If the airplane's making funny noises, watch your flight attendant. If she turns super-brisk and super-professional - if her IQ seems to suddenly jump 50 points - that means there's a problem. She won't reveal fear on her face; you'll know it by her rising to the occasion. That's how you know there really is an occasion.
It's famously hard to know, in the moment, when history is taking an auspicious turn. Most times it turns out to be nothing, in spite of popular uproar (remember the anthrax scare? remember the overpopulation scare?). People will get rattled and act out at any little thing. If you want to spot a significant turn, watch for people rising, not sinking, to the occasion.
I found Donald Trump's speech last night deeply frightening for a number of reasons, none of them related to his deliberate efforts to frighten me. And, sure, there's uproar about it. There's always uproar. But what terrifies me is reading through the responses, as reported here. I see reasonably bright and moderately insightful people hitting it out of the park with daunting brilliance. The emergence of pockets of brilliance is, alas, a portent.
The following are from Republicans and Conservatives:
George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter:
"He is summoning primal forces of anger/fear, and displaying leadership without moral guardrails, religious principles or civic responsibility"
Mitt Romney's chief strategist:
Give him credit for this: Donald Trump is a dark, disturbed man, and he sees in the country what he sees in the mirror"
A conservative blogger:
"Trump's speech sounded better in the original German"
"Trump's 'I'm the only one who can fix it' marks descent of the Republican Party from Republican constitutionalism to demagogic Casarism"
Best of all...conservative writer Stephen Miller:
"RNC who made fun of "Yes We Can" for seven years are now chanting "Yes You Will" on the convention floor"
Conservatives normally enjoy trading in fascist imagery about as much as black people enjoy tap-dancing over watermelon.
Maybe it's just me, but I read people sensing something truly pivotal in their guts; not just twitchy displeasure. This happens in groups only in the face of auspicious historical turning points. When people start rising to an occasion, that's when you know you're really fucked.
PS: Can we finally please stop focusing on his stupid hair and mannerisms? His buffoonish absurdity is the very least of our problems.
Please vote this year, even if you're normally blasé, and even if you're sure your state couldn't possibly go Trump. Also, please consider adding a similar footer plea to your social media posts, your email sig, etc.
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