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Way back in the early 1930s, when my much-missed deceased mother was a small child, Franklin Delano Roosevelt reassured a nation reeling from a deep and stark depression that we "had nothing to fear but fear itself." 85 years later, as this year began, a ludicrous man sent by fate to strip all dignity, grace, and honor from the office of the presidency gave an inaugural speech in which his essential message was "be afraid, be very afraid."

Trump Terror

His description of the United States of America in that sad address was a fever dream in which he (or Steve Bannon) saw this nation as a place of "carnage," an ugly dystopia of crime and squalor. In this bleakest of bleak speeches, he added, much less eloquently and far less convincingly than Roosevelt had done, that "there should be no fear."

He, of course, was going to fix all that was broken—which was most everything. He had admonished us that he, and only he, could repair the nation and "make us great again." As we know, however, he was extremely hazy on details or plans about the vision he sought to fulfill, the America he would present to us once he'd fixed it.

Oh sure, there would be oodles of jobs, ISIS would disappear, lesser nations would genuflect in our direction, the squalling minority groups would shut the hell up and resume their proper places, as would women, gays, the lyin' media, and all those other forces that were impeding the very wealthy who would, if they were only unfettered, bring prosperity to all, just as soon as they'd been rewarded up front until they were sated to overflowing, at which time they would trickle down on us all, a golden shower somewhat reminiscent of what Trump had been charged with engaging in over there in Russia during those Moscow nights of dalliance with other international rich pricks.

And though that story about Trump and the Pissing Prostitutes was an unconfirmed allegation (put forth by a British intelligence officer with a record of probity), it is not entirely easy to put suspicion aside in the case of a man who has a) shown a lifelong pattern of debauchery and lechery, and b) played fast and loose when it came to choosing his playmates, from the New York bar scene of the '70s and '80s, and c) been caught on tape bragging about his pussy-grabbing propensities.

Now, after five miserable and truly mad months of Trump's mismanagement, and despite a burgeoning record of lies that couldn't be more obvious, this most preposterous POTUS continues to enjoy the largely unwavering support of his "base," a group Hillary Clinton labeled as "deplorables," but are beginning to seem even more gullible than they are deplorable.

Now, after five miserable and truly mad months of Trump's mismanagement, and despite a burgeoning record of lies that couldn't be more obvious, this most preposterous POTUS continues to enjoy the largely unwavering support of his "base," a group Hillary Clinton labeled as "deplorables," but are beginning to seem even more gullible than they are deplorable.

To its enduring shame, the Republican Party has also shown itself to be utterly deplorable, more cunningly wicked than the yahoos, fascists, morons, religious nuts, and lunatics whose support they cultivate and harvest so dependably. Those implacable supporters are mired in the fear instilled in them by Fox "News" and right wing talk radio over the course of the last couple of decades as they prepared the ground for a presidency (and a congress) that sprouted from the seeds they had sown.

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The government, the elites, the liberals, Obama, Hillary, the main stream media, the lazy employees of the public sector, activist judges, et. al. were going to take away their guns, give their hard-earned tax money to no-account brown and black people, force god-fearing people like them to endorse and maybe even engage in gay sex, demand that everyone say "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," take the pledge of allegiance out of America's classrooms, confiscate guns and the 2nd amendment right to own them and use them as patriots were meant to do, usher countless unvetted Muslim terrorists into the country, open our borders to Mexican rapists, and send all true patriots to re-education camps where they would be made to listen to Rachel Maddow for six hours each day before being allowed to eat the thin gruel served them by their big government masters.

As a result, and by my best reckoning, the United States is now essentially being held hostage by a small slice of hysterically frightened fellow Americans. Nearly half of eligible American voters didn't vote at all in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton won 3 million more votes among Americans who bothered to go to the polls.

And though Trump's support hasn't shrunk as much or as fast as any reasonable human being might have expected, he has the lowest approval rating ever recorded so early in a presidential term of service. We're divided, but in a climate of fear, in a time when the zeitgeist buzzes with terrors, we are separated even by the nightmares we suffer.

By the most conservative assessment, two out of three Americans are fearfully worried about Donald Trump's honesty, competence, maturity, and even his sanity. They also are anxious about what Trump and the Republicans are doing regarding the environment, health care, tax policy, international relations, and damn near everything government does or undertakes to do.

But an even darker current of fear also runs through that majority of Americans who aren't still pledging unwavering allegiance to Trump. Is there any sane person who isn't harboring the mostly unspoken fear that this nation will almost certainly suffer a major terror strike in the not-too-distant future?

The fear of a major terror strike in this country is accompanied by the auxiliary terror of what will happen in response to such an attack now that Donald Trump, this dangerously unstable human specimen, holds power. And most everyone knows such an attack is sure to come. Our enemies see an opportunity in our current disarray and division.

Contrary to the delusions of the right, Trump's belligerence and bellicosity does not make us look strong; it makes us look weak, scattered, confused, and vulnerable. We saw how George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neo-con legions used the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks as a pretext to attack a nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with those attacks. Now, with an even more irresponsible right winger in the Oval Office, a beleaguered narcissist who occupies a parallel universe constructed of his own delusions, paranoia, and visions of personal grandeur, a terrorist attack in the next few months would lead to unimaginably horrific consequences as a result of Trump's ill-considered retaliatory reaction, a response almost certain to be even more misguided and disastrous than what we got from Bush & Co.

In Trump's America, it's all fear for all, from the left and the right, all of the time. But unlike the myriad manufactured fears that drive the reactionary right, this fear of an attack and its aftermath is surely no phantom nightmare. It looms, and if it doesn't scare you, it should.

jaime oneill

Jaime O'Neill