Henry Rollins: Obama Gave Us Eight Years of Chess. Get Ready for Four Years of Checkers

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Our soon-to-be-inaugurated Tweeter-in-Chief

I am in Clearwater, Florida. The more I think about our present situation, the more interesting it gets. The USA has entered into an era that is post-political and seemingly, post-truth.

Several days ago on the CNN show New Day, host Chris Cuomo asked comrade Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway about what many people think was Trump’s mocking of a disabled New York Times reporter in 2015. You have perhaps seen the footage. Ms. Conway insisted that this is not what Trump meant and asked Cuomo, “Why is everything taken at face value?” She then added, “You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart. You always want to go with what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”

What’s coming out of his mouth … well, yeah, he’s days away from becoming the fucking president, so that’s what I would be going with. As to what’s in his heart, that line of logic is so much greeting-card bullshit.

Facts no longer seem to matter. American intelligence agencies conclude that Russia interfered with the last presidential election. The comrade-elect wants us to “get on with our lives.” In an age of computer espionage, hacking and cyberterrorism, Trump concludes, “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly.” This is a presidential axiom that we’ll be going forward with. Throw out your computer. Make America great again.

In a lot of ways, despite all the frustration and conflict in America, I think we’re in a time of great transparency, and comrade Trump’s recent electoral college victory is a large part of that. We humans want what we want when we want it, and logic, morals, truth and law are often mere procedural pains in the ass. Homo sapiens has a capacity for selfishness and self-service that knows no bounds.

These traits are part of the reason why an animal so poorly equipped to endure the wrath of the planet’s natural state still endures. They also account for the harsher aspects of capitalism — which, in the case of America, attained much of its momentum and virulence in the days of slavery. It has since, to a degree, lost some of its speed and striking power by regulation and other constraints.

This is perhaps the largest and longest-standing argument in this country. One side posits that the supreme energy source that is capitalism best serves the people when it is treated with extreme care and oversight. The other claims that capitalism, when it is unleashed, taps the very greatness not only of the United States but of humankind itself.

The former point of view requires a substantial and dynamically structured government and a lot of funding to keep the watchdog well fed. The latter basically needs you to either get out of the way or ride the wave as best you can. From looking at comrade Trump’s cabinet picks, it is the latter that will be determining the country’s immediate future.

It is a course informed by elitism, brutality and cowardice. Comrade Trump and his moll Ms. Conway are pathetic. He’s the embarrassing drunk who vomits on the banquet table. She’s the crime scene cleaner-upper who tells you it’s not puke but his essence, hurled onto the tablecloth to show you what’s in his heart. You only find it disgusting because you lost.

You don’t have to remind me that elections have consequences. One of the only people in the country who doesn’t seem to get that is the man about to be president. What starts this month, for years to come, is what USA voted for.

This is what I’m talking about when I say we are in an age of great clarity. Racist groups are out in the open and, if anything, are gaining legitimacy and acceptance. Homophobia and misogyny are mean, beating hearts on sleeves.

A true test-tube baby of this era, and signpost for what’s to come, is Milo Yiannopoulos. An ultra-acerbic cultural deconstructuralist, he is part and parcel of what you get in this new age. His forthcoming book, Dangerous, due to be released in March, is one I absolutely look forward to reading. I highly doubt I will find anything in it to agree with, but I am genuinely interested in where the man gets off.

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I’ve read books by the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter. They’re like Hunter S. Thompson on phencyclidine.

If you are an adult citizen less than happy with who will be occasionally visiting the Oval Office and communicating to you via Twitter, you are not afforded all that much distance by the fact that you did not vote him. Comrade Trump will be the president of all Americans and there is not enough denial, vodka or Vicodin to change that.

Trump is not only an American but a product of America, a result of the mechanics that shape and inform the individual and the electorate. If there was ever a reason to improve the country’s educational systems, just look at where your country is right now. It’s not an intellectually agile majority that got us to this place. But don’t tell that to one of Trump’s supporters, because he or she will tell you that is exactly who propelled him to office, and in a way, they would be right.

You had eight years of chess; now you’ll have at least four years of checkers. A lot of people will be frustrated by the slowness of the country’s devolved operating system, while others will be thrilled that finally they have an America that’s greatly uncomplicated, thus allowing them to get on with their lives.

Meanwhile, I am in one of the trippiest states of the union. Tattooed, big-eyed tweaker girls ring me up at the market; old men in new Mustangs fall asleep at red lights. Florida is the end of the line. With hotels.

Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.


More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
White America Couldn't Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day
Bowie's Blackstar Is on the Level of Low and Heroes
No Matter Who Wins, America Is Only Going to Get Angrier


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