As Hurricane Dorian nears Florida, a theologically minded person is apt to recall the tendency of 17th-century Puritans to read nature as a compilation of texts containing messages that signified God’s purpose in the world.
Hundreds of years after the Puritans interpreted every big and little natural fact as a divine lesson, the meteorological data amassed by CNN, the Weather Channel, and all the weather-apps on the Web do not necessarily discourage non-scientific speculation of what a hurricane might signify today.
Politically, for instance.
President Donald Trump has levied his share of destruction against the United States of America, most of it in the form of abusing, dismantling, or obliterating people he doesn’t like and policies he doesn’t respect. As in: “Lock her up!” “Send them back!” “Good people on both sides!” “Break the law, finish the wall!”
He’s a political hurricane whose destructive gyrations never make the turn out to sea, where normal storms eventually dwindle to a feeble dot. His incessant churning gives Americans no chance to clean up the debris left in his wake, rebuild democratic values, and move forward with hope into an uncertain future.
Donald Trump: an ever-renewing category five, constantly fueled by the warm Republican waters lapping up against the doors of the White House and seeping into the Oval Office—a kind of insolent typhoon which, after crawling up the coast tearing up all civility in the body politic, crawls right back down again to pick off any survivors.
So forceful are the winds that emerge from his mouth, his tweeting fingers, and his surrogates and partners in mayhem (Graham, McConnell, Carlson, Conway, ad nauseum) that Donald Trump resembles something that nature itself has never produced: a south/north cyclone also capable of travelling east/west, then back across the continent, over and over in a cyclical path threatening to level anything sane and decent in its path.
Treaties, reputations, historical facts, the Constitution—Americans, take cover!
That’s one view, anyway.
And maybe it’s a bit much. But still, the analogy stands. After all, what will remain of the American landscape by the end of Donald Trump’s reign?
The question is not rhetorical, since it’s possible that 14 months from now a Democratic candidate will supplant the President, thereby saving us from four more years of damage. Of the 10 candidates who remain, however, does any single one compare to a weather event that, while tumultuous, cleanses the air rather than ravages the land?
Warren, Biden, Sanders, Harris—of these four frontrunners, Sanders is stylistically and ideologically the most stormy and therefore the most likely to send moderates of both parties running for cover.
Warren combines passion and intelligence, interspersing her speeches with lightning bolts of indignation, while Harris, in flashes of turbulence, reveals intense moral clarity. That leaves Joe Biden, who meanders along like a front that may not pack enough electrical charge to effect atmospheric change.
These four, along with six other hopefuls, swirl around each other like warm waters and warm air finding common cause in the Atlantic Ocean. They swirl, a pattern begins to emerge, and soon, with political spin picking up speed as next November approaches, an eye with a well-funded wall of support will form, and the chosen candidate’s voice will grow bigger and stronger and impossible to ignore.
But this candidate will not resemble a hurricane in the everyday sense of the term. He or she will not be a force of wrack and ruin. The contender will have too much heart, too much empathy, and too much progressive character to do anything but transform the United States of America with policies that help all survivors of Hurricane Donald salvage what remains of the American way of life.
Hoping not only that the point of this analogy—the Puritans would have called it a conceit (elaborate metaphor)—is clear, but also that my weather report for Democratic resurgence is accurate, I send my best wishes to all my fellow Americans, no matter what their party affiliation or affinities, who are at this moment in the path of Hurricane Dorian.