I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but one of the truest insights I've ever read into civilization came from Orson Scott Card.
In Songbird, a grim novel-length adaptation of one of his grimmest short stories, Card expounds through monologue that the Romans were more important than the Greeks because while the Greeks invented nearly everything, the Romans invented bureaucracy. And bureaucracy, despite everyone's hatred of it, is the most stabilizing force in the history of governance.
Card points out that while the Vandals sacked Rome in the 5th Century, the bureaucracy of Rome continued in Byzantium for another thousand years. It continued as the Holy Roman Empire of the Franks through the 17th Century. Alexander's empire crumbled within decades of his death. Ghengis Khan's empire descended into the warlord piracy of the Golden Horde. but the petty TPS reports of the papacy kept civilization together through the thousand years of the Dark Ages.
Obviously, "Dark Ages" is something to avoid, not something to shoot for. But I think the gist of the above is what Obama meant:
Throughout the campaign, he had told his audiences that if Trump—“uniquely unqualified” and “temperamentally unfit” to be Commander-in-Chief—were to win, eight years of accomplishment would go out the window. I asked him if he still believed that.
“Now that the election is over, no, I don’t believe it,” he said with a sharp, dark laugh. “Not because I was over-hyping it. I think that the possibility of everything being out the window exists. But, as a practical matter, what I’ve been saying to people, including my own staff, is that the federal government is an aircraft carrier, it’s not a speedboat. And, if you need any evidence of that, think about how hard we worked over the last eight years with a very clear progressive agenda, with a majority in the House and in the Senate, and we accomplished as much domestically as any President since Lyndon Johnson in those first two years. But it was really hard.” Obama said that he had accomplished “seventy or seventy-five per cent” of what he set out to do, and “maybe fifteen per cent of that gets rolled back, twenty per cent, but there’s still a lot of stuff that sticks.”
There's a claim in this whole Michael Wolff fiasco that Rupert Murdoch advised Bannon and Trump that every administration has six months to make a real change, after which point they'll spend the rest of their time fighting defensive actions. True? Dunno. Truthy? Well, September 11 was 9 months in so obviously we've got some caveats. But what, really, has the Trump administration accomplished?
- Replaced Scalia with Scalia 2.0
- Made a couple national parks smaller
- Repealed Net Neutrality
- Killed the Trans Pacific Partnership
- Passed a tax bill with a bunch of temporary roll-backs
The Scalia thing was a given so long as Mitch McConnell had a Republican in office. The parks thing is bizarre, and probably not permanent. Net Neutrality? The Internet needs to be reclassified as a utility by Congress, not the FCC, and that's an eventuality, too. Trans Pacific Partnership? It was in danger under Obama. The tax bill? I mean fuckin' A they've got the house, the senate, the judiciary and a fuckin' billionaire in office the fact that it took them an entire goddamn year to ramrod that through is like watching the Patriots almost lose to the Browns.
Civilization's gonna be fine. Did you see that the Koreas are talking? Meanwhile, the Virginia legislature went down to the Republicans in a fucking coin toss which is probably not going to sit well in the midterms.
I feel like everyone thinks the Trump administration is Darth Vader and he's coming at us with a light saber but really it's Rick Moranis and all he has is a rusty spoon. Yeah - I don't wanna be attacked by Rick Moranis. But really, it could be worse.