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I’m not the first to ask this question; others have done so. But there’s good reason to ask the question right now. We are not headed towards Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, or Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 , but rather something quite different.

Donald Trump Danger

Teetering on the Brink of Dystopia—Michael T. Hertz

I have always perceived that the world (and particularly the United States) seemed to change considerably at the time of the Millennium. The Internet, which was in existence in 2000, has come to dominate our lives. The first recognizable social media site started in 1997 and blogging really began in 1999. MySpace and LinkedIn were up in the early 2000s, You Tube in 2005, Facebook and Twitter the next year, and we were off to the races.

We are not headed towards Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, or Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 , but rather something quite different. For me the most shocking indicator of a “new world” is the advent on Donald Trump on the political stage.

But if it were just the Internet, that would not be negative. But think of other things that have occurred in our society since 2000. Since 2001 we have been continuously at war. That isn’t to say that we had no conflict before; but the wars and conflicts in the Middle East since the invasion of Afghanistan have been linked to one another and keep going and going. We had a huge economic disaster in 2008, and we still have not recovered (the Federal Reserve still has not raised interest rates after nearly seven years). We have mass killings in our country that go on and on. (Nearly a third of the mass killings in the world take place in the United States.) Warnings about climate change and evidence of its impact at a time earlier than predicted have increased. We have become more politically divided that we have been since the Civil War. We have huge problems with income and wealth inequality. Our social safety net is in tatters. Homelessness is apparently decreasing, but too many people are still living on the street. Our infrastructure is crumbling. (I think about this whenever I drive in Los Angeles.) We have become more open to homosexual and transgender people, but race and sex prejudice still goes unresolved.

If you are a thinking person, you are aware of all of this. But for me the most shocking indicator of a “new world” is the advent on Donald Trump on the political stage. He is not a politician, he is outside the political establishment, and yet in the past few months his poll ratings have increased to a point that has dumbfounded polling experts. Here is a person who is unlike anyone we have ever seen in our history. Ross Perot’s campaign in 1992 is the nearest thing to Trump’s, but Perot ran as a third party candidate and did not try to come in as a Republican or a Democrat.

Unlike Perot, who was quite specific about his platform and views, Trump’s website still has no particulars on issues (except for his position on immigration). Trump talks and talks about everything else without real details. The media has made attempts to define his positions without much success. Basically, he states something, says that there are problems, and claims that he would do a terrific job as president in solving those problems. Example: “Trump has vowed to repeal Obamacare and replace it “with something terrific,” but hasn’t said what that would be. He also hasn’t said anything in the way of how he might reform other entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, although, in “The America We Deserve,” he wrote that the U.S. “must have universal health care.”

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There are a number of very odd events in the Trump campaign thus far. He has gotten into a war with the Fox network, even though Fox has for years been the central Republican media source. No one else has ever done that. He has engaged in race-baiting with Latinos and Asians. The Asian race-bating reached a crescendo when he imitated an Asian trade negotiator saying “We want deal,” with an exaggerated accent. He wasn’t even criticizing China or Japan in his diatribe (he was criticizing the Obama administration for being weak on negotiation) and yet he slipped in a racist statement without the need for it.

At one point in considering Trump, I actually fantasized that he had gotten into the race at the behest of Bill Clinton in order to destroy the Republican Party. (Apparently, I’m not the only one who has thought of this possibility.) This goes to show how wild our world has become. Although one can argue in favor of this idea, the one real problem is: what would Trump get out of doing this? (Perhaps the Clintons offered to dedicate a statue to him on the Washington Mall? I can’t think of any other way of repaying him.)

At this stage, I have no predictions about the outcome of the Republican or Democratic nomination process. I continue to hope that Bernie Sanders will win the latter, because I see no hope of changing the disastrous course taken by the United States without real change. I certainly agree with him that a revolution is needed. One friend suggested that voters automatically vote against incumbents for every office on which they vote. There’s something to be said for that position. It might shake up the establishment.

I do think that Trump’s poll ranking (not to mention Benjamin Carson’s) is based solely on the fact that he is an outsider. Bernie Sander’s popularity can be attributed to the same cause. I wrote earlier about a proposed rally on the Washington Mall for Bernie. This rally is still in the works, and more and more people are signing up, indicating a willingness to go. This rally is totally grassroots, not promoted by the campaign. When has that ever happened? I do not remember a huge rally for a political candidate organized by people having no connection with the candidate himself.

So my conclusion is that we are living in a neverland world. Many, many of our fellow citizens lead lives that are nothing but bread and circuses. Our country is in danger of becoming less and less than what it was even in 1999. Let us hope that we don’t all fall down the rabbit hole.

michael-hertz

Michael T. Hertz