Today I awoke suddenly, inexplicably fraught with anxiety. Absent any semblance of normalcy, I thought what I heard coming from inside my head were remainders of a dream, but instead were hallucinatory voices and images generated that are now part of my conscious self.
For here, in Trumpville, chaos is the norm, principle threatens, and individual thought is inimical. The point of Bannonesque policies is to destroy institutions, leaving only power in their wake.
Faux events and alternative facts populate #POTUS tweets and spokespersons' miming. Trolled into submission and gaslit into delusion, citizenry is being rapidly eviscerated. Our collective civic and civil psyche is being purposefully dismembered.
Have you heard that Sharia law is about to consume our society, Islam is an imminent danger to Western values and among immigrants are countless rapists and terrorists? That the US judicial system is dominated by left wing politically-motivated judges who are in league with the godless, anti-gun, pro-homosexual, pro-abortionists? That the media are innately biased and dishonest? That critical voices are those of losers, morons, lightweights, or the weak? And, that the adjectives great, classy, huge, terrific, tremendous or fantastic embody all that Trumpville means and promises?
We are being inexorably herded into unreality and towards a precipice of collective psychosis. Well away from an elite bubble one can readily hear voices of people entirely infected by the metastases of this condition.
In places I know well, among individuals who ought to otherwise be inoculated, there are unmistakable early signs of this affliction. Friends have ceased to be friends and families no longer gather. Sensory recognition is impaired as what is seen, heard, and experienced has been exposed to a barrage of hyperbole, concealment, manipulated information, and lies. Delusional beliefs - they are out to get us, science is a hoax, the fourth turning is underway - have taken root among tens of millions of Trumpville faithful.
There are rivals, resistance, and residual reality. An insistent chorus of voices, often led not followed by incisive political comedy, has arisen to attack and mock Trumpville's invasive chaos. Women have marched, communities of color have demonstrated, LGBTQ groups have protested and even progressive politicos are exhibiting life. Some courts, too, have found cause to cast doubt on the regime's right to rule unabated, while media have begun now and then to call a lie a lie. The many who can and would oppose are distant from identifying a core theme, and thus far there has emerged no unifying progressive message. Yet, signs of a robust, if still inchoate, opposition have begun to stir.
But the power of Bannonism is emboldened by a stranglehold on federal (and most states') levers of government and a willingness among the elected to submit to the stupefying onslaught by the cleaned-up alt-right who have closeted their white robes and now march through the West Wing like a detachment of Agent Smiths. Trumpville is yet new and self-impressed with its own grandiosity, at its front being someone who reads sparingly, gropes women, disparages others, and follows those who glory in their newfound triumph.
When I awake tomorrow, the raw material of a continuing nightmare is sure to remain. But, so too is the will to fight against it.
Daniel Nelson is an international consultant based in Virginia.