Civilization has made great progress in the past century. But progress has not been even. It has come in lurches and reverses. Like a burlap sack filled with crabs, society is pulled this way and that as individuals and special interests struggle to reach their disparate goals. We can only hope that, somehow, the sack of crabs will be propelled eventually toward the light.
This struggle between progress and regression is exemplified by the current American election campaign.
One man seems to personify the urge to reverse the enlightenment of the past century. And he is attracting hordes of supporters. They are the disgruntled, the left behind, the uneducated, unskilled white Americans who can no longer count on the color of their skin to give them an edge in life.
Yes, that man is Donald Trump.
He can “disavow” the Ku Klux Klan all he wants, but his appeal is largely based on skin color and his willingness to rant openly against “others.”
He publicly derides Mexicans and Muslims, questions the legitimacy of America’s first black President and promises to “make America great again” by bullying the Chinese and other non-white nations.
Yet – with just three candidates left to choose from – Trump may be the least dangerous choice presented to the Republican Party by this year’s surreal presidential campaign.
Ted Cruz is a religious crusader cut from the same cloth as Oliver Cromwell and Bloody Mary, the kind of zealot that gives rise to such abuses as the Spanish Inquisition. He is so obsessed and so mean that I question his sanity.
Marco Rubio is a shiftless opportunist who would say or do anything to get ahead. He is manipulated by a billionaire who amassed his fortune through the vice of gambling, and his closest associates include a convicted drug dealer.
And he has a face of brass. Nothing shames him.
He went to bat for a chain of private colleges described by federal investigators as “predatory,” for example, yet did not hesitate to attack Trump’s failed “university” as a scam.
Faced with this toxic trio, the Republican establishment is scrambling to rig the party convention and nominate an alternative. If none of the candidates gets a clear majority of delegates, the party could contrive the nomination of someone else.
Pundits predict this would doom the Republican Party’s election chances and possibly even spell the end of the party.
And the way I see it, that might be a welcome step toward the light.