The brilliant Native American philosopher and activist Vine Deloria Jr. offered an important hint in his most influential work, God is Red. He pointed out that in the wake of the Reformation, Western spirituality lost track of a crucial variable—the spiritual importance of place. To most spiritual traditions, and to Native American traditions even more than most, specific places on the land have their own unique spiritual properties and powers, which are not dependent on the people who happen to live there. He went on to argue that much of the reason why modern American society stumbles so blindly from one preventable disaster to another is that we have not yet learned to relate in a sacred manner to the powers of place, the spirits of the land on which we live—and that those powers remain the ones that native peoples reverenced.
… The changes that matter very often focus around one person who becomes the focus of change, and who proceeds up the river of our national life, encountering one crisis after another and somehow overcoming each one of them, until death or retirement ends the tale—and by the time that happens, the world has changed decisively and nothing will ever be the same again.
That’s the archetypal pattern I see unfolding in American life right now…
I think it’s safe to predict that no future attempt to stop Trump in his tracks will get any further than the ones we’ve already seen. The efforts to hit Trump over the head with an investigation or stab him with media tirades will doubtless continue—in fact, with an eye toward the legends, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mueller investigation is still lumbering ineffectually onward for a long time to come, and I’d be amazed if there’s the slightest decrease in the sniping from the media and the official intelligentsia—but none of it will affect the outcome. At the beginning of 2025, when Donald Trump hands over the presidency to his successor, he’ll look back on a long string of crises that never quite managed to derail him. By that time, furthermore, the nation and the world will have changed irrevocably.
With an eye to the first two parts of this series of posts, it’s not too hard to see the new realities taking shape on the far side of the Trump era. The drastic pruning of federal regulations, the end of one-sided free trade agreements that encourage the offshoring of working class jobs, and the end of the tacit encouragement of mass illegal immigration and the resulting downward pressure on wages and benefits—all core policies of the Trump administration—represent a dramatic rebalancing of economic power in American society away from the managerial aristocracy. The realities of politics being what they are, that will bring about an equally dramatic rebalancing of political influence. We’re already seeing a lively socialist insurgency threatening the Democratic Party establishment, and a less dramatic but equally far-reaching influx of populist candidates into the GOP is also well under way. Despite all the shrill denunciations of the mainstream media and the official intelligentsia, There Is An Alternative—in fact, more than one—and that in itself shows that the enforced consensus of the last forty years is shattering around us.