Your analysis that Trump is a symptom rather than a cause is perfectly correct. Your implicit assumption that a system of representative democracy can reform itself is however sadly incorrect. For a representative democracy to function, it requires (a) representatives that put the interests of the nation ahead of their own interests, and (b) a thoughtful and informed electorate that votes on the basis of policy rather than personality.

Once we’ve all stopped laughing (or crying) hysterically it’s apparent that such a state of affairs has never, and can never, exist anywhere. As Plato observed more than 2,500 years ago, democracy always ends in dysfunctional tyranny because there are always enough simple-minded people who will swallow the lies and promises of blustering demagogues. You don’t need a majority to create a tyranny, just a sufficient number of dupes, because the rest will passively accept whatever they’re presented with. And once the tyrant controls the levers of power, what choice do they have anyway?

So the USA is collapsing into total dysfunction and it’s clear that a far more intelligent and self-controlled future Republican President will complete the process that the infantile halfwit Trump has begun without even realizing the fact. Of course we’ll still call it a democracy — after all, every country is a democracy now. Just like the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea, for example. But never once during this process will Republican voters ever grasp what they’ve made possible, because we humans reject reality in favor of our deeply-held beliefs and the more reality contradicts those beliefs the stronger we cling to them. Remember there were still ordinary decent Germans who continued to believe for decades afterward that Hitler “made Germany great again” despite the catastrophe of World War II. There are still plenty of Russians who cling to the idea that Stalin “saved” the nation. There is literally no end to human self-deception and sheer stupidity.

But perhaps one day we’ll wake up to the fact that any system of governance that assumes there’s no need to demonstrate capability before being granted responsibility is and always will be totally unfit for purpose. Only then will we have any hope whatsoever of attempting to mitigate the usual human follies.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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