Plotting a Dark American Future
Finding a way out of no way
by Thomas Adcock
Copyright © 2023 – Thomas Adcock
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana—U.S.A.
Somewhere beyond this jazzy gumbo of a multi-cultural southern city—most likely in the northern mountain state of Idaho—lives a strange and über-wealthy man who advertises himself as “fated to become a warlord” in the cause of Donald J. Trump and his criminal cult of tattooed street brawlers, mouth-breathing yahoos and perfidious plutocrats who together have subsumed half the governing duopoly of America, i.e. the reprehensible Republican Party.
…Alas, I understate my contempt.
The incipient warlord is one Charles Haywood, publicly outspoken yet personally secretive. For instance: He was born at some point in the 1960s but will not specify which year; his cronies and comrades are sworn to clandestinity; his precise address is unavailable. We know that he amassed a fortune in the shampoo manufacturing business, which has led him to crow, “I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice and looking to cause trouble.”
For several years now, Mr. Haywood has promoted the pseudo-intellectual philosophy of “Foundationalism”—a sour stew of infallible beliefs and a very limited set of facts evident in modern life. His pronunciamientos in this regard are available via his YouTube channel, “What Victory Looks Like,” and in the troublesome pages of “The Worthy,” a rightwing internet magazine where he appears in the masthead as “Maximum Leader.”
Mr. Haywood also exercises maximum leadership in the duly registered non-governmental organization of his making: the Society for American Civic Renewal, a collaboration of like-minded, so-called conservative business tycoons. Membership is men-only. Men who are largely, if not purely, Anglo-Saxon. Those admitted are welcome guests at a quartet of rural fortifications—one in Texas, three in Idaho.
We are assured that the Haywood compounds come readily prepared for and armed against adversaries. Plush as these residential bunkers surely are, Maximum Leader describes them in The Worthy magazine as capable of “more-or-less open warfare with the federal government.”
Mr. Haywood writes of his desire for comity with those of differing outlook—dirty rotten liberals, to be blunt. But, “[D]espite being a practicing and believing Christian [I realize that] ultimately no final question can be solved without conflict, usually involving violence,” he writes. “Thus [my] style tends to be megalomaniacal and apocalyptic. [I] like to fight.”
…Note to Mr. Maximum: Your lord and savior was a cheek-turning pacifist.
Forthright in declaring exception to democratic norms, Mr. Haywood considers himself an avatar of conventionally pleasant things: God, country, manliness, mom and apple pie—and “conservative” values, read reactionary. His oft-stated formula for a new and improved United States of America is what he terms “civilizational renaissance, with strong leadership committed to family and culture.”
Others see distinct unpleasantness in Mr. Haywood’s notions. In particular: Heidi Beirich of the Global Project on Hate and Extremism at the University of Michigan, and columnist Rod Dreher of the American Conservative magazine.
Ms. Beirich characterizes the Haywood worldview as “palingenetic ultranationalism,” a prime element of fascism that advocates violent revolution as a means of national rebirth.
Mr. Dreher wrote that Charles Haywood is “seriously, batshit crazy.”
We may laugh at Maximum Leader ensconced in his gun-bristled hideaway, though it scarcely matters. He is but one soldier among a look-alike legion of American rightwing activists caught up in what is called the “Red Caesar” crusade—red as signifier of the Republican Party color, the emperor Caesar of Rome as avatar in the search for a strongman among men. A strongman to install in the White House.
Pathetically, the crusaders have found their Caesar in a man who attracts rude appellations—Don the Con, Mrs. Putin, L’il Donny Moscow, Fatso der Führer, Mar-a-Lago Mussolini, Captain Crazypants, Hairpiece Himmler, Anus Face, Old Yellow Stain, Plump Chump, President Drippy Moist Steak Farts…
…I could go on. And on. And on. And on, before ending with my current favorite: Orange Adolf.
Juvenile this name-calling. Yes, perhaps, but satisfying. And oh so amusing as my country braces herself for next year’s principal theatrics: the 2024 presidential election, in which the adjudicated sexual assailant, multiple bankruptee and fraudster Donald Trump is expected to be a contender yet again. Never mind that four years of his 2017-21 regime was a global embarrassment and a domestic disaster culminating in a deadly armed insurrection of the Capitol building in Washington days before he slunk out of town.
History records our misplaced amusement when confronted with the spectacle of preposterous men blinding us to their unthinkable ambitions, to their dangerous grievances, to their ugly hatreds. Their names are obvious, now past the damage done.
More often than not, we fail to sense the restlessness that compels their actions. We do understand soon enough their unsettling sleep, perchance to dream of their desires: the grandiosity of cheering throngs full of scowling faces, flags waving along boulevards and torches held aloft, martial music heavy with trumpets and drums, jackboots tromping through cobblestone streets.
Donald Trump roused this desirous spirit in railing before raw-voiced crowds of admirers at October rallies in the states of Michigan and Texas.
In remarks focused on perceived political enemies, petty slights, and prosecutions brought against him for some ninety felony crimes—ranging from election interference to what is essentially treason—the disgraced former president declared: “I’m being indicted for you. They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom.”
When the fervent clapping and whistling subsided, the professional showman that Donald Trump has always been provided the next day’s front page headlines: “I am your warrior. I am your justice,” he further declared. “And for those who have been wronged and betrayed—I am your retribution.”
In November, Mr. Trump upped his game in echoes of Hitler himself.
“Immigration is a very sad thing for our country,” he said in an interview with The National Pulse, a far-right website. “It’s poisoning the blood of our country.”
He told a rally in New Hampshire, “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists…and the left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of this country.”
Hitler scapegoated Jews, homosexuals, and liberals. His regime aimed to “get rid of communist vermin” and migrants “poisoning Aryan blood.” A Nazi government, promised its own maximum leader, would unite Germany as “one people, one nation”—the Lügenpresse (lying press) be damned.
Mr. Trump said he intends to lock up migrants in concentration camps, the “enemy of the people” (U.S. media) be damned. He would unite the country as “one people, one family, one glorious nation.”
…and one skin color?
Regrettably sometimes, everything old is new again.
It is important in these frightening days to heed the counsel of two men I am honored to say were friends of mine: John Lewis (1940-2020), icon of the 1960s civil rights struggle, and Hubert Humphrey (1911-1978), the Minnesota senator and U.S. vice president under the late Lyndon B. Johnson.
Mr. Lewis, nearly beaten to death by Alabama police during a civil rights march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery, said of true patriotism at times of national crisis: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.”
Mr. Humphrey, who campaigned for each public office he held as an unabashed liberal, defined his politics this way: “Liberalism, above all, means emancipation. Emancipation from one’s fears and inadequacies, from prejudice, from discrimination, from poverty.”
At various times, these two good men reminded me that we Americans are descended from rebels who defeated the king of England two centuries ago, despite our fears of British military might. And that we are descended from men and women who defeated Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo, despite our fears of fascism.
Men of the Haywood-Trump ilk are pipsqueaks by comparison. We will find a way to defeat them, too.