Trump and Gazing into the Abyss

Gustave Doré, Satan in the Abyss

Gustave Doré, Satan in the Abyss


So (God help us!) Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee following last night’s blowout primary win in Indiana. Earlier in the day, before he suspended his campaign, Ted Cruz warned that the country would plunge into “the abyss” if it did not stop the GOP frontrunner. In his concession speech, Cruz told his followers that only if they rallied around him in the future could they slow our descent into this abyss.

For an expert on abysses, I turn to John Milton, who gives us vivid depictions of Chaos and Night in Book II of Paradise Lost. While I likened Cruz to Satan in Monday’s post, today I tag Trump with the comparison. The Republican Establishment, meanwhile, I cast in the role of Milton’s God, who watches as Satan laboriously journeys through the abyss on his way to seduce his future constituents.

The parallel is imperfect, in part because God has absolute foreknowledge whereas the GOP Establishment was blindsided by Trump’s rise. Now, however, they may be more justified in thinking they know what will happen. Many GOP experts tell us, with certainty, that the GOP will lose the presidency in November and may be massacred in down ballot races as well.

Here’s Milton’s God speaking with similar certainty about what Satan is about to do to the creatures that were His joy. Think of them as GOP voters who, in the past, reliably went along with the Establishment’s choice but now are turning away from their best interest.

God is gazing down from his “prospect high” at a Satan who has just reached the atmosphere surrounding earth. The devil is headed for Eden, Trump is on his way to Cleveland:

[God] then surveyed
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there
Coasting the wall of Heaven on 
this side Night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world that seemed
Firm land embosomed without firmament,
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.

Speaking to Jesus, God proceeds to castigate not only Satan but also Adam, for heeding the devil’s “glozing lies”:

Onely begotten Son, seest thou what rage
Transports our adversariy, whom no bounds
Prescribed, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heaped on him there, nor yet the main abyss
Wide interrupt can hold; so bent he seems
On desperate revenge, that shall redound
Upon his own rebellious head. And now
Through all restraint broke loose he wings his way
Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light,
Directly towards the new created World,
And Man there placed, with purpose to assay 
If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert
For man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole Command,
Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall, [ 95 ]
He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?
Whose but his own? ingrate, he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.

Yes, the GOP voters have been given freedom to choose whoever they want—the party bosses don’t control things as they once did—and they have used their free will to seal their doom. That, at any rate, is how certain of the GOP’s godlike authorities see it. A similar drama, albeit less intense, is going on in the Democratic race.

And what has Satanic Trump promised his followers if they do his bidding? That they thereby will prove that they are smarter than any “inside experts.” Satan convinces Eve that the fruit will make her as smart as Adam and even God:

O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving plant,
Mother of Science, now I feel thy power
Within me clear, not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest Agents, deemed however wise.

The GOP Establishment, of course, is not God. God, for instance, really does have the best interests of Adam and Eve in mind whereas the Establishment, in thrall to the party’s donor class, has cynically used GOP voters for its own selfish ends. Now Satan has been unleashed and there’s no telling how much damage he will do.

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