Wednesday, December 5, 2018

From The Millerites To Trump: The Big Tease

William Miller was a farmer from the Adirondacks in upstate New York. He had a side job as a Baptist minister. He was also what passed for a “student of the bible” in the mid-Nineteenth Century. He had a strong hunch that he knew when the second coming of Christ was going to occur, and he talked about it quite a bit for ten or twenty years before the projected date. He must have been fun at parties.

According to his calculations, Christ would show up sometime in April, 1843, and all of the chosen people would ship out for heaven October 23, 1844. He had developed quite a substantial following by then, and they exhibited a broad range of aberrant behaviors following the absence of an event on that day. There was a lot of arguing about the date, fault-finding about the math employed by Miller, conversion to other extreme Christian sects, and all of the general floundering around that idiocy creates. They, the “Millerites,” became the model for all of the end-of-the-worlders that have followed them.

Even now, hardly a year goes by but that some genius announces an impending date for the end of the world. The incident in 2012 was blamed on the Mayans, but more often the Christian Bible is the source of the revelation. I am offended every time this kind of thing makes the papers. I would like nothing better than to have a first-row seat for the end of the world, and it was long ago that I got tired of being teased with the granting of that wish. “Quit teasing me!” I mumble, not at an actual newspaper anymore. Now I do my mumbling at a computer screen. “Bunch of fucking idiots!” Rude too, to tease people like that. Message to the next guy who believes he has discovered that date, or has had it revealed to him by the neighbor's dog or something: Make your own peace with God and keep it all to yourself. The rest of us have work to do.

We're getting much the same thing these days about Trump. We've been putting up with his sabotage of all of our institutions, rights, and freedoms for almost two years now, and for one of those years not a day has gone by without predictions that his downfall was imminent. Impending, even! Any day now! Mueller will be filing those indictments next (fill in day of the week)! (Fill in name of member of Trump's family) will be arrested this week! These bits of news are easy to find, but the sparks of the original reporting become prairie fires on social media. There are a lot of people out there who are apoplectic about this whole Trump mess/tragedy/catastrophe. They are all over every little hint in the news. “This is it!” they write, in large type. And then the week passes, and the month, and the year, and we are standing on the hillside like a bunch of Millerites, experiencing our own version of their “Great Disappointment.”

What we are witnessing is no less than a revolution, but it is not a Trumpist revolution. No, it's the same old Republican revolution that has been chewing our furniture since the 1970s. One reads that the entire Republican party, along with Trump, will be ejected into space before long and we will be able to get back to some mythical “way things were.” This is no less of a terrible tease than the old Millerite bullshit.

As much as I would love to see the actual end of the world, I would dearly love to see Trump and some of the more egregious Republican operatives sent to big-wall prisons to spend a decade or more in the general population. But the odds are that I will be denied the pleasure of either thing. Neither thing will be happening any time soon.

The odds are that we will be suffering without the comforting presence of Mr. Jesus right up until the time when the entire world ecosystem collapses on us. There will be no heralds and no horns on that day, I'm afraid. We will all simply join those already lost to oblivion.

The odds also favor the Republican party continuing to make it's vicious, selfish mischief for the foreseeable future. As for Trump, well, don't hold your breath waiting for the end of this nightmare.

When the end comes, Trump, useful idiot that he has been, will be unceremoniously dumped in his favorite brier-patch: bankruptcy court. There's no prison fantastic enough to hold him. My best guess is that he'll be allowed to retire for health reasons as part of a deal to keep the kiddies out of prison. I'd be willing to bet that within five years he'll be back on TV. “Washington Apprentice,” or something similar.

Nothing at all could surprise me in this WTF bonanza that we call the Twenty-First Century.

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