Yes, indeed that’s a provocative title; but this ain’t click-bait my friends. This is the real deal. If Thomas Paine were alive today, he’d be in the nation’s capital with a pistol waiting for the selected president. Of course, he’d be waiting a long time considering as far as he knew, the capital of these United States was in Philadelphia. I have a vision of old globalist Thomas standing outside Ben Franklin’s door, knocking as hard as he could, shouting
“Benjamin! Benjamin! Come out, our nation’s in trouble and its much worse than the British. Forget the kite!’’. Kind of like the scene in Street Car Named Desire where Marlon Brando is standing outside Stella’s window in the pouring rain in his soaked white T-Shirt.
Marlon Brando would have made a good Thomas Paine in the film, the graphic novel and the computer game but this doesn’t answer the question embedded in the title of this diatribe. Why would Thomas Paine if he were alive today, track down Donald Trump and put a bullet in the back of his head? In principle this would require Donald to be on his knees, facing away from Thomas with his tiny hands wrapped around the back of his head. I suppose you, dear reader, are ‘en-titled’ to an answer as the to why and the wherefore; but stay with me as we savour the moment. The ultimate retribution of history: to be shot in the back of a head by one of the Founders of this revolutionary nation, ironically with a pistol no less. One that Thomas didn’t have to register or submit to a background check to acquire from the antique pistols and muskets booth at the gun show a couple blocks away.
So before Thomas pulls the trigger and the tiny lead ball propels from the pistol’s mouth through his dense skull and lodges somewhere in the soft tissue that Donald referred to at his “brain”, let’s pause and assess the situation. Let’s skip over the time travel details as to how Thomas Paine got from the late 18th century to the early 21st. We’ll leave it to the graphic novel to explain that bit; him jumping a little over two centuries in time. Although we really don’t have to figure out anything at all. Thomas Paine’s words, his ideas and his rebel spirit not only jumped but survived intact more than 2 centuries and the soul of our national sovereignty. So if Thomas Paine were brought back from the dead by some mysterious force, it could only be due to his words, his ideas, the nation he fought for being under threatened.
And that, my reader, is precisely the point being made by my title and the words you are reading now. Today, not 2 decades into the 21st century, the essential values that built this nation, this American experiment by a motley crew of post-enlightenment landowners, orators, tradesmen and inventors is at risk of being destroyed. Not by Trump himself, you realise. But by Us, by We the People in our impotent complacency to stop him.
We are not revolutionaries, we are the revolution Thomas and his friends dreamt up, drew the blueprints for, and built on the hot blood that soaked the green countryside of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Carolina who’s names are only possible because of the stubborn bravery of these idealists, these socialists, these men of vision that had the hubris to build a nation founded not by the right of kings or church or even the wealthy, but by the enlightenment values of Liberty, Justice and Freedom.
These values, of course, aren’t just American, although they are the foundation stones of our democracy. Thomas Paine author of Common Sense, The Age of Reason and the Rights of Man who’s title alone reveal the nature of his philosophy: to build a nation on Reason, not religious superstition. It’s not that Thomas Paine didn’t believe in the Divine, he just believed in Reason more:
“It is by the exercise of reason that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything.”
Later, a member of the French Senate, he would lend his hand to writing the Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s version of the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, along with Thomas Jefferson. Rousseau’s Rights of Man became the basis of the UN Human Rights Charter as well as the EU Human Rights initiative. So next time you hear some jackass complaining about Liberals going on and on about Human Rights you might want to mention that they’re disrespecting the Founding Fathers, two of whom (Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine) contributed to the declaration.
In fact, Universal Human Rights is the soul not only of our Constitution but the Declaration of Independence, the UN Charter and the adopted law of all members of the European Union. Human Rights is the one thing that Donald Trump can’t abide because he has dedicated his life to the accruement of power, power for its own sake. Trump really isn’t that bothered by actual money in spite of his public persona. What he is dedicated to is what money buys: people, power and governance; and this is exactly where we have gone astray from the origins of our nation. We have handed our own governance over to banks, corporate interests and the uber-affluent who can afford to buy a Congressman or a President.
Mueller’s investigation will very shortly reveal the origins of the money that bought Trump his presidency. We know already that the NRA contributed 30 million dollars early in his campaign. Do you remember that lie about how Trump said he was incorruptible because he could afford to fund his own campaign? I know, I know, it’s hard to remember all the lies Trump has spouted.
Do you know why the Truth is better than a lie?
Why? Because it’s easier to remember.
But going back to the pistol Thomas Paine is holding against Donald Trump’s head; no, I didn’t forget my premise. Imagine it with me. There’s Thomas Paine, his hand steadily holding the cocked pistol, fully powdered and loaded with a small lead ball. Tiny, but big enough to leave a good sized hole at such close range. And there’s Donald Trump on his knees, shaking. He’s already wet the pants of his the suit he’s wearing. He tries very hard to hold back his urgent need to defecate and fails.
Now Donald Trump is soiled. Soiled himself the same faeces he’s been feeding to the American voters for years. Soiled by his indifference, his empathy deficit, his reckless, unfeeling impulses, his sociopathic disconnect from the human race. Remember, Donald, to say ‘I hear you’. It fools them every time and leaves plenty of time for self-gratification at the expense of others. Trump is soiled by his own inhumanity, his unbridled carnal greed to accumulate, wealth, power, women. He assaults women not because he can get it up anymore but because they have power which he needs to dominate.
Look at his wife. I haven’t seen such a blank dead look of a hostage to circumstance since Patty Hearst. It was the money that bought her and (like some particularly gruesome episode of Back Mirror), she got exactly what she paid for, with her integrity her and self-respect. Imagine the morning she awoke to the dawning denouement. Sure she could leave any time, with her child. But where would she go? What would she do? In the afterlife of existence everyone writes a book and sells it. When things go badly; when the world seems to be against me; when I lose; I always remind myself – it could always get worse and at least I don’t have to fuck Donald Trump.
The thought makes me feel better but my heart tears up when I think of her suffering. It is the suffering of the affluent. The ones who have accommodated everything they were told they needed to be happy. Everything they worked hard to acquire in lieu of happiness only to find that very object eluding them. That’s the horror of the denouement, you reach the summit of your life’s ambition and now the only thing left to do is jump off. Because Happiness is not an object or an objective. It flits effortlessly in and out of our lives like a butterfly, briefly lingering on a flower and moving on. Ever try to chase a butterfly? Exactly.
Back to Donald Trump having shit and pissed himself while one of the Fathers of our country held a pistol to his head. Perhaps at this point Donald would beg for his life.Like the scene in Miller’s Crossing. “Please, Thomas, Please. Look in your heart, look in your heart. You don’t want to do this. You’re not that kind of man. Look in your heart, for godssake !”.
God is a natural place to go to. After all, the divisions we are now facing in our country are by no means recent. They’ve been brewing for decades. The divisions are not entirely geographic although the 3 states that assured Donald of his electoral victory does have a concentration of post-calvinist evangelicals. No are they solely cultural; after all, Donald Trump is the epitome of the urban gangster. A smooth talking, wheeling dealing property developer soaking in the comfort of Manhattan luxury. He should be anathema to his base of supporters. But he’s not, instead he speaks their language; the language of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan both as fake as a wooden nickel but master showmen to a ’T’ (Only white actors played Charlie Chan which ironically was invented by Earl Derr Biggers as an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes and villains like Fu Manchu).
And Trump talks about God. He doesn’t so much talk about his beliefs (if he has any), but about the threat that nonbelievers and other religions pose for Christian Evangelists, particularly targeting Islam. Trump runs his own Circus of Fear and the punters are more than happy to pay to be scared or at least have their irrational fears affirmed. Donald Trump should be played by the late Robert Mitchum (if he were still alive. Hey, we brought Thomas Paine from 2 centuries ago; a zombie Robert Mitchum should not pose too many difficulties). To be exact, Robert Mitchum in his role as the greed-laden preacher in the class American Gothic The Night of the Hunter in which he plays a psychopathic man of the cloth bent on money and murder (in that order). He pursues two children who hold the secret to a hidden fortune down a river in the south, riding a donkey and singing hymns. A fake, a demon, a creature of merciless malice.
So is Thomas going to shoot Trump in the head for using religion to accumulate power? Of course not. Thomas was a believer but not in God, in Reason. “It is by the exercise of reason that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything.” The reason Thomas Paine is holding a cocked pistol against the back of Donald Trump’s head is not God; Trump hasn’t blasphemed against Faith; he’s blasphemed against Reason. Trump has spent his entire career disseminating the appearance of things, not the truth. Truth is the enemy of Donald Trump, because in Truth, he is an insignificant man in the scheme of things just as we are all beholden to the significance we manufacture and some of us have made peace with that. Donald Trump has not. Like a Hungry Ghost Donald is compelled by desire, call it lust, a lust for significance. This is why he builds towers, not to house offices or hotel rooms, but to prop up as high as he can his name: Trump.
At the start of this year, we had a crisis
in authority due to the steady lies being pumped from the Whitehouse by Tump. The first rule of autocracy is to shake people’s belief in authority so that they only can believe in you. Donald Trump is attempting to destroy the pillars of the 4th estate. Now we’ve entered a period of crisis in competence. When the very ability to address real-world problems by Trump and his stooges is dubious at best.
Remember that the balance of powers in the Constitution is all beholden to having a Free Press in which people can report the truth and express their opinions of their government. That’s what Thomas Paine counted on in drafting our rights. Each right has a corresponding duty. Paine said our first duty is to be kind to others. Paine also said that a person’s corresponding duty is to allow the same rights to others as we allow ourselves. From this basis we can use our abilities to promote mutual understanding. These expanding circles of reciprocal duties and rights weave a tapestry, built on democratic norms, of liberty in the context of societal interdependence. It’s called a society based on equality.
Did you know that Thomas Paine was the very first American abolitionist? In 1775 he wrote “To Americans: That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of justice and humanity, and even good policy, by a succession of eminent men, and several late publications.”
“Our traders in MEN (an unnatural commodity!) must know the wickedness of that SLAVE-TRADE, if they attend to reasoning, or the dictates of their own hearts; and such as shun and stifle all these willfully sacrifice conscience, and the character of integrity to that golden idol.”
Thomas Paine was the first white citizen Member of Black Lives Matter. He and his pal Thomas Jefferson originally included an amendment to the Constitution ending slavery. They wanted to create a revolutionary society in which ALL men are created equal. As usual, women would have to wait. Ofcourse this amendment was vetoed by the southern slave owning states. The same states suspiciously from which Trump derives the concentration of his base support.
But the point being that the Founding Fathers, if not all, enough wanted to establish an egalitarian society in all respects. Paine referred to this, as did the other Framers as ‘the common good’ something the alt-right abhors the notion of as they translate it into control by some body that isn’t them. Nonetheless, contrary to Constitution literalists the “common good” involves a mental posture taken by citizens in their deliberations where they account for, yet transcend partial interests to look at the good for each and all in their decisions.
Even in business, Trump’s claimed turf, the right of commerce was seen as transforming the mind-set of feudal, dependent relations between men and their government. It helped transform subjects into confident citizens. Trade was viewed not as laissez-faire, but in a web of social interdependence. It was seen as a major modality for individuals to use their Reason (not Faith), to develop better mutual understanding of others interests in society. While aware that too much indulgence in commerce could lead to the decline of spirit and patriotism, making reason subservient to commercial interests, Paine felt that man would use his religion of reason to place commerce within a broader quest for lifelong education in the arts, sciences, engineering, and philosophy in order to progress to a universal society and universal happiness.
Paine believed that man’s highest spirit of reason in its motives and applications such that it does not have to be concentrated solely in pursuit of commercial interests. Art, science, and commercial enterprise can be placed in service to humanity and universal happiness. Moreover, each individual deserves minimal dignity and a minimal economic base to pursue their natural rights. Like Paine and Edward Bellamy advocated two hundred years ago, some form of guaranteed minimal annual income ought to be adopted for each citizen, regardless of wealth or other distinctions. Imagine what Thomas Paine would make of the modern day commercialized medical establishment!
Sounds like a socialist that Thomas Paine, don’t he? Not at all really, just your average post-Enlightenment philosopher and thinker. Or only as far as Socialism is dedicated to the fairer distribution of resources so that everyone might enjoy Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness more equally. “Some men and women, through greed or disproportionate natural or social advantages, will contribute to others being systematically impoverished in the imperfections of manmade civilization”
”The earth is the common property of the human race”; thus each human being is equally entitled to have dignity and minimal share of the earth’s bounty, including clean water, air, and access or rents from land Thus, men and women must discover those laws operating in society which will create a greater harmony of overall interests. Democratic communities will have to choose to redistribute some minimal baseline of societal resources to those at least most vulnerable not as charity, but as a right in the name of social harmony.”
Paine conceived of autonomous democratic nation-states forming alliances of mutual aid. Mikhail Gorbachev has said that we ought to have a balancing of interests, not a balancing of power on the global stage internationalization, with the primacy of nation-state alliances, is a major alternative to the trends of corporate economic globalization. In the myth of a “flat” world of economic globalization, where the world is made safe and frictionless for capital expansion,
Citizens and nations do not vote for corporate influenced governmental-military-industrial-media alliances and trade agreements which establish “the rules of the game” subtly conditioning the thinking of the masses.
These are not ancient words. These are the principles America was founded on and without which we would have early on taken the road to the same form of despotism and autocracy that Donald Trump is trying to lead us into. Trump only wants power. Power to control what is true and what is not. Power to determine the fates and existence of as many people as he can. This is why he loves the idea of a wall, the decoration of undocumented long term residents and the border checks at airports that targets people of the Muslim faith, as well as people that white people think look like Muslims!
In his own way, from his visionary perspective, Thomas Paine was what the right wing calls a Globalist or even more bizarrely a statist. Of course the founding father were statists, they constructed the blueprint for the United STATES.
Bernie Sanders was right. Trump isn’t Conservative or moderate, much less liberal; he’s an autocrat who has no respect for the Constitution and has failed as commander and chief to protect this country from a foreign antagonist.
Back to the curb where Paine is holding Trump hostage to the imperatives of history and the gentle squeezing of Thomas’s trigger finger. Because Donald Trump is a traitor to his state. He has been under the influence of a foreign antagonist Vladimir Putin since at least 2014, shortly after he first announced his attempts at the Presidency. He needed money to run a campaign for President and he didn’t have any. No bank would loan him money because Trump always welched on his debts. So he had to turn to Deutsche Bank, the same bank that Putin and his oligarchy use to make money disappear and reappear wherever is most expedient. In this case it was the Presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.
This will all become very shortly apparent as soon as the next wave of indictments are issued by the DOJ. Trump is in a jam that he can’t get out of. Mueller’s investigation on behalf of the federal department of justice is very far from being a witch hunt. Read the indictments, all the evidence is published there, enough to hold up in federal court. Mueller, if you recall, is a conservative Republican of impeccable integrity.
BTW, I don’t detest Conservatives; some of my best friends…etc. But Trump isn’t really a conservative, he’s a con man playing the GOP for whatever he can get away with. I don’t hate conservatives, I hate liars who shamelessly lie every day they open their mouths. I hate incompetents who can’t even keep one national security advisor on board during his first year and whose family and campaign advisors were meeting with Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign.
At this point in the event, Donald Trump moves his head slightly. Thomas steadies his hand. Testing Thomas, Trump slowly turns his head enough to glimpse Thomas’s steely stare. As unflinching as Mueller’s investigation. Once again Trump pleads, begs for his life. “What do you want Mr. Paine? I’ve got money tons of money. What about women? I can get you the most beautiful models in the world. What about an audience with the Queen of England, she’s easy.” Thomas pauses and for the first time speaks to Donald J. Trump:
“I want my country back. I want the nation myself and my brothers built out of Reason, Compassion and Equality back. I want what this nation is meant to be, not what you have defiled it as.”
Trump knows his goose is cooked. He can’t repair the damage he’s caused. It will take others, long after he’s gone to rebuild our country. Others who are younger than a 70-year-old patriarch. Others who have grown accustomed to being one nation in a physically interconnected world. Others who aspire to rise above the fumes of spiritual superstition to the level of what Paine himself called “our living awareness of the Infinite Presence.” by means of Reason. Science, the Arts, the cooperative nature of our fellow hairless apes. The high school students who have stood up and proclaimed “enough is enough” The women who no longer cover their mouths and stifle their words when being subject to interpersonal tyranny. These are the children of Thomas Paine. These are the people he fought for and wrote for.
As a species we survived and dominated this planet by virtue of our complex means of cooperation, not competition. That complex is what we refer to as a Society and those who reject the notion are, well just anti-Social.
Donald Trump speaks to Thomas Paine one last time.
“Please Thomas, I promise to be better, I promise to live up to your virtues, I swear I’m a changed man. Look in your heart Thomas, look in your heart, Please!….”
He speaks his last four words to the man on his knees in front of him:
“I have, you traitor.”
Thomas pulls the trigger.
©Igor Goldkind 2018