I've watched parts of every inauguration since Eisenhower's second in 1957. That was my first opportunity to watch the pageant ""live after we got a teevee in 1954.
Yesterday's pageant seemed more like a coronation than any I've witnessed since Nixon's second in 1973. Of course that regime didn't end well, and it wasn't long after the display of Imperial Ruffles and Flourishes before dude was choppered out of DC in disgrace.
That episode was one of many shocks the Republic has had to endure during its lifetime. Replacing Nixon with the unelected Ford (ably assisted by the unelected Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President) will probably be seen by later historians -- if there are any -- as a critical error of judgment by the high and the mighty who ran the government in those days.
It set a standard of presidential impunity that's only been expanded since.
Bill Clinton's impeachment was another critical error of judgment, but with a very different outcome. It was a shock to the system, yes, and stupid as can be, but it demonstrated as clearly as anything could that whatever these people, Our Rulers, do for public entertainment, it's not even as orderly as Kabuki. They're stone (and probably stoned) idiots. What. The. Fuck?
These are only two of the events that have rocked the Republic and its operations in relatively recent times, but there have been many such shocks -- and much worse -- over the centuries that the Republic has more or less endured.
I'm not at all sure the Republic can endure this latest shock and survive in any meaningful way.
And perhaps it's time for this faulty experiment in Constitutional Self-Government to fold up and conclude.
The experiment has failed.
Presidents come and go, of course, and they don't define the meaning of the Republic which endures despite them. Or sometimes because of them. Any government, any form of government, is going to face shocks as a matter of course, and it is up to the governing class (or ruling clique as the case may be) to deal with them appropriately.
That includes the President, of course, but often in our history, Presidents have been little more than figureheads fronting a government by, for, and controlled by the malefactors of great wealth. They don't use their quasi-imperial power == they may not even understand they have it. I'm not a presidential historian, so I won't delve too deeply into that speculation.
Not all presidents have been mere figureheads by any means. Certainly Nixon and Clinton were not; there's some question over whether GW Bush was a figurehead or actually the guiding hand of his disastrous regime. Accounts from the inside vary.
As for Obama, he seemed to have a sure hand on the tiller from time to time, but so often he was clearly a creature of the Interests Whom He Served. Not, in other words, the People.
I think what may turn out to be the surest measure of his ultimate impotence in the Driver's Seat is the series of disastrous interventions abroad that have turned various areas of the globe into bloody cauldrons and turned many global citizens against the Hegemon. Good heavens, what were they (those in charge of our foreign policy) thinking?
That's just the thing, isn't it? They weren't.
From appearances, it seemed they lost all moral or critical thinking skills whatever. Gone, disappeared, in a fog of neoLibCon ideology that they adopted as the only alternative to chaos (as if) and implemented mindlessly with horrifying results which they deemed "success."
Maybe we should take them at their word. The disasters that have been imposed on the People, at home and abroad, under the rule of the neoLibCon paradigm are exactly what they want and have aimed for.
Many of the hosannas over the elevation of Trump to the Throne have to do with touching faith that Mr. Trump will tear down that disastrous paradigm of neoLibCon rule and end the torture once and for all.
No. That is not what he has ever said he would do, not even a hint. So far as I know, he's never even used the terms "neoliberal" and "neoconservative." His whole effort has been focused on making the governing paradigm work "better" -- on behalf of himself and his cronies, of course, and if there is anything left over once they have their reward, then providing something, a scrap or two, to the ravening Rabble. Gee. That's part and parcel of the neoLibCon theory of rule.
The Rulers see themselves as having no obligation to the Lower Orders, but in order to secure and maintain their rule, it is wise from time to time to show an interest in the well being of their servants -- if only to exploit them better.
The elevation of Trump via a highly questionable election is tailor made for just such an effort at "showing an interest" in Those People.
Isn't it obvious? Notice who the people being shown an interest in ARE.
The so-called White Male Working Class and Rural White Voters.
The common thread? White.
It's all very highly racialized and overtly White Supremacist. This is in the grand tradition of the US of A. There wouldn't be a US of A without it. Racism and White Supremacy are so deeply ingrained in US culture and society that there is no way to avoid it or extirpate it without bringing down the who structure.
According to the current narrative, the White Male Working Class and their Rural White Cousins have been "left behind" -- while others, brown, black, female -- unworthy -- have profited. There is some truth in it, of course. The working and middle classes in general have paid a heavy price to ensure the comfort and convenience of people like Trump. That cannot be denied and it shouldn't be denied, but focusing exclusively on the travails of the White Male Working Class and their Rural (White) Cousins, is just the kind of Divide the Rabble and Rule Them forever and ever amen tactic that has been employed by their neoLibCon betters throughout history. It's what they do.
So here we go, with a coronated and quite overt White Supremacist now on the Throne, vowing to serve the interests of those white men "left behind" who supposedly elected him. Anyone who gets in the way will face his wrath, for he is Emperor and his Will is Law.
Jeebus Farking Christmas. Do we have to?
Maybe it takes this kind of Imperial hubris at the top to force those lower down to see what's being done to them, what has been done to them for generations and to finally take action.
I resist the urge to blame the bovine stupidity of the Rabble for what's happened. It simply isn't their fault. With many exceptions along the way, they've tried to do the right thing. They've tried to use the political and operational mechanisms of the Republic to better their own lives and the lives of others, strangers to them, but worthy just the same.
And they have been thwarted every step of the way by a fiercely entitled and resistant Ruling Class. Every/ Step. of the. Way.
Every advance has been fought either to a standstill or has only been accepted -- in modified form -- after decades or generations of struggle.
That's built in to the nature of the Republic, but over the years, the idea of the Republic has decayed to such an extent that it's largely a hollow shell, most of which is inoperative. As hard as it has been to advance under the Republican model, it's been essentially impossible -- with a few exceptions -- to do so for a generation or more.
And this is touted as 'what the people want,' and it isn't. It's false. But Our Rulers, in their ineffable wisdom, believe sincerely that governing contrary to the interests of the Rabble is exactly what they are supposed to do. Whatever the Rabble want or need, do the opposite.
This is insane, but this is how the ruling classes operate. It's a game to them. It's a game to see how many Quatloos they can accumulate before the whole thing implodes.
It's crazy. But there you are.
To say the Republic has been largely useless for the interests of the People for decades is to point to the obvious (I would think.)
So by elevating the Person of Mr. Trump to the quasi-Imperial Throne of the Presidency, it could well be the final nail in the coffin of a long-terminal Republic. Inevitable? Could be.
As for Mr. Trump himself, I'm not at all sure that he sees the Presidency as an "elevation." But given his nature, we can expect him to make it into one. That he's assuming the office in place of a Negro, and he seems to think that the Negro screwed things up majorly, is telling.
The message is that the Mud People and the Lower Orders are simply not fit to rule. Let the magnificence of the Gold Plated "Man of the People" show the right way to do things.
Of course his "Man of the People" shtick is a fraud, but after all the fraud at the top we've witnessed so far, that's nothing new. No, he will rule on his own behalf and that of his cronies, period. As that realization dawns on his faithful followers (he is like a cult leader to them), they somehow manage to rationalize it by hoping a few more scraps will fall from the tables of the Haute Monde than was the case previously. Maybe they will, I don't know, but the hope is all they've got at this point.
He wants to rule as an autocrat/dictator, and he's trying to shape the battle space to ensure that he can and will. From appearances, he seems to be succeeding. As I've said, there is an inherent autocratic component in the Presidency, most often expressed during wartime. Since there is never an end to the current cycle of wars and overthrows this nation engages in, the inherent autocratic nature of the Presidency has no brakes -- except for those the autocrat chooses to engage. Even the Bush-Cheney regime sometimes put the brakes on the autocracy.
But it looks like Trump won't.
OK then. If that's the way he goes, then yes, the Republic is over and done.
What that will mean for the many is yet to be determined.
And if Roberts had been holding a crown of golden laurel leaves yesterday, I have no doubt Mr. Trump would have placed it on his own gold-plated brow and declared himself a god.
Jeebus, what have we done to deserve this.