No wonder the MAGA misery cult is aggrieved, willfully out of sync with the past, present and future 

Whereas the right is fixated about the past, the present and the future – the left knows humanity makes human history and that progress remains a noble humanistic quest.


The rest of us muddle through, accommodating the mixed bag that is time, history and reality

Pity the malleable MAGA misery cult – on tap to lose its battle against one of two elemental forces: time. As distinct from space. And certainly a third elemental force: truth. Centuries of U.S. history serve up little more than its depressing yearning for a phantom, lost golden age – which, if not “regained,” buries the cry to Make America Great AGAIN. And exactly when was America so great? First blunder: no re-runs, time only goes in one direction.

Our present era per Trumpism is doomed with “carnage,” under siege as the MAGA crowd is: 1) scorned by wealthier, contemptuous elites; 2) battered by the sneaky, mystical “deep state;” and 3) blistered by a tsunami of death-dealing “woke” culture out to shred every god-given (white, Christian, gun-owning, entitled) freedom. Talk about your triple whammy – and the Bible, let alone the inviolate Ten Commandments – banished by decree from public schools. What about the secular onslaught, all that sinning among unmarried, and the sexual deviance trying to “groom” innocent MAGA children? Second blunder: the paranoia of mistaken conspiracies and willfully misread vectors.

MAGA failures only certify that its one-third minority is not in charge, losing far too many “rigged and stolen” elections, yet stubbornly addicted to allegedly redemptive culture wars (and doing fine on abortion and gun access). Why, if not for the well-subsidized Supreme Court, full of high-minded saints, America would pitch into moral irredeemability. Kudos to the saintly House Freedom Caucus, holding that nasty arm of government at bay, doing so much less damage than diabolical Democratic schemers full of unAmerican ideas and impure thoughts. 

And then there’s the MAGA vision of the future. Except for those God has saved – tasked with singing sacred verses eternally to the Creator – the future looks bleak and bleaker. St. Donald, naturally despised by the jealous powers-that-be savvy to scam artists, has hit a rough patch, buffeted by all those prosecutors simply out to get Trump. Biden the shameless socialist/enemy has not been stopped, even passed perverse bills that spread the wealth, repair infrastructure, lower drug prices, and squander hard-earned MAGA tax dollars on a palpable hoax: climate change . Without this earth-sized Big Lie, how can sleazy corporations profit by confronting this non-truth?

The gospel of us vs. them

And speaking of enemies, anyone who doesn’t sing the praises of the hardcore MAGA regimen (descending from St. Donald and angelic insurgents, Jordan, Greene, Boebert and Gaetz) stands against Christian liberation, along with scheming Democrats who stalk the halls of power hating America. Speaker McCarthy is only the latest fallen angel. Whether MAGA even has a “regimen,” beyond tax cuts, slandering critics and trashing government, is a never-ending mystery.

All in all, the woe-is-me Trump-Freedom Caucus-MAGA gang is swamped with grievance, and justifiably so: they’ve been found out and fire and brimstone is coming down fast and furious. Top GOPers doubt not Trump’s character but electability. Yet, so little of that brimstone shrinks that infamous, still undrained swamp that Dem malcontents dare say has swelled in corruption and treasonous riots. It’s some kind of scandal, for sure, but all depends on the eyes of the beholders – or MAGA’s competing “alternative reality.” 

Fighting against the ravages of time is no easy mission. We’re talking about a movement out of sync with the historic past (held responsible for despoiling the golden age), the present (the mayhem of saints under siege) and the future (the literalist apocalypse, if not more earthly calamity unless he who “alone can fix everything” is re-installed). In short, MAGA is askew with all temporal dimensions, and put upon. So now we understand the inevitability of the violent insurgency against a certified election and a legitimate Congress. What other MAGA options exist? MAGA preaches the only solution to more dissolution is one more run by the Trump celebrity/evangelical/white supremacist revival show, brimming with stars from stage and screen – or is that rage and scream? Want more chaos or not? Whatever. 

The left’s read of time and history differs

In contrast with such indigestible clusters on time are the rest of us, the non-MAGA majority whom the Constitution says should be in charge, And we have values, hopes and dreams too, even fears – and by any objective standard have better accommodated what the past, present, and future mean. Certainly liberal and progressives view the past as a decided;y mixed bag, full of unspeakable horrors – slavery, racism, prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, class struggle, unwinnable wars, economic exploitation, and climate destruction. But the left can also plumb the past for positive, enlightened advances. After all, the noblest ideas in our own Declaration of Independence are remarkable, considering the backward 18th C times, and most are still worth enacting, like self-evident human equality or a government dedicated to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Unlike the MAGA crowd who hardly thinks happiness is the business of government (though cruelty fits), most Americans have no trouble setting this prospect as a goal. Ditto, for the left, the present is no bed of roses, but also, more significantly, not a marker for a lost golden age, nor a facile chute to the end of the world. However rife with injustice and inequality, the present offers infinite progressive opportunities for consciousness-raising, activism and legislative pressure. Giving up is far worse. The left reveres its own courageous heroes for a better world.

However dispiriting is the pressing now, rational adults unearth tidbits of positive change. Rights for minorities, for women, for gender flexibility, for children and the aged, in housing and employment, are forged by legislative and statutory gains. Medical advances, for those with access, are saving lives and extending longevity. New materials and methods stimulate green economy breakthroughs and ecological awareness. Industrial and home machinery boast greater energy efficiencies. In short, only tunnel vision boxes in an entire era inundated with “carnage,” so bad that only extreme “answers” (like autocracy or fascism) need apply, “cures” unspeakably worse than the disease. 

The MAGA misery cult is miserable because its mindset misreads the past (Edenic religious fables, cherry picking bad history), mischaracterizes the present (bogged down by conspiracies, demonizing government, opponents) and the future — besotted with fear and trembling. Per MAGA, American strength is fast retreating and its fall from grace, if not economic and military leadership, hangs by a thread – and the only needle is called MAGA Trumpism. Even this optimist would bemoan our fate if it weren’t so easy to unravel the MAGA vision, loaded with wrongheaded contradictions, meaningless slogans, and outrageous magic thinking. 

The simple anti-MAGA credo: all is not lost

Pessimism plagues much of the left, too, but time to concede that humanity (not God) has created the made-world and the source is responsible for fixes. The aptly skeptical understand that what we see today reflects a necessarily narrow lens, not a reliable, forward blueprint. Certainly the law of unintended consequences, granting both good and ill, tempers excessconfidence in planning fixes. Yet, notwithstanding countless crises, most progressives stay informed, trusting that reason is still reliable, justice an admirable goal, less militarism a quest,and breakthrough concepts and inventions (with less debilitating tradeoffs) will come down the pike.

Whereas the right looks to some higher power, divine or its latest phony messiah, for worldly redemption, the left says that humanity only has itself to blame or praise. Whereas the right is fixated about the past, the present and the future – spawn of Calvinistic predestination, many on the left know humanity makes human history and that progress, whatever that means, is still a reasonable humanistic quest. A majority may again honor the old ideal, “One for all and all for one,” to answer polarization, even bridge gaps between how different tribes appreciate, live with and live within time.

To end this meditation linking politics with temporal dimensions, final thoughts to delve into the ever-present mystery we call time. For Einstein, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” For Bertrand Russell (taunting Ben Franklin’s notion that time “wasted” is forever squandered), “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” And from H. D. Thoreau, my favorite witty philosopher, his quip that marvelously links our personal transience with notions of transcendence,“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.