Donald Trump and the Opening of the Gates of Hades

Donald Trump being elected as the 45th President of the United States is one of the most monumental calamities in modern world history. The pretense that Trump — despite being the next Leader of the Free World and Commander-in-Chief of the world’s foremost military — is powerless due to “checks and balances” is wholly insufferable. To hold this absurdist position is to willfully ignore the lion’s share of the American historical record. Donald Trump’s presidency, whether people like it or not, has opened the gates of Hades. White supremacist ideology is ascendant worldwide, and a Donald Trump presidency will likely be some of the darkest years in world history.

The notion that checks and balances can fully constrain Trump’s bigotry is erroneous. When politicians run in democratic elections, they are usually constrained by the fact that they are trying to get as many people as possible to vote for them. During this period, Trump engaged in some of the most overtly xenophobic rhetoric in the modern history of American politics. He launched his campaign with xenophobia and it is the defining element of his political identity. This overtly hateful rhetoric led to over 60 million Americans choosing him to become the next president. If the electoral process could not constrain Trump’s rhetoric, what makes people think attaining the most powerful office in the land will? Even if it is the case that Trump’s rhetoric becomes more measured, it will only be because his actions will speak markedly louder than his words.

Those who think Trump will miraculously transform into a magnanimous statesman upon sitting in the Oval Office chair seem to believe the opposite of Lord Acton’s famous remark, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Power does not imbue virtue. In fact, power has a way of bringing out the hidden, evil characteristics of humans. To maintain that someone who behaved deplorably while seeking power will become angelic upon being rewarded with that power is utterly contrary to reason and logic. Donald Trump’s inability to condemn white supremacists as a candidate is a precursor to his presidency.

Checks and balances do sometimes curb basic corruption, but the idea that they have been an impediment to sheer wickedness and evil requires a phantasmagoric rewriting of American political history. Checks and balances were in place when slavery was the law of the land in America until 1865. Checks and balances were in place when Jim Crow laws existed and blacks were denied civil rights until 1965. Checks and balances existed when the internment of Japanese Americans occurred between 1942 and 1946. The jejune repetition of “checks and balances” as an answer to the Trump dilemma is the kind of analysis that can only be excused if all one knows of American political history is the information garnered from a deceptively edited civics pamphlet. Checks and balances existed during the most reprehensible periods of American savagery. To think these checks and balances can curtail a man as manifestly uninhibited and irresponsible as Trump is fundamentally misguided — especially considering he has been rewarded with the highest office in the world for exhibiting such attributes.

Passing familiarity with American history also indicates that when an American president makes bigoted utterances, or publicly identifies with hateful ideologies, it has catastrophic reverberations across the country. In March of 1915, President Woodrow Wilson exultantly showed the white supremacist film The Birth of a Nation at the White House and lavished the racist film, which glowingly depicted the Ku Klux Klan and dehumanized blacks, with effusive praise. The film was based on a book called The Clansman, which was penned by Wilson’s comrade, Thomas Dixon, Jr. With the enthusiastic presidential imprimatur of Wilson, it is no surprise the second iteration of the Klan began to proliferate, reaching a staggeringly large membership in the millions by the mid-1920s. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Klan is planning a victory parade on December 3rd of this year to celebrate Trump’s presidential victory. Not finding this situation worrisome can only occur if one supports the goals of Klan — or one is deeply unacquainted with the cyclical nature of history.

It is a statement of historical fact that when bigotry is given a presidential imprimatur, hatred and violence against marginalized groups are direct consequences. Checks and balances do nothing to stymie the fomenting of hatred that can occur when the man behind the desk in the Oval Office endorses bigotry. It is important to remember that after Woodrow Wilson sparked the rebirth of the Klan by showing The Birth of a Nation in 1915, he delivered disingenuous statements years later denouncing lynching and white aggression. In a similar vein, Donald Trump has done enough to rile up hateful bigots. Even if Trump issues nothing but kind and inclusive statements from this point forward, he has already done enough damage. White nationalists do not need to hear another word from Trump to know that they will have a champion in the White House in January 2017.

The idea that Donald Trump is incapable of doing damage because he cannot easily issue executive orders legalizing the lynching of blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims is to fundamentally miss the point. This deliberate obtuseness is the same kind that allows one to pretend as though racism only exists when the most offensive slurs are hurled with venomous rage. The fact that the office of the presidency of the United States will be occupied by a bigot is dangerous enough — and the historical record is unimpeachable proof of that. The ineluctable conclusion of anyone with an understanding of American history is that the election of Donald Trump has opened the gates of Hades. Concerns about Trump’s coming presidency are not hyperbole. Rather, such concerns are birthed from a stark recognition that history may be about to repeat itself.