Democrats and the media are confused about the meaning of Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. The president-elect’s critics say his appointment of wealthy Republicans to cabinet positions is hypocritical and reveals him to be a phony populist. “Hypocrisy at its worst,” cry Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. “Trump’s Economic Cabinet Picks Signal Embrace of Wall St. Elite,” reads the headline on the New York Times. “Stick a sterling silver fork in Trump’s ‘populism,'” reads the title of a Washington Post column.
In the early 1960s, when Neil Gaiman was eight years old, he read a story called “The City on the Edge of Forever” in the collection Star Trek 2. The piece was an adaptation of a Star Trek teleplay that had been written by one Harlan Ellison. Two years later, Gaiman read a story called “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” in the anthology World’s Best SF Third Series. This hallucinatory, post-apocalyptic tale of four humans trapped inside a sentient and psychotic computer had such a terrifying effect on Gaiman that he looked up its author. Ellison had written it too.
The liberal hysteria over Donald Trump’s election as president extends to coverage of his transition. “Firings and Discord Put Trump Transition Team in a State of Disarray,” says the New York Times. “Intraparty fratricide looms over the GOP,” says a columnist for the Washington Post. “The GOP Civil War Is Just Beginning,” says a writer for Slate.
One of the most important speeches of the 2016 election was delivered in Utah in June to an audience of ultra-rich Republicans that included Mitt Romney. The speaker was Edward Conard, who joined Bain Capital after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1982 and worked in private equity for twenty-five years before retiring to become, of all things, a pundit.
Unprecedented. Incredible. Never seen anything like it.
These words have been uttered often about the 2016 presidential campaign. Donald Trump, it is said, is a unique figure. He’s leading a populist movement unlike any America has experienced. His scorched earth, apocalyptic campaign is one of a kind.