It’s tough to imagine any two human beings more different than Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
One’s black. One’s white. One writes books. One doesn’t read books and may not be sure what books are. One grew up on the periphery of the U.S. empire and it made him deeply cosmopolitan. One grew up in New York City and it made him a provincial hick.
One has the self-control of a 1,000-year-old Zen monk. One responds to any stimulus like an amoeba. One’s a slender athlete. One’s a fleshy endomorph with whorls and folds in his face like a Shar Pei.
But their elections have one critical thing in common: They both came out of NOWHERE to become president, with characteristics that previously would have throttled their chances before they delivered their first speech in Iowa.
There’s no need to recount everything from Trump’s florid life and campaign that sensible people were sure disqualified him. But we’ve forgotten how the sensible people at first saw Obama in much the same way, and for reasons that went far beyond him being African American. He’d been a senator for just two years when he started running and would have to beat the entire party establishment. His father was Muslim. He wasn’t just not named Henry Smith, his middle name was Hussein. He’d even used cocaine, and openly admitted it.
Yet both Obama and Trump vaulted over everyone and everything into the White House. Tens of millions of Americans were willing to place their lives in the hands of political anomalies whose central pitch was that they would deliver profound change. The rise of Bernie Sanders, who’s proven that you can become the most popular politician in the country without owning a comb, demonstrates the same thing.
What does this mean?
I’d say it means that something has gone incredibly wrong with this country’s political system, that large numbers of us are desperate, and are willing to hand over power to absolutely anyone. That’s brings us to the peculiar reality that it’s not just Obama and Trump’s elections that had something significant in common, it’s likely their presidencies.
Obama said American healthcare was in crisis and that “plans that tinker and halfway measures now belong to yesterday.” Obama was also outraged by pharmaceutical companies gouging Medicare.
According to Trump, “People all across the country are devastated” by the healthcare system, but if we put him in charge, “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” Trump was also infuriated by Big Pharma and just like Obama vowed to crush them.
Yet Obama delivered a halfway measure that tinkered with the problem, and never went after drug manufacturers. Trump is now poised to give America … literally the same thing.
Obama called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake” in 2008. In 2016 Trump said NAFTA had caused “devastation” and was “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed.” But Obama didn’t renegotiate NAFTA. Trump just announced he’s not going to pull out of it, and it seems clear the odds of any real renegotiation are slim.
Obama attacked Wall Street, and so did Trump. Both then stocked their administrations with bankers.
And Obama and Trump both ran against the Iraq War, and both of their constituencies understood them to mean they would rethink our entire policy toward the Middle East. Both Obama and Trump then faithfully continued the Afghanistan War, bombed Syria, and helped Saudi Arabia starve Yemen.
This doesn’t make Obama and Trump the same, of course. Obama’s policies made life better for many regular people at the edges. Trump’s will unquestionably make them worse — and that’s the best case scenario, in which he doesn’t accidentally terminate human civilization.
But it does mean that on the core issues of politics — the ones about which the one percent/globalists/Bilderbergers/disguised space lizards truly care — Obama did not produce genuine change. And, it now seems more and more likely, neither will Trump.
Given Trump’s atrocious methods and goals, it’s impossible not to take joy in this. “Now that we have vanquished the Dhimmicrats and cuckservatives,” Steve Bannon proclaimed, “we shall —” and then tripped on his shoelaces and fell down 97 flights of stairs.
We can’t enjoy this for long, though. If left unaddressed, the anguish that Americans demonstrated by voting for both Obama and Trump will not evaporate. I once believed there could never be a worse, lazier, more frightening president than Ronald Reagan. Then I was sure of the same thing about George W. Bush. Now I’ve learned my lesson. We have to get busy creating a place for this country’s anger and despair to be used constructively, or it will eventually birth something even worse than Trump.
What happens to an American dream deferred? We lucked out once when it elected Obama. We may survive it electing Trump. But if we keep deferring it, it is absolutely certain that one day it’s going to explode and take the whole world with it.