We have crossed the river of history into a new country, and there’s no way back. Now we are stumbling around, amid the gathering darkness, and trying to figure out whether anything in this alien landscape is recognizable. Will the presidency of Donald Trump — an eventuality unforeseen by anyone, including Trump himself — resemble things that have happened before? Or is it a trip to an unknown planet, where all the things we thought we understood about reality and democracy and the nature of America no longer apply?
Karl Marx’s famous maxim that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce, has itself been repeated too often, both in contexts where it fits and ones where it doesn’t. This time around, we damn well better hope it’s true. Farce, failure and incompetence are among the better possible outcomes of a Trump administration. The worse outcomes — which come more clearly into focus with every noxious new appointment, and every new report of a hate crime that the president-elect hasn’t heard about or blandly disavows — are almost too much to think about.
It’s time to think about them. Those worst-case scenarios have been nestled in their eggs feeding on ignorance and hatred for a long time, like the face-huggers of “Alien.” Now they’re hatching, and they’re hungry.