say great blog!

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