Matt Taibbi: Four Years of Trump Will Make America ‘Forget What Civilization Ever Looked Like’

April 1st, 2017 4:49 PM

The term “dumb down” and its variants apparently didn’t exist until the late 1920s or early 1930s. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi suggested in the cover story of the magazine’s April 6 issue that the dumbing-down of America may be complete before the expression is a century old, and that President Trump deserves a huge share of the blame.

Taibbi declared that Trump is “transforming not our laws but our consciousness, one shriveling brain cell at a time…A president like Trump can have an impact even if he never manages to get a single law passed, simply by unleashing stupidity as a revolutionary force.” It began before Trump took office; his Cabinet nominees were mostly, as Taibbi saw it, “a jaw-dropping collection of perverts, tyrants and imbeciles, the likes of which Washington ha[d] never seen.”

Taibbi indicated that Trump is taking the Republican party where a lot of its members were already going (bolding added):

One of the brilliant innovations of the Trump phenomenon has been the turning of expertise into a class issue. Formerly, scientists were political liabilities only insofar as their work clashed with the teachings of TV Bible-thumpers. Now, any person who in any way disputes popular misconceptions -- that balancing a budget is just like balancing a checkbook, that two snowfalls in a week prove global warming isn't real, that handguns would have saved Jews from the Holocaust or little kids from the Sandy Hook massacre -- is part of an elitist conspiracy…

Most conservatives who opposed Trump over the past two years on grounds of basic logic now realize that they'll suffer if they take stands against his conspiratorial ideas on immigrants, the budget, “so-called” judges, climate change or anything else. Trump has made being the voice of reason politically dangerous.

Indispensable to the dumbing process, argued Taibbi, is Trump’s flair for bringing others down to his level:

All of Trump's opponents sooner or later fall victim to the same pattern. He is so voluminously offensive that Christ himself would abandon a positive message to chase his negatives…

We always assumed there was a goal behind it all: cattle cars, race war, autocracy. But those were last century's versions of tyranny. It would make perfect sense if modern America's contribution to the genre were far dumber. Trump in the White House may just be a monkey clutching history's biggest hand grenade…

…He is already making idiots and accomplices of us all, bringing out the worst in each of us, making us dumber just by watching. Even if Trump never learns to govern, after four years of this we will forget what civilization ever looked like -- and it will be programming, not policy, that will have changed the world.